There are hundreds of different floor coverings available today. So what is the best floor covering for underfloor heating? What should you think about when choosing a floor covering for your project?

There are a wide range of factors to consider when choosing the best floor covering for underfloor heating projects. But there are some basic factor that you should know when selecting the right floor for you.

Floor Covering for Underfloor Heating and what to consider?

It is important to understand how underfloor heating works when choosing your flooring materials.

Underfloor heating uses radiant heat to provide a comfortable heated environment in your home or workspace. Radiant heat works best in materials that store heat and transfer heat efficiently (Material with a better thermal conductivity). This basically means materials that have a higher density or a solid composition tend to transfer heat more efficiently.

Technical Info:

A material’s ability to conduct heat is called the thermal conductivity. For solid wood floors the thermal conductivity depends on the density of the wood (Kg/m3). As a result Oak has a slightly better thermal conductivity than Douglas Fir and natural Pine flooring.

Thermal conductivity is used to calculate the thermal resistance of the wood or the thermal insulation value.

Indicative values ​​for thermal insulation:

Wood Type Thermal Resistance
Oak 0.17
Douglas Fir 0.13
Pine 0.13

The thermal resistance factor calculated from the thickness of a material divided by its thermal conductivity.
The thermal resistance factor expression of insulation properties and is commonly known as R.

R =  material thickness/thermal conductivity

Thickness/ Wood Type Calculation
28mm Douglas Fir 0.028 / 0.13 = 0.22
35mm Douglas Fir 0,035 / 0,13 = 0,27
35mm Pine 0,035 / 0,13 = 0,27
22mm Oak 0,022 / 0,17 = 0,13
30mm Oak 0,030 / 0,17 = 0,18

So what is the Best Floor for Underfloor Heating?

Tiled/ Stone Floors

Floor Covering for Underfloor HeatingThe classic choice of floor for underfloor heating. Tiled floors have been used for centuries with underfloor heating systems and reach as far back as the roman empire. A large number of roman palaces had underfloor heating systems installed over tiled floors, and more recently it has become a very popular choice in bathrooms, utility rooms and kitchens.

Tile and stone also retain heat well making the system efficient. Due to the excellent thermal properties, tile and stone are ideal for use with underfloor heating in high heat loss areas such as conservatories

Wooden Floors

A very popular floor for underfloor heating. Wooden floors have become increasingly popular over the last few years, originally adopted from Scandinavian architecture and design and the more recent “Hygge” trend sweeping the UK.

Wooden floors and underfloor heating are ideally suited, however there are some very important considerations and to be taken into account when laying a wooden floor covering on underfloor heating. Click here for more info…

Laminate Floors

The majority of laminate floors simulates wood or tiled surface and offer a stain and scratch resistant floor finish. This type of floor covering s easy to lay and a cost effective solution. The majority of laminates are suitable for use with underfloor heating, but it is advisable to check with the flooring manufacturer before installing the system.

Note: You should also consider the insulation properties of any underlays that are used when installing laminate floors on underfloor heating. (Ensure that the total tog value of all materials does not exceed 2.5 tog.)

Carpeted Floors

Carpet floor for underfloor heating

Carpeted floor another possibility when considering underfloor heating. It is however important that the material of the carpet or underlay does not act as an insulator blocking the heat. At EcoHeatCool we also recommend that carpets and rugs used on underfloor heating do not have rubber backing, ideally carpets and rugs should allow air to travel through the floor covering so condensation doesn’t occur.

Concrete Floors

Concrete floors are an ideal floor for underfloor heating. This floor type is often seen in commercial installations but is also used in modern minimalistic housing design. Concrete floors are commonly a key component in the subfloor design of many underfloor heating systems and therefore a perfect solution.