Is Underfloor Heating the Right Choice for Your New Bathroom?

We’ve looked at how to decorate your bathroom before, but if you’re lucky enough to be going for a full bathroom refit then now is definitely the time to consider underfloor heating.

Underfloor Heating is an Efficient Heating Solution

An underfloor heating mat is a relatively inexpensive way to heat a small area like a bathroom and it has some big advantages compared to a radiator. A heating mat is a far more efficient way of heating as, unlike a radiator, the heat is dispersed over a much wider area and doesn’t immediately dissipate if you open the bathroom window. And because the heating element is invisible, you’ll get a much more streamlined and high quality look, while also saving space. This is essential if you only have a small bathroom.

Underfloor heating also works at a lower temperature than conventional heating, so it’s more economical to run but it does take longer to heat the room – add a timer so you’ll always enjoy a warm bathroom when you need it.

Is DIY the best option?

One of the downsides of underfloor heating can be the high installation costs. You can opt to do it yourself, but remember, you’ll have to employ a qualified electrician (unless you are one) to connect the heating mat to the mains. You may prefer the peace of mind of having you underfloor heating installed as part of a complete bathroom installation.

Wet or dry?

There are two types of installation: wet, which carries water heated by your boiler through a series of pipes, and dry, using a mat or individual wires for greater coverage. A wet or hydronic system is more costly to install and may involve raising the height of the floor to accommodate the hot water pipes. It’s not really suitable for small spaces and makes more sense if you’re building a bathroom extension. However, the running costs are cheaper than with an electric system.

Wet underfloor heating system
By H. Raab (User:Vesta) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

For the average family bathroom or en suite, you’ll want to install an electric heating mat. This sits on top of a layer of insulation with flooring on top to hide the wires. A good layer of insulation is essential, otherwise you’ll be wasting energy heating the concrete or timber substrate instead of your bathroom. If you’re running a B&B or a hotel, underfloor heating is the kind of luxury touch that guests really appreciate in a boutique-style bathroom.

Working out the costs

If you have friends or family who’ve had this kind of work done in their homes, sound them out about the costs and how long the work took to be completed. You can price up the basic components online, or get in touch with us for a quote.

Tiled over

Electric underfloor heating system
By Gdjones – Installation of electric floor heating, Public Domain, Link

Once your installation is complete, you can start thinking about the fun part – the overall look and feel of your bathroom design, and the kind of flooring you want to install to achieve your dream bathroom. Tiling is traditional, and it just so happens it’s also the most effective flooring to use with underfloor heating, because it has high thermal conductivity, meaning the heat transfers from the heating element to the tile much more quickly and efficiently. It also retains the heat better, regardless of the thickness of the tile – though tiles thicker than 20mm will have a slower heat up time.

If you’re going all out for the designer look, natural stone tiles look beautiful, have excellent heat conductivity and are durable and easy to maintain, when properly sealed.

Laminates and vinyls – the low cost solution

Some laminates, engineered woods and luxury vinyl tiles are also suitable for use with underfloor heating. Luxury vinyl tiles now come in a range of finishes that accurately mimic stone and wood, and aren’t prone to humidity damage as wood flooring can be. They are also thin – usually only a few millimetres thick – so they heat up and cool down quickly. If you opt for laminate or luxury vinyl tiles it pays to double check with the manufacturer that they are suitable for the type of installation you require.

Sleek and minimalist

If you have your heart set on a sleek and minimalist contemporary bathroom, then underfloor heating is the obvious choice. With no bulky radiators to spoil the clean lines, you’ll achieve a look of understated luxury. Top end hotels have really embraced the underfloor heating trend and if you’re running a B&B or small hotel, underfloor heating would really set you apart from the competition.