Installing Underfloor Heating

Stephen Rooney, Retail Distribution Manager of DEVI explains...

Underfloor heating

1 What are the benefits?

As well as being a comfortable, economical and maintenance-free alternative to conventional heating methods, underfloor heating frees up wall space, creating complete design freedom opening new opportunities for decorating and furnishing your home.

2 How efficient is it?

Underfloor heating radiates heat evenly across the whole floor area, providing maximum comfort levels; warm feet and cooler at head height, whereas traditional systems provide heat by convection; the hot air rises and leaves a mass of warm air at ceiling level, where it cools and returns as a draught.

3 What flooring is suitable for use with underfloor heating?

Most floor finishes are suitable for use with underfloor heating providing the floor has been prepared correctly and any manufacturer's temperature guidelines have been adhered to.  With finishes such as wood laminates and carpets, it is essential that the heating mat is completely covered with a latex-levelling compound before the specified floor finish is fitted. Always consult the manufacturer regarding installation of floorcoverings.

4 What if there's a fault?

In the unlikely event that there is a fault with the cable, with fault-finding equipment, this can usually be located to the space of a tile which avoids having to remove the whole floorcovering. The cable can then be repaired, and the floorcovering replaced.

5 Who can install it?

Products are designed as DIY products so any confident DIY enthusiast can lay the cable.  However, electrical connections must be made by a competent electrician. Most builders, electricians and flooring installers will be familiar with the installation of underfloor heating.

6 Is it expensive to run?

Typically, electric underfloor heating makes it possible to lower the average room temperature by 2ºC without affecting the level of comfort. This means that heating can be reduced by around 20%, which is both an economic and an environmental advantage.

7  Can underfloor heating provide a primary heat source?

UFH can be used as both a primary and secondary heat source, depending on your application. For renovations, or where floor height is a consideration, thin heating cables are used, often in the form of a mat, with thin heating cable pre-attached. These can sometimes provide a full heating solution depending on the size of the floor area, insulation values of the room etc. However, in most cases, these are used to take the chill off tiles. In new build situations, a thicker cable with a higher output can be installed within a 50mm screed in the build process, providing a full heating solution.

8 How is the system controlled?

A range of thermostat options are available on the market, ranging from basic, on-off thermostats to fully programmable 7-day thermostat timers, with in built intelligence. These thermostats are able to calculate the pre-heat times of the system and switch on and off accordingly on a daily basis.

9 Is it safe?

Cables for thin floors should be manufactured with a complete aluminum earth sheath, making them totally safe for installation in any wet area and removing the need for an earth metallic grid. Always check that the cable complies with The IEE wiring regulations.


Look for an established manufacturer that is able to provide full technical support and a valid manufacturer’s warranty. There is an increasing number of products available on the market today, some of which will not be supplied with these benefits.

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