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Which flooring is suitable for underfloor heating?

Vinyl Flooring in the Lounge with sofa and fire

Which type of flooring is best for underfloor heating?
Most floor types are suitable for use with underfloor heating (UH) but the floor types that are the best at transferring the heat from the UH system to the surface of the flooring include ceramic, porcelain, stone, engineered wood, sheet vinyl and luxury vinyl tiles. When looking for the best stone for underfloor heating, you can’t go wrong with Slate, Marble and Limestone as they are all brilliant heat conductors.

Carpet is also suitable for use with underfloor heating, however it is not as efficient at transferring the heat as the solid floor types mentioned previously. You also need to be sure not to use a carpet or underlay with high thermal insulating properties, as this will further reduce the amount of heat that is transferred to the surface of your flooring.

Laminate is another good option for use with underfloor heating, the best type of laminate flooring suitable for underfloor heating is simply a good quality product with a nice long warranty. The best thickness laminate for underfloor heating depends on how fast you want the heat to transfer through it, the thicker the material the longer the transfer of heat will take. The best flooring for electric underfloor heating is stone and tile.

Can you put vinyl flooring over underfloor heating?
Yes, both sheet vinyl flooring and LVT flooring are great options for underfloor heating. Vinyl in general is waterproof, suitable for underfloor heating, durable, low in cost and easy to install. Both versions also come in plenty of different colours and patterns. The three main versions of vinyl flooring suitable for underfloor heating are sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl tile and luxury vinyl plank.

Do you need special underlay for underfloor heating?
Whilst not all underlays are suitable for underfloor heating, most are well suited enough. Underlays that are specifically designed to be used with underfloor heating are designed to allow as much heat as possible to transfer through the underlay, therefore the more insulated an underlay is the less suitable it is for underfloor heating.

What is the downside of underfloor heating?
The downsides of underfloor heating are;

Initial Cost – There is the added cost of purchasing the underfloor heating system and having the system installed.

Running Cost – If the UH system is either electric or water piped, both require energy which will increase your monthly energy bill.

Installation Time – Adding UH to a project will inevitably make the project take longer to complete.

Warm Up Time – UH generally takes more time to heat up that a radiator for example, this is why UH systems use timers so you can plan when you want the floor to be warm.

Floor Height – The UH system has to be installed underneath the flooring you are going to walk on when the works are finished, and adding an extra layer raises the floor height which has to be accounted for so that the flooring is at the correct level and matches up to doorways and other rooms.

Which LVT is best for underfloor heating?
All LVT is suitable for underfloor heating, however some are suitable for all types, and some are only suited to water piped and not electric underfloor heating. The specification of the floor should clearly indicate this. The thickness of the LVT can affect the speed of the heat transfer from the UH to the surface of the floor, therefore Gluedown LVT will allow the heat through faster than click LVT as it is thinner. Click LVT is around 5mm thick and Gluedown LVT is around 2mm thick. When shopping for vinyl tiles for underfloor heating your focus should be the intended use and your preferred style.

Vinyl Flooring Empty Lounge with floor to ceiling windows and doors
Our Sunset Oak Click LVT Flooring is 6.5mm thick, suitable for all types of underfloor heating and has a Lifetime Residential Warranty!

Can you put wooden flooring on top of underfloor heating?
Engineered wood flooring is suitable for use with UH, solid wood flooring is not. Solid wood flooring is 100% natural wood which expands and contracts when exposed to temperature changes which can severely damage it. Only the top layer of engineered wood flooring is 100% natural wood, the base layers below are usually plywoods which are much more resilient to temperature changes.

What is better vinyl or LVT?
The only notable advantage for sheet vinyl over LVT is the cost. Sheet vinyl is cheaper than LVT which makes it a good option for those on a tighter budget. However the difference in cost is clear to see when you compare the two.

There are many advantages for LVT over sheet vinyl such as;

Appearance – There is no competition when it comes to the appearance. Sheet vinyl is usually immediately identifiable even from a distance. Whereas a high quality wood effect or stone effect LVT can be extremely difficult to differentiate from real wood or stone without thorough inspection due to clever textured surfaces.

Durability – Sheet vinyl is quite soft in comparison to LVT and is much more likely to rip or dent.

Feel – LVT has a much more high quality feel, it looks and feels like a more expensive product. Sheet vinyl is usually laid straight on top of concrete, and LVT planks usually have built in underlay, which is another factor that improves the overall feel of an LVT floor.

Property Value – Due to the more expensive look and feel of LVT, it certainly has the advantage over sheet vinyl when it comes to adding or retaining value of properties.

For minimum spend sheet vinyl is the best option. For all else LVT is best.

Can you use carpet over underfloor heating?
Yes, carpet is frequently used successfully over underfloor heating. It is not quite as good at transferring the heat from the subfloor to the floor covering, but the result is usually satisfactory. It is however advisable to not use a carpet with a thermal insulating design as this can significantly hinder the amount of heat that reaches the surface of your flooring.

Why is LVT so popular?
LVT is so popular because it is the best all-rounder when it comes to floor types. A good quality LVT imitates real wood and real stone so effectively that it is genuinely difficult to tell the difference. LVT costs less than real wood and real stone. LVT is waterproof, quieter to walk on and more scratch resistant than real wood and real stone. Real wood is not waterproof at all and has to be kept away from moisture. The glue down type LVT is stuck to the floor in individual planks, so if a plank does get damaged, you can remove it and replace it with a new plank one piece at a time. If real wood or real stone gets damaged replacing the damaged piece is such a big job people often just end up living with the damaged plank.

There is also more options for colours and patterns as LVT is a totally manmade product. Given the fact that LVT flooring technology is advancing constantly its popularity is expected to increase even further.

Does LVT flooring need underlay?
Usually not.

Click LVT flooring – usually comes with underlay built into the planks/tiles and does not need extra underlay. Separate underlay should not be used with an LVT that has built in underlay.

Gluedown LVT flooring – is fully bonded (glued) to the subfloor and does not need underlay.

You may also be interested in our What Wood Flooring is Best For Dogs


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