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Can I heat my carpet?

  • 23 November 2017

    So you’re putting carpet in you dream home… did you know you can still have underfloor heating?

    It seems intuitive that if you’ve put down some nice, soft carpet that you wouldn’t be able to use a heated slab underneath to heat your house. While installing carpet will reduce the rate at which heat can move from the concrete into the house, as long as your designer has included this in the calculations, it will still work fine.

    Let’s take a look at some common floor coverings and how they affect your underfloor heating system.

    Carpet

    Polished concrete or tiles

    Concrete floors have become common nowadays, especially with colour tints that you can add to the concrete or any number of tiled finishes you can make them look fantastic.

    Thermally, tiles work the same way as concrete – they conduct heat well. The trouble with these floors is that they’re cold to touch, especially if you’re not wearing shoes. So if you have children or if you just like to walk around your home with bare feet then you’ll definitely feel the chill from your concrete floor.

    For that reason, concrete floors and underfloor heating work really well together. With no covering on the slab, it’s easy to heat. We use a thermostat controller to make sure the floor doesn’t get too hot to touch.

    Polished concrete or tiles are the ideal flooring finish to use with an underfloor heating system.

    Carpet

    Carpet is still really common in houses and no doubt will be for a long time to come. There’s many different carpets available on the market and the good news is that you can still use underfloor heating with almost all of them.

    The main issue is with carpet underlay – this can get too thick and prevent the concrete slab from heating your house.

    If you’re installing carpet with your underfloor heating system, we recommend no underlay, and ideally carpet no thicker than 10mm. The thinner the better, but in general, carpet will be fine with a heated floor.

    Timber floors

    Timber flooring dates back hundreds of years and is still popular today. For suspended timber floors, it’s much trickier to heat them using an underfloor heating system (not impossible, but requires a bit of extra design).

    There are many timber floor finishes designed to be installed directly on top of your concrete slab. Many of the engineered laminate variety can be used with an underfloor heating system. Ideally, we want a flooring system no thicker than 10mm.

    Sometimes timber flooring is installed with small spacers that create an air gap between the concrete slab and the timber. This will stop the heating system working properly so we recommend that the timber is fixed directly to the concrete.

    Natural timber floors should also be avoided. The problem is that the extra heat will cause the timber to dry out prematurely and result in warping. If in doubt, ask your flooring supplier whether their flooring system can handle the underfloor heating system. If they can’t guarantee it will be okay, find a different flooring finish.

    Vinyl

    Vinyl floors are still popular, especially for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

    Much like carpet, these work fine with underfloor heating but the thicker the vinyl the lees effective your heating system will be.

    Check with your flooring supplier about whether the heat will affect the vinyl or the adhesive used. But in most cases, it should be fine.

    For the vast majority of floor coverings, you can still use your underfloor heating. For very thick carpet or natural timbers you should check with your flooring provider. Make sure your underfloor heating designer knows what floor coverings you’re using in different parts of you house so that they can include the information in their calculations, and you’ll have a wonderfully comfortable home all year round.