Help & advice

Should I consider underfloor heating for my bathroom?

Electric heating is a low carbon option, with more and more of our electricity coming from renewable sources. Both types of underfloor heating have the added benefit of spreading the heat across a room more efficiently.

Adding underfloor heating to your bathroom can transform it into a cosy, comfortable oasis, especially during chilly mornings. There are two types of underfloor heating systems to consider, electric and water–based, as well as the compatibility of the type of flooring you choose and type of thermostat control.

Electric Underfloor Heating

Utilises electric cables or heating mats. A layer of screed (sand and cement) is usually laid first to ensure an even surface on the subfloor.

Electric Underfloor Heating Mat

A layer of insulation is then added between the subfloor and the heating mats to ensure the heat travels up instead of down, with your underlay or levelling and flooring laid on top of that.

Once installed, the wires are then connected to the mains electric supply and controlled with a thermostat and programmer.

Key considerations:

  • Adds around 60mm to the floor height
  • Requires two electrical points - an on off switch and thermostat
  • Ideal for smaller spaces like bathrooms
  • Quick and easy to install
  • Can be installed by a competent DIYer, but connection to the mains supply should be undertaken by a professional electrician
  • Lower cost to install, with the cost to run dependent on your electricity provider

Water-based (cement) Underfloor Heating

Uses a network of flexible pipes to circulate warm water.

Water-based Underfloor Heating Controls and Distribution Panel

The pipes are laid on top of a layer of insulation, and then a layer of screed is poured on top of the pipes, followed by the chosen flooring.

Once installed, the pipes are then connected to a device called a manifold (two rows of taps), which is then connected to your existing boiler and heating system. Warm water then moves through your underfloor heating system in the same way as it goes through your radiators. You still need to have a separate thermostat and programmer to ensure that you can control your underfloor heating efficiently.

Key considerations:

  • Adds 100-150mm to the floor height
  • Require considerable space for the manifold (the two rows of taps)
  • More expensive and disruptive to install (especially retrospectively), but potentially cheaper to run
  • Suitable for larger areas
  • Requires professional installation
  • Can be integrated with existing central heating systems (all fuel types)

Flooring compatibility

Tiles, stone, and engineered wood are excellent conductors of heat - however it's a good idea to check with the flooring manufacturer and underfloor heating system provider to ensure your choice of flooring is going to be compatible. Glazed tiles may hinder the effectiveness of underfloor heating, and while solid wood can be compatible with underfloor heating, it is not recommended for a humid environment where it can be prone to expanding and contracting, leading to gaps or warping.

Thermostats and controls

Choose a thermostat with user–friendly controls for efficient temperature management. Smart thermostats can offer programmable schedules for optimal energy use. You might also want to consider what the thermostat looks like, and where you would position it in the room if there's nowhere to hide it!

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