House and Home

Which Tile to Choose for Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating will add a touch of luxury to your home. Finding the right flooring for underfloor heating can be tricky. The best way to select is to consider the objective of the room for which you need the floor. For example, bathroom floors are wet, and driveways and utilities are often muddy, especially if there are children and pets in the house.

The best floor for underfloor heating is a floor with good conductivity, because it heats up faster, provides more heat, and operates more efficiently. However, this does not mean underfloor heating cannot be used with less conductive materials. There are systems available to use with virtually any floor finish.

If you are renovating your house and choosing a floor, in this article, we’ll help you decide on choosing the right tile for underfloor heating.

What is Underfloor Heating?

Underfloor heating has become popular over the past decade due to its ability to heat a room by absorbing heat under the floor. It is so handy that it can be used under almost any floor. However, the best kind of flooring to use with underfloor heating is tile simply because of its superior thermal conductivity.

With tiled floors, you get a warmer room, and it also retains heat well, making it more efficient to operate. This means no more cold baths or greenhouses.

The Best Option- Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles for Underfloor Heating

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are the perfect flooring materials to use with underfloor heating simply because of their affordability, compared to materials like stone. Together with porcelain stoneware or ceramic, it has the strength and robustness of a hard floor, joint with the warmth of underfloor heating, all at an affordable price.

While both are suitable for underfloor heating, each has its merits and drawbacks. Ceramic is a bit more porous than porcelain, so it’s best to avoid it in areas with high humidity. But they are generally more affordable.

The strength and durability of porcelain tiles mean they can be used in high humidity and high traffic areas, even outdoors on the patio. But they tend to be a bit more expensive. Although the price varies depending on the tile.

Ultimately, both of these options are great flooring materials for use with underfloor heating. Besides, they are resistant, easy to clean, and super practical.

Using Porcelain Tiles for Underfloor Heating

Merits

  • They can be cut thin (8mm – 12mm), which makes them excellent thermal conductors
  • A natural insulator due to its density
  • They are less likely to crack under the influence of temperature
  • Grayscale colors can look very stylish
  • Low maintenance
  • Long life
  • Stain-resistant
  • Liquid resistant

Drawbacks

  • May require additional layers of membrane material due to movement during the installation of flooring
  • Colors tend to be white, black, or vibrant (cool colors)
  • You need flexible and specific grouts and adhesives
  • The required grout is more difficult to maintain than ceramic
  • More expensive than ceramic
  • Heavy

Using Ceramic Tiles for Underfloor Heating

Merits

  • Excellent heat conductor
  • Installing ceramic tiles is also much easier due to the smoother texture of the tile, which makes it easier to cut and shape.
  • The colors of the ceramics are beautiful and earthy (intimate)
  • You can have the option of unglazed tiles
  • Various for patterns and designs
  • Lower cost

Drawbacks

  • Ceramic is porous, too much water can damage them
  • More likely to crack or flake than porcelain
  • May require additional layers of membrane material to minimize the risk of cracking
  • Difficult to clean
  • Prone to stains
  • Heavy

Wood Floor for Underfloor Heating

Different types of wood floors have various thermal properties, so there are differences in their suitability for use with an underfloor heating system. The denser and thinner the floorboards are, the better they conduct heat and are generally more suitable for use with underfloor heating.

Synthetic wood is the best type of wood floor to use with an underfloor heating system because it works well with changes in floor temperature. Other wood floors can also be used, but with softer and less dense woods, care must be taken with the thickness of the floorboards. So the floorboards do not act as an insulator to block heat. As a general rule of thumb, for hardwood floors, the floor surface temperature should not surpass 80.6° F.

Heating the floor vagaries the moisture content of the wood. So choose a wood floor that can adapt to changes in floor temperature without changing the appearance of the floor. Kiln-dried wood tends to work best with underfloor heating. But always check with the flooring manufacturer if it is appropriate for use with underfloor heating.

Underfloor heating can be used with different types of wood floors. But care must be taken with the thickness of the hardwood boards so that they do not serve as thermal insulation.

Benefits of Laying Tiles over Underfloor Heating

There are many advantages of laying tiles over underfloor heating and having a heated tile floor:

  • Tiles conduct heat evenly and efficiently from underfloor heating to the floor surface
  • Ceramic and porcelain tile floors provide a premium finish
  • You can install ceramic porcelain tile finishes to any floor
  • The tiles are robust and durable

The Bottom Line: Porcelain is best suited for wet rooms heated by underfloor heating due to its water-resistance properties.

 

One Comment

  • Afton Jackson

    Thank you for the heads up about wooden floors and how they must be selected carefully if going for in-floor heating. I’ve wondered if I can combine the natural warmth of wooden floors with an even more efficient heating system, but it helps to know that I can’t just pick what floor I will use carelessly. I’ll make sure I use synthetic wood before I get an HVAC contractor to install some floor heating for me.

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