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Underfloor heating explained

Underfloor heating costs and installation

By Liz Ransome-Croker

Article 4 of 4

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Find out how much underfloor heating costs, how it will affect your home and what to expect from a typical installation.

How much you pay for underfloor heating varies dramatically depending on which type you choose, whether it will be installed in a new room or retrofitted to an existing room, and what your floor structure is like.

To make sure you don't end up paying more than you should for underfloor heating, or make a choice that you later regret, we've done the hard work for you. 

We've also spoken to members who have underfloor heating, to get their tips on what to think about when buying and having it installed. We've asked what they wish they'd known and what they would have done differently, so you'll know exactly what to expect and can avoid annoying or costly mistakes. 

Types of underfloor heating 

There are two types of underfloor heating:

  • Electric underfloor heating is cheaper to buy and have installed. You can even install some of it yourself, although you'll need a qualified electrician to connect it.
  • Water underfloor heating is cheaper to run than electric systems, but it's more expensive to install and it's advisable to get professionals to do it. Water systems are more efficient than electric systems, especially in a larger room.

Underfloor heating costs 

Water underfloor heating
  From To
Terraced
Semi-detached
Detached
Electric underfloor heating
  From To
Terraced
Semi-detached
Detached

If you're a Which? member, you can log in now to unlock our findings, expert advice and tips from underfloor heating owners. 

You'll also get access to our member-only advice on the pros and cons of getting underfloor heating, where you can read about the benefits and drawbacks from people who have it and live with it – day in, day out.

Not yet a member? Join Which? to get instant access to all our advice on heating, from underfloor heating to wood-burning stoves, and reviews of appliances including boilers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners.

What can affect the price 

Find out what can hike the price of underfloor heating by logging in or joining Which? to ensure you get what you want for the best price.

Can you install it yourself? 

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Can you fit underfloor heating in old houses? 

Yes you can – underfloor heating can be fitted in any house. However, in properties with low energy efficiency, for example those with single glazing and no insulation, it's unlikely that it will be able to act as the only form of heating. You'll probably need to have central heating and radiators as well. The size and cost needed to run it might be prohibitive, too.

However, if you have additional work carried out to improve how well the house retains heat, such as loft insulation and modern glazing, it could be much more effective and your heating bills won't be so big.

Do you need planning permission? 

In most cases, no. However, if your home is a listed or a historically significant property, it's worth checking your plans with a qualified surveyor or architect.   

If you're putting the underfloor heating into a new room, work will need to conform to building regulations. 

What type of flooring is best for underfloor heating? 

Most types of flooring are fine to use on top of underfloor heating, including vinyl, laminate and tiles. But some, such as stone, are better as they are natural heat conductors. This means the floor will feel warm more quickly, and the warmth should stay longer. 

However, if your heart is set on a particular type of flooring, your installer should be able to adjust the underfloor heating system output, the underlay and type of screed to suit the floor type. 

Wooden flooring

If you have real wood floors, it's worth checking with the manufacturer what the maximum temperature is that the wood can take – it's typically 27°C. Temperatures that are too high can warp and shrink the flooring, especially if the moisture content of the wood is high.

Engineered wooden or laminate floors are a much better choice if you don't want to run the risk of problems in the future, but want the look of wood. However, it shouldn't exceed a maximum thickness of 18mm, as this will reduce the efficiency of your system.

Carpet

Although carpet is not the most efficient floor covering on top of underfloor heating, as it will take time for the heat to get through, it can still be used. To get the best out of it, keep the combined tog value of the underlay and carpet below 2.5.

Concrete

If you like the modern contemporary look and want exposed concrete floors, make sure you don't use this to encase the underfloor heating system. Both water and electric systems should be installed within screed, not concrete, as sharp aggregate can damage the system.

It's also worth keeping in mind that concrete will take longer to warm up, but will retain the heat for longer.

Underfloor heating tips 

When we spoke to underfloor heating owners about their experiences, there were a few key areas that kept cropping up.

Log in or join Which? to unlock their advice so you don't make the same mistakes or have the same frustrations.

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