Monday 31 March 2014

Underfloor Heating (UFH) and wooden floors

Underfloor heating is nowadays more and more used as main heating source instead of an additional heating system (in tiled bathrooms or kitchens). The advantage of underfloor heating over normal central heating with radiators is exactly that: no radiators on walls, allowing you as home owner to use all the available wall space in the most practical way.
But underfloor heating comes with some disadvantages also:
  • it can take a while for the room/rooms are 'warming-up' because of the layers of 'insulation' the heating system has to 'work through' (concrete or sheet materials, floor covering on top of the water/electrical system) and visa versa. During a cold-snap this could mean that before the system is truly 'heated-up' again, warm weather is back with us, because you can't use underfloor heating the same way as central heating with radiators.
  • using underfloor heating can reduce the humidity in your home rather significantly, and have a drying effect on your skin (causing irritation/itching and even increasing eczema and other skin problems).
A good alternative for losing radiators and gaining more room space without the disadvantages underfloor heating can bring with it could be installing a skirting heating system.
Types of underfloor heating systems:
Maine source of heating: Electrical wires (DRY-system) or water pipes (WET-system).
UnderfloorheatingWith warm water underfloor heating there are 3 methods of preparing/creating the subfloor (subfloor is the base for wooden floor):
  • Dry method: between the water pipes battens are placed on underfloor and sheet material (chipboard, plywood) is installed on the battens to create smooth subfloor for installation of wooden floor
  • Wet method: concrete/screed is laid over water pipes to create smooth subfloor for installation of wooden floor
  • Direct method: the water pipes are placed in special modular sheets, battens are glued between modular sheets and wooden floor is nailed (secretly) on battens or even installed floating. (Direct method is not possible with all types of warm water underfloor heating, please ask you Under Floor Heating supplier).
Wood is a natural product and reacts to the surrounding climate. Please keep that in mind when selecting your wooden floor and make sure the type of flooring or wood-species is suitable to be installed on UFH (Maple and Beech are for instance NOT recommended: both are know as a 'nervous' - unstable - wood which can shrink/expand up to 7mm per meter wide).
We recommend Wood-Engineered flooring because the cross-backing of the boards do not react to temperature or humidity changes in the same way as solid wood does.
If you decide to install solid wooden flooring then choose a narrow board, the narrower the better. If your heart is set to have a wide floorboard that really gives you that 'old-fashioned' plank-look we recommend the Hattan European Oak engineered boards (180mm wide, 6mm solid top layer on 15mm water-resistant plywood) which are guaranteed for installation on Under Floor Heating.
Case-study "Duoplank on Underfloor Heating"
Most manufacturers of Wood-Engineered flooring recommend to glue down your wooden flooring on UFH and to use a suitable parquet adhesive (flexible adhesive) in order to avoid any air pockets between the subfloor and the wooden flooring.
Be careful with placing rugs and/or large pieces of furniture (like dressoirs or floor standing cupboards/bookcases); they can (locally) trap the heat underneath it.

With the maintenance of wooden flooring on underfloor heating Wood You Like recommends maintenance product is applied before the real heating season (Autumn) start to keep the wood healthy and 'moist'. After the heating season, when the temperature of the system can be reduced to a minimum level your wooden floor will benefit from a maintenance service to counter-balance the effect of the dehydration of the wood caused by the higher temperatures of the months before.
All types of underfloor heating have their own specifications for how to install and how/when to start the first sequence of heating. Please read the instructions supplied with your underfloor heating system carefully before deciding on wooden flooring and please make sure all steps for the first sequence are completed before the installation of wooden flooring takes place.