Review of different types of Underfloor Heating
Underfloor Heating is a proven technology which offers attractive benefits when integrated as part of a heating solution into residential or commercial buildings. By its nature it is a radiant heating system as opposed to convection based solutions such as radiators.
Radiant systems heat the people and objects in the room as opposed to the convective ‘top down’ stratified heat of radiators. The result is evenly distributed heat, resulting in lower operating costs and greater comfort.
In new build construction of residential units wet screed systems are the preferred method of installation on the ground floor. Upper floors can pose some design issues, namely structural requirements in timber frame construction or joisted upper floors require significant structural enhancement to allow a screed to be poured.
The potential alternative solutions to install underfloor heating in areas of light build construction are as follows:
As introduced above, the building structure is designed to facilitate the application and mass of screed, and in addition to an insulation layer either through the use of precast flooring, structural joists etc.
|No pipe joints within the building fabric.||Structural requirement.
Cost of screed/specialist contractor.
Delays to project from screed drying.
Risk of screed cracking.
Modular composite wooden flooring boards
These systems are factory manufactured chipboard or ply panels with integrated under floor piping. The panels are typically placed on top of the joists in place of the floor boards, and typically laid in back to back arrays. Piping protrudes from one end of each flooring panel. The panels are piped in series within the floor joists with a main flow and return piping running along the end of the panel. The finished floor is laid on top of this product.
|No screed drying.||Many pipe joints within the
building fabric, often with no access.
|Rapid thermal response.||Very labour intensive to ensure a successful installation.|
|Uneven joists can require a substrate of ply or OSB to be applied first.|
|Insulation is required between the joists to prevent heat deflection and overheating to the zone below.|
|Cannot be repaired if damage.|
Piping and aluminium diffuser tray
In this configuration battens are applied a set distance below the top of the joist and plywood is used to form a carrier layer between the joists. Insulation is manually cut and inserted between the joists on the carrier plywood which fills the void almost to the top of the joist.
The insulation is routed continuously along the centre line. The aluminium diffusion tray is laid parallel to the joist span on top of the insulation. The routed channel is designed to accommodate the u-channel in the centre of the aluminium tray. This u-channel in the diffusion plate provides a recess to take the underfloor heating pipe. At both ends the joist is routed to form a notch to allow the pipe to turn 180 degrees.
|Low skill level.||Very labour intensive to ensure
a successful installation.
|No joints in floor.||Complex room designs can make it difficult to always comply with regulations for notching.|
|Due to the lack of mechanical fixing, expansion and contraction during heat up and cool down lead to unwanted noises.|
|Requires a layer of ply or OSB to be installed before the finished floor is applied.|
EPS panels with aluminium diffusion layer
This solution is available in configurations as low as 13mm deep. The EPS panels contain a series of factory cut groves which run along the linear length of the panel to hold the pipe. The complete panel including the grove has a factory applied aluminium foil diffusion layer. The layer ensures an even distribution of heat and prevents heat deflection the zones below.
The floor joists are covered in plywood or a similar substrate and the EPS panels are bonded to the ply substrate layer. The pipe is then laid into the panel groves. Several manufacturer approved tile adhesives can be applied directly to the product and tiles can be applied directly on top. To facilitate the use of a soft floor finish eg carpet or cork a 6mm floating plywood floor can be laid on top of the EPS panels. Wooden floors can be laid directly onto the panels as a floating floor.
|No pipe joints in the floor.||Higher skill level required than screeded under floor installations.|
|Low build profile.|
|No screed drying period.|
|No notching of joists.|
|Rapid thermal response.|
Contact us to find out which system is most suitable for your project.