What types of flooring materials can you use underfloor heating with?

A commonly asked question is whether underfloor heating can be used only with a certain type of floor finish. Underfloor heating is suitable for almost every type of a floor covering.

The main difference with the different floor materials is how well they transfer heat from the floor to the floor surface (thermal conductivity). Good thermal conductivity of a material means that it allows the underfloor heating system to heat up quicker, gives more heat output and is more cost-efficient to run. However there are efficient heating systems for use with almost any floor material. You just need to choose the right underfloor heating for the flooring of your dreams. This article guides you through the suitability of different floor materials whether it is wood, vinyl, tiles or carpet for underfloor heating and their affects on the heat-up time and heat output of the system.

Wood flooring

Wood flooring is suitable for use with the system, but as different types of wood have different thermal mass and conductivity, attention should be paid to the thickness and density of the material. The changing floor temperature can also affect some wood flooring so you should always check with the manufacturer about the suitability of underfloor heating with wood flooring. Engineered timber is considered the best wood flooring for use with underfloor heating as it does not change appearance when used with the system. As with carpet, laminate and vinyl, wood floor temperature must not exceed 27°C. This means that there is a certain maximum heat output that is possible to achieve with underfloor heating for wood floors.


Laminate is an increasingly popular solution for flooring, and many people find that laying it helps to keep the room looking fresh while also allowing for an easy to clean solution. Most laminates are great for underfloor heating, but just to make sure, it is always advisable to ask the retailer for advice. Laminate is subject to a 27 degree maximum floor temperature and as with carpet flooring, this means a certain maximum heat output which needs to be taken into account when choosing a system.


People still prefer carpet for a number of reasons. In the winter it works as an insulator, and that could be a problem too when considering carpet for underfloor heating. The insulating element of carpet could prevent underfloor heating from transferring the heat efficiently to the floor surface affecting the heat output of the system. Therefore attention has to be paid to the overall tog rating of the flooring materials that should not exceed 2.5 tog. In other words, the total tog of the flooring coverings must not exceed this for the system to provide enough heat output. This includes any underlays and anything over the heater. Carpet is also subject to a top temperature restriction of 27 degrees. Moreover, it is advisable to compare the heat loss figure of a room to the maximum heat output before purchasing a system. The underfloor heating heat output must be higher than the heat loss in order for the system to provide enough heat.

Vinyl flooring

Making a comeback in recent years, this material is well-suited for use with underfloor heating. Vinyl heats up and cools down quickly. However since vinyl is subject to a 27 degree maximum floor temperature, this means that the heat output has a certain maximum although it also means that the system chosen with the vinyl flooring runs cost-efficiently.

Tile and stone

The best suited flooring materials you can use for underfloor heating are tile and stone. These coverings are best at conducting heat and can therefore offer maximum value. Tile and stone are also great at retaining heat. To try this out, just walk across any stone floor that has had the sun on it. The resulting warmth is long-lasting. This, and a faster heat up time are what make tile and stone the best choices when considering underfloor heating. The high quality heat output means that if you have a place that happens to be high in heat-loss, like a conservatory, tile or stone would be the best options to lay as a floor. The heat will build quickly, and minimise heat-loss. Some stone floors usually allow for 29 degrees of heat or more giving a high heat output of up to 200W/m². The thickness of the stone or tile is not recommended to be more than 20 mm. This will allow for excellent heat conduction and retention.

Underfloor heating heat-up time

Your choice of flooring impacts the heat-up time depending on the material’s thermal properties. Materials with low thermal mass heat up quicker than materials with higher thermal mass. The heat-up time and responsiveness of underfloor heating under any flooring material can be significantly improved by installing sufficient floor insulation such as insulated underlay.

Underfloor heating heat output

The heat output of underfloor heating must be higher than the heat loss figure of the room in order for the system to create enough heat. The maximum heat output of the system is directly linked to the floor temperature so your choice of flooring dictates the maximum floor temperature and the maximum heat output possible. In addition to the choice of flooring and the maximum floor temperature, air temperature also affects the heat output. As the comfort temperature is usually set at 21 degrees and if the maximum floor temperature of your chosen floor finish does not provide enough heat output, you can change the flooring to a material that can be heated to a higher temperature increasing the heat output. If you prefer not to change flooring you have chosen, you may need to consider adding supplementary heating to get a heating system that provides enough heat.

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