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Does LVT flooring work with underfloor heating?

Stuart Hicks elaborates on the use of underfloor heating with LVT and its benefits.

LVT is a highly adaptable material with many technical benefits. It has high water-resistance, various arrays of aesthetics on offer, it’s warm, comfortable underfoot, and much more besides. Which is why it’s becoming one of the most popular flooring choices on the market.

One aspect that isn’t often explored however, is the added extras available alongside the product itself. There are multiple applications you can create with LVT to truly enhance its place in your home, and one of them is underfloor heating.

The benefits of underfloor heating
Underfloor heating works by turning your entire floor into one big, yet low-temperature radiator. It works in one of two ways:

Water – This style of heating incorporates a network of pipes through which warm water travels.
Electric – This style of heating incorporates wires and/or heating pads that are heated electronically.

The biggest draw customers have is the amazing comfort underfloor heating offers. Having the heat come from below rather than traditional radiators ensures your room is not only getting a more ‘even’ spread of heat but also makes every step comfortable. No more will you suffer that feeling of a cold floor sending chills up your body. This invention isn’t exactly new but it’s still rare enough, the sophistication alone not only gives you immense satisfaction but is likely to also impress your guests.

When compared to traditional heating methods, underfloor heating has proven to be highly efficient in the amount of energy it uses. For radiators to spread their heat across a room, it must reach a high temperature to radiate it out, however underfloor heating uses a much lower temperature to achieve the same level of warmth over time. This makes underfloor heating efficient and is sure to result in a much lower energy bill if it were to be used as the main heating method for your home.

Another benefit of underfloor heating is the convenience of the products. It can be controlled through thermostats in each room, allowing you to manage and customise the exact amount of heat you want. The lack of a radiator means you have more space as well as improving the air quality by avoiding the dust circulation that can sometimes happen in convection radiators. Another benefit of underfloor heating is it’s also completely silent.

LVT flooring and underfloor heating compatibility
LVT’s functionality far outmatches most flooring. When it comes to underfloor heating, I honestly believe no floor is more suited than LVT.

LVT is constructed from several layers of synthetic materials, therefore it’s protected from damage. To meet British Standard guidelines of resilient and textile floor coverings, underfloor heating systems shouldn’t exceed 27deg C. Considering it’s recommended to have a room temperature of 18-21deg C, this makes it more than capable of withstanding heat without the material showing any discolouration or heat-spots.

Underfloor heating puts the floor in direct contact with heat, which puts it at risk of expansion and contraction if the flooring material is susceptible. Expansion could cause the flooring to push upwards in an unnatural way, often causing raised edges, discomfort and a detraction from aesthetics and is more common on wooden floors. This process is known as thermal expansion. Essentially, heat in the floor causes molecules in the flooring to move around. As strange as that sounds, the parts of the floor that move demand more space, which is when expansion occurs. While LVT does expand and contract in response to heat and cold respectively, it’s much more stable than other organic hard floor coverings, therefore it’s a warp resistant solution. This means depending on the type of LVT installed, whether it’s glued down which doesn’t move, or floating click and drop-lock systems that require an expansion gap, a proper installation of LVT will take account of the expansion that LVT undergoes during its encounter with heat.

LVT has several layers that are bonded together tightly, making it highly dense for a thin material. Nonetheless, this combination not only gives it strength but allows it to effectively conduct heat.
Heat has a much easier time going through thinner materials than thicker ones. As such, owing to the thin nature of LVT, the heat rises through it with little in the way to stop it.

Underlayment and underfloor heating with click and drop-lock LVT systems
The compatibility of these two features depends on the type of underlayment and subfloor preparations you have. Underlayments each act as a layer of thermal resistance. As such, to use underlayment, you must have one designed with the following features:

  • Thermal conductivity – Underlayment must have a high thermal conductivity to function alongside heating effectively, otherwise it will block the underfloor heating method, causing a loss of efficiency.
  • Moisture resistance – Underlayment for underfloor heating must have moisture resistance where a water-based system is used. It’s essential none is transferred to the underlayment because this may cause damage to the LVT from beneath.
  • Thickness – As previously stated, heat travels through thinner objects much easier than thicker ones. Thicker underlayment will result in less heat radiating through the LVT flooring into your home.
    The above is intended as a guide on underfloor heating with LVT. We hope it helps you make informed choices about any underfloor heating options you may have been considering with your LVT installation. Please note that some versions of LVT may not be compatible and must be researched.
    01514 953434
    Stuart Hicks is marketing manager at QA Flooring Solutions
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