Our house renovation dream

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Flooring Material for Underfloor Heating

When your house looks like this, it’s difficult to comprehend what it might be like to live in it, never mind start thinking about details like flooring.

April 2013 (Update 3)

If you’re renovating or self-building, decisions on flooring need to be made in the very early stages because the depth of the floor joists will vary depending on what flooring you’re having and if you’re having different flooring across the house, you’ll want to maintain a consistent floor depth.

As we’re having underfloor heating throughout the whole house, we’ve had to choose the right kinds of flooring now, that will best conduct the heat and be as energy efficient as possible, look gorgeous and for us, be as allergy-friendly as possible. As Paul suffers with a severe dust mite allergy, we’re having hard floors throughout the whole house – tiles downstairs to the kitchen and living area and hardwood floors to the first and second floors.

Ground Floor: Once the underfloor heating has been laid, there will be a concrete screed covering it, this will be levelled out across the whole ground floor. We’ve had to dig the floor out 300mm to be able to have enough depth to do this. Our house is going to have a country/contemporary style so we’ve had our heart set on natural stone flagstones for the ground floor to do this. Pinterest served as inspiration and we found these flagstones which looked nice and “Yorkshirey”…. available only in Australia (dammit) from Bellstone and Slate

Natural stone flagstones are great laid on top of screed, but if you have, or are considering having pets, they can be a nightmare to clean. We’re currently debating whether to go for natural stone or a porcelain replica. Either way, it’ll look like the Bellstone and Slate flooring throughout downstairs.

First and Second Floor Bedrooms: all of our bedrooms will have engineered oak wood floors throughout and they’ll also be our structural floor. This is a good solution for us, because we have limited head height in the property (because it’s such an oldie). It means that we can have underfloor heating installed in between the floor joists, as in the diagram below from nuheat (our underfloor heating supplier), with a layer of insulation and chipboard then the structural wood floor laid on top. It’s important that you select a hard wood floor which works with underfloor heating, engineered is a good starting point.

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Bathrooms: We’re using tiles that look as knackered as possible, black with white cracks, the kind of tiles you might see on a factory floor. We’re struggling to track some down, after finding the tiles we wanted were discontinued. A sturdy tile, similar to downstairs will conduct the heat well too, and it’s vital that for your bathroom you have a high H-rating on the tiles so you don’t buy something you could easily slip on. We nearly made that mistake by thinking we’d like super-shiny polished concrete, which would have looked glam but would have been a bit of a cautionary tale every time you get out of the shower.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to have carpet in your house, most carpets are compatible with underfloor heating, just make sure that the combination of carpet and underlay have a combined thermal resistance of less than 2.5 tog.