How to choose a warm floor under the laminate: a comparative analysis of the best options

Evgenia Kravchenko
Checked by a specialist: Evgenia Kravchenko
Author: Mikhail Yashin
Last update: August 2019

Laminate has good performance, spectacular and varied design. In combination with underfloor heating, it is an excellent option for living quarters.

In order to decide which warm floor to choose for the laminate, it is necessary to compare installation methods and the nuances of using water and electric options. Let's take a closer look at all these points.

General rules for flooring

Lamellas warming up in thickness when using a warm floor is much stronger than with ordinary “air” heating. Therefore, the laminate is subject to additional requirements for its physicochemical properties.

Laminate Specifications

Due to the thermal effect, the lamellas may be bent. The coefficient of thermal expansion of the plates is small, but even taking into account this fact, it is necessary to use models only with a lock type connection. Unlike glued laminate, such joining has a floating effect and will not allow swelling when heated.

For a warm floor use a special perforated backing. It is more rigid, has a reduced thickness and a small thermal (thermal) resistance (0.04 - 0.06 m2* K / W). According to the standards specified in the standard EN 4725, the total resistance value of the substrate and the laminate should not be more than 0.15 m2* K / W.

Therefore, for example, an environmentally friendly cork base cannot be used, since it has good thermal insulation properties.

The floor surface must freely give off heat, so it is necessary to ensure access to air. On the laminate, under which the heating elements are located, you can not lay carpets and put cabinets without legs. Otherwise, overheating of the covered floor will occur.

Laminate deformation due to overheating
Non-compliance with the temperature regime leads to thermal expansion of the laminate panels.When they are tightly connected, a curvature of the floor surface will occur.

The floor heating zone extends beyond the boundaries of the laid water pipes, electrical cable or electrical system constructed from infrared film. Therefore, it is advisable to deviate a certain distance from the walls in order to prevent heating of their lower part. It dries the glue that holds the wallpaper and baseboard.

You also need to calculate the indent from heating radiators, stoves and other heat sources. This must be done to prevent the temperature of the laminate from exceeding the permissible range.

After installing the floor, you need to draw up a plan diagram of the position of pipes, cables or infrared panels. As a result of redevelopment, it may be necessary to rigidly fix various objects to the floor, such as a bar counter or a children's sports wall. In this case, you have to drill the floor to its base. The presence of the plan will avoid deformation of the heating elements.

Laminate marking for underfloor heating
There is no unified marking for a laminate designed for use with a warm floor. However, intuitively in appearance of the icons, you can guess its purpose

The problem of emission of harmful substances

In the manufacture of the laminate, phenolic-formaldehyde binding resins are used that contain methanal (formaldehyde). This gas belongs to toxic substances of the first hazard class. The intensity of its evaporation depends on the amount of heating of the impregnated boards.

The batch manufacturer indicates the permissible contact temperature, above which the evaporation process can begin (usually 27-30 ° C).

For this reason, you must adhere to the following rules:

  • Do not exceed the lamella heating limits set by the manufacturer. To control the temperature is enough temperature sensors.
  • Observe ventilation requirements for residential premises. The concentration of methanal, as well as other harmful gases (phenol, styrene, benzene, etc.), is easy to reduce due to ventilation.
  • Choose products with class E0 (no formaldehyde emissions) or E1 (minimum emissions). A safe laminate is slightly more expensive than a normal one, but it will ensure that there are no health problems in the event of a temperature control system failure.

After installation, to test the heating and setting optimal parameters, make a test run. This is best done without a permanent stay of residents in the room. If you smell formaldehyde, which is similar to the smell of new furniture, you need to check the temperature characteristics of the floor and perform ventilation.

Gas analyzer for measuring formaldehyde concentration
A portable gas analyzer can be purchased to determine formaldehyde concentration. The single MPC of this gas is 0.05 mg / m3, the average daily - 0.01 mg / m3

Underfloor heating systems

In total, there are three generally accepted methods for organizing floor heating: using a water circuit, an electric cable, and infrared plates. To understand which floor is better to install under the laminate, you need to consider their differences in technology, complexity and cost of installation, as well as features of operation.

Option number 1 - the use of water heating

For this type of heating, a circuit located under the floor covering, consisting of pipes of small diameter, through which hot water or another heat carrier circulates, is used.

It is allowed to use this method for apartment heating only on the first floors, but it is also inappropriate there, since connection to the general system requires coordination, and there will also be difficulties with adjusting the temperature.

This method of heating is often and successfully used for private homes. With the correct calculation of heat transfer and high-quality installation, it is quite effective. The main advantage of a water floor heating is the low cost of heating the coolant compared to electrical counterparts.

Gas boiler for heating
The cost of producing hot water for heating is much lower than the cost of paying for electricity. The only financial obstacle may be the cost of equipment

However, when choosing a solution in favor of a warm floor, working on the basis of circulation of hot liquid, you will have to face some difficulties. Correct installation in compliance with all standards is quite complicated, but necessary for the smooth operation of the system. Since repairs in the event of a breakdown are very time-consuming and lengthy, it is better to immediately complete the installation in accordance with all the rules.

For large rooms, such as a living room or a kitchen combined with a living room, the floor heating scheme is divided into several areas. It is also necessary to allocate a separate circulation pump, since the natural movement of the coolant is impossible if there is a long horizontal section of pipes with a small cross section.

For a bathroom or toilet, you can use a pipe system of a special design that ensures the movement of water without using a pump.

For an even supply of coolant, a distribution manifold with a mixing unit is used. You need to place it in a separate cabinet for free access to adjustment systems. It will also be necessary to have an idea of ​​the work of its many elements for the possibility of self-regulation of temperature and pressure.

The pipe system laid on the base is poured with a screed of three parts of sand and one part of cement, which will serve as the accumulator and heat distributor. It is not recommended to use anhydride (gypsum) or magnesite fill, as they are sensitive to moisture and even small defects in the pipes will cause problems.

Pouring cement screed for underfloor heating
Filling screeds is always dust and dirt. Even if the room was completely repaired, then after such a procedure it will have to be carried out again

After laying the pipes, it is necessary to wait about 28 days for the cured mixture to solidify. Then you need to apply a coolant, gradually increasing its temperature by 3-5 degrees during the day. This will help to adapt the base to operational realities, avoiding its cracking from the temperature of the pipes.

The maximum temperature at the entrance to the underfloor heating system depends on the thickness of the screed and is in the range from 40 to 55 degrees.

Thus, the entire process of starting the system will take about a month. The final procedure - laying the substrate and the laminate should be done on a screed that has completely cooled down.

Water floor heating can be mounted using “dry” technology. In this case, the pipes are placed in the grooves created by polystyrene foam insulation or formed by the panels of the flooring system.

On the wooden floors, a floor is arranged with water pipes laid in metal heat transfer plates, which contribute to uniform heating of the laminate. The effectiveness of this method is lower than that of the classic version using concrete screed.

Detailed instructions for connecting a water floor heating can be found in this article.

Option No. 2 - electric cable heating

The heating method using an electric cable is similar to water from the standpoint of the heat transfer method. The wires are also enclosed in a screed that accumulates heat and evenly distributes it under the base of the coating.

Anhydride or magnesite screed can be used, since there is no risk of water breakthrough. Their use will reduce the hardening time of the concrete base, which will reduce the period between the beginning of cable laying and the laying of the laminate to 10-12 days.

Filling anhydride screed
Anhydride screed has two advantages over cement screed: it is self-leveling and dries much faster. This is important for the quality of the rough coating and the speed of work.

In total, three types of cable are used:

  • Single core resistive. It has constant heat transfer over the entire length.Connecting both ends of the cable to the wiring occurs at one point.
  • Two-wire resistive. It has the same characteristics as a single-core cable, but there is no need to connect the ends in one place.
  • Self-regulating. Changes the power of its own heating depending on the temperature of the medium. It helps to establish the same temperature at different coefficients of thermal conductivity of individual sections of the floor.

Also, the electric floor can be purchased in the form of mats - a special grid on which the cable is fixed. It will be slightly more expensive than ordinary wires, but installation will be faster and there is no risk of cable shift. The laying rules, the total heat transfer and the recommended screed thickness are described in the product manual. And the subtleties of choosing an electric warm floor can be read here.

The installation of electric cables or mats is a little simpler and cheaper than similar work on laying water heating pipes. Adjusting the power of the electrical system is also easier, but the constant heating costs are much higher.

A technological obstacle to the predominant heating of a house with electricity can be an excess of the total load relative to the maximum connected. In this case, you must either abandon such an idea, or submit an application to the supplier to increase the limit of the electricity taken from the general energy system.

Calculation of electricity consumption
The total electricity consumption during the work of the warm floor can exceed the standard 15 kW of the maximum allowable power that is allocated for one residential building

Option number 3 - the use of infrared film

The film heating system is a rolled up flexible tape. Electric energy is converted into infrared radiation, which, falling on the surface of an object, heats it.

Since the radiation goes in both directions, reflective material is laid on the bottom of the roll to prevent heat loss. Typically, insulating materials with aluminum foil on the working side are used for these purposes.

The main advantage of the infrared method is the absence of the need to install heating in a concrete screed. This significantly shortens the time between the start of work and the commissioning of the system.

The process of laying infrared heating
When installing infrared floors, there is no dust or dirt. If the room has already been finished, the risk of damage is minimal

But on the other hand, the lack of screed creates one of the main problems of film heating. The film must not be placed under cabinets, sofas and other heavy objects. Otherwise, as a result of the work of a part of the panels in a compressed state, a fragmentary overheating of the system will occur with its complete failure.

The energy efficiency of infrared heating is higher than cable because of the lack of the need to heat the screed. The response of the film to heat is also faster. However, the water and cable options keep heat longer, as they have greater inertia.

When installing cables or infrared film, the skills of an electrician are required. During the installation process, you will have to perform such tasks as wiring, isolating the contacts, connecting sensors and thermostat.

We also recommend that you read the detailed instruction on installing the underfloor heating system under the laminate on various floor coverings:

  1. Concrete floor.
  2. Wooden floor.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Fill the water circuit with concrete screed:

Laying mats with electric cable:

Step-by-step instruction on the installation of the infrared floor:

First of all, the choice of a warm floor depends on the ability to connect the required temperature to hot water or to the electricity of the required power, as well as on the economic feasibility of one or another option.Compliance with the installation requirements of heating elements and the correct choice of laminate according to technical parameters contributes to the long and trouble-free functioning of the entire system.

Still can not decide on the choice of a warm floor for a laminate? Want to ask a question about the topic of an article? Please leave your comments, share your experience in the block below.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Vladimir

    I’m building a house for my son. I want to make a warm floor. In a house where there are small children, this is just a find, let yourself crawl. It is a pity when my children grew up, there was no such pleasure. Now I'm studying the theoretical part of the question. Here is a lot of useful information. I will make a warm floor based on the circulation of hot water through pipes. Laminate top. I was interested in how my friends arranged it. I think that I can do what I have outlined, if only spring comes.

  2. Nataliya

    For me, too, the topic with underfloor heating just under the laminate flooring is relevant. Now we plan to change the flooring, and equip the base for it with a heating system. Yes, I agree, there was no such convenience before. It’s good that now you can establish this pleasure with real ease. Now the choice of “warm floors” is much wider. Therefore, while I approach this issue from the point of view of study and comparison.

  3. Larisa

    My husband and I have small children, so we made a warm floor not only in the rooms, but also in the bathroom. Now you can calmly bathe your children and not worry that they will get sick. And if during the repair work the installation technology is not violated, then the problem of mold formation will be solved. Walking on the warm floor is a pleasure, even barefoot. The advantages of this coverage are obvious.