Wood flooring is one of the most sought-after amenities in a home. The warm natural appearance of wood makes it beautiful and timeless.
Original hardwood floors are a drawing feature of older traditional homes but for new homes they may be impractical or unnecessary. Huge strides have been made in laminate flooring manufacture such that it’s now possible to achieve the natural look of wood with the superior properties enabled by advanced technology.
The main advantages to using laminate flooring are that it is:
While hardwood is susceptible to scratching, can get damaged from excessive moisture, and will show wear in heavily trafficked areas, laminate - which is made from pressed wood and layers of synthetic material - is more durable. Laminate can resist scratches, moisture, and overall wear and tear. Laminate flooring is also easier to clean as it is less porous and can tolerate a wider variety of cleaners.
Hardwood flooring is considerably more expensive to both purchase and install. Laminate is not only cheaper to manufacture, but because each board is perfectly molded to fit with adjacent boards, laminate wood installation is, on average, 50 percent less expensive than hardwood installation.
The composite layers that comprise laminate flooring means that well-manufactured brands are superior to even hardwood in terms of resistance to moisture, heat, and warping.
Laminate Flooring and Underfloor Heating
The best flooring types for underfloor heating are stone or ceramic tiling because they offer the best thermal conductivity and highest durability under repeated and rapid heating and cooling. Stone and ceramic tiling, however, is expensive and tends to offer a less suitable decorative aesthetic for most parts of a home.
Laminate flooring, therefore, is a good option for use with underfloor heating. When installing underfloor heating with laminate flooring, the key is to ensure thermal conductivity. As a rule, thermal conductivity is better with denser laminate. The thinner the flooring material and the higher the density, the more responsive the system will be.
Water vs. Electric Underfloor Heating
If you’re combining laminate floor with underfloor heating, the ability to adjust the temperature in steps is essential. Both water and electric underfloor heating systems are suitable, therefore, as long as they offer variable temperature settings.
Rules to Remember
Although laminate flooring can be considered generally safe to use with underfloor heating, there are nonetheless a few important points to remember when installing and using it:
Underfloor mineral substrates must be warmed up gradually before installing the flooring. If not moisture may end up permanently trapped inside them leading to the risk of cracking. This is especially important for floor surfaces that are made of or derived from wood (such as laminates). Make sure to heat up the underfloor and allow it to cool off again according to the prescribed schedule before installing the laminate flooring. The underfloor surface should be at least 15°C when installing the laminate flooring.
The first time the heating system is used after installing the laminate flooring you should gradually increase the temperature in steps of 5°C per day. Continue doing this until you have reached the maximum infeed temperature (the highest temperature your system is capable of producing). This process should also be repeated at the start of each winter season.
Each laminate flooring product will come with a maximum recommended temperature, usually in the range of 25-27 °C. It is not advised to cover heated areas, as there is a risk of trapping heat and causing the temperature to rise beyond the rated maximum.
Here are some recommended services that provide laminate underfloor heating: