Floor covering for water floor heating

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Why do we make under­floor heat­ing? For what pur­pose? When choos­ing a heat­ing sys­tem, we nat­u­ral­ly think about the effi­cien­cy of heat­ing in the first place. How­ev­er, in the case of under­floor heat­ing, in addi­tion to effi­cien­cy, com­fort comes to the fore. A warm water floor was orig­i­nal­ly invent­ed in order to increase the lev­el of com­fort in a liv­ing space, not as the main heat­ing sys­tem. Accord­ing­ly, home­own­ers have always had a ques­tion. What should be the coat­ing for a warm water floor in order to have effec­tive heat­ing and ensure the aes­thet­ics of the inte­ri­or.

Since time, con­sumers have appre­ci­at­ed all the advan­tages of this method of heat­ing inte­ri­or spaces. The prac­ti­cal use of under­floor heat­ing in a vari­ety of ways gives an idea of ​​how dif­fer­ent floor cov­er­ings behave in a giv­en sit­u­a­tion. Thanks to mod­ern tech­nolo­gies, today the con­sumer has at his dis­pos­al a fair­ly wide selec­tion of mate­ri­als that can be used as a coat­ing for a water floor. What types of coat­ings can be used in this case, what are their tech­no­log­i­cal para­me­ters and oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ties? In this arti­cle we will try to answer these and oth­er ques­tions.

General information about warm water floors

Tra­di­tion­al­ly, it is cus­tom­ary to use water heat­ing sys­tems at home. Water heat­ed in an autonomous boil­er or a heat car­ri­er com­ing from a cen­tral­ized cen­tral heat­ing main diverges through the pipeline, sup­ply­ing heat to heat­ing devices. In the past, radi­a­tors were the main source of space heat­ing. With the cor­rect con­nec­tion of the bat­ter­ies and the absence of air pock­ets, this heat­ing option is quite effec­tive. The min­i­mum amount of con­sum­ables and aux­il­iary equip­ment makes the instal­la­tion of such a heat­ing sys­tem con­ve­nient and afford­able. Cap­ti­vat­ing and the cost of this option.

With warm floors, the sit­u­a­tion looks dif­fer­ent.

As a result of heat­ing the coolant, the water cir­cuit laid inside the floor dis­trib­utes ther­mal ener­gy over the entire area of ​​the heat­ed room. There is a nat­ur­al process of trans­fer­ring ther­mal ener­gy to the low­er lay­ers of air in a heat­ed room. Fur­ther, under the influ­ence of the laws of ther­mo­dy­nam­ics, the cir­cu­la­tion of air mass­es occurs, warm air ris­es, while cool air cools down. And this hap­pens all the time, all the time.

This method of heat­ing allows you to cre­ate an opti­mal tem­per­a­ture regime inside the liv­ing space, there­by increas­ing the lev­el of com­fort. Unlike radi­a­tors, which main­ly work as a ther­mal cur­tain, a heat­ed floor sup­plies heat to the entire inte­ri­or space.

For ref­er­ence: just look at the san­i­tary stan­dards spec­i­fied in the SNIPs. In accor­dance with the norms, the sur­face tem­per­a­ture of the floor should not exceed 290C, and the coolant should not have a tem­per­a­ture above 550FROM.

The heat­ed floor sur­face plays the role of a heat­ing device with a large heat­ing sur­face. The effi­cien­cy of such a sys­tem depends not only on the func­tion­al­i­ty of the entire heat­ing com­plex, but also on what kind of floor cov­er­ing is used to equip the water-heat­ed floor. Ini­tial­ly, heat is trans­ferred from the water cir­cuit to the con­crete screed or stacked struc­ture, and only then, by heat­ing the floor cov­er­ing, the heat is trans­ferred to the near­by air lay­ers. The table shows the tech­no­log­i­cal val­ues ​​for var­i­ous mate­ri­als used as floor­ing.


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In homes and in res­i­den­tial areas in gen­er­al, under­floor heat­ing is very con­ve­nient. In addi­tion to the orig­i­nal and effec­tive way of heat­ing, under­floor heat­ing opens up wide oppor­tu­ni­ties for design­ers to work with the inte­ri­or of a liv­ing space. Nor­mal oper­a­tion of heat­ing equip­ment is only half the bat­tle. A num­ber of fac­tors are impor­tant. How the con­crete screed of the heat­ing floors is made, how the wood­en floor is laid and what kind of floor fin­ish­ing mate­r­i­al is used. We often select floor­ing for aes­thet­ic rea­sons, with lit­tle regard for how pleas­ant the floor sur­face is to the touch. When choos­ing a fin­ish­ing mate­r­i­al for the floor in your home, you need to take into account how the coat­ing will inter­act with the heat­ing sys­tem.

What coat­ings can be used today when equip­ping under­floor heat­ing sys­tems in an apart­ment or in a house.

Types of floor coverings and their thermal conductivity

In order for the warm floor in your house to please you, work for a long time and with max­i­mum ben­e­fit, you need to choose the right floor cov­er­ing. Fin­ish­ing work in this case is cru­cial, since the mis­takes made can neu­tral­ize all the advan­tages of a warm floor.

Mate­ri­als for fin­ish­ing floors pro­duced today by man­u­fac­tur­ers can be used as a coat­ing for your warm floor. It does­n’t real­ly mat­ter what mate­r­i­al is used. Most floor cov­er­ings are prac­ti­cal­ly com­pat­i­ble with under­floor heat­ing. Dif­fer­ences can be in the struc­ture of the base mate­r­i­al and the ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty of the coat­ing, which nat­u­ral­ly affects the qual­i­ty of the heat­ing sys­tem.

Today, the fol­low­ing types of floor cov­er­ings are used for equip­ment under­floor heat­ing:

From nat­ur­al raw mate­ri­als:

  • par­quet board;
  • indus­tri­al, tech­ni­cal par­quet;
  • lam­i­nate;
  • wood­en boards (oak, beech, ash);
  • ceram­ic tile;
  • porce­lain stoneware;

Syn­thet­ic mate­ri­als:

All of the list­ed types of coat­ings and mate­ri­als are avail­able to the con­sumer. Only the price dif­fers. In accor­dance with the phys­i­cal prop­er­ties and per­for­mance char­ac­ter­is­tics, the scope of each type is also deter­mined. For liv­ing rooms, par­quet, wood­en board and lam­i­nate are per­fect. For domes­tic premis­es where high humid­i­ty is observed and san­i­tary stan­dards are required, linoleum, ceram­ic tiles and nat­ur­al stone can be used.

Dif­fer­ent areas of use and oper­at­ing con­di­tions deter­mine the effec­tive­ness of under­floor heat­ing. How­ev­er, the deci­sive fac­tor for the oper­a­tion of the “warm floor” heat­ing sys­tem is the ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty of mate­ri­als. The fig­ure shows the ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty of all floor cov­er­ings used today in every­day life, which can be used in com­bi­na­tion with hot water floors.

Ceramic tile. Coatings made of natural and artificial stone

In terms of ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty, one of the first places is occu­pied by ceram­ic tiles and oth­er coat­ings made of nat­ur­al or arti­fi­cial stone. An exam­ple of the high effi­cien­cy of such floor cov­er­ings is the con­crete screed itself. Yes, the con­crete floor will have to be heat­ed for a long time, but then, the con­crete will keep the heat per­fect­ly, giv­ing part of it inside the heat­ed room. The same prin­ci­ple applies to ceram­ic tiles.

For ref­er­ence: Warm ceram­ic tiles are ide­al floor­ing for bath­rooms, saunas and baths. In rooms with high humid­i­ty, tiled floors not only cre­ate addi­tion­al com­fort and cozi­ness, but also per­form an impor­tant san­i­tary func­tion. Fast dry­ing of the floor sur­face pre­vents the for­ma­tion of mold and oth­er pathogens.

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Here it is impor­tant to take into account not only the good ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty of ceram­ic tiles and porce­lain stoneware, but also their high heat capac­i­ty. For nor­mal heat­ing, you will need a pow­er­ful boil­er and a cer­tain lay­out of the water cir­cuit. Prop­er­ly select­ed step of lay­ing the under­floor heat­ing pipe will ensure uni­form and sta­ble heat­ing of the entire sur­face of the con­crete-ceram­ic floor.

Laminate and wood flooring

The most pop­u­lar floor cov­er­ing for res­i­den­tial, inhab­it­ed premis­es is lam­i­nate. Today, this mate­r­i­al is very pop­u­lar. Brib­ing high aes­thet­ic char­ac­ter­is­tics of the lam­i­nate, its prac­ti­cal­i­ty in oper­a­tion and a sim­ple way of lay­ing. More­over, the lam­i­nate is an order of mag­ni­tude cheap­er than a par­quet board, although out­ward­ly it is not much infe­ri­or to the orig­i­nal wood­en coat­ing.

Thanks to the man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­o­gy, the lam­i­nate has a dense struc­ture, which nat­u­ral­ly has a pos­i­tive effect on the ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty of the mate­r­i­al. Lam­i­nate floor­ing looks beau­ti­ful and har­mo­nious in liv­ing spaces and, if installed cor­rect­ly, can sat­is­fy you in every aspect.

Impor­tant! Lam­i­nate floor­ing must only be laid on a dry con­crete screed. Oth­er­wise, the bot­tom sur­face of the mate­r­i­al will absorb the remain­ing mois­ture, which will ulti­mate­ly lead to dis­as­trous results. As the lam­i­nate tile dries, it will begin to change its phys­i­cal prop­er­ties and shape. The coat­ing will begin to “walk”, creak and deform.

For lam­i­nate, the per­mis­si­ble heat­ing tem­per­a­ture of the warm floor is 270C. This tem­per­a­ture is very com­fort­able for the human foot and has a pos­i­tive effect on the con­di­tion of the floor­ing.

Using under­floor heat­ing in com­bi­na­tion with a wood­en board is not the best option. Nat­ur­al wood has a low ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty, so the effi­cien­cy of the water floor in such a room will be extreme­ly low. Under the influ­ence of heat, the boards dry out faster, which nat­u­ral­ly affects the strength of the floor and its aes­thet­ic char­ac­ter­is­tics. Sim­i­lar­ly, we can sum­ma­rize the behav­ior of par­quet in com­bi­na­tion with under­floor heat­ing. The expen­sive and lux­u­ri­ous appear­ance that the par­quet gives to the inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion of the room will become an obsta­cle to the nor­mal heat­ing of the inte­ri­or space.

Synthetic materials

The linoleum that is famil­iar to all of us, along with water floors, does not behave in the best way. In prac­tice, it has been noticed more than once. Dif­fer­ent types of linoleum behave dif­fer­ent­ly in com­bi­na­tion with a heat­ing floor, although some types cope with the tasks. Which? Linoleum with­out insu­la­tion, on a smooth basis, has the nec­es­sary ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty, is resis­tant to heat­ing and retains its shape for a long time.

On a note: use linoleum with­out felt insu­la­tion and PVC foam. For a warm floor cov­ered with thin linoleum, the opti­mum heat­ing tem­per­a­ture is no more than 270C. Oth­er­wise, under the influ­ence of high tem­per­a­ture, linoleum may change col­or, become exces­sive­ly soft and lose its shape.

It is strong­ly not rec­om­mend­ed to use vinyl or PVC tiles for under­floor heat­ing. These mate­ri­als have a high coef­fi­cient of ther­mal lin­ear expan­sion (CTLE), which neg­a­tive­ly affects their behav­ior at the time of heat­ing. Remem­ber the option with poly­mer pipes used in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem.

The most unsuit­able mate­r­i­al for water heat­ed floors is car­pet. The mate­r­i­al com­plete­ly extin­guish­es the heat com­ing from below, pre­vent­ing the main action of the heat­ing sys­tem.

Marking of floor coverings used for underfloor heating

Like any fin­ish­ing and build­ing mate­r­i­al, floor cov­er­ings must be appro­pri­ate­ly marked.

Each mate­r­i­al must have appro­pri­ate icons, sym­bols and pic­tograms indi­cat­ing that this type of coat­ing can be used in com­bi­na­tion with water under­floor heat­ing. Pay spe­cial atten­tion to the lam­i­nate. It is based on formalde­hyde, a chem­i­cal ele­ment that is harm­ful in high con­cen­tra­tions. Accord­ing to the val­ues ​​​​on the E0-E3 mark­ing, one can judge the per­mis­si­ble norms for the con­tent of formalde­hyde in the mate­r­i­al. For a warm floor, the ide­al val­ue would be E0 or E1.

Tiles and porce­lain tiles also have a mark­ing indi­cat­ing the scope of use. For under­floor heat­ing, such mate­ri­als usu­al­ly have a small­er thick­ness, which accord­ing­ly affects the degree of heat­ing.

In con­clu­sion, I would like to say. If you have a warm water floor as your main heat­ing option, then try to com­bine ceram­ic tiles and lam­i­nate floor­ing. Oth­er floor­ing mate­ri­als are inef­fec­tive, and in some cas­es use­less.

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