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Introduction: Thoughts on Heating Mats

Electric underfloor heating – once the preserve of Scandinavia – has become increasing popular in the United Kingdom in recent years, not least because of advances in heating technology, itself, insulation, etc.. In fact, electric underfloor heating systems, nowadays, can help meet the requirements of the latest Part L Building Regulations, with regard to the conservation of fuel and power. Electric underfloor heating is also straightforward to install, in new build, or in renovation projects, where it need not raise the level of an existing floor by more than ½", or so.

Laminate Flooring & Underfloor Heating

Laminate flooring, too, has benefitted from technological advances in its construction, such that it has become a popular, low cost, alternative to real wood flooring, Laminate flooring can be glued directly onto a sub-floor, or laid on underlay, which raises it slightly from the surface below, but, in either case, installation is easy, and the end result is durable and long-lasting. Laminate flooring may be warmer underfoot than, say, a stone, marble or tiled floor, but that does not mean that it still cannot benefit from the installation of electric underfloor heating.

Electric underfloor heating is available in the form of heating cables, or heating mats – where heating cables are embedded into thin, lightweight mats – which can be laid beneath most floor types with a minimum of fuss. Heating mats are available in convenient, ready-made sizes, or can be cut to size to fit almost any room, or space; it may be possible to reduce the length, but not the width, of some electric heating mats, which may make installation in a highly irregular spaces difficult, so heating cables may be the only viable option.

The installation of electric heating mats beneath a laminate floor, for example, requires very little in the way of floor preparation. The surface of the subfloor does, however, need to be flat, smooth and free from debris; a latex levelling compound may therefore be required, to provide a completely flat surface on which to work. You should also be aware that electric heating mats and cables are available in different levels of output, per unit area, and, while 100W/m2, or 130W/m2, heating mats may be suitable for installation beneath a laminate floor, higher outputs may present a risk of damaging, or even igniting, the floor covering. A heat mat with a higher output – say, 160W/m2 or 200W/m2 – may, however, be necessary beneath a laminate floor in a conservatory, or similar area, where heat losses are expected to be high.

This guide is not intended to replace the fitting instructions found in each pack you buy, always read the instructions carefully before you start laying the laminate flooring.