Having a ceramic tile floor not only looks great; but can be very effective in helping to keep your home cool during hot weather. Unfortunately during cold weather a tiled floor can be very cold indeed to walk on, regardless of whether or not you have anything on your feet. The solution to this is to have a tile warmer system, which is more commonly referred to as an under-floor heating system.
Types of Under Floor Heating
You can install two types of under-floor heating; a network of hot water pipes or network of electric cables – that will work rather like an electric blanket. As a DIY home enthusiast, installing an electric cable system is a much easier and a quicker job to undertake. Whilst taking great care to follow the exact manufacturer’s instructions, the basic principles for buying and fitting an under-floor electric cable heating system are as follows.
Electric Cable Tile Warmers
Under-floor electric heating systems are available in two forms – prepared mats of cable or drums of the cable itself. Using the prepared mats is an ideal way to fit an electric under-floor heating system for most rooms; and is certainly recommended if your room is of a typically rectangular or square shape.
However, if you have a room with a lot of curved walls or shapes to fit it around – you might want to use the cable itself. Electric under-floor heating mats and cables are available with varying power outputs, suitable for heating the different materials above them.
Whether you decide to buy mats or the cable itself – as a rule of thumb, to act as a tile warmer you’ll need to buy a system that can produce between 150 W/m2 and 200 W/m2 of power to adequately heat the tiles above it. Of course your under-floor heating system won’t just heat the tiles above it – but also the concrete or timbers below it; which ultimately means you’re wasting heat, energy and ultimately money.
You should find that a supplier of under-floor tile warmers will also be able to supply you with under-floor heating insulation boards to fit the electric heating system on top of; making sure that any heat loss ‘downwards’ is absolutely minimized. In today’s energy conscious times you really should use as much insulation in your home as possible.
Heating Cable Installation
Bearing in mind the need to have a ‘green’ attitude towards energy efficiency – the following describes how to install the electric heating system on top of the supplier’s insulation boards; regardless whether the floor itself is concrete or timber.
If your floor has a bituminous finish to it, even using the insulating boards, you may well need to cover the surface with a latex compound first. The under-floor heating mats come in varying sizes. They are simply two layers of a fabric with the heating cable running through them in a zigzag pattern.
The mats can, if necessary, be cut – without cutting through the cable – in order to be fitted exactly to a room.
The cable itself comes in drums up to 100m in length. You can then arrange it to any zigzag pattern you wish. For both the mats and the cable – a reputable manufacturer will supply ideas and diagrams for patterns to fit it in. Unless you’re properly qualified, get an electrician to connect the heating cables to a spare circuit breaker on your panel.
If you’ve used a cable mat system you can usually fit the tiles directly on top of the mat, using a flexible tile adhesive, consult the manufacturer’s instructions first. If you’ve used the cable itself you must put down a layer of leveling compound screed, to completely cover the cables. This will be difficult to do without disturbing the layout of the cables you’ve just created.
See Also: Radiant Heat Flooring