The Complete Guide to Tiles and Underfloor Heating
By Zoe Crook
Aug 30, 2022
Everything you need to know about using tiles with underfloor heating...
Why tiles are perfect for underfloor heating
Tiles and underfloor heating are a great match. Tiles are efficient conductors of heat meaning that warmth emanating from the underfloor heating system is quickly transferred to the surface of the tile. Not only do tiles quickly warm up once the underfloor heating system is on, but they also efficiently transfer heat to the rest of the room.
Can all tiles be used with underfloor heating?All tiles can be used with underfloor heating, however, some tiles are more suitable than others.
Best tiles for underfloor heating
Some tiles are better heat conductors than others and are more resilient to changes in temperature. See our breakdown below for information on each tile material.
Terracotta tiles work exceptionally well with underfloor heating. The porous nature of terracotta tiles means they retain the heat so they can still feel warm even after your underfloor heating has been switched off.
Browse our range of reclaimed and handmade Terracotta.
Cement tiles are naturally slip resistant and so are ideal on bathroom floors – one of the most common rooms for underfloor heating. Not only are they grippy but with underfloor heating below, they create a beautifully warm and inviting space. It is a common misconception that cement tiles are not as suitable for underfloor heating because they are thicker, but their thickness doesn’t affect heat conduction and output.
Explore our range of Cement Tiles.
Marble tiles offer some of the most efficient flooring to be used with underfloor heating due to their high thermal conductivity. This means that little energy is lost from the heating pipe to the marble tile surface. Marble tiles also have a relatively high thermal mass enabling them to effectively store heat and release it back when your underfloor heating system is switched off.
Our collection of Marble Tiles features a range of colours and shapes.
Porcelain tiles are one of the most popular tiles to use with underfloor heating because they retain heat effectively, meaning they are suited to exposed rooms with high heat loss. Porcelain tiles are also very quick to heat up once the underfloor heating has been switched on, thanks in part to the fact they are relatively thin.
See our range of Porcelain Tiles.
Terrazzo tiles are primarily made from cement with embedded marble chips. Due to this, they have all the benefits of cement tiles for underfloor heating as outlined above.
Explore our collection of Terrazzo Tiles.
Tiling over underfloor heating: considerations
Creating a flat and stable surface
It’s essential that the surface on which you’re laying the tiles is flat. Uneven, weak, and undulating subfloors mean any fluctuations are carried over to the tiles’ surface layer which can lead to cracking. To protect against any subfloor movement, a decoupling membrane is recommended to separate the subfloor from the tiles and ensure any motion is sequestered.
Thermal expansion and contraction
When a screed over underfloor heating dries, it expands and contracts with the temperature changes. To protect the tiling above from cracking due to this movement, expansion joints need to be fitted to release the pressure that may otherwise put stress on the tiles above.
Turn off underfloor heating for at least 3 days before installing your tiles, to avoid risk of weakening the grout and adhesive. Once you have completed the tiling, wait 10 days before turning the underfloor heating on, beginning with a low temperature and gradually increase.
For more information on how Bert & May can transform your space, book an online or in-store Design Consultation.