Underfloor heating with laminate floors: Is it a good idea?

grey kitchen with black aga and wooden laminate flooring
(Image credit: Lifestyle Floors)

Pairing underfloor heating with laminate flooring is a good option for many as it combines cost-effective and efficient heating with a similarly budget-friendly floor material.

Underfloor heating stays at a low temperature, using both convection and radiant heat to warm a room — plus, who doesn't want warm toes on a cold winter's morning? 

However, before you start ripping up your existing types of flooring and taking out your radiators, our industry experts below detail the ins and outs of installing laminate flooring with underfloor heating, and if there are any considerations to make. 

Underfloor heating with laminate flooring: Is it possible? 

Laminate flooring is suitable for laying on top of underfloor heating, but it is not the most efficient of materials for the system. 

"While the majority of floor coverings prove to be suitable for use with underfloor heating, some undoubtedly offer a better heat transfer and thermal conductivity than others," advises James Lloyd, specification consultant at Wunda Group

"Tiles are the most thermally conductive floor finish, but there are many other everyday options that work well including types of carpet, engineered wood, laminate and vinyl."

What are pros and cons of underfloor heating with laminate floors?

There are many benefits to installing underfloor heating with laminate flooring, and low cost materials combined with comparatively low running costs for heating are high on the list. Underfloor heating costs less to use than traditional central heating boiler systems so the initial outlay for many is worth the change.  

"Laminate flooring is cost-effective and is designed to suit any home and, as it is available in any shade, it is a very popular floor surface," continues James Lloyd.

Installing underfloor heating with laminate is also a popular choice on zones where water resistant floor properties are required, such as kitchen or bathrooms where water can be splashed and not immediately wiped up. 

"Just as with underfloor heating with carpet, the biggest con is that not all laminate floorings are suitable for use with underfloor heating, although a great many are, so you will need to spend a bit of time checking first," comments Sam Way, buyer, hard flooring at Carpetright

"The benefits include the wonderful effect of teaming underfloor heating and laminate with a specialist underlay. Designed with a low tog rating, these underlays are designed to allow air to circulate and let the heat through the floor for toasty toes!"

grey bathroom with laminate flooring, freestanding bath and vanity unit

Lifestyle Floors' Love AQUA is a water-resistant laminate that is safe for use with UFH.  (Image credit: Lifestyle Floors)

Is wet or electric UFH better with laminate flooring?

"Both water and electric underfloor heating systems are suitable to use with laminate flooring. If opting for laminate, choose one that is of low resistance to ensure optimal heat transfer," says Wunda's James Lloyd. "Materials such as laminate or vinyl can reduce the time it takes to heat up a room or area, creating a ‘responsive’ underfloor heating system. 

"However, you may want to think carefully before installing electric underfloor heating. Electric systems are primarily advised for heating smaller spaces such as bathrooms due to the ever-increasing running costs; a water-based system is vastly more cost-effective to run than electric."

What's the best underlay for underfloor heating with laminate? 

"Hard floors need a different kind of underlay from carpets. Laminate floor underlay, for instance, is needed to help prevent moisture and protect the joints of the floor from warping and flexing," advises Carpetright's Sam Way. 

Try to find a thick underlay with a low tog rating — many options are designed to be used with both laminate and underfloor heating systems.

What is a maximum temperature I can use? 

As laminates are primarily made of plastic, there is a limit on how high a temperature the material can withstand before showing damage. This can depend on both the manufacturer and the type of underfloor heating, so check for compatibility before you buy either. 

"Most laminates can be used with underfloor heating (up to a max temp of usually around 27/28ºC) but always check the manufacturer’s product information prior to purchase as they can differ from range to range," says Inga Morris-Blincoe at Lifestyle Floors.

"Before you purchase your laminate flooring, be sure to check the maximum temperature it can withstand. This can vary. As a general rule of thumb, most underlay and luxury vinyl tiles designed to be used in conjunction with underfloor heating systems are suitable up to 27⁰C, but always check before buying," confirms Carpetright's Sam Way.

Amy Reeves

Assistant Editor Amy began working for Homebuilding & Renovating in 2018. She has an interest in sustainable building methods and always has her eye on the latest design ideas. Amy has interviewed countless self builders, renovators and extenders about their experiences for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. She is currently renovating a mid-century home, together with her partner, on a DIY basis, and has recently fitted her own kitchen.