A wood-look floor that is cool in summer and warm in winter | by Francesco Gerardi

Article published in: "Wood-look tiles in interior design"

Underfloor heating – also known as in-floor heating or radiant floor heating – is often considered a very recent innovation, but as some people may remember it was already in use in the period between the 1950s and 1970s. The main difference between the modern-day system and its predecessor lies not so much in the concept as in its greater efficiency due to the enormous technological advances that have been made in the intervening years. So let’s take a look at the details of the system and the advantages it offers. The basic concept involves installing the heating system underneath the floor and to use insulating panels to ensure that heat is diffused upwards uniformly. There are essentially two types of underfloor heating system: hydronic systems in which water flows through closed-circuit pipes; and electrical resistance elements. The former solution is the most widely used, with the water heated by various methods including boilers, heat pumps and photovoltaic and solar panels.

So what advantages does this system offer with respect to traditional radiators? Firstly, underfloor heating is able to diffuse heat much more uniformly throughout the house, unlike the situation that frequently occurs with conventional wall-mounted radiators where the area around the radiator itself is very warm but areas further away remain cold. But it also has economic and environmental advantages: because the system operates with water at a much lower water temperature than with wall-mounted radiators, it achieves significant energy savings and an overall cost reduction of up to 35%. However the advantages will only be felt in the long term due to the higher initial purchase costs (as much as 50% higher). Another advantage is the fact that a system of this kind can easily be converted into a cooling system simply by supplying cool rather than warm water. This allows for ambient cooling without the need for an air conditioner. It also eliminates the dust and mites that tend to accumulate around wall-mounted radiators.

Finally, a word of mention should go to the best choice of floor covering with this kind of heating system. While a system like the one we have described can be installed without difficulty under any kind of material, the superior thermal conductivity of ceramic tile to that of other materials makes it possible to enjoy all the advantages of this material without the sensation of “coldness” of ceramic surfaces being a problem. Installing an underfloor heating system underneath a ceramic tiled floor produces a surface that adapts perfectly to all seasons and all climates – cool in summer and warm in winter.

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