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Underfloor Heating vs. Radiators: How to Choose


The two most common options when it comes to deciding how to heat your home fall between radiators and underfloor heating. We all know the importance of keeping our homes warm and cosy but which is the best option and how to you go about deciding which one to choose? Below is an outline comparing the two and a list of pros and cons to help you with the ‘underfloor heating vs. radiators: how to choose’ dilemma.

Fundamental Principles of Both

Firstly it is important to understand the fundamental principles of each. Underfloor heating is an excellent way to keep your home warm. Not only comforting to walk on but it evenly distributes heat around the room and frees up your walls from radiators, giving your rooms extra space. Depending on your requirements and needs, underfloor heating can either come as ‘wet’ or electric.

Radiators are the most commonly used source of heat using, boiling hot water from the pipes to give off heat. Many people have heated towel rails in their bathroom to keep the bathroom warm and to ensure you have warm dry towels waiting for you. There is a range of options when it comes to the look and function of radiators, you can choose space-saving vertical radiators, designer or your straight forward traditional look radiators.

Pros of Underfloor Heating

  • Cost effective and energy efficient - Although underfloor heating comes with a high installation price, running cost is considerably lower than that of radiators. Underfloor warmth is able to not only heat larger areas than an individual radiator but does so at a lower temperature, reducing costs. There is also less heat wastage and your floors maintain the heat even if a room has draughty windows, making underfloor heating an eco-friendly choice.
  • Even heating - Underfloor heating will ensure the entire room is evenly heated throughout. As heat rises you will also have the benefits of better, cleaner air circulation.
  • Space Saving - with no need for radiators, all your wall space if freed up and your central heating discreetly hidden.
  • Comfort - Warm underfoot and no need for slippers or thicker socks in the winter. The underfloor option provides extra comfort when getting out the bath/shower as well as when you step in through the front door from the cold.
  • Suitable for most floor types - underfloor heating can even be installed under carpet providing the carpet isn’t too thick. Wooden, tiled or stone floor are all suitable too.

Cons of Underfloor Heating

  • Difficult to install - the installation process is not only lengthy but can be pricey too, requiring a professional to lay and disturb the existing flooring. However, if your flooring has not yet been laid, the process is far simpler.
  • Only for use in some rooms - Most people only have underfloor heating installed in rooms which are used the most such as living rooms, kitchen, bedroom and bathrooms. This means other rooms such as utilities, cloakrooms and additional rooms will still require the installation of radiators.
  • Effective insulation is required - due to the nature of underfloor heating and the fact that heat rises, there needs to be effective insulation throughout the house to ensure the heat is maintained.

Pros of Radiators

  • Easy to Install - Radiators need to simply be attached to the wall and connected. An instant and far simpler process than underfloor heating.
  • Wide selection - you will not be stuck for choice when deciding on the best type of radiator for your home. You can choose aesthetically pleasing radiators in a range of styles and colours or those in which take up minimal wall space.
  • Suitable for all rooms - Radiators can be fitted even in the smallest of rooms meaning each and every room in your house can be heated. In addition to this, those rooms in which are not being used can simply have the radiator switched off, saving you money by not heating an unused room.

Cons of Radiators

  • Space - even if you install a slimline radiator, valuable wall or furniture space will still be taken up.
  • Placement - you need to carefully consider where to place the radiator to ensure maximum heat is achieved. Blocked by sofas or other items or furniture can mean the room is never fully heated.
  • Awkward - they can make decorating tricky due to the difficulty in painting behind them as well as making the arrangement of furniture difficult as you need to accommodate the radiator.

What to Choose?

So after careful consideration and weighing up of the pros and cons for each of the heating systems which one do you choose?

Well, underfloor heating seems to be the most luxurious, comforting and more modern approach to warming your home. Many people are choosing this option for their home as it allows for more space and freedom with design and room layout.

A better option perhaps for those who are completing a new build or renovation due to the disruption installation of the underfloor heating can cause. Radiators appear to still be the firm favourite and most popular heating source in people’s homes. Easier and cheaper to install, as well as available in a wide range of colours and styles there is a radiator to suit any room.

Still Can’t Decide?

Then why not choose both! Lay underfloor heating in your most used rooms and bathroom and choose radiators for the spare bedrooms, utility and downstairs cloakroom. That way you are getting the best of both worlds and a lovely warm home throughout.