Underfloor heating systems: a complete guide

min read time
2023-05-31 10:42:54

With the Future Homes initiative, there is lots of change in terms of how homes will be heated in the UK from 2025. 

In the last four to six months in particular, we’ve seen a big drive towards installing air source heat pumps from housing developers as they make changes to reflect these new government targets.

The Future Homes Standard means that new developments can’t use fossil fuels to heat new properties. While some developers are looking at continuing to work with radiators, there are some concerns that this isn’t the most effective or energy-efficient method. In fact, we believe a fantastic alternative heating system which works incredibly well in conjunction with heat pumps is underfloor heating.

In this blog, we’ll be putting this particular heating solution under the spotlight to explain why it is an incredible heating method for both new developments and existing properties in comparison to radiators.

Before we begin, let’s first take a look at the history of underfloor heating systems.

Underfloor heating explained

Underfloor heating was originally introduced to the UK in the 1970s and was classed as a modern technique to heat homes and other buildings.
With an underfloor heating system, the floor is gently heated by piped warm water and the heat energy is emitted from the floor by natural radiation.
Throughout the years the system has continued to evolve and is now seen as an effective and energy-efficient alternative to traditional radiators. 

The most popular underfloor heating systems

At Wavin, we offer a range of underfloor heating systems which can accommodate a number of different installation needs.
The three most popular types of underfloor heating options currently being installed across the UK include:

Staple System


1: Staple

Staple is the most straightforward installation method where the underfloor heating pipes are clipped directly to the thermal insulation layer using plastic ‘tacker’ staples.

This type of underfloor heating allows the greatest flexibility of pipe layout and spacing. It is also a great solution for installers who want to minimise cost and feel comfortable in spacing and laying pipework. This is then covered in concrete screed creating a heating system invisible to the homeowner, which can be tiled, or covered with wooden or carpet floors.


2: Castellated Plate

The castellated plate is a vacuum-formed plastic plate with an integral series of clips which hold the pipes in place.
The plate can be laid straight over an insulation layer or any other flat sub-floor, plus no special tools are needed to fix the pipes down. 

The grid layout of the plates means the spacing of the pipes will be neat and consistent throughout.

Concrete screed is then laid on top of the castellated plate to give a level floor for tiles, wood, or carpet to be laid on top of.

Low Build

3: Low Build Panel

Perfect for retrofit situations, low-build panels use high-density extruded polystyrene insulation panels that can be laid over a new or existing flat subfloor, and the panels are grooved to accept the underfloor heating pipes.

Low-build panels are 15mm in height and the floor can be laid directly on top of them. This is useful in existing buildings where raising the floor height significantly may not be suitable. 

When it comes to choosing which underfloor heating system is the most suitable for your project, there are a few considerations to bear in my mind including the property type, the size of the property and the space available.

If you need some support to identify what products you’ll need for your installation, check out our Underfloor heating calculator. It will help you through every stage of the process and can even provide a comprehensive quotation in just three simple steps.

The misconceptions about underfloor heating systems

Unfortunately, there is a perception that underfloor heating is seen as a ‘luxury’ item that may be too expensive for developers and homeowners on the hunt for an alternative heating system.

However, this isn’t the case. In fact, some radiators on the market today can actually be more expensive than underfloor heating so it’s incorrect to assume that radiators are always a cheaper solution.

For underfloor heating to be adopted more widely in the industry, a better understanding of the system and its many benefits is needed. To help, we’ve compared underfloor heating to traditional radiators to showcase how underfloor heating is a great alternative system. 

Underfloor heating vs radiators

Some of the main differences we’ve identified between underfloor heating and radiators include the following.

Heat distribution

How underfloor heating and radiators distribute heat is completely different. Radiators work by heating up air which rises and circulates around the room, which can often create uneven temperatures as well as hot and cold spots within each room.
On the other hand, the floor is the heat source for underfloor heating, which creates a more consistent temperature ensuring comfortable warmth throughout the property. 

The downstairs designs of new build properties and home renovations have recently seen an increase in open plan layout, where the living area, dining space and kitchen are all intertwined. Underfloor heating is the perfect match for evenly heating spaces like these, whereas radiators would struggle to give overall warmth. 


Underfloor heating is more efficient when paired with heat pumps and needs a lower temperature to heat up a room, unlike radiators. 
Radiators can’t operate as effectively as heat pumps. They require higher temperatures to compensate for the uneven distribution of heat which results in higher heating bills and wasted energy.


As underfloor heating is completely hidden, it doesn’t have any impact on the design or appearance of the room giving homeowners more space and freedom without having to worry about covering or working around radiators.

Plus, no radiators also mean no exposed hot surfaces helping to make homes a little safer for all occupants. 


To guarantee they’re in good working order, radiators regularly need maintenance including bleeding and cleaning to remove trapped air and debris. Whereas underfloor heating doesn’t require as much maintenance.
Plus, as a hidden system, it’s less likely to get damaged.

Wavin is here to support you with your underfloor heating needs

As environmentally savvy Brits become more aware of underfloor heating as an efficient way to heat their home, they could expect to see it in brand-new homes. This might not come as a surprise considering it’s a great heating solution that ticks all the boxes that meet the new Future Homes Standard. Plus, it’s a much more efficient system when paired with a heat pump.
Unlike radiators, underfloor heating is an energy-efficient solution which successfully distributes the heat within a property and can also help to lower heating costs and energy wastage.

However, we understand more is needed in the industry to help educate both installers and developers on this alternative heating method so we’re here to help. As manufacturers and designers of underfloor heating systems, we have a range of experience, and our team are happy to share their knowledge and expertise. 

Whether you’re looking for a system to install in new builds or are looking for something to support your retrofit heating project, Wavin has a solution.
Check out our full range of Wavin underfloor heating systems 

Take the guesswork out of your underfloor heating calculations

Make sure your underfloor heating projects work out as planned with our fast and accurate calculator

Just enter the details of the rooms you are installing in, and the tool will take you step by step through the process and work out exactly what you need to do the job.

It even generates a printable Bill of Materials to share with your merchant. Trust Wavin Hep2O to make your underfloor project flow.

  • Accurate quotes in just four simple steps
  • Save quotes for easy future reference
  • Create a detailed summary of all the materials you'll need
  • View and update calculations and quotes at any time on your tablet or mobile

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