Installing underfloor heating (UFH) might seem like a daunting task but in the main, it’s really not all that difficult and can be undertaken by anyone with a modicum of DIY skills. Whilst it’s important to remember that any aspects that involve connecting the electricity supply must only be completed by a Part P qualified electrician, the rest of the job is fairly straightforward and can easily be completed yourself. If you’re looking to embark on such a task then first watch our useful How to Lay and Install Underfloor Heating Mats Prior to Tiling video, then point your browser this way as we bring you a rundown of the five most important tools you’ll need for the job…
Although there’s a high probability that you’ll be cutting corners of UFH matting, there’s no room for cutting corners when it comes to measuring out for your UFH installation. Get yourself a sturdy tape measure and ensure that you measure out and calculate your coverage accurately before even thinking about unrolling that heating mat or cable. If you need some further help with calculating coverage then take a look at our informative How To Measure for Underfloor Heating article – everything you need to know is in there!
Scissors or Stanley Knife
Either of these implements are must-haves when it comes to installing UFH, especially if using the mat kit. The mesh that houses the heating element cables can be cut to shape and sizes so that it fits the floor space into which the kit is being installed. The mesh itself is constructed from plastic and although it’s hardwearing and will last for the lifetime of the UFH kit, it’s fairly easy to cut with scissors or a Stanley knife. Be careful when cutting however and under no circumstances cut through the cables – if you do, you’ll render your UFH kit unusable!
Not strictly a tool and more of a material this one, but it’s still an essential element of a successful UFH installation. Regardless of whether you’ve opted for a mat kit or cable kit installation, the workings of the UFH system are going to need to be covered over ahead of installing tiles or other flooring. We’d recommend Mapei Ultraplan Levelling Compound – it’s fibre-reinforced and can be used from 3-40mm on concrete screed, stone, ceramic and certain timber. It’s also specially formulated for use with UFH and offers protection to the heating cables and also helps to alleviate hotspots. Watch this useful video to learn more about applying this type of levelling compound.
Score & Snap Knife
If you’re not installing UFH directly onto a concrete screed then you’re most likely going to have to use a backer board of some kind to shore up the subfloor. There are many different types of backer board for use within tiling installations but cement boards and insulation boards are the types that are most common. Cement backer boards are generally deployed in areas subject to moisture (wetrooms/bathrooms) due to their water-resistant qualities. Insulation boards on the other hand are chosen for their conductivity and heat retention properties and are more used prevalently in lounges, kitchens and hallways. Both types of board will need cutting to size and shape though, which is where the ingenious Score & Snap Knife comes in handy! Read our informative How To Choose The Right Backer Board For Your Tiling Project article for more info.
This one is only essential if you’re installing UFH on top of backer boards. The boards themselves come in fairly large sizes but, depending on the size of the floor you’re laying them on, there’ll likely be more than a few joints. It’s important to cover these joints with tape designed especially for this purpose so as to prevent water ingress (in the case of cement boards deployed in wet areas) and to prevent heat escaping (in the case of insulation boards). We recommend HardieBacker Fibatape for jointing cement-based backer boards and Norcros Pro Board Tape for use with insulation boards.
Hopefully that little lot should see you right when it comes to choosing the right tools to complete your UFH installation but if you have any further questions about then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly customer services guys either via the LiveChat function or by calling 01782 223 822 – they’ll be more than happy to help with any queries. For even more installation advice on all aspects of tiling then head over our Help Centre section – it’s packed full of help and advice and useful hints and tips!