How to Install Heated Floors Under Laminate

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When you think about heated floors, you probably associate it with heated tile, particularly on bathroom floors. Not all people may be aware of this, but electric floor heating can be installed in almost any flooring type, not just tiles. It also brings benefits that go beyond conventionally tiled rooms such as the kitchen or bathroom. One of the most popular choices for homeowners who wish to have underfloor heating is laminate flooring. Most laminate flooring can handle up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just enough since anything above that temperature can make the wood warped or discolored.

So how do you install heated floors under laminate? Laminate flooring is usually installed as a floating system. It’s not designed to be fastened to the subfloor. Electric floor systems have two types, those that need adhesive and those that don’t require it. A floating floor system just like laminates has to be paired with a floor-heating product that doesn’t require adhesives. These products are usually in the form of rolled mats that are spread out on the floor and carefully cut in order to be shaped to fit the room for installment. Fortunately, it’s easiest to install this type of floor heating since it doesn’t need a thinset or self-leveling compound.

What Is Electric Floor Heating?

First, it will help to understand how electric floor heating works. Compared to traditional home heating systems, which rely on forcing heated air throughout a structure in order to warm it, electric floor heating makes use of wires that heat themselves up via electric resistance. It makes use of radiant floor heating. The wires radiate heat upwards into the flooring material, which then radiates heat to the solid objects in the room. It’s like an electric blanket for your flooring.

Each room installed with electric floor heating usually has its own thermostat, unlike furnaces and other forced-air heating systems. This radiant floor heating system makes it easier for you to customize the levels of heat per room. You can install floor heating in every room in your home, but most people would do so only in rooms that would benefit from extra heating.

Benefits of Electric Floor Heating

The benefits actually go beyond extra heating. The air located in a duct system is a poor heat conductor. In comparison, solid objects are much better at conducting heat, making electric floor heating more energy-efficient for your home. Also, forced-air systems blow contaminants and allergens around your home, which can have a negative effect on your health. This isn’t a problem with electric floor heating since it doesn’t rely on blowing air. If you’re suffering from allergies, you’re better off working with a heated floor system.

Types of Electric Radiant Heating System for Floors

There are three ways to install electric heating as an underfloor heating system — via cables, mats, or film. A heating cable system involves separate wires configured to a separate membrane. This allows you to customize the location of the heat. The wires have to be strategically placed close together without overlapping since you can’t cut the wires.

When it comes to mats, which are cables and membrane in one combination, you can lay down the floor heat without having to worry about placement. You can’t cut the cable here either, but the membrane can be used for L-shaped rooms.

As for radiant floor heat film, it’s the same as a pre-built electric mat sans the mesh. The system is contained in a plastic membrane that can be cut to length. This means you can roll out the film and install it in straight directions.

How to Install Electric Floor Heating Under Laminate Flooring

Process of laying laminate boards on floor with underfloor heating

Installing electric floor heating under your laminate flooring involves six stages:

  • Prepare the subfloor — Remove the old floor covering before you can begin the installation of the electric floor heating system. Clear the subfloor of any debris from the existing floor and then clean the area thoroughly. Make sure that no old flooring or construction materials will remain in the area.
  • Test the heating element — Make sure that your heating element is functioning properly by testing it using an ohmmeter. Take the measurement of the resistance of the heating element (between the two core wires). Jot this number down on the UL tag of the mat, as well as in the installation materials given to you. Compare the value to the number that is listed on the UL tag. It shouldn’t be more than 15 percent in either direction, although some variance is allowed. Now measure the continuity between the ground wire and the core wire. The reading should be either “Infinity” or O/L. Don’t install the heating element if it fails this test. You don’t want to encounter problems that come with an improperly functioning heating element, which can also prevent the system from working at all.
  • Install the underlayment and floor heating matsUnderlayment is usually square or rectangle pieces made of real or synthetic cork. Make sure to stagger the sheets as you lay them down so you don’t overlap the seams. Cut pieces as needed to make sure that you cover the entire floor. Afterward, tape all the underlayment pieces together to connect them. Remember that the underlayment shouldn’t be fastened to the subfloor itself.
  • Install the floor heating mats — Place the heating mat so the cold leads will reach the thermostat location easily. You should figure out in advance of the actual installation where to place the thermostat. It usually depends on where power is available in the wall. You may have to cut the mats to fit the room, but take care not to cut the heating cables contained within them. What you can do is cut the mat material up to the cable and then bend the mat, starting a new row in the process. This installation method is called “cut-and-turn.”
  • Install the laminate flooring — It's crucial that you do this just the way your manufacturer instructs. Install the flooring as if they weren’t there since the heating elements don’t affect this process. After you’ve finished, check the function of the heating element again to make sure that the heating elements weren’t damaged during the installation. Perform a third ohm-test and write the results on your warranty registration card.
  • Make the electrical connections — Finally, you can connect the wires from the heating element to the thermostat. The right way to do it varies from thermostat to thermostat. This means you should follow the instructions that came with your kit. It's highly advised that you ask help from a professional licensed electrician in doing this step since working with electricity is dangerous.

Give Your Home the Quality Flooring It Deserves With Zothex Flooring

Do you want to heat up your laminate wooden floor using radiant heating? Do you know how to handle related tools and equipment such as hydronic system, vapor barrier, junction box, and floor sensor? Let Zothex Flooring help you with this and your other wood flooring needs. It pays to have a trusted partner to help you choose the right laminate floor and radiant heat system for your home and all the other work that comes with electric underfloor heating. 

Zothex Flooring deals with other floor types as well, including vinyl flooring (vinyl floors or vinyl plank), hardwood floor, bamboo flooring, ceramic tile floor, and engineered wood floor. Call now and let Zothex Flooring lend you a hand in remodeling and redesigning your home.

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