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Learning About Underfloor Heating and Its Impact on Tiles

Underfloor heating has become a very popular choice for newly constructed homes because they help with a lot of comfort and also are equipped with energy efficiency.However, one major thing that usually makes homeowners need clarification is the thought of tiles getting cracked due to underfloor heating.Click to learn more about Can Floor Heating be Installed under Tiles?

It is essential to understand in detail what underfloor heating systems are and how they work so that you can get an answer as to whether they would cause any cracks in your tiles.So, if you are looking to find answers to these questions, you must read this guide below, and you will find a solution to all your questions. So, let’s read below:


Types of Underfloor Heating Systems

Underfloor heating has changed how the world moves when it comes to experiencing indoor comfort. This is one of the most efficient solutions which helps to provide warmth to the space in a very uniform way, and there is no need to have the old traditional heating units anymore.

The section below will comprise an explanation of two kinds of heating systems present underfloor and the associated benefits with them.

Electric Radiant Heating

Electric radiant heating systems have electric mats and cables installed under the floor. These cables release heat when the current flows through them. This underfloor heating is straightforward, easy to install, and hence a suitable choice.

The best part is that this system is convenient enough to be installed in existing homes without significant structural changes easily. This system also allows separate controls for every room, so the heating of every room can be adjusted individually.

Hydronic Heating System

Hydronic heating systems, on the other hand, have a network of pipes that allows hot water to flow through them, and these pipes are installed under the floor. The water heats up and adds warmth to the room.

This method offers excellent energy efficiency and a uniform distribution of heat. The installation of this system is a little complex, but the long-term performance and energy efficiency make this system ideal by all means.

Advantages of Underfloor Heating

There are many advantages associated with underfloor heating, and some of these advantages are as follows:

  • Underfloor heating systems are more energy efficient than traditional heating systems because they operate at a very low temperature. Hence, you can even pair them with solar systems and heat pumps. Thus, a reduction in electricity bills could be attained.
  • Another significant benefit of opting for underfloor heating systems is that they tend to distribute heat evenly through the entire space, there could be variations in the traditional heating systems, but the consistency of the underfloor systems needs to be fixed.
  • The walk on this warm floor in chilly weather is a luxury that offers a commendable experience. Moreover, the noise created by traditional systems has always been very annoying, and no such hassle is present by choosing underfloor heating.


The Concept of Tile Cracking

The cause of concern with the underfloor heating system has always been the tile cracking. However, you need to understand in detail the concept of this crackling. It doesn’t apply to every kind of tile, but it depends on the reaction of certain materials with the heat. So, let’s explore this.

The reaction of Material on the Change in Temperature

Upon heating, materials expand, and upon cooling, they contract. This phenomenon is known as thermal expansion and contraction, so the tiles contract when it comes to underfloor heating since the heat comes under the floor, the tiles example, and when the heating system has been turned

off.The role played by the coefficient of thermal expansion is also important as it measures how much expansion and contraction a material would go through.

Every material has different coefficient values of thermal expansion so that they will react differently. In cases where the tiles and the surface on which the tiles are laid down have different values of the coefficient of thermal expansion, the chances of cracking will increase.

Accumulation of Stress

The tiles will expand when the floor heats up because of the underfloor heating system. However, the expansion of the surface may have a different rate depending on the composition and the way it is installed. Due to the movement difference between the tiles and the surface, stress develops between the two layers.

If the installation is improper, the tiles are subjected to cracks. The level of adhesion between the tile and the surface should be up to the mark, and the application should be even. If these things are being looked into, the chances of cracks in the tiles will be reduced.

Factors that May Cause Tiles to Crack

Tiles may crack due to underfloor heating systems, but certain factors lead to such cracking. Some of these factors are discussed below:

Kind of Subfloor

The kind of subfloor you have in place is one of the significant factors that may impact the tiles’ crack. The concrete subfloors are, however, mainly chosen for a solid base of tile installation; however, they are subjected to temperature change, expansion, and contract. Hence, preparing it properly is very important. Make sure to eliminate any moisture or address the cracks so that they remain intact.

On the other hand, the wooden subfloors are more prone to movement than the concrete ones. Hence, if you are choosing a wooden subfloor for tile installation, you need to make sure that the structure of the flooring is stable.

Type of Heating System

The type of heating system in place also has different impacts. The two kinds of techniques discussed above are the electric ones and the hydronic ones.If compared, the hydronic systems are opted more because they operate at lower temperatures and provide better eating.

The electric systems, however, can generate higher temperatures, so the risk of tile cracking is higher.It is recommended that these systems have their temperature controlled adequately so that the expansion and contraction can also be controlled and the risk of cracking can be mitigated.

Characteristics of Tiles

The characteristics of tiles are also a factor to consider when it comes to ensuring that the cracks in tiles are avoided. Large tiles can go through more expansion and contraction than smaller ones.

Moreover, the thicker tiles are more robust and not prone to cracking because they can handle more stress. Apart from this, the material used in making the tiles plays an important role. The porcelain and natural stone tiles are thick and hence less prone to cracking, but the thin ceramic tiles cause a risk.

Also, porcelain tiles are denser than ceramic tiles, so they have less risk of cracking. Moreover, the low water absorption rate also makes them more resistant to moisture, which may be caused due to contraction and expansion. Hence, porcelain tiles could also be suitable for underfloor heating systems.


How to avoid tile cracking

It is very commonly seen that people usually have a lot of concerns about the cracking of tiles due to underfloor heating systems. However, if we ensure that the integration of the flooring is up to the mark, no heating systems could crack your tiles.

Choosing the Right Quality

The quality of the tiles you choose is vital in ensuring they do not crack when subjected to underfloor heating. The tools need to possess strength and should be durable. Hence, you must always invest in high-quality, durable tiles; therefore, the cracking risk is eliminated.

Apart from the tiles, you should also focus on the surface that is below the tiles. The appropriate surface would also prevent the tiles from cracking. The surface should be stable and solid and able to handle the weight of tiles and the heating system.Usually, it is recommended that you choose the concrete board or cement-based coating as they are stable surfaces when you have underfloor heating systems in place.

Ensuring the Right Installation Techniques

The installation techniques must be up to the mark; prepare the surface properly so the tiles may get a strong foundation. The surface needs to be clean and leveled to enable proper installation.

When choosing the adhesive, it should also be up to the mark and capable of creating a solid bond between the surface and the tiles. Some adhesives are designed to cater to the underfloor tiles specifically; hence, they can provide a proper adhesive application that won’t let the tiles crack.

You can also opt for flexible grout. This will help you cater to slight movements without causing any cracks in the tiles. These supplies reduce the stress level between the tiles and prevent them from cracking.

Opting for Expansion Joints

Expansion joints are the gaps deliberately left between the toes so that in underfloor heating, the temperature changes may cause expansion and contraction, and the gaps could accommodate this. Hence, the risk of cracking may be eliminated, and the tiles are safe.


As you have understood so much about underfloor heating systems, all your myths about the tile cracking associated with such systems have also been cleared. So, if you make your choice of tiles sensibly, you won’t have to face any risk of tile cracking.George Ceramics is one of the best ceramic tile suppliers in China, please contact us if you have any questions.

Click here to read:Comprehensive Guide to Install Tiles Seamlessly

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