Can you put a rug on a floor with underfloor heating?

Probably you have an open-plan living area or kitchen, and you intend to put a big rug on the floor. Will it affect your underfloor heating?

Well, underfloor heating is associated with numerous benefits over all traditional heating mechanisms. It eliminates the need for radiator installation, allows greater flexibility in the planning and organization of your home’s space, and frees up the wall space for furniture and other items. Indeed, underfloor heating contributes to the clean lines sought as an integral part of an open-plan layout.

Besides, the entire floor acts as a heat source. Thus, both hot and cold spots are eliminated as the system offers a uniform and ambient gentle heat throughout the surface. Little heat is wasted as it rises to heat the entire room. This makes underfloor heating an efficient heating method.

Can you put a rug on the floor?

The efficiency of an underfloor heating system depends on the distances between the pipes, the depth of screed or slab above the heating pipes, the insulation level beneath the pipes, and the nature of the slab. The thermal conductivity of the screed or slab along with the flooring material placed on top will significantly affect the heat output and the heat-up time of your heating system.

It’s wise to consider a rug’s suitability as a flooring material. Are you going to lay the rug over timber flooring? As much as you want to put a beautiful rug on your timber flooring the rug will, to a greater extent, serve as a ‘blanket’ that locally ‘restricts’ the passage of heat from the heated slab into the room.

Timber floors have a particular top temperature restriction. That means putting a rug on your floor risks increasing the flooring temperature beyond this limit. In case there is humidity or moisture, the floorboard will swell, ‘cup’ and twist. If you have installed engineered floorboard, its layers will start delaminating because of the increased heat. Therefore, you should never put carpets or rugs on top of a wood floor where there is in-floor heating.

However, some rugs are suitable for use with the underfloor heating system. These rugs must have low thermal resistance and be hessian rather than felt-backed. Note that felt-backed rugs create a thermal block, preventing performance and potentially affecting the finished floor. Consider using a rug with a thermal resistance rating of 1 to 2.

Lastly, give careful thought to the thickness and the size of the carpet or rug to you intend to put on heated floors. In addition to the technical aspects mentioned, too big and thick rugs will create a cooler spot within the open area. This contradicts your intention to create a warm environment in your home. If you must use carpets or rugs, choose those that allow air circulation and don’t act as insulators.

A perfect rug for heated floors must have a negligible effect on the performance of the underfloor heating system. It should also create a great atmosphere and a focal point for the overall open-plan area.