By Carl Stokes, Head of Marketing, Schlüter-Systems Ltd
Natural stone and ceramic tiles produced around the world today showcase high quality, contemporary designs and, in the majority of cases, serious consideration has also been given to the artistic finish, with installations looking like a work of art.
This is great for the industry, pushing the boundaries of design and architecture. However, when combined with trends such as stone and large format tiles, coupled with under-surface or in-screed heating, this can strike alarm bells even for the most assured specifier.
The demand for aesthetically stunning, reliable installations that will stand the test of time can be challenged by constraints and demand on site to install quickly to avoid delays. The problem is finding a solution that meets demands without compromise.
Unobtrusive heating such as that possible with underfloor or underwall systems is no longer a luxury and is commonly expected to be written in to architectural specifications for many hotels and high-end residential projects throughout the country. The ultimate benefactor is the client or consumer; as with any project, however, there are pros and cons depending on the solution for which they opt.
Easy does it: quick installation and rapid heating with thermal break technology
The award winning Schlüter-Ditra-Heat-E electric underfloor heating makes the installation of under tile and stone heating simpler and easier than ever before. Its low assembly height is also ideally suited for most environments and it is even suitable for installation over problematic substrates.
Furthermore, its loose heating cables are fixed within the uncoupling mat’s layer saving installation steps and height. Schlüter-Ditra-Heat-E offers optimum freedom for creating heating zones exactly where they are needed.
The latest innovation for Schlüter-Systems’ electric underfloor heating range is the inclusion of an integrated thermal break within the uncoupling mat – introducing Schlüter-Ditra-Heat-TB.
The patented Schlüter-Ditra-Heat-TB features an integration of a thermal break fleece on the underside of the uncoupling membrane, which allows 80% of the heat to rise to the surface for up to 70% faster response time.
A thermal break is an element within an assembly which reduces the flow of thermal energy between conductive materials. The thermal break in Schlüter-Ditra-Heat-TB ensures that the heat doesn’t get lost, but is instead transferred directly to the floor covering above.
This unique combination of fleece and matting allows an input of 136 W/m2, to push up to 110 W/m2 to the surface, reacting faster than 200 W/m2 systems , and therefore making Schlüter-Ditra-Heat-TB cost less to run compared to other systems, which lose 50% of their heat into the subfloor below.
Crack-free installations with uncoupling properties
One of the most common problems faced with heated floors and walls is expansion and contraction within the substrate that can lead to cracks in the tile or stone covering. Tile and stone installations can debond from the substrate because the tile or stone are adhered directly to the building structure, which means there is no ‘give’ between the two separate parts of the assembly. Therefore movement and stress can create cracks in the substrate that are then transferred to the surface, damaging the covering. This movement cannot be prevented and can only be controlled with movement joints and uncoupling membranes.
Uncoupling membranes by their name create a ‘separation’ that allows movement in the sub-floor to occur, while the covering is supported though not succumbing to the forces below. Schlüter-Ditra-Heat is part of the Schlüter-Ditra family of mattings that feature uncoupling, crack-bridging, vapour management, load distribution, drainage and sound-reduction properties, which relieve stresses that occur between the substrate and covering to manage movement and prevent cracking and debonding of the covering.
CE Marked waterproofing
In addition, the Schlüter-Ditra-Heat system can be easily waterproofed by sealing the matting joints with Schlüter-Kerdi-Keba sealing band and Schlüter-Kerdi-Coll sealing adhesive offering a CE marked waterproofing solution.
Under wall heating not only offers CE marked waterproofing for walls and a great source of heat but it is also a safer alternative to a towel rail or radiator; particularly for children and the elderly. Under wall heating from Schlüter-Systems is a unique solution that is very easy to install and allows radiated heating underneath the tile or stone covering, thus keeping the system protected and away from harm.
Naturally, the use of Schlüter-Ditra-Heat is not limited to kitchens and bathrooms, floor and wall heating enhances the room climate of living, dining, and working spaces too.
Environmentally friendly modular screed and hydronic heating system
An alternative to installing an electric system is to use a wet or hydronic system to provide an in-screed heating solution.
One of the great advantages of creating a stunning feature floor with tile or stone is that it will last a long time. This is especially true when Schlüter-Bekotec-Therm has been installed underneath.
Schlüter-Bekotec-Therm is a low height, energy-efficient and quick-reacting modular underfloor heating assembly. This system can be used in new build and renovation projects, and it is a green choice with economical, energy saving properties.
Due to the patented low height construction of the Schlüter-Bekotec panel, the total screed mass possible is extremely low, using less cement compared to traditional screeds. Consequently, Schlüter-Bekotec-Therm can be operated with low supply temperatures as the heating pipes are closer to the surface than alternative systems. The ceramic thermal comfort floor is ideally suited for operation with environmentally friendly, regenerative heat exchangers such as heat pumps. However, the low operating temperatures also protect the environment if they rely on conventional heat generation, and they are cost effective long-term.
It’s low supply temperature of approximately 30oC, compared to between 50 to 55oC in some traditional systems, means Schlüter-Bekotec-Therm is extremely effective both with conventional heat generation methods and regenerative energy sources. Since the thinner screed requires much less material, the final construction is lighter than traditional screed installations, saving considerable construction time.
Furthermore, it can be easily integrated into an existing heating system to provide underfloor heating for some rooms and radiators for others. Another major advantage is that it can also be used to cool the floor down in the summer, either via passive cooling of the unheated water, or by pumping chilled water through the pipes.
Changing perceptions: approved installations for peace of mind
The perception of wet or hydronic heating systems is that they are more complicated to install and, as a result ,they may cause project delays. This is just not true when it comes to Schlüter-Bekotec-Therm.
As well as its performance and ease of use, what makes Schluter-Bekotec-Therm really stand out from the crowd is its covering and assembly warranty which can be extended if installed by a member of the Schlüter Approved Installer Network (SAIN).
The Schlüter Approved Installer Network members will have completed full system installation training with Schlüter. The network not only gives accreditation to the individual, but also to the company as a certified organisation. This provides reassurance to you as the specifier or architect that the system will be installed to the manufacturer’s standards, best practice and minimises installation risks, ensuring a robust, reliable installation.
The system also features a new range of control modules and room sensors. This new generation of room sensors and control modules significantly increases the flexibility and convenience of regulating the temperature of the room, as the core of the system (the base module) can be connected to a timer module for energy-saving temperature reduction. The connection modules for wired or wireless room sensors can be freely combined with the base module, which enables the flexible expansion of existing systems at any time. Modern wireless and wired room sensors allow for individual room temperature control to suit requirements. The Schlüter-Bekotec-Therm system can also be integrated with Building Management Systems (BMS).
Learn more about specifying underfloor heating
Host the RIBA approved CPD seminar Modular Underfloor Heating Systems for Tile and Stone Coverings to gain the knowledge of how to specify a modular underfloor heating system to help to protect tile and natural stone floor coverings from cracking, splitting, tenting and debonding, and explore the theory behind modular screed systems.
NBS Clauses and BIM Objects for Schlüter-Systems Ltd are available on NBS Plus, National BIM Library and at www.schluter.co.uk.