When your feet feel warm the rest of you feels warmer too, so maintaining warm floors at home is necessary for maximum comfort during the colder months of winter. If renovations or improvements are planned, more elaborate forms of floor heating may be considered, but even if they’re not, there are still things that can be done to maximise floor warmth and increase comfort at home.
Not for everyone, either because of design, cost or simply because you don’t want the upheaval of installation, underfloor heating is the most effective way of heating the floors in a house. Radiant underfloor heating is available in the form of rolled up mats that can be cut to any size and wired up at the site of installation, making the job quick, clean and easy.
This type of heating is economical to run and is suitable for use beneath all types of floors including tiled or stone floors, hardwood or laminated floors and beneath carpets. It can be used as either the primary heating in a home, or as secondary heating. Allergy sufferers may also find relief through the installation of this type of heating as there is no dust blown into the atmosphere.
Carpets fitted without underlay don’t wear as well, don’t feel as luxurious underfoot and don’t have the same insulation properties as when good underlay is present. Forming a cushioning layer between the surface of the floor and the carpet, the underlay prevents the flow of cold, unheated air up between floorboards and at the same time stops warm air from inside the room seeping downwards and escaping.
Both attacks on heat loss make for warmer floors, longer lasting carpets and smaller heating bills. All types of carpet, with the exception of foam backed carpets, should be fitted over underlay. Choose a good quality felt underlay that’s wool-rich and enjoy the maximum in springy, soft underfoot comfort as well as enhanced floor warmth through its excellent insulation properties.
Carpeting is a natural choice for warmer floors and can be either made from synthetic or wool fibres, or a mixture of both types. Natural wool carpet is widely recognised as being the better option because it is generally softer and retains its shape better, making it more hardwearing and ultimately longer lasting.
Wool is also a more expensive option, so for many people choosing a combination of wool and synthetic fibres strikes a happy medium. For heavy traffic areas, such as hallways or living rooms, an ideal blend of fibres is 80 per cent wool to maximise the life of the carpet.
Having carpets fitted usually means having a few off cuts and these can be used to make doormats for use in areas that otherwise would have no floor coverings, such as porches. Putting mats in these areas means warmer floors here too, as well as giving the advantage of creating attractive doormats for wiping feet before entering the room or house.
Drafts in the floor of a house, or at floor level, can make an otherwise adequately heated room feel uncomfortable. Eliminating the drafts that can enter a room from beneath doors or under poorly fitting skirting boards will instantly make for warmer feet and a more pleasant room ambiance. Locating the place where drafts enter isn’t always easy unless the air is blowing quite hard.
Try dampening one hand and holding it a few inches from where you suspect a draft may be entering. The dampness of the skin makes it more susceptible to cooler temperatures. Alternatively, hold a candle flame next to cracks or gaps and watch the flame for flickering. Having located the place where the draft comes in, seal up the gaps with insulating material, or simply use a draft excluder if a door is the culprit and the door is not one that’s opened frequently.
Cold spots in the home are often caused by the type of flooring and changing floor surfaces isn’t always a practical solution. Areas such as kitchens and bathrooms often have hard flooring, partly for hygiene and ease of cleaning and partly because they look streamlined and modern.
Without the benefit of underfloor heating, however, hard floors can often feel cold underfoot and make walking or standing on them a little unpleasant. Likewise, rooms with wood or laminate floors, whilst looking beautiful, can sometimes be a little harsh and unwelcoming.
The liberal use of rugs in such areas can go a long way to not only creating warm oases of comfort but also adding splashes of colour. In the kitchen, place natural hessian or jute rugs in the areas where you spend time standing, such as in front of work surfaces or cookers.
In the living room, rugs can harmonise with existing furnishing colour schemes to pull together your decor design as well as providing warm spots for the kids to play or the grownups to sit on the floor. Placed in front of doors, rugs provide feet-wiping areas and act as draft excluders when doors are closed, making for more warmth in the room.
These days there is no reason to suffer cold floors. With even the smallest budget there’s a way to make your home warmer through clever and practical use of the floor.
This guest post was contributed bu COBA Europe; a UK supplier of Anti-Fatigue Matting, Entrance Matting and Rubber Flooring.