Floor Tiles and Underfloor Heating

Floor Tiles and Underfloor Heating

Summer is almost over, and we don’t know about you, but we’re already feeling the chill! So, how do you heat up your home and your feet this season?

Aside from beautiful, decorative purposes, tiles can also lay on top of heating systems. These are ideal for bathrooms and kitchens; the rooms you dread to walk in on a frosty morning. But, many people ask which tiles are best for underfloor heating, porcelain or ceramic? This article will help you decide which tiles to choose.

What’s the difference between Porcelain and Ceramic tiles?

The biggest difference found between porcelain and ceramic tiles is usually the price, ceramic being the cheaper option. Aside from price, porcelain and ceramic tiles are closely related, both are made from baked clay, strengthened by heat and then glazed for a smooth finish. However, there are some notable differences between the two.

Types of clay used for tiles

Porcelain use whiter clays whilst ceramic is made from much darker clay. Continually, the clay used for the production of porcelain tiles is more refined and pure than ceramic and has additional minerals such as feldspar, silica and quartz. The addition of these minerals results in increased density and produces a tile that is more hard-wearing. Porcelain tiles are also baked at much higher temperatures than ceramic, fires can be in excess of 1260°C (2300°F).

Types of finish and design

As porcelain tiles are fired at higher temperatures their surface is usually smoother than that of ceramic tiles. Although, there is rarely a significant, noticeable difference. Regarding design, both porcelain and ceramic tiles can feature any pattern, colour or texture, but ceramic will only feature these on the surface. Porcelain on the other hand, will absorb the pattern and colour deeper into the tile.

Using ceramic tiles on top of underfloor heating


  • Great conductor of heat
  • The installation of ceramic tiles is also a lot easier due to the softer texture of the tile making it easier to cut and shape
  • Colours of ceramic are beautiful and earthy (homely)
  • Lower cost
  • Can have the option of unglazed tiles
  • Diverse for patterns and designs


  • Ceramic is porous, excessive water may damage them
  • Is more likely to crack or chip than porcelain
  • May need additional layers of membrane material to minimise risk of cracking
  • Difficult to clean
  • Prone to stains
  • Heavy - floor under tiles needs to be supported and sturdy

Using porcelain tiles on top of underfloor heating


  • Can be cut thin (8mm - 12mm), so are great a thermal conductor
  • A natural insulator due to its density
  • Are durable and less likely to crack under temperature stress
  • Grey scale colours can be highly elegant
  • Longer lifespan
  • Low maintenance
  • Liquid resistant
  • Stain resistant


  • May need additional layers of membrane material due to movement when laying the floor
  • Needs specific, flexible adhesives and grout
  • Colours tend to be white, black or vibrant (cold colours)
  • The grout needed is harder to maintain than the tiles
  • Costly - more expensive than porcelain
  • Heavy

Best choice for wet rooms

Whilst there is no right or wrong when choosing tiles, as mentioned above, ceramic tiles are porous, therefore porcelain is better suited for underfloor heated wet rooms due to their water-resistant properties.