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ThermaSkirt: an alternative to radiators and underfloor heating

Four years ago the idea of skirting board heating was laughable. Even the Dragon’s Den businessmen dismissed Martin Wadsworth’s idea of radiators within aluminium skirting boards. Duncan Bannatyne asked why the boards couldn’t be made from wood and all of the dragons refused to help him get his business off the ground financially.

That was then. Today, the ThermaSkirt is being recognised as the common sense alternative to underfloor heating, particularly in properties with wooden flooring. As Martin says, “if you then want a wooden floor, which is an insulator, you are largely wasting your time”.

It’s fair to say that we’re always sceptical when it comes to new “improvements” in the home. I know I am. So I’ve evaluated the ThermaSkirt in three key areas – pricing, visual appearance and performance, so we can see how it really measures up against the competition – underfloor and radiator heating.

Cost of skirting board heating

Heating through flooring doesn’t come cheap. Water underfloor heating systems start at around £35 per square metre, not including installation. If you have timber joists, you’ll need aluminium sheets to reflect heat and that will add another £10 per sheet to the total cost. In most cases, you’ll also need specialised flooring and screed, which you’ll need to factor into the cost.

Skirting board heating starts at £40 per linear metre, which works out to be quite a saving when you compare the linear metres with the square metres of a room. Above ground installation also cuts labour costs and there’s no need for special tog rated flooring or engineered wood.

skirting board heating

Image Source: ThermaSkirt

Visual appearance – ThermaSkirt vs radiators

Although I’m happy with the purse-friendly and effective radiators, I’m always open to new designs which improve on their disadvantages. Radiators take up a lot of wall space which isn’t ideal in smaller properties. With the ThermaSkirt, the freed up area would add value to a home. We wouldn’t have the problem of dusty, marked wallpaper from leaning radiators either which adds value in itself.

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I’ve often found that interior designers rule out designs because of the positioning of radiators and plug sockets. Here, the heating would be hidden which would help to maintain the overall look of a room and allow us more freedom with designing.

Skirting heating performance

Most important of all is the performance. Underfloor heating offers slow warmth which isn’t brilliant in colder temperatures, while the heating provided by skirting boards is similar to that of radiators, only taking a few minutes to heat up. All of the heat is released into the room, so there’s no heat loss through the flooring slabs.

The aluminium boards are five times more effective at radiating heat than steel and behind them rest two oval pipes, keeping the depth of the board the same. So the skirting board won’t look any larger or distorted. Existing radiator pipework can be used in retrofit applications and it connects onto an ordinary plumbing system, just like a radiator.

My two concerns were that there wouldn’t be enough heat produced to warm up a home and that a potential fault would be tricky to mend. In fact, it seems that a property would be as warm as with a radiator and the installation is above ground, meaning that there’s no tricky digging required for a plumber to come and have a look.

ThermaSkirt

Image Source: ThermaSkirt

It’s definitely an improvement that I’m keen to hear more about. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye to see just how many of us will take a chance and swap our radiators for something new…

ThermaSkirt is compatible with renewable energy improvements such as ground source heat pumps and features in Green Deal home improvement lists. Interested to hear more? Head to our Ask an Expert section where you can ask registered heating engineers for advice.

Wanting to install skirting board heating? Post a job for free and get up to three quotes from local heating engineers.

 

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33 Comments

  1. Can we link to this article on our website? Its really well written and gets the message across. There are 10,000 ThermaSkirt systems installed and some housebuilders are now standardising on the system.
    One tiny typo correction – the prices is from £25.95 per m (not m2) as we sell in linear lengths. We do a heat loss estimation software that ensures the output matches the rooms requirements. Great article.

    1. What do you do when you have multiple doors in one room? Your installation video only assumes one entrance in the room and so the skirting can run around uninterrupted. I have 3 doors in one room. My propert already has thermaskirit installed in one room by the previous owner and it looks and works very well and I want to expand the system into the lounge but like I said it has 3 entranceways and I can’t see how it would work unless I go around the doors but that would look rubbish.

  2. I already have skirting heating in my lounge which connects to the overall radiator system so why is so new?

  3. Hi Martin, I’ve updated the pricing information – thank you. Of course, feel free to link to the article on your website. Nova – That’s great. As Martin says, there are over 10,000 ThermaSkirt systems installed but as a concept, it’s still relatively unknown throughout the UK.

  4. Great article and a very interesting product indeed. I’m currently working on an article that looks at PVC flooring in the home Natalie, and particularly its benefit to kitchens and bathrooms. Would love to send you something across for consideration.

    Thanks,

    Nial

  5. I installed skirting heaters I’m my house in 1963. They worked very effectively using water like ordinary radiators. I do not know why they faded away, possibly because the cost more than wall radiators. I moved after 5 years, so I cannot comment how durable they were.

  6. There seems to be something wrong with the math on this. I have 2 radiators with combined output of about 15000BTU so I would need 30 metres of 6 inch skirting heater (at 500 BTU per metre). There is only about 16 metres of useable skirting space available. That would only give me 8000BTU (~2.4KW). Like the design but I think we would be cold.

  7. I considered Thermaskirt for a 26 sq m new build extension and weighed it up against UFH. There was no significant difference in cost but the appearance of UFH is so much better. I hated the fact that Thermaskirt had to run around the door architraves or in the floor in front of patio doors. UFH is not visible and leaves the hard tiled floor as one continuous slab. Furniture stuck in front of Thermaskirt must reduce it’s efficiency but of course UFH gives the same heat output over the whole floor area and you can position furniture up against any wall

    In my opinion UFH is the only choice for a new build hard tiled floor.

    In some circumstances Thermaskirt might be more suitable but in my particular new build I am delighted with UFH.

  8. Had aluminium clad HW skirting in diningroom & lounge of our new build house 1973 with slim line radiators in the other public spaces and bedrooms – so not such a new idea/system. Very efficient but rather ugly when white paint coating faded/discoloured and replaced with radiators. Now thinking of trying out this improved system at next refurbish.

  9. Like Nova Yates my parents had skirting board heating years ago!! So whats the big deal?? Its not that new!!

  10. This sounds so perfect! Would suit my needs in terms of home improvement a lot. Live in Gloucestershire/Forest of Dean – is there any trades man in the area, who would come to see me and give me a quote for the basement of my house? Thank’s a lot! With kind regards – lilo Jordan

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  13. I’ve had thermaskirt installed and nothing but problems – likely due to the original installer – total cost so far over £4k for a 2 bed apartment. Martin loves his product and is infallible – but my experience remains.

    1. Hi Joel
      Sorry to hear this is still on-going – I’ve just seen your latest post.
      I’ve checked on our system, so I cant see a Joel, so could you confirm where/when/who etc and we will see if we can help?
      We have over 20,000 systems installed in the UK, so if there was something fundamentally wrong, I don’t believe we’d still be here.
      It’s not just me that loves it, but I’d like you to love it to.
      Please send me some more infomation and pictures and we’ll do our best for you.
      Best regards
      Martin Wadsworth
      Managing Director
      DiscreteHeat Group
      [email protected]

  14. We had been living in a house that had skirting board radiators fitted in the 1980s. I thought they were marvellous, gave out heat evenly through out the living room. After living with them for 33 years we have now moved to a bungalow which has a large conventional in the living room, that part of the room is too hot the rest of the room is cold. I am now looking into the possibility of fitting skirting board rads again.

  15. About to have a Orangery built with floor tiles. Was worried how efficient this would be with skirting board heating fitted, as a alternative to laminate flooring. Rgds Stewart

    1. Hi Stewart,

      I’d recommend contacting ThermaSkirt directly as they’ll have the in-depth knowledge needed to advise you on your specific use of the product.

      Kind regards,
      Natalie

  16. Can I please point out that prices have increased since 2013 so please do not expect to find ThermaSkirt priced at £25 per m

  17. Hi Natalie. Interesting article and a good introduction to skirting heating for the uninitiated. Thermaskirt isn’t the only skirting heating system available in the UK. We import Thermodul, an Italian product that’s been around for over 20 years. If your readers are interested in a comparison please check us out at http://www.skirtingboardheating.co.uk.

  18. I currently have radiators and there is a leak somewhere which cause boiler pressure to go down slowly. I was thinking about re plumbing whole house but then seen this very smart technology.
    Can I install this and connect to existing main eco system boiler without any underground plumbing so if any leaks will be visible?

  19. Hi my house has four big rads down stairs ,dining room ,living room and play room are all in straight line . With your system would we have to put rads all round the room s for the same heat

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