Tile Fix Direct Blog

Underfloor Heating

Decoupling & Crack Bridging Systems for Tiles

Decoupling Layer

When tiling floors with porcelain or ceramic tiles it is necessary to protect the tiled surface from movement and stresses in the underlying floor (the substrate) which can cause the tiled surface to fail or crack. Here are some of the reasons that can cause the substrate to move;

  • Thermal expansion and contraction. For example: the warming or cooling of a heated screed, or external temperature changes on a patio between day and night. Tiling behind large areas of south facing glazing are also particularly prone to movement.
  • Moisture movement in wooden floors. Wooden structures expand when humidity increases and shrinks when it decreases.
  • Shrinkage of a newly laid sand & cement, anhydrite or concrete screed. In the days and weeks after a new screed is laid it will shrink as it dries and cures.

Decoupling and crack bridging systems provide a layer between the tiled surface and the flooring substrate. This layer ensures that the stresses caused by horizontal movement are not passed on to the tiled surface, which may cause deformation and cracking.

Decoupling and crack bridging systems will not accommodate vertical movement and deflections, however. These are typically found in poorly braced timber floors, between adjoining substrates (i.e. a join between a timber and screeded substrate), or when covering an expansion joint. Timber floors must be well braced to prevent deflection (bounce).

In addition, expansion joints will generally be required over a substrate expansion joint or between adjoining substrates. Additional movement joints will also be required round perimeters, columns, over supporting walls and in large areas.

Always read the manufacturers detailed fixing instructions.

Most systems require fixing to the substrate, but BAL Flexbone2Easy is a loose lay system that speeds us install time. This can also be particularly useful if later refurbishment is expected, or you’re fixing over an anhydrite screed. Orbry and Marmox boards can be mechanically fixed to timber flooring and any fleece-based system can also be fixed to dry sand and cement screeds using Ardex AF200 vinyl adhesive.

We currently stock ten different De-Coupling and Crack Bridging systems that offer varying functionality and pricing. We offer solutions for low height systems, anhydrite screeds, easily removable, indoor or outdoor, integral waterproofing, fast tracking traditional screeds, vapour equalisation and integrated electric cable grids.

Key benefits of each system

Bal Rapid Mat at Tile Fix Direct

BAL Rapid Mat
• Low height (3mm from substrate to top of mat)
• No adhesive required to fill cavities

BAL Flexbone Varied at Tile Fix DirectBAL Flexbone Varied
• Easy-fill adhesive cavities saves time
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation

BAL Flexbone 2Easy at Tile Fix DirectBAL Flexbone2Easy
• Suitable for anhydrite screeds without significant preparation
• Loose lay so no adhesive required for fixing
• Easy-fill adhesive cavities saves time
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Kerakoll Green Pro MattingKerakoll Green Pro
• Suitable for external use
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Provides some impact sound reduction

Ditra Matting at Tile Fix Direct

Schluter Ditra 25 Matting
• Long pedigree, is the original system with proven record
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• When placed over underfloor heating the matting’s interconnected air channels help evenly distribute heat.

Ditra Heat Duo Matting

Schluter Ditra Heat Duo Matting
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas (but not suitable for permanently wet areas)
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Comes with integrated grid for electrical underfloor heating
• Thick fleece creates a thermal barrier
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Durabase Matting

Dural Durabase CI++
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Durabase UFH Matting

Dural Durabase CI FH
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas (but not suitable for permanently wet areas)
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Comes with integrated grid for electrical underfloor heating
• Fast track new sand & cement screedsOrbry Boards at Tile Fix Direct

Orbry Board
• Can be used as a tanking system for permanently wet areas
• Can be mechanically fixed (incl anhydrite screeds)
• Has strong insulating properties
• No adhesive requirement to fill cavities
• Suitable for external use

Marmox Boards at Tile Fix Direct

Marmox Multiboard
• Can be used as a tanking system for permanently wet areas
• Can be mechanically fixed (incl anhydrite screeds)
• Has strong insulating properties
• No adhesive requirement to fill cavities
• Suitable for external use

Note: always refer to manufacturers instructions before specifying or installation.

Electric Underfloor Heating Pros and Cons

Underfloor heating used to be seen as a luxury used only in extravagant homes and high-end hotels, but those days are gone and most of us know that it’s now a really affordable option. It’s also really practical, particularly in small spaces where it can be used as a replacement for bulky radiators. As with everything, electric underfloor heating has its pros and cons so we’re going to spell them out for you to help you decide whether it’s right for you or the job you are working on.

Pros of Electric Underfloor Heating

  • Easy to install – compared to other heating systems, electric underfloor heating is relatively easy to install. The mats often have a self-adhesive coating on the underside to fix them to the floor, and they are then covered in a self-levelling compound or tile adhesive. A certified electrician will need to connect the system and ensure it is all working correctly before tiles can be installed.
  • Makes the most of space – in smaller spaces underfloor heating can be used as the sole heating system, freeing up wall space where bulky radiators would usually sit.
  • Ideal for wet rooms – underfloor heating is suitable for use in wet areas, which makes it ideal for use in bathrooms and wet rooms. It helps to evaporate water on tiled floors, minimising the risk of slipping and making the floor safer.
  • Flexible heating option – electric underfloor heating can be installed on any level of the house and because the mats are very slim it is perfect for use in renovation projects.
  • Luxurious experience – there’s no denying that underfloor heating provides a luxurious feeling underfoot – whether you use it in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or living areas.

Cons of Electric Underfloor Heating

  • Expert installation – you will need to make sure you hire qualified tradesmen to install the system and keep hold of all information regarding installation in case of any problems in the future.
  • Insulation – to make the most of your electric underfloor heating you may need to install additional insulation beneath the mats. Tile backer boards will help your UFH system work most efficiently.
  • Longer heat up times – electric underfloor heating can take a little longer to heat up than other options, however if you use your thermostat to create a custom heating schedule that suits you it’s unlikely you will notice.
  • Running costs – if you use electric underfloor heating as the only source of heating in your home it may be an expensive choice, however it’s more likely that it will be used for one or two rooms or as an additional heating method – for this it is a cost effective option.
  • Faults – if there are any faults with the system you may need to rip up the floor to fix or replace the electric underfloor heating which will be expensive and disruptive.

At Tile Fix Direct we have three options when it comes to choosing a brand:


DEVI are celebrating their 75th birthday in 2019! They are market leaders in Europe aiming to provide “high quality electrical heating solutions with long-lasting effects.” They are confident in their range of underfloor heating products, including mats, cables and thermostats, even offering the DEVIwarranty™ that not only covers cable or mat replacement, but also the cost of installation and floor materials – up to 20 years! Shop DEVImat underfloor heating online.


Orbry provide a range of wet room products at affordable prices. Their range of electric underfloor heating products includes, 100W & 150W self-adhesive mats, thermostats and insulating tile backer boards to help you get the most out of your system. Shop Orbry underfloor heating online.


Schlüter’s DITRA-HEAT underfloor heating system combines a decoupling mat with electric heating cables. The innovative DUO system also provides other benefits including soundproofing, waterproofing and an insulating thermal break layer. They also have a range of thermostats including a wifi controlled option that links to a smartphone app. Shop Schlüter underfloor heating online.

Our staff have many years experience and are familiar with all the systems we sell so get in touch if you have any questions. Alternatively use our electric underfloor heating selector to help you work out what you need.

Schlüter DITRA-HEAT Wifi Thermostat Available at Tile Fix Direct

Is there anything that can’t be controlled via our smart phones nowadays? Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but with cat flaps and kettles joining the list of app-controlled devices, it’s no surprise that top electric underfloor heating manufacturer Schlüter are joining the club. Their DITRA-HEAT range is already extremely successful and now they have added smart wifi thermostat to enhance the award-winning system.

Based on their existing 2″ thermostat, the new Schlüter wifi-enabled thermostat allows you to truly customise your electric underfloor heating system. The easy set-up wizard means you can start scheduling up to six different events per day for the ultimate flexibility. Dedicated Android and Apple iOS apps are available to download for free that feature an easy to use intuitive interface. If you are using electric underfloor heating throughout your home you can control all of your Schlüter thermostats from one app – either individually or via groups to create heating zones within the home. Multiple users can make their own changes to the same thermostats to meet the needs of everyone in the household. The stylish wall mounted units are small and discreet so they will not affect the overall design of your space.

Features & Benefits of Schlüter Wifi Thermostat

  • Turn the system on and off remotely so you can wake up or arrive home to a warm home
  • The adaptive system ensures the desired temperature is achieved in the most energy efficient way
  • Open window function shuts off the heating for 30 minutes is a rapid drop in temperature caused by an open window or door is detected
  • Switch between six default modes; Manual, Eco, Comfort, Boost, Frost Protection and Holiday
  • Keep track of energy consumption and running costs

The RT5 thermostat is a square wall-mounted device with a 2″ touchscreen that can be controlled via Android and Apple iOS devices. The RT5 wifi thermostat is also included in the DITRA-HEAT-DUO kits which include everything you need to install the DITRA-HEAT system – DITRA-HEAT decoupling matting, electric underfloor heating cables and a wifi thermostat. When used as part of the DITRA-HEAT system, the thermostats can provide the ultimate in comfort and DITRA-HEAT-DUO matting features fast reacting heating and acoustic reduction fleece, as well as the stud structure that makes installing the cables quick and easy. See the different kit sizes available at Tile Fix Direct below.

Code Uncoupled Area (m2) Heated Area (m2)
SHDHTBS2 2.4 1.6
SHDHTBS3 3.2 2.2
SHDHTBS4 4 2.7
SHDHTBS5 4.8 3.3
SHDHTBS6 5.6 3.8
SHDHTBS7 6.4 4.4
SHDHTBS8 7.2 5

Celebrate Orbry’s 5th Birthday with Tile Fix Direct

Orbry Wet Rooms are celebrating their 5th birthday this month, and we’re joining them but offering discounts on five different products! At this time of year we’re all wishing for additional heating in our homes, so we’ve decided to give you 15% off a range of Orbry Underfloor Heating products. From self-adhesive mats to touch screen thermostats, Orbry have a range of underfloor heating products designed to add a touch of luxury to any room in your home.

Orbry strongly recommend adding underfloor heating to wet rooms, as it helps evaporate any surface water that is left on floors after showering. The floor level heating also provides a more consistent heat as it is evenly spread out throughout the entire room. If using underfloor heating as your only heating source you can free up wall space previously taken up by radiators. Radiators can also become dust traps, so removing these is great for those with asthma or allergies.

Benefits of Orbry Underfloor Heating

  • Quick and easy to install
  • Helps evaporate water from floors
  • Frees up wall space
  • More hygienic than radiators
  • Slim mats add very little height to floors
  • More consistent heat throughout the room
  • Can be installed in any size space
  • Suitable for use with tiles, laminate and carpet

To celebrate five years of Orbry Wet Rooms we have discounted five product ranges. Use the code ORB151912 at the checkout until 3rd January 2017 to save 15% on the following products:

Product Feature: DEVIflex Loose Lay Cable Electric Underfloor Heating

Product Feature: DEVIflex Loose Lay Cable Electric Underfloor Heating

Electric underfloor heating is fast becoming a popular choice in homes, particularly in bathrooms, wet rooms and kitchens. This is partly due to the affordability of underfloor heating products, but also due to the ease of installation. Electric underfloor heating mats make installation quick and easy, but if you are having to cut the mats repeatedly to fit them into a small or awkward space they can often make the job harder. DEVI have created an innovative loose lay electric underfloor heating cable that combats this problem.

DEVIflex is a heating cable that has been created with its user in mind. When developing the product, which is a replacement for the previous DTIP product, DEVI researched what users wanted and came up with three main design goals:

  1. A great cable strength
  2. Increased cable flexibility
  3. Superior reliability

In order to meet these design goals they created a heating cable that is perfect for using in small spaces, awkward shape rooms, or for those who prefer to lay the cable by hand. The DEVIflex loose lay underfloor heating cable has a twin conductor with a single cold lead cable which aids layout planning and installation. The cold lead cable is now even easier to strip thanks to its 3 solid copper wires.

Key features of DEVIflex cable

  • PVC outer sheath and XLPE insulated inner cable gives strength and flexibility
  • Easy installation thanks to the round construction of the heating cable & cold lead
  • Installation is possible at temperatures as low as -5° provided you allow for a longer installation period
  • Quality and reliability – DEVIflex conforms to IEC: 60800:2009 product standard
  • 360° full aluminium screening ensures maximum protection

Installing DEVIflex Heating Cable

Tips for installing the DEVIflex loose lay underfloor hearing cable:

  • Plan the installation by drawing a sketch which shows cable layout, cold leads & connections, junction box, sensor, connection box & thermostat.
  • Prepare the installation area by ensuring the surface is even, stable, smooth, dry and clean.
  • At low temperatures, heating cables can become rigid. After rolling out the element, briefly connect it to the mains supply to soften the cable before fastening.
  • Cables must not overlap or cross.
  • The heating cable bending diameter must be at lease 6 times the cable diameter.

DEVIflex installation

For full installation instructions, see the DEVIflex Installation Guide.

Order the DEVIflex Loose Lay Cable Underfloor Heating system online at Tile Fix Direct today.

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