Mat vs. Loose Wire Underfloor Heating

If you have been looking at Underfloor Heating systems, then I am sure that you would have noticed two very different types. The first just looks like a cable on a roll of mesh, that’s an Underfloor Heating Matting System, and the second looks like a wire on a reel, that is a Loose Wire Underfloor Heating System.

If you have noticed this already and you are reading this blog then I am guessing you have questions along the lines of what is the difference between the two or how do I know which one to use? If this is, you then this article will be exactly what you are looking for. In this article on the difference between the mat & loose wire Underfloor Heating we are going to cover the following:

All the information is generic to suit most applications however if you have questions regarding your specific application please get in touch, and we would love to assist you in working out which system is best for you, mat or loose wire.

What is a Mat Underfloor Heating System?

The mat system consists of a heating cable that is fixed to a fiberglass mesh on a roll and is commonly known as an Electric Underfloor Heating Mat.

Generally, the mesh used is a fiberglass mesh and the cable is generally attached to the mesh using a tape system, although sometimes it is stitched to the mesh. Our Thermonet system uses a taping system to attach the cables to our self-adhesive mesh. The self-adhesive mesh helps with sticking the matting system down to the substrate.

The advantage of the matting system is the speed and ease of installation. With the cables already pre-spaced on the mesh, all you need to do is run the mat out on the floor. By cutting through the mesh, without cutting the cable, you can twist the mat to change direction allowing you to cover the entire floor. The mesh is always installed with the wire side down which helps provide additional protection for the cable as well as keeping all the wire lying flat.

Whilst you cut the mesh as part of the installation process, you never cut the cable so you don’t need to be a qualified electrician to install the Underfloor Heating matting. The cutting of the mesh allows you to twist the mat and manoeuvre it across the room.

The only real drawback of the matting system is that it can be more fiddly to install for smaller or awkward-shaped rooms due to the mesh as opposed to the flexibility of the loose wire system.

What is a Loose Wire Underfloor Heating System?

With a loose wire Underfloor Heating System, the cable is supplied on a reel rather than being attached to a mesh.

The cable is then run out across the floor to achieve full coverage of the heated area. As the cable is not already spaced you need to work out your spacing to ensure that it is even across the floor. There are several different methods for fixing down a loose wire system depending on, not only the brand but also exactly where in the floor build-up the loose wire system is being used. The most

common and easiest method is to tape the cable to the substrate. Other methods include using a chicken mesh and cable tying the cable to the mesh or a custom fixing profile such as the galvanised fixing profile.

The advantage of the loose wire system is that it provides the greatest flexibility for running across the floor in whatever pattern you wish. This is ideal in smaller or irregular-shaped rooms as you can easily get into all areas with the loose wire.

The disadvantage of the loose wire system is that it is generally a slower process to install than the matting system, unless in the cases mentioned. More time will need to be taken to ensure the cable is evenly spaced so that you don’t end up with different temperatures across the floor, and you need to ensure the cable is held down firmly to the substrate to minimise the risk of damage.

Watch how to install Thermoscreed
In-Screed Loose Wire Heating System

Watch how to install Thermonet
Underfloor Heating Mat System

Is a Mat or Loose Wire Underfloor Heating System better to install?

We have already addressed this question from a few angles during our explanation of the systems. It ultimately depends on your exact application however if you haven’t installed Underfloor

Heating before and you have a regular-shaped room, our recommendation is to use the mat system for a simple installation.
If you are purchasing the system for your home with the intention of getting your electrician, tiler or builder to install it, then we recommend that you double-check with them first to find out if they have a preference on what system you use.

Does a Mat or Loose Wire System provide better heat?

Contrary to some myths, it really doesn’t make a difference to the heat performance by having either a mat or a loose wire system. Once they are installed and the floor finish is laid the only thing that you are going to notice is a nice warm floor. The difference in the heat-up times or the temperature of the floor will vary based on the floor build-up, the wattage per square meter

or level of insulation regardless or whether a mat or loose wire system as long as the same wattage and spacing were used with both systems.

We often hear people refer to the heat-up difference between the mat or loose wire system when in fact they are actually referring to if the system is installed either below the screed or above the screed.

Is a Mat or Loose Wire System cheaper to purchase?

Typically, a loose wire system will always be cheaper than the equivalent mat to purchase. Essentially, it is the exact same cable however the mat has been processed in a factory where the cable is attached to the mesh so there is that extra process and the mesh cost.

Do not be put off however, this does not actually add a lot to the overall system so there isn’t a big cost difference at the end of the day. If you are paying someone to install the heating, or even if you are doing this yourself, the time saving of the mats can make up the difference in the pricing.

Our recommendation is that the cost price of the mat or loose wire systems is not enough of a differentiator to make you select one system over the other. When selecting which system to purchase the points raised above in this article would be more applicable to ensure you purchase the correct system for your project.


So there you have it, the difference between the mat and loose wire system from the difference in the system, the pros and cons, through to the install, heating & cost differences. We included the videos and links to images throughout the article to help highlight the differences.

If you have made your decision on which system you need then head over to our Underfloor Heating page to select your system. If you still have questions regarding your specific application, then get in touch with the team and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.




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