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Insulating underlayments and uncoupling membranes share some key characteristics like providing crack isolation benefits. But they are separated by their primary functions.
Insulating underlayments, like cork or CeraZorb, provide a thermal break between a subfloor and the heating elements, which can help prevent “heat sink” and increase energy efficiency. This can be particularly beneficial if you are trying to heat a room above a cement slab or above an unheated garage.
Uncoupling membranes, like the Prodeso membrane, are great for protecting relatively fragile floor coverings like tile from foundational movement. They also allow for faster installation times than many other types of floor heating.
The best way is to use our Radiant Floor Heating Quote Builder tool. It’s a great way to get an estimation by simply providing project information like room size and subfloor type.
No, an underlayment isn’t always necessary.
However, there are some situations in which the use of an underlayment would be required, such as heating over a cement slab (where an insulating underlayment would most likely be required).
Typically, an uncoupling membrane like Prodeso will be best for this application because it can be paired with accessories to effectively waterproof the subfloor.
However, if you have a cement subfloor, then CeraZorb synthetic cork is a good choice because of its high R-value and moisture resistance.