Feeling The Heat


Well that would show up in the dark.. no need for a pee light after all?


They’re clever people those German engineers. The tiler’s chosen system for the underfloor heating is first laid down as a mat with these weird orange pillars sticking up out of it. Walking on the stuff is similar, I imagine, to those shoes you can get with the foot massaging insoles. Only on a much larger scale. Between the orange pillars the installer then snaps into place the electric cable which will provide that all important toe warming heat: three pillars apart, two or three away from each wall. A cable suspended in this way can even be attached to the walls themselves, should you be so inclined. Spiderman would surely approve. But the installer, the tiler in our case, needs to have his wits about him. The heating cable is ordered to the estimated required length and can’t then be cut or joined. So if the tiler gets close to the end and finds he doesn’t have enough, or gets to the end left holding a surplus, the poor man has to pull the cable up, revise the layout and start over again.

Our man has clearly seen this movie before and taken due heed, being the shrewd cookie that he is. He would work his way up the room from the door to the far end and deal with any over or under provision in the dead space underneath what will be the bath. It turned out to be the former. And it was a close run thing. See the short gap near the top left corner of the orange mat, above? If the cable had been just a foot longer he’d have had a problem. But one thing’s for sure.. that long soak in the tub that I’m so looking forward to? With all the heat now pumping up from beneath, it’s going to be seriously toasty.



With the cable laid a coat of latex fills the spaces between the pillars, encasing the wire. The floor tiles can now be placed directly on top, apparently a space saving over more traditional methods of underfloor heating.

Space saving was going to be crucial..

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this whole bathroom saga has been the inclusion of a shower. A shower is not the easiest thing for me given my dislike of water but it is quick, efficient, and over the course of holidays abroad I have got used to it. Kind of. For Mike a shower would be first choice every time. And these days, it seems, a shower in a bathroom is almost considered compulsory: we went as far as asking a friendly estate agent for advice. Given that neither of us is going to be sprinting up and down the hillside on a daily basis when we’re in our eighties, future proofing the house for an eventual sale was an important thing to factor in.

But as you’ll have guessed by now, nothing around here is ever straightforward. There wasn’t enough space under the bathroom floor to take the standard two inch shower drain pipe. Plan A had been to take the pipe down through the floor into the dining room below and create a false ceiling between two of the old beams, thus concealing the pipe along its run to the nearest wall. The pipe would then hang a 90 degree turn and be channelled downwards through the wall. From there, via a further 90 degree turn, it was to be buried underneath the dining room floor. The beautiful, original, brick laid dining room floor, currently covered with carpet but that I’d been intending to expose and restore at some point in the future. And was that all? Of course not. Then the plumbers would have had to drill through the two foot thick exterior cob wall to rendezvous with the soil stack on the other side. It was never a plan that I liked.

Our decision, back at the start of the project, was to raise the whole bathroom floor two inches to make room for the shower drain underneath. It’s a compromise. Another one. It means a small step up into the bathroom from the corridor outside. Hence the need to minimise, as far as possible, the thickness of the floor coverings to be placed on top. In an old house such as this there are many different levels and no shortage of steps in unexpected places. What’s one more?



Day 30. Tiles. Lights. And even a shower screen.

It’s coming on.. !