Heated flooring is one of the most popular project upgrades chosen by remodeling clients. For midwest residents, the autumn and winter seasons are particularly frigid, which means home floors are constantly cold. We’ve all experienced the feeling of stepping out of a hot shower only to be greeted by freezing floors. There is a solution with radiant heated floors. Not only will radiant floors solve the cold bathroom tile problem, but they can help heat your entire home, make you more comfortable, and even melt the snow on your driveway. Let’s take some time to answer a few common questions about heated flooring.
Radiant Heated Flooring Options
Radiant heated floors generate heat by either hot-water tubes or by electric wires buried underneath the flooring material. One or the other types of flooring systems (or a combination of both) can be the right choice for your home, depending on the project and the size of the space.
Electric Radiant Heat – Electric flooring creates heat through custom-designed plastic netting rolls woven with small electric wires. Incorporating electric floor heating doesn’t require the costly retrofitting of a home to fit the pumps and boilers that hydronic systems require. Electric systems are installed directly onto the subfloor and then troweled over with tile setting material. When installing liquid (hydronic) systems, installers pour gypcrete over plastic tubing that connects to a boiler unit. It conducts the heat and levels the floor surface before installing your chosen flooring material, usually carpet, tile, or hardwood.
Electric systems are ideal for retrofits and smaller spaces like bathrooms, and liquid systems are better for larger installations such as an addition.
Liquid (Hydronic) Radiant Heat – Liquid systems, also sometimes called “hydronic,” use liquid to circulate the heat. It’s one of the most often used options because it’s highly cost-efficient for operation. These floors use water heated directly from a boiler to pump right into tubing installed under the floor.
Benefits of Heated Flooring
Energy Efficient – Because Radiant Heated Flooring directly heats an object instead of relying on air movement like forced-air systems, rooms heat much more efficiently. Heat rises, so as the warmth escapes the floor, it heats the air in the room. You can set the ambient temperature slightly lower than a thermostat and experience no noticeable change with little wasted energy.
Reduce Allergies – Traditional HVAC systems spread dust from air ducts that can wreak havoc on those with allergies. Radiant heat flooring eliminates the need for a furnace and return vents keeping the air virtually dust-free.
Even-Heating – Another related advantage to radiant heated flooring is more evenly distributed heat throughout the room. Forced-air heating often leaves parts of a room much colder than others based on how far away they are from the vents. In contrast, radiant heating systems warm the whole floor evenly, so the ambient temperature is the same, creating fewer cold spots with radiant heated floors.
Longevity – Electric radiant heating floor systems are incredibly durable and require almost no maintenance. Liquid (hydronic) radiant heating systems need a bit of care. Fortunately, most radiant heating systems come with guarantees that span decades.
Cost-Effective – Radiant heating systems for warming tile cost between $6-$15 per square foot for electrically heated mats, rolls, or cables with fixing strips. Installing electric floor heating is cheaper than hydronic, and there’s effectively no maintenance required. In general, expect to pay 50 percent more for a hydronic radiant flooring system than for conventional forced-air heat, but the operating costs are cheaper than electric. Electricity is the more costly radiant heat option to operate on a per sq. ft. basis, but this can be somewhat nullified by using a programmable thermostat.
Where to Install Heated Flooring
Radiant heated flooring works well in virtually every room in your house as it can be installed under tile, wood, carpet, or concrete. Here are a few of our favorite applications for the colder areas of your home.
Bathrooms – We’ve touched on it already, but you can turn your master bath into an oasis by adding a radiant heated flooring system. The electric system works well beneath both tile and stone.
Basements – Many people describe their basements as cold or dark, forcing us to picture the classic unfinished basement with a creaky set of stairs and washer and dryer beneath a single lightbulb. Basements can be so much more: home theaters, bars, home gyms, an office. There is no limit to what your basement can become; whatever you decide, incorporate a radiant heated floor. You’ll never be able to describe your basement as cold again.
Driveway – Driveway heating solutions are available as either snow melting mats or cables embedded directly in concrete, asphalt, or in mortar under pavers. They work for any size or shape of driveway.
Radiant heat is a luxury that you won’t imagine living without once you have it. If you’re planning a remodel, do yourself a favor and add a heated floor. Your feet will thank you. If you would like to add radiant heated flooring to a bathroom, basement, driveway, or any other space in your home, our award-winning design team would relish the opportunity to create the perfect place for you and your family. Contact us today at 847-836-2600 or schedule an appointment.