Certain types of flooring, despite their beauty and practicality, they can have a few drawbacks, for instance, wood, tile and stone are all beautiful flooring choices, but you have to admit, despite their beauty, they aren’t quite as warm and cozy as carpet when you step on them barefooted, especially first thing in the morning, and especially in the colder months. If stepping out of bed onto a hard, cold floor doesn’t exactly sound appealing, you can easily remedy the situation by having radiant floor heating installed. If having nice, warm floors when you get out of bed and make your way to the bathroom sounds like a dream, then you should learn more about this type of system. There are a few options you can choose from so that you get the best one for your home and your budget, since it can be a bit pricey to get one, but for those who love their tile or wood floors, just not the coldness they feel when walking barefoot across them, it can definitely be a home improvement job that can be worth the cost. Let’s learn a little more about radiant floor heating.
What is radiant floor heating?
Radiant floor heating is a system of tubes that are installed under your current flooring. The tubes have two ways in which they can be heated; either electronically or by way of heated water. The heat distributes evenly across the floor so you don’t experience cold spots as you walk, and since heat rises, you’ll feel this warmth from your feet and on up a bit, but your upper portion of your body will still be able to enjoy the cooler temps up higher, allowing you to breathe the crisper air into your lungs, which is a healthy benefit.
Types of radiant heat
The best way to describe an electronic version of radiant heat is to envision a heating pad being beneath your floor. It is installed beneath a thin layer of cement, and you maintain the temperature via a thermostat and the the thermostat will automatically adjust itself all throughout the day according to how you programmed it. Although the electric version is cheaper to install, it will be a little more pricey to operate since it runs off of electricity. Your electric bill will reflect the addition of an electric radiant heat system. On the flip-side, this is the cheaper of the two versions to install. If you are a big DIY project kind of homeowner, you may be able to install this version on your own, depending on how large the room is you plan to install it in.
- Estimated cost of an electric system
According to professional contractors who deal with radiant floor heating, installing an electric radiant floor heating system will vary in cost depending on the size of floor you want to warm. For an averaged size bathroom, you may spend about $700, while an entire home with 1,500 square feet of living space may run around $7,000. Anything amount of flooring in between will vary between the two pricing estimates.
The hydronic version works by using a hot water boiler plus a pump that circulates the heated water through a tubing system that is installed under the floor. One nice thing about this system is the possibility of being able to use your existing water heater if you were just wanting the system installed in a small bathroom. You can tie the system into your existing water heater, but anything beyond that, you will more than likely need to install a separate water heater, which will increase the cost of the installation. Despite this fact, it is said that this is still a more affordable system to operate, once the installation has been done.
- Estimated cost of a hydronic system
If you are wondering what a water heater might cost, depending on the brand and other things, a 50-gallon tank can run you anywhere between $360 and well over $1,000. Operating this type of system is similar to the electric in that you use a thermostat to operate the system. The water heater heats the water and sends this heated water through the pipes that are set beneath the flooring. Due to problems with older versions of pipes in homes, like the old copper ones commonly used, today, flexible tubing called cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) tubes are used. In bigger areas – bigger homes or commercial spaces, a boiler is often used to heat the water, but boilers are quite a bit pricier than water heaters, so if you need or plan to install a boiler, you can plan to spend about $6,000 for it. Overall, installing a hydronic radiant heat flooring system will on average, cost anywhere from $6,000 – $14,000, keeping in mind that the operating costs of this version will be cheaper in the long run.
What types of flooring can radiant heat flooring be installed under?
If you aren’t exactly clear how the heat is expelled through the flooring, it’s radiated and not blown through the flooring. Because it radiates up through the flooring, there are certain types of flooring that work best with either of these floor heating systems, and some that do not. Here is a list of the different types of flooring and how well they work with radiant heat.
- Carpet – If you think about it, carpet is already insulated quite well. This insulation can actually prevent radiant heat from penetrating and adding any more heat to the floor. This is especially true of thick carpets, like shag carpets and carpets with thick padding underneath.
- Wood floors – Wood floors are a possibility for radiant heat flooring, however, the better type is wood strip flooring as opposed to plank wood flooring. One thing about wood floors and heat radiating from beneath that you’ll want to consider is how heat can cause wood to shrink and expand. As the system runs through its cycles through the day, plank wood floors will be affected the most by the fluctuation compared to strip wood, and laminate wood floors are affected even less, making them the best choice of wood flooring options.
- Linoleum – Linoleum is a tricky flooring option for radiant heat. Many types of linoleum may off-gas due to the heat production underneath, so if you plan to install radiant heat beneath linoleum, you should always talk to the manufacturer of the flooring first.
- Ceramic tile – This is the best type of flooring for this type of heating system. The ceramic tiles heat spectacularly and will keep warm for quite a while, making them nice and warm for longer periods of time.
- Stone – Here’s another A+ type of flooring to use with radiant heat. Like tiles, stone stays warm for long periods of time and it is one of the most popular types of flooring used in conjunction with radiant heat. There is one thing to think about with stone, however, and that is that stone can take a while longer to rise to the desired temperature, compared to tile. But once they reach their optimum heat level, they will hold on to it.