Winter is coming, but radiant floor heating can keep you from turning into a frozen zombie this season

You don’t need an HBO subscription to know that winter is coming, but before this season’s frigid temperatures turn you into a frozen zombie, consider adding radiant floor heating to your home. Imagine, no more stepping out of the shower onto tile as cold as the land north of the wall. It’s not magic—in fact, installing radiant floor heating to your bathroom or entire home may be easier than you think.

Heated floors are the best solution to the inescapable problem you get with floors that are hard and dense, like tile, which are naturally cold. If you’re already considering or planning a bathroom remodel or replacing the flooring in your home, radiant floor heating is relatively easy to install. Not only will it keep your toes toasty, it actually supplements the work your furnace is doing, and may even cut down on your energy costs.

How radiant floor heating works.

Most commercially available radiant floor heating products use an electric radiant system, meaning that heat is created by electrical current traveling through wire. Electric radiant floor heating systems are the most comfortable and energy efficient way to heat your floor and home. They can be installed as either mats or a cable, however mats are the most popular choice as they are customizable in size and can fit just about any room, even with curves and angles. This kind of heating system must be installed before the final floor covering goes down, so if you want it under an existing floor, you’ll need to have it ripped up first.

Radiant floor heating is installed between flooring panels and the subfloor, meaning your current floor has to come up first.

The benefits of radiant floor heating

First off, radiant heat flooring systems are durable, reliable, and oftentimes even capable of outlasting your home furnace. With proper care and maintenance, a floor heating system can last for decades. Some manufactures warranty their products for up to 25 years.

Secondly, radiant floor heating can cut down on utility costs. Heated floors warm a room from the floor up. As a result, most people wit radiant floor heating systems set their thermostat to a lower temperature than without floor heating but keep just as comfortable.

In-floor radiant heat doesn’t use fans or blowers, so there’s no ambient noise like there is with a furnace running. That also means it doesn’t push dust, dirt, pollen and other allergens through the vents, so it’s also a lot better for allergy sufferers.

It doesn’t just warm your toes—a radiant floor heating system actually provides more even temperature control of a room than your furnace’s blower.

Electric radiant floor heating systems are modular, which means they can be installed only in rooms where you want or need it. If you’re not ready to equip your whole house you can choose the rooms where heated flooring will benefit you the most—usually bathrooms and bedrooms.

Many radiant floor heating systems are programmable, which means you can set them to different temperatures at different times of day. This further contributes to the energy efficiency of the product, as well as its convenience. You can turn the system off while you’re sleeping, then have it kick on right before you wake up. 

Is there an app for that? Of course! Many new radiant floor heating systems these days are “smart” systems that you can control with your phone, tablet or digital assistant, like Alexa or Siri.

Choosing the right flooring for your radiant floor heating system

Radiant floor heating systems work better with some flooring options than they do with others. 

Porcelain and ceramic tile are great at conducting heat, so your home will get the full benefit of your radiant floor heating system. Also, tile flooring won’t expand as it warms or contract as it cools, which means it’s less likely to crack.

Ceramic tile is a great conduit for the heat generated by a radiant floor heating system.

Laminate Flooring is has the look of hardwood or even tile but usually costs significantly less. It also does a great job when installed over radiant heat flooring. Laminate flooring material is built with wood plies layered in opposite directions. This creates a more stable flooring material than solid hardwood. It also won’t expand or contract, which is another reason why it pairs well with radiant floor heating systems.

Like laminate, engineered hardwood is also manufactured in layers so it has a more stable base that doesn’t react to heating and cooling processes. The top layer of engineered hardwood, also called the wear layer, is made of solid wood and comes in all the same varieties you’ll find with actual solid hardwood flooring.

More so than pretty much any other flooring materials, travertine, sandstone, marble, granite and other types of natural stone tile flooring heat very, very nicely. Natural stone tile is usually thought of as cold, but that’s because the density of the material amplifies your perception of its temperature. Once you warm it up with a radiant floor heating system, natural stone tile’s physical properties work in your favor, warming the air above it with great efficiency.

The intense heat generated by radiant floor heating systems can cause solid hardwood to swell and buckle, making hardwood floors a poor choice.

The types of flooring you’ll want to avoid with radiant heating include carpet, vinyl and solid hardwood. Carpet will prevent some of the heat from transferring through into your home. If you’d still like something plush to walk on in your home, area rugs will keep your feet comfortable without interfering with the radiant floor heating system. Just be sure to avoid large area rugs. 

Vinyl isn’t a good choice either. The heat generated from a radiant floor heating system might actually discolor it or even cause the off-gassing of toxic chemicals. Neither does solid hardwood work, as the heat can cause it to swell, buckle, crown or even crack.

Think a radiant floor heating system might be right for your home? Call or email Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers today for a free consultation. We know you only want the best in flooring. That’s why it’s important to hire the best in the business, and at Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers, we can guarantee you that’s us. Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers have been flooring and remodeling Kentuckiana for over 30 years. Our certified installers have the ingenuity and know-how to assist you in choosing the perfect floors for your home. Don’t take matters into your own hands—let us guide your next project.

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