Planning to remodel your bathroom in the near future? Consider installing radiant floor heating. Not only is it a toasty treat for your feet (and pets), it can be more cost effective, energy efficient, and offer more benefits than other forms of heating:
Following are a few of the benefits of radiant floor heat:
Radiant floor heat provides a more even, overall heat. Rather than trying to push warm air from one place to another (with the associated hot/cold spots and drafts), heat gently rises from the floor, and steadily warms up everything in the room, including surfaces, furnishings, and, most importantly, you.
Radiant floor heat provides healthier indoor air quality—a particular benefit to people who suffer from allergies, asthma, or other breathing problems. Because it requires no wall unit or ductwork, there’s no place for allergens and dust to accumulate (and get blown all around your home with a forced air system).
Radiant heat is energy efficient—the wattage used by keeping it on 24/7 is minimal, thus less energy is required to achieve better thermal comfort. Depending on how well insulated your home is, radiant floor heating can be up to 30% more efficient than forced air heating.
Radiant heat can provide more usable area in smaller spaces. Removing an electric baseboard or wall heater in a bathroom frees up the area for cabinets or other bathroom furnishings.
Radiant heat is completely silent and “truly invisible,” says This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, who has been a long-time fan.
Some people are even switching to radiant floor heating throughout their entire home. In addition to capturing all of the above benefits on a larger scale, removing your home’s old ductwork can provide more available head space for a future basement remodel. ☺
How Does Radiant Floor Heating Work?
As the heat rises, it warms up nearby cabinets and furniture, which in turn radiate heat. The air temperature remains relatively constant, and the objects you touch don’t steal any warmth from your body.
How Is Radiant Floor Heating Installed?
Radiant Floor Heating uses either electric wires, or tiny hot water tubes, installed under the floor.
Electric radiant uses zigzagging loops of loose wire, or a wire “mat” system that can be affixed to the existing floor. Both are covered with a thin-set cement that does not significantly raise the floor height. Electric radiant is the most cost effective for a smaller space such as a bathroom or kitchen.
Hot-water radiant (also known as hydronic) floor heating systems require your contractor install a boiler or water heater, which circulates water through flexible polyethylene tubes. These tubes can be installed on top of the floor in grooved panels or snap-in grids; clipped into aluminum strips on the underside of the floor; or embedded in poured concrete. This system is usually the most cost effective for an entire house.
Radiant floors are a special treat in a basement, where floors are notoriously cold. For a small area like a basement bathroom, the electric wire “mat” system is best and will not significantly raise the height of an existing concrete floor.
Larger areas (such as the entire basement) are best served by the hydronic (hot water) underfloor heating system. Although you lose a little bit of ceiling height when the tubes are covered by a layer of concrete, you gain a lot of comfort. And because heat rises, a radiant floor throughout your entire basement can help keep the upper levels of your home warm too!
Once your radiant floor heating system is in place, you can cover it with granite, tile, vinyl, and even hardwood. Some customers prefer to keep the cement and treat it with stain to produce a rich, lustrous effect (shown at right).
Carpeting on top of a radiant heat floor is less advisable: the combination of padding and carpet acts as insulation and can significantly reduce the amount of heat that radiates upwards.
Give Skydell A Call…
If radiant floor heating sounds like a compelling idea for your bathroom, basement, or entire home, we’ll be happy to talk with you further, and do a free “walk-through” of your home to assess its potential.