Thinking about radiant floor heat to go under your kitchen and bathroom tile? Not sure if you’re making the right decision? Read on to get everything you need to know from the basics to the type of flooring that works best.
How It Works
Radiant heat or underfloor heating is a source of heat installed under the floor that heats the room from the floor up. The source of heat may be electric or hydronic (hot water).
For electric radiant heat, cables are placed on the sub-floor layer just under your tile or other finished surface. These can be custom installed or can even be a DIY job with pads you simply roll out that have the electrical already built in.
Water supplied systems run pipes or tubes under the floor. A boiler heats water to 100+ degrees Fahrenheit and the heat radiates up through the floor heating the room. This generally requires professional installation, as improperly installed systems may leak.
Why It Works
Radiant heat is one of the most efficient types of heating available. First, heating the floor makes you feel warmer because it heats the immediate space you occupy. Homeowners with radiant heat often keep the thermostat lower because of this and the fact that it is constant rather than cycling on and off as a furnace would.
Second, radiant heat works by transfer of heat from one object to another: from the electric cable to the tile to the objects that sit above the tile. Not only are your feet warm, but all the furniture is too. Each of these objects actually keeps the room warmer than any forced air ever could.
Radiant heat doesn’t blow dust around or dry out noses. It costs less but heats better than most other systems. It’s a winner all around.
Where to Put It
Who doesn’t want to feel a warm floor as they step out of bed in the morning? What better way to heat your spa-inspired bathroom? Even the kitchen—where the family spends so much time—is a great fit for radiant heat.
Right now, most homeowners use radiant heat as a secondary heating source. But it can be a great option for a primary heat source. Ask your contractor for more details.
Radiant heat can go anywhere from the basement to the garage. Just about any type of flooring is suitable to go on top of it, but tile is the clear favorite. Stone and ceramic are excellent heat conductors. Their natural composition helps them hold a constant temperature longer than many other materials. That’s why they generally feel cool to the touch. But the same principle allows them to be the perfect partner for radiant heat. They hold on to that heat and continue to warm the room long after the heat source stops.
Make your radiant floor heat even more efficient with ceramic or porcelain tile or natural stone tile. Your toes will thank you.