What exactly are heated floors?

Heated floors, or radiant floor heating, is a heating system that is located underneath the flooring of the home. The system can be either electric wires (see below) or hot water pipes installed under the flooring to create warmth.

photo of subflooring wired for radiant fheat

Source: manasquanplumber.com


The initial cost of radiant heated floors is usually higher than other types of heating systems.  Experts estimate the cost can run from $10 to $20 per square foot.  Hydronic (water pipes) heating systems are typically more expensive upfront.  But if you are installing the system throughout your home- it could end up being more cost-effective.  Obviously, you need to get bids on both types of systems.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of radiant floor heating?

Thinking about radiant floor heating for your next remodel or home, consider the advantages and disadvantages of radiant floor heating:


    • Quiet: Compared to normal air-forced systems, there’s little to no noise with radiant floor heating systems.

    • Low Maintenance: Minimal maintenance is required for radiant flooring and most companies that install this type of heating system have a multi-year warranty.
    • Hypo-Allergenic: Radiant floor heating systems depend on conduction throughout the home through systems in the floors and walls. No vents or ducts equate to no dust.  Even for owners just installing in bathrooms -lower room temperatures- because the floor is warm- may reduce molds and mildews.

    • Energy efficiency: Without ducts and vents required for the warm air to circulate, radiant heating is much more efficient in keeping your home warm. Traditional heating systems can leak warm air through ducts, forcing you to keep the heat on for longer periods of time.



  • Installation: Not everybody is a DIY remodeler.  If f you’re redoing an existing home that currently has a forced-air system, the process of installing radiant heating requires removing the existing flooring so the systems can be put in place, all of which will be costly.   The good news with new building new construction, work with your builder to determine the cost of installing radiant heating.
  • Cost: Depends on the size and scope of the project.  Rule of thumb- installation can be expensive when compared to forced air systems.  Revamping a room or two can be very cost-effective.

What types of flooring work best for radiant floor heating systems?

The most popular choice for radiant heated floors is tile because it is a great heat conductor.  However, you’re not limited to tiles.  You can also select other options including laminate, nailed hardwood,  floating hardwood, and vinyl.

I’m hooked on the concept for the main bathroom but not quite ready for the remodeling job yet.  Heated floors are a definite plus in cooler weather- but upgrade your home for your comfort- not resale value.  Remember not all updates are considered to be of value by the next buyer.