At Perry Brothers Construction we highly recommend radiant heat flooring, as the benefits to your well-being are tremendous and easily outweigh any drawbacks, if there are any. An ideal home heating system that’s quiet, energy efficient, and most importantly, you’ll never step on a cold bathroom floor again.
Joe DeMarco: Hello, I’m Joe DeMarco, general manager of Perry Brothers Construction, a bathroom remodeling company based out of Newbury, Massachusetts who specializes in residential renovation and remodeling.
On today’s podcast, we’ll be discussing the benefits of installing a radiant heat flooring system into your bathroom during either a renovation or remodeling project.
How Does A Radiant Bathroom Floor Work?
And the first question I’d like to ask is how does a radiant bathroom floor work? I mean, it’s also known as a heated bathroom floor. It’s basically a system that goes underneath your existing flooring, and this can apply to any room in your house, but it goes under the existing flooring material and it evenly distributes heat throughout the entire floor and just creates a very warm, comfortable, cozy environment and just eliminates the fear of when you first wake up in the morning on a New England winter and you end up having to step on a cold tile floor. No one likes that. And it’s just a way better way to start your day by stepping on a warm floor.
So really there’s two different types of radiant floor heating. So you could either choose between electric radiant floor heating systems or hydronic radiant floor heating systems. And both of them are, I would say, equally good.
The only drawback, reason why I lean more towards electrical radiant floor heating systems is because a hydronic system requires a lot of piping, plastic piping, they’re called cross-linked polythene. And a network of these gets installed underneath your bathroom floor and this tubing actually connects to a boiler or water heater. And usually, you’d have to get a separate water heater or you might have to upgrade your existing one.
So this type of system, a hydronic system, it’s really best to operate one of these if you’re building a new home or you just bought a home that you’re completely remodeling from the ground up. If you plan on heating all the floors in your house then I would go with the hydronic system because it’s actually cheaper to operate over time. It’s just more energy-efficient. But in most cases, I would recommend getting an electric radiant heat floor for the bathroom, especially because these are just easier to install and they’re much better for a simple renovation project when you’re not trying to gut the entire bathroom down. You just want to do the floor and maybe the vanity and the toilet or something.
The electric heating systems too, they actually turn on faster and they’re easier to set to your desired temperature. And both these heated flooring systems you can set them up to a smart home system and you can control exactly what temperature you want on the floor while at the same time you could, say if you’re getting up at 5:00 a.m. every day, you set the floor to start turning on at 4:00 a.m, and then by the time it’s 5:00 a.m. your bathroom floor is already heated up when you’re walking in there onto the tiles and it feels great.
Electric heating systems, the way that they work is basically instead of having tubing underneath where water’s flowing through and the water’s being heated up to heat up under the floor, an electric system has these mats with wires entwined in between it. And these cables or wires are connected to the thermostat. And that’s why it’s easier to heat up an electric radiant floor heating system compared to a hydronic radiant floor heating system because the electric system, it’s just being heated up from electrical power, but a hydronic floor system needs to get water to start boiling to work properly.
But anyways, both types of these radiant floor heaters are awesome and they have advantages over each other. Bottom line is they’re both consistent and they distribute heat evenly across the entire floor surface and they’re very energy-efficient. And they eliminate any sort of cold spots, because an air circulation system, when it’s distributing heat, the warmest parts of the room are always by where the vents are located resulting in cold spots. It’s bound to happen. But a heated floor system, it’s just evenly distributed. You won’t find any cold spots, so there’s no wasted energy, it just all results in lower energy bills compared to a traditional forced air heating system.
But yeah, seriously, radiant floor heating is just a cozy, comfortable experience, especially during the colder months here in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Newbury, Massachusetts, wherever you are. It’s a huge benefit. I’d always recommend it.
What’s The Installation Process For Radiant Heat Flooring?
The next question I’d like to talk about too is what’s the installation process for radiant heat flooring? Electric radiant heat flooring, it’s definitely a simpler process, but both of them aren’t too complex. The hydronic system is definitely more complex just because of the fact that you got to be hooking up to the water boiler and everything. An electrician usually can install the electric floor heating system for you relatively quickly.
The electric radiant heat flooring process, basically, it starts with you preparing the subfloor. You got to ensure that the subfloor is clean, dry, no rot, free from any debris. You have to clean it up, make sure it’s leveled and installed properly. And if yours isn’t installed properly, you’ll have to get some maintenance done to it.
From there, you’re going to install, I would recommend it, but it’s optional, insulation. And the insulation’s going to be beneath the subfloor and it’s actually going to improve the effectiveness of the radiant floor heating system. And it’s going to actually prevent heat from being lost going down through the subfloor. You want all the heat to go up through the flooring material. You don’t want to lose it.
So then after that, after you put the insulation in there under the subfloor and the subfloor is leveled and perfect, you’re going to lay that heating element. And so if you’re using the electric radiant heat flooring system, all the cables and the mats are now going to be spaced evenly according to what the brand manufacturing instructions say.
If you’re using heating mats, they’re typically rolled out and you’re going to have to cut them to fit the room. You’re going to have to use a knife and everything. Just be careful because you’re working with cables. Hopefully, you hired professionals and you’re not doing this DIY.
And then from there, yeah, you’re just connecting the cables to the mats, to the thermostat. Just follow the manufacturing guidelines and connect everything to the power source and make sure that the electrical connections are perfect and there’s no issues. Just talk with your electrician, make sure he’s covered everything. If he’s licensed, you can trust him.
And then after that, you just install your flooring material on top of your radiant heating system, whether it’s a floating floor, stone, tile, whatever. Once the heating element is in place, you install that floor heating material of choice directly over it. And the common options, yeah, they can be laminate, engineered wood, whatever, vinyl they call it. Essential flooring materials are always compatible with radiant flooring systems and they’re efficient with their heat transfer, so you don’t have to worry about it.
And then from there, you’re just installing a thermostat and you mount the thermostat into a suitable location and you connect it to the heating element. And your thermostat, hopefully it’s going to be a smart home technology one because you can just set it and forget it.
So at night, maybe the floor temperature’s going to be higher in the morning. Like I said, it’s going to turn on slowly and already be heated right when you wake up. When you’re at work during the day, the heated floors will go down to a lower temperature. Anytime you’re ready to take a shower and you know ahead of time you just set the smart thermostat, say if you take a noontime shower after a workout, you set that heated floor to start turning on as you’re working out. Then soon as you go on there, boom.
And then the hydronic radiant heat flooring, I mean, to install that, you just got to prepare the subfloor, just like with the electric system and just make sure it’s clean and leveled, no debris.
From there, you’re going to lay your PEX tubing, and that tubing is going to go across the subfloor, usually in a serpentine pattern. And it can be secured with, there’s specialized clips and fasteners that are designed by the different brands for radiant heating systems. And from there, you’re connecting that network of tubing to the water heater. And the tubing now goes connected down through the supply lines. And these lines now allow the hot water to circulate through the tubing from the boiler up into the heated flooring system.
And then from there, it’s just pressure testing and making sure there’s no leaks. Have a plumber check it out. Make sure there’s nothing wrong with anything going on there. Make sure it passes the test. Make sure the insulation is placed over the PEX tubing at this point, and you’re going to help direct the heat upward into the room, just like with the electric radiant system. And you got to install the flooring material again.
Make sure whatever floor material you use is compatible with electric or hydronic systems. You do want to confirm that before you install a radiant heat flooring system. And just worth noting too, the installation process, it does vary based on specific brands and product requirements, your building codes, the inspections, the complexity of the overall renovation or remodel. You definitely got to consult a professional general contractor, preferably one who specializes in bathroom remodeling who has experience with radiant heat flooring systems, and then you’ll get a proper installation and performance from everything.
What Are The Different Types Of Heated Flooring?
So another thing I was thinking about too is just what are the different types of heated flooring? Some different heated flooring systems that are really popular on the market, I always recommend the Schluter-DITRA-HEAT. Schluter actually is an electric floor heating system with orange mats that keep all the wires contained and perfect, waterproofed, uncoupling. I mean, the system is actually commonly very well known for being compatible with tile and stone.
The other company I’ve been fond of is WarmlyYours, heating flooring systems, electric radiant heating products, these cables and mats just like the DITRA-HEAT. And they offer solutions for not just flooring, but walls and all sorts of different materials they are compatible with.
You could also get SunTouch. Easy to install options, and they come with their own programmable thermostats for precise temperature control. And they also do electric.
But for brands, for hydronic radiant floor heating, you could go with Uponor. They’re just a PEX- based radiant heating system and they offer these hydronic solutions for not just residential, but commercial applications. And their subfloor heating systems are by far the best hydronic radiant floor heating systems on the market.
REHAU, that’s another brand that I would say yee-haw about. Radiant heating and cooling systems. These, again, PEX-based solutions are super energy-efficient.
And also I’d give a shout-out Watts Radiant. They use PEX tubing, manifold controls. They have solutions for all sorts of types of flooring installations, wide range of hydronic heating products. Amazing.
And these are just a few examples of different brands for heating flooring systems, but there’s tons of them. I really recommend to research and compare different brands, finding the ones you like, reading articles about heated flooring systems and figuring out specific requirements that are going to be needed for your particular renovation or remodeling project. Make sure that heated flooring systems are not only going to fit into your project’s budget, but just your general budget.
And make sure that the type of flooring that you plan to install is going to be compatible with the heated flooring system you’re going to have. And again, consult a professional bathroom remodeling contractor so you can really get insights and figure out what you’re going to do with these heated floors.
Are Heated Floors Worth The Money?
And another question I get asked a lot is are heated floors worth the money? The decision to invest into heated floors, a lot of it’s personal preference. I mean, do you like stepping on a cold tile, an entire cold floor in the morning? I don’t, especially in the climate that we live in. I mean, the New England climates are brutal and brutal for your feet and the blood, it goes from your head, it circles down to your feet, it goes back up.
So these heated floors, if that’s something you care about, it’s definitely worth the money for you. Just that comfort and enjoyment. It’s just luxurious. It’s spa-like. It makes your bathroom an oasis, something you look forward to going into. The warmth radiating from the floor is just particularly pleasant for your feet. And it’s awesome when you step out of a shower or walk barefoot into the bathroom first thing in the morning, you step out of the tub right onto that warm floor as you’re drying off, walking barefoot in the bathroom, just nothing like it.
And you got to value warmth and comfort in your living space, okay? Because heated floors, they enhance the enjoyment and well-being that you experience inside your home. And heated floors are just super energy-efficient anyways in the long run. I mean, a heated floor costs about one to $5 a day to run compared to, like I said, an air circulation system for $20 a day.
And they’re easy to control, so you automatically set the temperature to specific stats throughout each day. So you’re never using too much heat and you’re using just the right amount. And you want to have, of course, the best insulation under the subfloor or over your PEX piping for this as well too so you make sure you’re always keeping energy efficiency in mind.
Just some cost considerations to even think about, I guess, it really depends on just the size and the area of the room and just the labor, everything. I mean, these electric systems are less expensive upfront, but they have a high-operating cost over time. So it’s just a hydronic system has a higher upfront cost, but it has lower operating costs over time because you’re just boiling water. But both of them are just so much more cost-effective than a traditional heating system.
But yeah, I mean, the value of a heated floor is pretty subjective and it’s just based off of what you prioritize, what kind of comfort you need, and just your enjoyment, your long-term enjoyment.
What Other Rooms Should You Install Radiant Floor Heating?
And what other rooms should you install radiant floor heating? Not just your bathroom? Basements? Your entire home? I would definitely say, I mean, you could be heating your entire home very easily with a hydronic system. Just have the water boiling throughout. Kitchens are super popular for radiant floor heating. The colder stone tiles, they’re just beautifully comfortable and they are especially outstanding and extended periods during cooking or meal preparation. Radiant floor heating, it’s just warm and comfortable and it makes an enjoyable space for you in that zone. So I highly recommend it. Definitely.
And installing radiant floor heating in bedrooms, it’s just warm and inviting and you just step onto that floor in the chilly mornings and there’s nothing like it. And it helps maintain consistent temperatures throughout the night. You’ll have better sleep anyways just from being more comfortable.
Sunrooms too, especially during the winter. You have a solarium, the glass room, I mean, a sunroom, it captures sunlight, but it could be really cold when there’s no sun out there. So the radiant floor allows you to get that outdoor view of wherever, your backyard or the stars up in the sky just at any point of the day because the floors are always going to be nice and warm. You can go out there in your PJs and enjoy it.
And also too, entry rooms and mud rooms, I mean, you can track dirt and moisture in there and it’ll make the floors really cold and gross and uncomfortable. But the radiant flooring, it makes it easier to dry out all the wet debris and moisture and stuff from shoes. And as soon as you enter the house, it just makes everything easier to clean up.
Because, yeah, I mean, the decision to install radiant floor heating in specific rooms just depends on your personal preferences. I mean, I would definitely recommend installing it in, at the very least, your bathroom, but if not, throughout your entire home if you live in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. When determining if radiant floor heating is suitable for a particular area, I mean, like I said, it’s subjective and it’s up to you how you feel.
All right. I’m really glad I got to share this great information with everyone on radiant heat bathroom flooring. I strongly recommend this upgrade to your home. After installation, you’ll immediately feel the benefits. If you’d like to discuss heated flooring options for your bathroom, basement or any other space in your home, schedule your free no-commitment consultation with Bill Perry, owner of Perry Brothers Construction, and he’ll guide you through everything else you need to know about radiant heat flooring. Thank you.