Materials Required

  • Cement board underlayment
  • Grout
  • Radiant heat mat
  • Thermostat
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Tile

Radiant Heat: Overview

This in-floor heating system consists of one thin continuous cable heating element woven into a mat that you install under the tile.

These heated floors are a project best done when overhauling or changing the floor covering of an existing room, or when adding a new room. Heated flooring can be installed as supplemental heat to take the chill out of the floor, or as space heat to warm the entire bathroom. Heated flooring is also a great project for warming entryway and kitchen floors.

The benefits of heated floors:

  • It’s easy to install. You embed a cable-laced mat in the mortar when you lay the tile. If you’re not comfortable with the wiring portion, hire an electrician.
  • It’s safe. Once the in-floor heating system is installed, it’s nearly impossible to damage. The GFCI-protected thermostat instantly cuts power in the event of a short or other problem.
  • It’s inexpensive. At 12 watts per square foot, our 30-sq.-ft. heated bath mat drew 360 watts of power — about the equivalent of an electric blanket or large TV.
  • It takes up zero space. Got a big, clunky radiator? Remove it and gain valuable square footage by installing this stuff.
  • It’s versatile. If your existing furnace or boiler lacks the oomph to heat a newly remodeled or added space, an in-floor heating system can do the job.
  • It’s really, really comfortable. When your feet are warm, your entire body feels warm. You’ll find yourself reading and playing games with your kids on the bathroom floor.

Special-order your custom-size mat

Various companies offer electric resistance floor warming systems. Standard sizes are available at home centers and tile stores. You can also special order custom sizes and shapes by sending a detailed drawing of the bathroom floor plan and location of fixtures.

The mats come in 12-, 24- and 30- in. widths and increments of five feet in length (10 sq. ft. minimum). When in doubt, the supplier will specify a mat smaller than you need since the mat cable can’t be cut.

Radiant Floors: A Quick Historical Recap

Radiant heat dates to ancient times, when the Romans warmed rooms by running the flues for slave-tended, wood-burning fires under elevated marble floors, keeping toes and togas nice and toasty.

Many centuries later, in this country, Frank Lloyd Wright buried copper pipes in the concrete floors of his Usonian homes and warmed them with hot water. A few postwar subdivisions, including Levittown, followed suit. But when the pipes eventually corroded, most home­owners abandoned radiant rather than jackhammer their floors.

Today, plastic PEX tubing has replaced metal as the favored means of feeding hydronic heat into floors, making radiant heat systems more affordable than ever. And with a no-fail track record in Europe going back more than 35 years, it’s also made them more reliable.

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Importance of waterproofing

Whichever bathroom floor you choose, keep waterproofing a priority as a bathroom is prone to water spills and moisture. In fact, waterproofing your subfloor should be done regardless of whether you have heated floors or not. 

How long do heated floors last?

A high-quality in-floor radiant heating system can last more than 35 years if maintained properly. That’s much more when compared to a normal furnace.

How well does radiant floor heat work?

That’s the appeal of radiant floor heating, says This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, who has long been a fan. “It’s truly invisible,” he says. But a radiant heat system has more than just aesthetics going for it. It’s also a highly efficient way to heat a house, increasing comfort as it reduces energy costs.

In a radiant setup, the warmth is supplied by hot-water tubes or electric wires buried underneath the floor. As the invisible waves of thermal radiation rise from below, they warm up any objects they strike, which radiate that captured heat in turn. Though the air temperature remains relatively constant, you stay comfortable because the surrounding surfaces aren’t stealing warmth from your body.

Flooring

  1. Radiant floor heating systems can be installed under most types of flooring. While it can be installed under carpet, vinyl, wood or linoleum, any flooring material that insulates the floor will reduce the effectiveness of the heating system. Tile or stone, especially ceramic tile, is the most energy efficient and effective floor covering choice for radiant heating systems.

Tools and materials required

  • Glue gun
  • Trowel
  • Utility knife
  • Volt-ohm meter
  • Cement board underlay
  • Cement board screws
  • Mesh fiberglass tape
  • Grout
  • Radiant heat mat
  • Thermostat
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Tile or other floor surface

How Does In-Floor Heating Work?

Our technicians will install PEX pipes which will loop around beneath your bathroom floor and heat the surface via warm water which is pumped through them when you turn the controls on.

Not only does in-floor heating help your bathroom feel cozy, but it also allows for an added level of control because you can regulate how warm the floor gets to suit your comfort levels and personal preferences.

For top-notch work with no hidden fees, call our bathroom remodeling experts in Lansing and East Lansing. Flexible scheduling options are available!

Extra tips for Installing In-Floor Heating

Here are a couple of extra pro tips that will help you complete this project successfully.

Choose a different floor for the heated area

You can choose to heat a certain section of the floor only and then cover the whole floor in the same tiles. However, it is better to choose a different type of floor for the heated area, for example, a different type of tile.

This can create an attractive visual effect, but the main reason is that if something goes wrong, you will only have to tear up the section of floor that is heated rather than having to destroy the floor for the whole bathroom.

Tile or stone floors are best

When it comes to heated floors, the kind of materials commonly used in bathrooms are the best. Tile or stone floors conduct the heat perfectly, so when you step onto it barefoot in the middle of the night, it will be comfortably warm instead of unpleasantly cold.

Pros of Heated Bathroom Floors

Uniform Heating

The best thing about heated bathroom floors is uniform heating. They heat both the floor and the entire bathroom, providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

HVAC units disperse warm air, but it can be uneven. If you stand near the HVAC unit, you may notice that it’s warmer than other areas of the room. With heated bathroom floors, there are no cold spots.

Energy Efficiency

Did you know that heated bathroom floors are 25% more energy-efficient than traditional HVAC units?

You can even save extra costs depending on the type of floor heating system you choose. Electric floor heating systems take less than an hour to warm a bathroom.

Discreet, Space-Saving

With heated bathroom floors, you don’t need to mount large, hefty units on a wall. They’re tucked out of the way and don’t interfere with your design aesthetic.

Noise-Free

Let’s face it, forced-air systems can be noisy. When you turn on your forced-air system, it’s probably not silent. Heated bathroom floors are not only discreet, but they’re noise-free too. And that means no distraction when you’re trying to relax.

Customization

These units are user-friendly. They come with thermostats that have adjustable temperature settings so you can create the perfect temperature.

On top of that, they have timers too. Welcome a new day by keeping your toes warm and cozy in the morning!

Safety

Heated bathroom floors are safe. They won’t burn your feet. Besides, you don’t have to worry about sharp corners or the searing surfaces of HVAC units.

Along with safety, you can ensure that it brings out good air quality too. This is a major plus for people who have asthma and other allergies.

Maintenance-Free

An added benefit is that you’ll save money knowing your heated floors are maintenance-free. Once they’re installed, there’s no need to worry about maintenance schedules.

Higher Resale Value

Heated bathroom floors add value to your home, which increases its resale value too. Potential buyers love surprise luxury details.

Best Materials for Heated Bathroom Flooring

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are the most popular materials selected for heated bathroom flooring. From these sturdy tiles to more sensitive options like marble, electric floor heating was designed to work with nearly all flooring materials available. And as advancements in laminate make the material more waterproof, that’s another option for radiant floor heat. 

Because we’re talking about the bathroom, which is prone to water spills, you may want to consider waterproofing your floor-heating system. In fact, you may want to consider waterproofing your subfloor regardless of whether you have heated floors as a proactive defense. The best way to ensure your subfloor and heating element stay dry is with the Prodeso Membrane and waterproofing accessories. When it comes to rooms like the bathroom, it never hurts to waterproof.

If you’re going install a tile shower, by far the best option for including a floor heating system is with one of our Shower Waterproofing and Floor Heating Kits. These include not only all of the components of a traditional shower waterproofing system, but also an entire pre-sized electric floor heating system.  

To find out how much it would cost to heat your bathroom floors, you can use WarmlyYours’s Radiant Floor Heating Quote Builder.  

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