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Heated Floors - What, When, Where, Why, and How

What are Radiant Heated Floors?

Dad and baby on heated hardwood floor.

Heated floors are simply a smart, efficient way to heat your home. As the name implies, heated floors radiate heat from the floor up, keeping you warm and comfortable from head to toe during the cold winter months. As far as home improvement projects go, heated floors are an economical way to update your home and boost your equity.

The two types of floor heating systems are electric and hydronic. Electric heated floors typically utilize thin, electric heating cable. Hydronic floor heating systems use a boiler to heat specially treated water that is then pumped through plastic PEX tubing installed underneath the floor's surface.

Both systems rely on a network of heating elements installed beneath the surface of the floor, controlled by a thermostat that coordinates with sensors to keep the floors at optimum temperature. Sensors are also available that sense air temperature as well as floor temperature, depending on your system. But which system (electric or hydronic) is best for your floor heating needs?

Generally, electric floor heating systems are the most practical, flexible choice for most projects - especially for small sized rooms. Because hydronic radiant heat systems require a mechanical room with boiler, manifold and pumps, the initial installation can be costly. However, for large floor heating jobs, a hydronic heat system can have a lower operational cost than its electric counterpart because of its ability to operate on natural gas, or perhaps another source that is cheaper than the local power utility rates. However, electric radiant heat is far less expensive to install, easily customizable and requires no maintenance.

How do Heated Floor Systems Work?

There are three main components both hydronic and electric radiant heated floor systems share: a heating element (electric resistance cable, or PEX cable for hydronic systems), a contactor/control center and an activation device (thermostat, timer, etc.).

Electric radiant heat is just that. Powered by electricity, radiant heat cables can heat a floor in 30 to 60 minutes. Another attractive feature of electric heated floors are that they are silent and invisible.

Hydronic radiant heating systems use a boiler to first heat a specialized mixture of water and propylene glycol, then it is pumped through the PEX cable. This usually takes a little more time to heat the same area. And because of the components needed for a hydronic floor heating system, a dedicated mechanical room is needed.

Why Install a Heated Floor?

Warm feet are a big reason for installing heated floors, especially if you have a lot of hardwood or ceramic tile in your home - not to mention kids, who spend most of their time playing on the floor. Heating from the floor up is a great way to control cold drafts at floor level and ensure a warm environment for the little ones.

Electric and hydronic heated floors are also very efficient. Unlike forced air systems, radiant heated floors are room specific. With the help of sensors and a programmable thermostat you can opt to efficiently heat one room, or several, depending upon your needs. This can ultimately result in a considerable savings on your monthly gas bill.

With conventional forced-air heating system, air is blown out of the registers at temperatures over 100 degrees. It immediately rises to the top of the room where it quickly cools, before dropping back down to the lower levels of the stratified room. So your head can feel warm while your feet seem exceptionally cold. The natural reaction is for most occupants to crank the heat up some more in an endless quest to be comfortable. But with radiant heat, you don't have the ongoing chase for the elusive comfort zone. Warm air steadily rises from the floor, but it does so evenly, and the coolest air remains up near the ceiling.

Heated floors also come with additional economic and health benefits. Radiant heat is extremely energy efficient, as very little heat is wasted. With forced air systems the vents blow warm air and dust and allergens throughout your home, reducing air quality and compromising your health. (And warm air stil escapes from the closed registers.) The health issues are minimized or even eliminated when you supplement, or even convert your existing heating system to radiant heat.

Where and When can you Install a Radiant Heated Floor?

Any floor surface in your home, whether it's tile, hardwood or even carpeting can be heated. ComfortTile floor heating mats include a thin heating cable on an adhesive-backed fiberglass mesh for easy roll-out installation. The mats with pre-spaced cable can be ordered in various lengths of 24-inch widths. If you can access the floor joists from below, you can also apply radiant heat to existing floors. Warmzone's RetroHeat floor heating systems feature ultra thin heating elements that can be stapled up betweent the floor joists to heat the floor above. (Insulation is then installed over the heating element to direct all the heat upwards.)

Radiant heated tile floor in bathroom.

The greatest cause for concern when installing hydronic heated floor systems on any remodeling job involve the complexities of the thickness of the PEX tubing. However, Warmzone addresses these issues by offering RAUPANELS, a low-modular board that is the most efficient and advanced alternative. RAUPANELS house PEX tubing in its proper spacing and pattern, and can be installed directly beneath wood, carpeting, tile and other surfaces. For more information on RAUPANELS visit our hydronic floor heating systems web page.

Warmzone is an established leading provider of radiant heated floor systems, with expertise in both electric and hydronic floor systems. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer, or a veteran contractor, Warmzone offers products and expertise to help you get the most out of your heated floor installation.

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Compatible with all Standard Sub-flooring Materials

For heating tile floors, ComfortTile floor heating mats are easily installed directly under tile or natural stone to provide comfortable, even floor warmth in your bathroom, kitchen, entryway, or other hard-surfaced areas. The floor heating mats are compatible with all standard sub-flooring materials, and its low 3/16-inch (3 mm) profile, also make ComfortTile heat cable ideal for renovations.

Increase your Comfort and Save on Your Heating Costs

Heating expenses are a significant part of a household budget. By installing a radiant floor heating system, you turn a small investment into real cost-savings, not to mention increasing the value of your home. With radiant heated floors, you can lower room temperatures by a few degrees yet still enjoy the same level of comfort as a room with higher temperatures that doesn't have a floor warming system. Send us your project information to receive a FREE QUOTE or call 888.488.9276 and upgrade your home's comfort and heating efficiency with a radiant heated floor today!