Installing Different Types of Radiant Floor Heating Systems

For detailed installation instructions, please refer to your installation manual. This information is intended only to provide a general overview of the installation process and assist customers in the decision making. The guidelines below give installers an idea of the process behind the installation of heated floors. This page covers basic information regarding ComfortTile® heat cable and mats, FilmHeat™ and RetroHeat® film floor heating elements, and HeatShield™ floor heating insulation panels. To maintain a valid warranty, carefully follow the instructions in the installation manual and have a licensed electrician connect all the wiring of the floor heating system.

Floor Heating System Installation OverviewComfortTile floor heating system installed under tile floor

Electric floor heating systems are easy to customize and install. Many different types of heating elements are available, each with its own unique features and benefits. Much of the installation of an electric radiant floor heating system can be completed by ambitious do-it-yourself homeowners; however, it is important to note that a licensed, qualified electrician connect the wiring for the system. This is to protect the homeowner by ensuring that the system's warranty remains valid.

The most common floor heating system features thin heat resistance cable that is embedded under the surface of the floor. Warmzone's ComfortTile heat cable is a proven industry leader, performing for decades in homes and businesses throughout Northern America.

Technology continues to advance, and other floor heating product offerings from Warmzone include near paper-thin heating elements (FilmHeat) as well as self-regulating low-voltage systems, retrofit joist heating systems and more. As a leading provider of radiant heated floor systems, Warmzone offers one of the largest selections of radiant heat systems in the industry so that customers can be assured of being matched with the ideal radiant heating system for their homes.


 

ComfortTile floor heating system logo

ComfortTile® floor heating systems are the most recommended systems for heating tile floors; however, the heating cable can also be used to heat a variety of other floor types. ComfortTile heat cable can be purchased on spools or pre-spaced on mats. The thin heating cable (just ⅛-inch in diameter) off the spool gives installers the flexibility to install floor heat in small, custom shaped areas and rooms. The ComfortTile mats feature cable that is pre-spaced and affixed to a durable, flexible mat with an adhesive backing. Prior to rolling the mats out, be sure to sweep the subfloor and remove all the dust and debris. Small, sharp objects such as rocks and nails can damage the cable insulation and cause problems in the future, so preparing the floor before laying out the heating cable is important. After preparing the floor the mat can be rolled out and the adhesive backing can then be secured to the subfloor. This speeds up the installation, which can result in lower labor costs. The cable is just ⅛ to 3/16-inch in diameter, so there is very little floor build up.ComfortTile floor heating cable and strapping The heat cable off the spool is secured to the floor using flexible cable strapping (pictured) that can also be easily secured to the sub-floor. The strapping features a series of reliefs that provide pre-engineered channels for the heating cable. The ComfortTile heat cable is routed through the channels of the strapping according to the floor heating system's pre-determined spacing. After the heating cable or mat is secured to the subfloor and the cable layout is complete, self-leveler or thinset can be applied directly over the heat cable. Tile is then installed over that, followed by applying the grout. NOTE: It is recommended to use a rubber or plastic trowel when applying the thinset rather than a metal trowel to avoid damaging the cable.

Illustration showing how to cut floor heating mat and make turns during installation.

Installed directly in the thin set under tile floors, ComfortTile is the most recommended system for heating rooms with ceramic tile, and can also be effectively used to heat most other floor types.

To make turns when laying out the floor heating mats, simply cut the mesh backing and turn the mat accordingly, as shown in the photos provided. (Be careful to never cut or damage the heating cable.) The twin-conductor heating cable (mats and cable) features a 10-foot, 2-wire cold lead (14-17 AWG) plus ground braid. ComfortTile cable also boasts a 25-year manufacturer warranty.

When installing heat cable off the spool, the cable is secured to the floor using durable, flexible plastic strips (see photo of cable and straps to the right) that can be either glued, nailed or screwed to the subfloor. The reliefs in the straps allow different cable spacing options. Simply route the cable around the reliefs according to your cable spacing and return to the cable to the other strap. These convenient straps ensure easy and accurate heat cable installation.

Some Important Tips

Make sure that the CT heating cable AND the splice are completely embedded in the thinset or leveling pour, otherwise the cable will overheat and fail.

Never allow the heating cable to touch or cross. (Minimum cable spacing is 2 inches.)

Do not cross the heating lead on the connecting lead or thermostat wire. It is important that a qualified, licensed electrician be hired to connect the wiring and related electrical components.

Thermal insulation can also be used to improve the system's efficiency.

When installing heat cable off the spool, the cable is secured to the floor using thin plastic strips (cable strapping) that are nailed or screwed or glued to the floor. These straps have small channels and tabs in them where the heat cable is placed. Simply bend the tab over the cable to secure it. (See photo at right.)

Cutting the ComfortTile floor heating mat backing to make turns

Cut the mesh backing. (Be careful to avoid cutting the heat cable.) Flip the mat over to begin the next row.

Cutting the ComfortTile floor heating mat backing to make turns

After flipping the floor heating mat over, align it accordingly and continue rolling out the next row. (Maintain proper spacing between rows.)


 

RetroHeat floor heating system logo RetroHeat heating element shown installed between floor joists

The RetroHeat® floor heating system is a unique system that gives homeowners an affordable option to install luxurious radiant heat under existing floors - without having to undertake any major remodeling construction. If you have access to the floor joists from below, then you can install the RetroHeat floor heating element. The system features a thin "film" heating element (only 0.16-inch thick) that is shipped in rolls. When installing RetroHeat, the heating panels can be cut to the required length on site and then stapled up between the floor joists. The heating panels are available for joists in 12, 16, and 24-inch widths. (NOTE: Measurements are taken from the center of one joist to the other, not the distance between each joist.) RetroHeat can be installed under almost any flooring, including: hardwood, tile, carpet, laminates, vinyl, and marble, etc.

After stapling the heating panels between the floor joists under the floor you wish to heat, the electrical connections are then made. (Be sure to follow the directions in the installation manual and periodically test the system.) After your electrician makes the electrical connections, install common batt insulation over the heating element. The insulation directs the warmth upwards through the floor and enhances the energy efficiency by minimizing heat loss. This is an affordable and effective option for heating existing floors.

RetroHeat floor heating elements stapled up between floor joists

      Illustration of RetroHeat installed between joists.        ♦       Roll of heating element.       ♦       Crimping the bus braids on the heating element.       ♦       Stapling up the element between the joists.


 

RetroHeat floor heating system logo

HeatShield™ floor heating insulation panels consist of a ½-inch thick lightweight polystyrene insulation panel covered with thin, specially profiled aluminum to provide maximum reflective properties. ComfortTile heat cable is placed in the pre-engineered channels, producing one of the most effective and efficient floor heating systems available.

The HeatShield system is ideal for heating under laminate and engineered wood flooring. Installing the system is surprisingly easy. The lightweight floor heating panels feature insulated aluminum panels that easily connect to one another across the length of the floor. The channels for the ComfortTile floor heating cable ensure easy installation and accurate spacing, without the use of mortar and thinset.

The floor insulation panels can also be sized on site. With no need for a mortar layer, HeatShield Panels can greatly reduce your installation time. Floor heating installers who have used HeatShield Panels have reported that they were able to lay down 300-square-feet of floor heating in under two hours, which is much quicker than most traditional radiant floor heating system installation times.

The panels are laid across the floor and using the small plastic locking keys, the panels are clipped together. ComfortTile is then installed in the channels (as shown in the photos). Once all the cable is installed it is necessary for the electrician to wire the system. (This ensures that the warranty remains valid.)

Installing the HeatShield floor heating insulation panels

      Inserting the locking key, connecting two panels.                ♦                Installing the heat cable.               ♦               View of the insulation panels with heat cable being installed.


THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE IS NOT INTENDED TO TAKE THE PLACE OF YOUR PRODUCT'S INSTALLATION MANUAL. To ensure proper installation, carefully read and follow the instructions provided in the product documentation.

The most Informative Online Resource for Radiant Heat Products and Services

Warmzone takes pride in offering customers the most comprehensive collection of radiant heat information available online. Visit our Radiant Heat Product Literature page to view and download installation manuals, technical guides, brochures, product sheets, installation diagrams and more. If you cannot find the information you are looking for, please call one of our radiant heat experts. We are happy to help you, and there is no sales pressure or obligation.

Also, ask about our FREE installation training, as well as our professional system design services and personal installation tech support. When it comes to customer service, you won't find another radiant heat provider more committed to its customers than Warmzone. We're in business to stay in business, and we can only do that by providing the industry's best products at the best prices, backed by the best customer service.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To maintain a valid warranty, be sure to have a qualified, licensed electrician connect the wiring and related electrical components.

For more details, call and speak with a friendly snow melting system expert today at 888-488-9276


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