Radiant Floor Heating 101

Radiant floor heating is the ideal home heating system. It is efficient, quiet, unobtrusive, and comfortable. Most of all, it does not blow allergens or dust around like forced hot air systems do. Radiant heat is similar to the heat that you feel when you stand by a window on a cold, sunny day. Furthermore, there are many radiant floor heating uses and benefits that you should know about.

All About Radiant Floor Heating

If you would like radiant floor heating information, you must first know the different types of radiant floor heating systems. Radiant floors can either be heated with electric resistance cables or hot water flowing inside the tubing.

Electric Systems

Electric radiant heating systems are normally supplemental. This means they are not built to be the main heat source for any room. Cables, which are often pre-attached to mats for simple installation, are installed above the subfloor in a bed of thin-set mortar. Stone or ceramic tile are common choices for a finished floor. Additionally, radiant electric floor heating pads can be installed underneath laminate and other floors, including engineered hardwood.

Hydronic Systems

Hydronic radiant heating systems are typically created to heat a house entirely. The water is heated between 100 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit using a boiler and is distributed via tubing under the floors. The tubing can be installed in a few different ways: over an existing slab in cement, embedded in a concrete slab, fitted inside the channels, or stapled underneath subflooring.


Installation is pretty simple and has become even more simplified in recent years. The advent of subflooring is pre-fitted with tubing channels. For example, certain manufacturers offer 4 x 8 radiant floor panels for new construction and 2 x 4 panels for remodeling that contain aluminum lining for even heat distribution. The panels cost more than materials used in some of the other systems on the market. However, they are more efficient and cut down the cost of labor as well.

Reduction in Energy Costs

Not only does radiant energy cost less, but it is also more comfortable than any other system for many reasons. One of the first reasons that radiant heating is more comfortable is because it feels warmer since the heat is delivered where you live, which is near the floor. All surfaces in the room will also be heated, which means that there will be no cold objects to draw heat from you and make you feel cold. Additionally, radiant heat does not cycle on and off constantly, which can cause you to be too cold one minute and too hot the next. Furthermore, it does not dry out the air in your home, which can dry out your nasal membranes. Finally, you can count on cleaner air inside of your home, since the allergens and dust are less likely to be thrown around by air currents.

Since electric heat is pricey, electric radiant floors are normally only limited to smaller areas, including the kitchen or bathroom. It is highly recommended that you install programmable thermostats that include air and floor temperature limits to help reduce your energy costs.