The Basics of Radiant Floor Heating (Part 2)

Heated flooring is a luxury that many people enjoy.  It can be installed virtually anywhere in the house and adds warmth to a chilly home.  After all, there is nothing worse than stepping out of a warm shower only to meet ice-cold tile. While the idea of having heated floors is alluring, it also has one more benefit: radiant heating.

Whether you utilize water, air, or electric coils to achieve your radiant heat, there are many advantages and disadvantages of having this installed into your home. Like many flooring options, installation should be left to the experts like certified electricians and flooring professionals.

Here are a few pros and cons of installing this ‘hot’ new feature:

Pros: 

  • Homeowners will have more flexibility when decorating the interior of their home. This may seem insignificant, but it is a selling point for many.  Without the need for vents, homeowners don’t have to worry about a piece of furniture blocking the flow of air, giving them more freedom when arranging a room. 
  • The heat produced is consistent throughout a home.  Radiant heat is ideal for evenly heating a home – cold rooms and spaces can be completely avoided.
  • Because it has a more consistent heat, radiant heating can sometimes be more cost effective for homeowners.  It is costly to achieve the same even heat when using other systems. 
  • Speaking of cost-effectiveness, radiant heating can utilize solar panels for energy.  After the cost of installation, these systems require virtually no extra energy.
  • Radiant heating systems are usually quieter than other options.  Compared to forced air, which can be heard when switching on and off, radiant heating produces no noise at all.
  • It’s comfortable!  It’s true, radiant heat is a luxury and many people love it.  Whether it’s installed in their bathrooms, living rooms, or bedrooms, having a warm and toasty floor to walk across is always nice during cold winters.
  • Radiant heat is perfect for people with allergies.  Forced air can kick up dust and allergens; many people dread cranking up their heat in the winter for this very reason.  With radiant heat, there is no forced air, meaning significantly less allergens floating around your home.  

Cons:

  • Maybe the biggest disadvantage to radiant heating is that it doesn’t offer much as far as cooling a home goes.  While some systems can be revamped to pump cold water, it’s difficult to get the same effect. 
  • In some cases, installing a heated floor just isn’t practical.  While heating floors with electrical coils offers the most flexibility during installment, using water and air typically require homeowners to modify their floor plans.
  • With radiant heat, there’s serious lag time when waiting to feel the heat.  This makes radiant heat more efficient in the winter, because the heat may not be turned off for many days.  But in the spring or fall, it takes too long to heat up the house after having windows open during the day.
  • It requires thoughtful planning.  This doesn’t have to be a disadvantage, but many feel that the effort and costs required to install radiant heat outweigh the benefits of actually having it. Thoughtful planning is especially true for water heating systems, as these usually require a complete overhaul of a home’s piping system.

As you may have guessed, there are some flooring types that are more conducive to radiant heating than others. 

Floors to try: 

  • Ceramic Tile – this is a popular choice because the heat is so noticeable. For this reason, many people install radiant heat in their bathrooms, to warm their feet in the morning.
  • Vinyl – This is a great alternative if you want the look of hardwood, but don’t want to subject expensive wood to the heat. 

Floors to avoid:

  • Carpet – At first, it may seem like carpet would be an ideal choice for radiant heating, but it’s actually quite the opposite.  Carpet works well as an insulator, preventing the heat from ever reaching your toes.
  • Hardwood – Hardwood is difficult to determine, and should be considered case-by-case.  With the heating and cooling directly beneath the wood surface, it could wreak havoc on your hardwood floors.

Related Article: 

The Basics of Radiant Floor Heating (Part 1)