In the summer, the feel of a cool tile floor under your feet is a welcome relief from the heat. But when winter rolls in, cold floors can make you want to bump up the thermostat a few more degrees. Enter: heated flooring. Let’s take a look at whether this bit of luxury is right for you and your home.
What is Heated Flooring?
Heated floors are created by installing one of two types of heating systems beneath your floors: 1) electric heating mats connected with a thin, continuous cable or 2) a hydronic system consisting of PEX tubing through which hot water is pumped.
In either case, the under-floor heating system is extremely low-profile, installed beneath the flooring itself and embedded in the mortar. It can deliver programmable heat to warm the surface of the floor and make any room more comfortable.
Pros and Cons of Heated Floors
What could be better than heated floors? Here are some of the main benefits you can enjoy with them:
- Versatility: Perhaps you simply want your bathroom floor to feel warm underfoot when you step out of the shower. Or maybe you’d like the floor of your living room to radiate warmth all winter long. Whether you just want to add a touch of extra heat at certain times or want to warm up your tile floors altogether, in-floor heating can be used in a variety of ways.
- Comfort: Perhaps the most important benefit of all, heated floors are warm, comfortable and luxurious. They can transform an otherwise cold floor into one that’s cozy and welcoming, and even heat up the room as a whole.
- Energy Efficiency: In-floor heating can be more energy efficient in the long run compared to conventional forced air HVAC systems. Because a surface, rather than the air, is being heated, this generally results in less heat loss and therefore uses less energy to maintain a warm temperature. Plus, a warm surface under your feet instantly increases the room’s perceived warmth. So, investing in heated floors may help you be able to turn your furnace thermostat down a few degrees without a loss of comfort.
- Added Value: Heated floors definitely add value to your home, which may be an important consideration if you plan to sell in the near future. An up-to-date bathroom, for example, with luxurious heated flooring is a terrific selling point for many homeowners.
However, there are some potential downsides associated with in-floor heating that you’ll want to consider:
- Cost: Of course, opting for heated floors will add to the cost of your flooring project. You can expect electric floor heating to cost an average of $6-$12 per square foot, depending on whether you DIY or have it professionally installed.
- Labor: While the electric heating mats themselves are not difficult to install, they do come with some potentially time-consuming requirements. You may need to have plumbing work done (for hydronic heating systems) or have an electrician run additional wiring to your bathroom (for electric systems).
What Type of Flooring Works Best with Under-Floor Heating?
Above all, tile flooring is the best material to use with an under-floor heating system. This is because tile is an excellent conductor, transferring heat quickly and efficiently. Porcelain and ceramic tile heats up faster than most other materials; stone and concrete are good options as well. Marble has a slightly slower heat-up time than other tile types.
That said, floor heating can work with many other flooring materials, including laminate, engineered wood, bamboo, rubber and more.
Some floor materials, such as carpet, hardwood and vinyl, may have a maximum temperature restriction to take into account—usually about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Always check with the flooring manufacturer before installing a heating system under your floors.
Is Under-Floor Heating Right for You?
Heated floors are a big undertaking—and not a quick retrofitting project that can be done to an existing floor. But if you’re installing new floors or doing a total overhaul on a room, it’s a great “extra” to indulge in. While they may not be a practical choice for homes with very large rooms, high ceilings or a multitude of windows (due to heat loss), heated floors can bring a much-needed touch of warmth and luxury to your home on chilly winter days.
Imagine what your heated flooring would look and feel like with the Just Imagine Visualizer from Arizona Tile.