Radiant floor heating gives a whole new meaning to comfort and design-led living — providing a luxurious feeling and warmth throughout the spaces in your home. Not only is it a smart strategy to efficiently heat your entire house during the cold seasons, it’s also a fantastic upgrade for new homes, especially for those embarking on reselling or flipping property in a market with demanding buyers!
Underfloor heating strikes every surface of the room, creating a uniform distribution of heat. This elegant Sospiro Smoke Ceramic transfers heat well and cleans easily, too.
Underfloor heating system offers heat-up time in minutes to quickly yet gently warm surfaces including the walls, furniture, and of course, you, the occupant at the same temperature as the floor.
Surprisingly, it can be installed under a variety of floor coverings! It is a great feature to install under bathroom floors where materials such as ceramic and natural stone are typically used and can feel unbearably chilly underfoot.
A radiant heating system can have a major impact on your enjoyment of your home, from a cozy flooring option to keep your toes warm in the morning, to creating the perfect atmosphere without soaring energy costs. Your flooring material can also have a huge impact on the efficiency and enjoyment of your heated floors - so it makes sense to consider how both of these elements work together if you're planning to install radiant heating systems at home or at work!
What do you need to install heated floors at home?
Thanks to indoor-zoning through radiant floor heating — a partial installation of your heating element is possible; for instance, around the bathroom vanity area. And you still get the opportunity to tile the entire room with a gorgeous bathroom floor like our Carrara marble 12"x12" tiles!
Both radiant systems provide the ultimate in comfort, as well as indoor temperature control for the entire home or the ability to supplement just a room or two. Meaning, your regularly used living spaces can be kept warm and comfortable while you reduce the temperature in less used areas of your house.
Which flooring materials are best for radiant heating?
While all flooring materials work wonderfully with underfloor heating, there are certain properties that make others much more effective when it comes to heat distribution.
If you’re looking to upgrade a renovation project or new construction with radiant heating, it’s important to consider the material’s thermal conductive nature — meaning how quickly and efficiently heat generated transfers to the floor surface, and how effectively the warm floor tile holds the heat while withstanding high temperatures.
This is often determined by:
- the thickness of the flooring finish
- the possibility of expanding and contracting during temperature fluctuation
- and its ability to withstand water and heat damage
The best surface finish for underfloor heating like this stunning Hexagon Thassos White Honed Floor Tiles has excellent thermal conductivity and can handle adjustments in temperature fluctuation better than other types of materials such as wood and carpet flooring.
Carpet flooring, on the other hand, can be a tricky material to install over underfloor heating. The heating process can be less effective due to the fact that carpet insulates the heat from adequately entering the room and quickly warming it up, especially if it has a thick padding underneath.
This, however, does not suggest that carpet flooring isn’t an ideal choice. In this case, for radiant heating to really make sense as you continue to enjoy the comfort of carpeting under your feet, it’s wise to install a thin carpet with dense padding or opt for hydronic heating to achieve the required floor output.
Best floor covering for radiant heating -
So let’s get into the big question - what is the best material to install over your underfloor heating system?
According to Warmup, the best material for underfloor heating is:
'Tile and stone floors are ideal for use with an underfloor heating system as they heat up fast and retain heat well, making the system efficient to run.'
Among the best and effective floor finishes to use with underfloor heating include:
These three floor coverings are highly conductive, which means they have a pronounced effect on increased heat uptime. In addition, once the heat is released from the heating pipes or cables, their excellent heat transfer properties help to enhance the efficiency of your underfloor heating system. They perform effectively with both electric and water-based radiant heating systems
Ceramic and porcelain tile floors -
Both ceramic and porcelain tile floors are your best bet to use with radiant flooring. Firstly, they have high thermal conductivity, making it super easy and fast to transfer heat from a sublayer to the floor surface, at the same time achieving a consistent temperature across the entire floor. Simply put, they warm up as soon as the radiant heating system is turned on.
Imagine stepping out of bed onto warm floor tiles - this porcelain chevron wood-look floor tile is perfect for a heated bedroom floor for the perfect cozy ambiance!
They have a thin profile that has little impact on the heat output, but it does provide the best results. Ideally, you may want to stick to tiles that measure three quarters of an inch thick or less. The downside of thicker bathroom floor tiles is that they tend to take a bit longer to come to temperature, which can be a disadvantage for those with a tight morning schedule. Whether delivered through an electrical or hot water-based system, they can be heated to up to 84°F or more.
Porcelain and ceramic floor tile are desired applications for bathroom settings as they're naturally water-resistant and can also be chosen with slip-resistant properties - they're the perfect floor to stand resist water damage or other issues that could affect your bathroom floor. With instant bathroom floor heating, the quick warmth can easily turn these materials into inviting floors you’ll prefer to walk barefoot on!
Looking to add an earthy and natural element to your interior space while enjoying the luxury of heated floors? Natural stone tiles are the perfect fit! They are an assurance that you get the aesthetic that you desire while ensuring warm floor success.
When heated, stone tiles come to temperature instantly while remaining durable enough to look attractive for many years to come. This surface covering is a smart solution for sunrooms or areas that aren’t well insulated because they continues to hold on to heat even after the system is turned off for far longer than ceramic or porcelain tiles.
The fact that laminate flooring can mimic the look of solid hardwood at a fraction of the price makes it an incredibly popular choice for homeowners. This synthetic floor is constructed in a way that layers of wood run in alternating directions.
It is this process which gives it its stable composition. If it’s just the look of wood you’re going for, then you can use it over heated floors since it’s less likely to expand and contract like solid hardwood flooring. It’s crucial to check the manufacturer's detailed guidelines since not all laminate is created equally.
One drawback to using laminate flooring in your bathroom? The material is easily susceptible to water damage, which can cause planks to swell or buckle. Many contractors caution against installing laminate bathroom floors, or using them in other areas that can be prone to moisture, like kitchens and mudrooms.
While it is not an ideal choice for heat conduction, some vinyl floors such as sheet vinyl, tile vinyl, and luxury vinyl plank with higher quality rigid core can now be safely used with underfloor heating with a temperature limit the material has been certified to work with. The heat may discolor poor quality vinyl flooring or emit a foul chemical odor.
With vinyl floors, the surface temperature should not exceed 85°F in order to maintain the integrity of the material and to ensure effective performance of the system. Because of the limiting heat output and how quickly the flooring material losses heat, this hinders its use in high heat loss areas.
Things to consider when choosing the right flooring for radiant heat system
We’ve already established how radiant floor heating works with virtually any flooring material; from ceramic and porcelain to natural stone finish.
Beauty meets function... Truly what this Kasai Carta Sakura Rectified Porcelain Tile embodies. Porcelain is an excellent heat conductor - meaning this beautiful bathroom floor will heat up quickly with underfloor heating coils!
So, you’ve decided to install underfloor heating - perhaps the next best thing is to focus on the needs of your home and evaluate your options before picking the ideal floor covering.
For instance, if you have young kids in your home but you desire a modern contemporary feel, porcelain tile is the way to go! To keep things warm and cozy, especially during the cold season, upgrading your home with underfloor heating may be the right choice for you.
Below are a few things to consider when selecting the right flooring type for radiant heating systems:
- Understand your lifestyle needs. Which area of your house do you intend to install underfloor heating? Is it the entire house, a room or two, or a small section of the space like the bathroom vanity area? Are you looking for flooring that instantly provides warmth and is equally easy to maintain? These questions will help you narrow down your best options.
- Research on the pros and cons of all flooring types. When you are working on a new construction or looking to make home renovations, it’s essential that you learn about the various flooring options available in the marketplace today, and how efficiently they perform when laid over underfloor heating.
- Consider your desired interior style. Aside from how well flooring functions, how good it looks or complements your homes architecture is equally important. It’s possible to strike just the right balance and enjoy the best of both worlds.
- Ask for professional assistance. With so many technological advances today, not all flooring material is created equally. It might look and feel the same, yet perform differently. Requesting for more information from the manufacturer will save you time, money, and of course, a headache.
The Pros and Cons of Heated Floors -
Even your vintage farmhouse bathroom can have modern comforts by installing radiant heating coils under your whitewashed Retro hexagon porcelain floor tiles.
Pros of Heated Flooring -
- Heat your rooms from the floor up! Heat rises, making this an effective (and energy-efficient) way to warm up your space, rather than waiting for vents or wall units to fully heat up a room. Not to mention, these systems run at a lower temperature than a traditional radiator, using less energy to reach the same cozy results. No more hot spots or cold corners - you’ll have a lovely, even temperature. On average, homeowners saved 15% in energy costs to heat rooms with underfloor heating!
- Effortless to run! According to installers WarmUp, sub-floor heating units come with a 30 year guarantee on the work and need little maintenance to maintain! Programmable thermostats offer the same level of control as central air heating systems, providing a gentle radiant warmth at the set temperature.
- Save space! No need to keep a vent uncovered or clear out the corner with the radiator - you have limitless decorating possibilities AND toasty warm toes. Talk about a win/win!
- Unlimited flooring options! Since radiant heating works with a wide variety of flooring materials, you aren’t limited in terms of your room style or finish. However, as we’ve discussed, some flooring materials are optimal for heated floors to ensure the best insulation and energy efficiency.
- Safe and Comfortable! You avoid the burn risks associated with heated units, especially with small children in the house! As an added bonus, allergy sufferers often find radiant floor heating to be a hypoallergenic home upgrade, as it avoids the recirculation of air and dust you find with central heating.
- Easy to Install and Maintain! Whether you’re redoing floors in your home as part of an upgrade and remodel, adding a luxurious touch to a new build construction, or tackling a DIY home improvement, this is an easy step to add before installing flooring. Once the heated floor mat or piping is in place, it provides a low-maintenance heating option for years!
Cons of heated flooring -
- One-time installation cost. The initial cost to install a radiant heating system can deter those starting on a new build or planning a remodel, but the energy savings can recoup this outlay over time!
- Added time. Whether you’re waiting for subflooring to dry before installing an electric system or an electrician to connect your system to the power supply, installing radiant heating will add at least a few days to your renovation or build timeframe.
- Added floor height. Some systems may increase the height of your flooring. Depending on the heating unit you choose, and whether or not you install insulation panels, the increased height could be anywhere from ½” to 1”. This may not be a cause for concern when you’re building a new home and can compensate for floor heights from the ground up, but could prove tricky for a renovation if you need to factor in floor trims, door closures, and other placements in the room.
Step out of the tub and into comfort with heated marble bathroom floors! This gorgeous neutral master bathroom with Sand Valley And Thassos Wave Marble Mosaic Tile floors combines the best of style and comfort.
There’s pros and cons to installing radiant heating at home - like any interior upgrade you might consider! It can completely come down to personal choice - whether it's worth a little extra time and money to keep your toes toasty every time you step out of bed, or to help dry out your bathroom after a particularly steamy shower. The improved insulation benefits, energy-efficient heating, and improved heat distribution can be very tempting when planning out your new floor remodel!
See more inspiration for beautiful and long-lasting flooring designs!