Warmth Underfoot: Approaching Radiant Heating Installation

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radiant heat close up

Heated tile floors, also known as radiant heat floor, are becoming a new style in many homes around the country. Not only do they provide comfort from an uncomfortably cold floor, but they also can help save money on energy bills. If you want to convert your old kitchen floor to a new radiant heat one, follow these steps, which even the most novice of do-it-yourselfers can handle.

Decide which type of radiant heat you want

Radiant heat flooring can be divided into three types: electric, hyrdronic, and air-heated. Electric radiant heating involves installing a series of rolled cables to the subflooring of your house. Because of the various ways this can be done, it is the most popular for renovations.

Hydronic radiant heating pumps heated water underneath the flooring through tubes. It is the most versatile of options, as the water can be heated using electrical, gas, or solar power. Air-heated radiant flooring is the least efficient, but cheapest way to heat the floor. Deciding on which to use will involve a variety of factors including budget and ease of installation.

Remove old flooring and install grids or tubing

No matter what type of flooring your kitchen is, you will need to remove it to get to the subflooring which will either be plywood or concrete. Once you have removed the flooring, depending on what type of system you are installing, you can purchase electrical grids (for electrical heating) or plastic tubing (for hydronic heating).

The materials for this come in a variety of sizes. When installing, make sure that the grids or tubing are at least 6 inches from cabinets and appliances.

Adhere heating system using thinset mortar

Using a heavy duty drill to mix the mortar, you can then apply it to the grids or tubing, thus keeping it in place on the subflooring. Use a trowel to make sure the mortar is spread evenly; you don’t want to have an uneven surface when placing your tile.

radiant heating over laminate flooring

Radiant heating: here in this picture we see that many varieties of laminate flooring is compatible with radiant heat in the same way that tile is. The same goes for engineered and vinyl flooring, too. Ask your customer service rep about whether or not your choice of flooring is designed to thrive with radiant heat.

Powering the flooring

Before deciding how to power your flooring, make sure to check local laws. Some may require you to hire a licensed electrician to do the work. After that, you can decide whether to run a dedicated circuit through your breaker box, or simply installing a thermostat somewhere in the kitchen. You may want to do both to ensure versatility, and to turn it off completely during the summer months.

Apply mortar and place the tiles

While you have already used a thinset mortar, you now need to use a thicker mortar to lay the tiles. After putting it down using a trowel, lay your tile. Once your tile is laid, mix the grout and apply between the tiles. You may also want to apply a sealant afterwards to protect your hard work.

Talk to the experts

When undertaking any major project like this, it always makes sense to talk to the experts. Gather as much information as you can, both about the type of radiant heating system is most applicable and about the kind of tile you have in relation to that system.

After following all these steps, you’ll be ready to enjoy your heated tile floor. Not only will it save you on energy bills this fall and winter, but it will provide a luxurious comfort you’ve only dreamed about. Lower bills and warm feet are something everyone should enjoy.




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