A Guide to Installing Radiant Floor Heating in Your Home

Radiant floor heat offers an alternative form of home heating. TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey discusses its benefits, costs, installation procedures, energy consumption efficiency ratings and maintenance requirements in more detail.

New construction allows builders to easily install water tubes and add insulation, while retrofitting existing homes involves tearing down drywall and hiring a plumber to connect pipes to an on-demand hot-water heater or boiler.


Radiant floor heating can help you save on energy costs compared to air heating your home, due to water holding 3,500 times more heat than air. As such, radiant heat systems require much less power for operation compared to traditional radiators, potentially saving hundreds each year in utility costs.

When purchasing a radiant floor heating system, be sure to consider the costs associated with powering its cables or mats under your floors using a boiler or water heater fueled by propane or natural gas. Tank-style and wall-mounted boilers may be used.

Radiant heating systems also require a thermostat, which typically ranges in price from $100 to $400. A thermostat regulates the temperature in each heating zone; for optimal use and energy costs control it is wise to invest in a programmable thermostat. Get a rough idea of the cost associated with installing radiant flooring by using WarmlyYours’ online quote tool; simply enter project type, room size and other relevant details and see all options side-by-side.


Radiant floor heating systems are far more energy-efficient than hot water or forced-air systems in your home, as it eliminates ductwork that leaks air and decreases efficiency.

Radiant heating comes in two basic varieties: hydronic and electric. Hydronic systems distribute hot water from a boiler or water heater through pipes connected to PEX tubing – typically during new construction but sometimes retrofitted to existing homes as well.

Electric radiant heat systems utilize mats of premade electric cables that can be placed beneath tile, vinyl and wood floors for efficient heating. Installation of such heating solutions is easier and less expensive, though licensed electricians must still perform this service.

Before beginning installation, it is necessary to map out the layout of mats and cables. To do this, first calculate the square footage by multiplying length times width; subtract any cabinets or other permanent fixtures before taking further steps.


Radiant floor heating systems don’t rely on blowers or ductwork, providing an even blanket of warmth without cold spots. But they do require annual inspections to make sure all components remain functional.

As part of your first step in prepping the room for waterproofing systems, remove and pry up baseboard moldings as required to expose plywood subfloor for repairs as necessary. Next, depending on which system you select, install a membrane according to manufacturer instructions and follow any necessary repairs as soon as possible.

As Richard states, the next step in setting up radiant floor heat should be determining its square footage. Richard advises excluding permanent features from your measurement as heat mats or cables cannot fit under cabinets or other permanent objects. When this step has been accomplished, call a licensed electrician to connect your new radiant-floor-heat system to a home circuit with its own dedicated thermostat featuring an integrated GFCI fuse; make sure they comply with all national and local electrical codes when doing this work.


As opposed to forced-air heating systems which use air or baseboard heaters to force hot air through ducts or distribute heat via baseboard heaters, radiant floor systems use stored heat from your floors instead to warm rugs, furniture, and people in an energy efficient way.

Installation depends on which system you select; some methods of installation require more labor than others. No matter the method of installation chosen, all electric radiant heat installations must be carried out by a licensed electrician according to UL/cUL standards and use either thermostats with integrated GFCI protection or dedicated circuits for floor warming systems.

Before beginning, sketch out a detailed plan of your floor and mark locations for mats or pipes. Be careful not to run cables under closets, major appliances or vanities and make sure your WIFI-enabled thermostat can adjust to accommodate for your specific room and time of day. Your WIFI thermostat may even suggest different temperatures at various points throughout the day!

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