Remodeling the Bathroom? Consider Radiant Heating

If you’re planning to remodel the master bathroom, your plans probably include new flooring. So if you’re going to rip out the existing floor anyway, consider adding a radiant heating system that will keep your feet warm, even on the coldest of days.

How it works

Under-floor radiant heating systems may be operated in three ways — one of which the U.S. Department of Energy doesn’t recommend. So the two that are most relevant and efficient are electric-powered systems and water-powered systems.

Water-powered systems are ideal for heating a whole home or large space. They feature a large boiler that pumps hot water through a system of tubes underlying floors, and some systems allow homeowners to control the individual temperature of every room in the house.

Electric-powered systems consume more energy than water-powered systems, so they’re usually installed in bathrooms, or in detached outbuildings such as garden sheds. These systems have electric cables or coils that generate heat underneath flooring.

Most flooring types can be installed over radiant heating systems; however, the system will be inefficient if the flooring restricts heat flow. That’s why ceramic tile is the most popular flooring in bathrooms with radiant heating.

Advantages over air heating

A gas or electric furnace heats air and blows it through ductwork to vents in the home, but much of that hot air goes toward the ceiling and leaves the lower half of a room less comfortable. Radiant heating systems more evenly heat a room — and they create a toasty-warm surface that takes the chill out of stepping into or out of the shower.

Costs and savings

Professional installation of an electric radiant heating system could cost an average of $10 per square foot, and it may cause an increase in the monthly electric bill. However, some of that cost — or perhaps all of it — may be offset by the fact that ducts are no longer delivering heated air to the bathroom and thus diverting more air to the rest of the home.

If you decide to go all-out and get a water-powered system to heat your entire home, look into local and federal tax incentives or credits that could help you recover some of the installation cost.

About the Author


Carl is the guy to ask when it comes to flooring. He started in hardwood refinishing 30-plus years ago, earned his stripes and used what he’d learned to become an expert on hardwood refinishing, solid and engineered hardwood installation, carpet, ceramic tile, laminate and vinyl flooring installation. You’ll find his work in universities, hospitals, professional sports venues, state museums and theaters, pubs, and of course, homes throughout the state.

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