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Floor Heating Basics
Warm your floor wants to help increase the comfort of your home. Electric Radiant Floor Heating is a safe, affordable and desired amenity. Better Homers and Gardens Magazine says over 49% of all respondents want radiant floor heat to warm their tile floors.

What is electric floor heating?

Electric floor heating systems consist of in-floor cables or wires that are powered by a home’s main energy source. The cables generate warmth and transfer it directly to the flooring surface above. A complete electric radiant floor heat system includes a sensor and thermostat for controlling the heat output.

Why should I install electric radiant floor heat?

Electric radiant floor heat is economical to run. Radiant heat is an economical, safe and clean alternative to other heating systems. Unlike forced air systems, where the thermostat triggers a blast of warm throughout the entire home, the thermostat on a radiant heat system responds to the floor temperature of a particular room, providing even warmth throughout the room wherever the cables are placed. Depending on the floor surface, an extra layer of insulation can make radiant floor heat even more economical to run. Pairing a radiant floor heating system with a programmable thermostat can add even more energy savings.

 

It’s economical to install.

 

Besides warming floor surfaces to add comfort to cold tile in bathrooms, entryways or kitchens, electric radiant floor heat can provide warmth to the rest of the room, and may be used to supplement existing heating systems. In new additions, installing radiant floor heat eliminates the need to make costly extensions of an existing forced air system. Where forced air systems and baseboard radiators take up wall space and need to be free of obstructions, electric radiant floor heat is invisible and allows homeowners full use of their space without restrictions.

 

It’s clean.

 

Radiant floor heat is a clean and nearly maintenance-free alternative to forced air, and doesn’t require cleaning of air ducts, vents and filters. It’s also free from the noise and blowing dust associated with forced air systems.

 

It’s safe.

 

Radiant heating systems are safe, and all products Warm Your Floor offers are ultra-low electromagnetic field (EMF) emission.

Where can I put electric radiant heat?

Electric floor warming is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications, from bathrooms to driveways. It brings warming comfort to indoor spaces and can melt snow and ice on outdoor surfaces like driveways, walkways and roofs, adding safety and convenience.

How is it installed?

For indoor applications, electric radiant floor heating can be installed under tile, engineered hardwood, laminate, vinyl and carpet in one of three ways. Contact a Warm Your Floor expert today who can answer your questions and help you choose the right solution for your floor.

 

Loose cable, laid out in a serpentine pattern between cable guides that are affixed to the surface with glue or screws, is an economical and flexible option that allows you to place heat exactly where you need it. The cabling is then covered in self-leveling compound or thin-set mortar, depending on the flooring material used. This traditional method of electric floor heating may offer an up-front cost savings on materials, but it can be more labor intensive. Unlike the all-in-one mats, spacing the cables for optimal heating is up to the installer. Get started.

 

For tile and stone floors, a combination of loose cable and a separate membrane surface offers flexibility and faster installation than the traditional method. Instead, cables are embedded in the membrane’s channeled or studded surface, allowing the flexibility to put heat wherever it’s desired, but in fewer steps. Once the cable is placed in or affixed to the membrane, it is spread over with thin-set mortar or SLC, and tile is placed directly on top. The membrane eliminates the need for backer board, and some membranes add uncoupling and waterproofing to surfaces. Get started.

 

All-in-one mesh or solid mats are quick and easy to install. Cables enclosed within the mesh mat take the guesswork out of where to place them, as the cables are already spaced for optimal heating. Mesh mats (but not the cable inside) can be trimmed to fit around curves and corners. Warm Your Floor stocks a variety of lengths and widths to help you get started today. Some manufacturers offer custom mats to fit more complex spaces, and ship to you in 5 to 7 business days. Mats for installing under an existing floor are also available. Get started.

How do I know which is right for my project?

Choosing a method depends on the project scope, the square footage of the space and the type of flooring material you plan to use. Budget and lead times are also considerations when choosing which method

is right for your job.

 

Call or email a Warm Your Floor representative today for expert advice on your heated floor project.

Is it difficult to install? What will I need?

While all methods of installing electric floor heating are DIY friendly, some methods are less labor intensive and may have higher up-front materials costs, and others provide flexibility but require you to plan the layout to ensure that cable is spaced for optimal heating.

 

The materials needed for each project depend on the method and the floor type used. A sensor wire, thermostat and heating cable system (loose wire, mat, or membrane/cable combination) are the basic components needed for any installation. All projects require a Digital Multimeter for testing and measuring ohm output and ensuring the cable isn’t damaged during installation. Basic tools and materials like thin-set or self-leveling mortar, glue and a trowel may be needed. Depending on the type of flooring used, some projects may require backer board or a layer of insulation if the cabling system will be placed over wood or concrete subfloors.

 

Whatever the specs, Warm Your Floor has the products you need to bring your electric floor warming project to fruition.

by Scott Cook on June 18, 2014
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Floor heating is becoming the next big home remodeling trend.
by Scott Cook on June 18, 2014
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This uptick is great news for homebuilders, as it demonstrates that Americans coast to coast are seeing the value of owning a property that is customized to their needs on the long term as opposed to renting a space with minimal amenities.
by Scott Cook on June 18, 2014
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It's fairly obvious why someone might want to install a floor heating system in their home for winter months, but what may not be clear is why you would have such a product put in in the spring or summer.
by Customer Info on April 25, 2013
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Nuheat™ offers 120 standard size pre-built square & rectangular floor heating mats that are ready to fit your room and will keep almost any flooring at a warm and comfortable temperature that you set on the thermostat control. All Nuheat mats are less than 1/8” thin and are available in 120V or 240V (aka 110V or 220V), and you can install 150 square feet of 120V mats per control, or 300 square feet of 240V. Warm tiles can be yours overnight with the Nuheat under floor heating system.
by Customer Info on April 19, 2013
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People often ask us if they should be using cork insulation for their heated concrete flooring. We tell them that many contractors & homeowners recommend that you insulate between an existing concrete slab & your new Electric Radiant Floor Heating System. Insulation is not required, but many customers like to install a "thermal break" while they are installing new floor heating over a slab subfloor. Heat transfers to cold material, meaning warm objects or surfaces transfer heat to cold ones. An Insulating material on top of the slab and under the Electric Radiant Floor Heat elements will slow the transfer of heat from the heating elements into the bottom of the slab and effectively decrease the time it takes your floor warming system to warm the part your floor that matters.
by Customer Info on April 18, 2013
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The electric radiant floor heating you find in many homes these days has come a long way. Did you know that underfloor warming has been around since nearly 5,000 B.C.? These primitive methods weren’t nearly as advanced as a SunTouch or NuHeat system, but the core concept of radiating heat in the floor hasn’t changed.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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This is based on the recommendation of thinset and grout manufacturers. Their products require a curing period before the masonry reaches its full strength. This process cannot be rushed by heating and apparently, the process can be adversely affected by the modest temperatures of the heating wires if they are turned on before 28 days (according to the thinset manufacturers).
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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Since each WarmWire spool uses a specific wire size, extending a wire will risk premature failure and provide too little heat to the floor.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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WarmWire cannot be installed below built-ins, cabinets or walls, but rugs, hampers, scales and waste cans are OK when your finished floor is stone or ceramic. The area under the rug or other objects will get warmer, but will not cause any damage to the heating element or masonry floors. If you use any other type of flooring other than ceramic however, check with the floor manufacturer to make sure their product is suitable for a radiant floor and the objects commonly found on them.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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We offer an Industry Leading 25 year warranty that is unusual in our industry. We think the product will last a great deal longer because of several design decisions we made years ago. The great danger to any heating cable in a bathroom floor is oxidation caused by moisture. So, we use a very expensive wire insulation called Tefzel by DuPont. The physical properties of this polymer are unmatched for the application, notably its water resistance, dielectric properties and long-term temperature aging. We also use oxygen-free alloys in our heating elements to give them greater longevity. No one builds a better heating element wire than WarmWire. Compare our wire construction to other systems - your choice will be clear. Furthermore, Watts is a 135 year old USA manufacturer, with $1.4 Billion in sales. So there's a Real USA manufacturer standing behind the warranty. Not an importer or offshore manufacturer. WarmWire is made in America, by Americans, for American homes. Several competitors produce their products offshore, but not WarmWire.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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We recommend using a 3/8 inch x 1/4 inch trowel to apply the thinset over the wire and by the time you have finished, you will be approximately 1/4 inch over the backerboard which is usually 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. For perimeter areas where there is no WarmWire, you will simply apply a slightly thicker layer of thinset.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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Start with a good quality latex-modified thinset. Use the flat edge of a 3/8 inch x 1/4 inch notched trowel to push the thinset over and into the wire. Then reverse the trowel and use the “comb” side to rake the mortar over the wire in straight parallel lines. Work in small areas.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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WarmWire is the ONLY manufacturer that has undergone INDEPENDENT testing for EMF or Electro Magnetic Field emission. The results of this testing shows WarmWire Floor warming to be the SAFEST with the LOWEST emissions. See the results don't just take a website's claims as truth or believe everything you read - look To WarmWire for Safety and testing to support our statements. EMF stands for Electro Magnetic Field and is a byproduct of alternating electric current passing through wires and appliances. Human exposure to ambient levels ofEMF is the subject of continuing scientific scrutiny and the results are a matter of public record. For those who are concerned, the Federal Government recommends minimizing exposure to EMF in the home and workplace. Elevated EMF levels can also interfere with electronic devices including computer screens and audio equipment and is usually included on lists of causes for “sick building syndrome” and sources of interference.
There is no practical technology to completely shield an electric heating element in order to minimize EMF. The only viable approach is to spiral two wires side by side so the fields cancel each other. Watts Radiant innovated this approach years ago and was granted U.S. patent number 6,303,905. The EMF generated at floor level by radiant floor heating systems that use only one wire is many times normal ambient levels. Using dual wires for EMF cancellation is more expensive, but it is the safest choice. Any single wire heating element used in radiant floor heating is a compromise and should, in our opinion, be avoided. Safer electronic emission practices have been adopted by manufacturers of microwave ovens, video monitors and cell phones to name a few. WarmWire has already taken this important step and is another reason why it is your safest and best choice for Floor Warming. Other Manufacturers minimize the importance of EMF…Could this be because they do NOT meet the same superior standard WarmWire meets? Is it worth the risk to you and your family? We do not think so.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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This space next to walls reduces the chance of damage to the wire by in new construction or future remodeling. If these issues are not relevant in your case, it is OK to put wires within 3 inches of the wall. Definitely stay at least 4" from the toilet ring. Another good reason for the gap is to save you money. In most cases, you do not stand closer than 6” to a wall so you can use less wire by leaving a space.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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If you shorten the heating element you risk premature failure and overheating. You may shorten ONLY the power lead wire or the sensor wire.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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Yes. Install & attach Radiant Floor heat such as, WarmWire or Nuheat Cable to your subfloor and cover with a thin layer of self leveling mortar on top. This will add only slightly more than a quarter inch rise to your floor. The mortar spreads the heat evenly and helps protect the heating wires from sharp objects that might penetrate the floor. This installation is UL Approved. Be wary of systems that install directly under carpet - check for a UL Listing and assess their ability to withstand furniture placement and safety in the event the carpet gets wet by a spill or accident. We know of one manufacturer of a wire for directly under carpet; but we will not sell it. We simply do NOT believe it is safe. It has a short warranty and is made offshore. What happens if you put a heavy piece of furniture right on a wire with this wire? We'll stick with our quality products that get encased in a thin layer of mortar for YOUR protection.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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Here are a few rules of thumb:

1. 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch of thinset over the plywood
2. Then, 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch backerboard.
3. Then, the WarmWire wire.
4. Then 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch thinset over the WarmWire.
5. Finally, 1/4 to 5/16 inch tile.

So, the overall thickness of your completed WarmWire tile floor will be about 7/8" - 1" thick. This is only about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thicker than a cold floor without heat.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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Your WarmWire will be embedded in latex modified thin set mortar. The heating element will not be affected by the residual glue.
by Customer Info on April 2, 2013
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14 gauge AWG electrical wire is appropriate for a load of 15 amps in most city electrical codes, but in all cases, follow your local code.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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SunTouch radiant mats are UL Listed for use with any type of finished floor if you embed it in at least a quarter inch of masonry. As always, start with a strong subfloor, secure the SunTouch, and cover with a self leveling mortar of your choice. Once this mortar is in place, follow the manufacturer instructions for cure time and then cover with laminate or carpet. Our Favorite Self Leveling manufacturer is ARDEX. Other Manufacturers are Custom Building Products and Mapei.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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No. The mat may go through a doorway but never through a wall. UL requires the heating wire to ALWAYS be embedded in mortar.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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Yes. Check instruction manual to see how to connect up to three mats together in series to the LoudMouth. Remember to disconnect them before connecting to the FloorStat.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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All slab-type radiant systems work best if you do not use an “on or off” strategy to control the temperature. Instead, use a modern, programmable, floor sensing control that turns the temperature down (called a “setback”) to a preset temperature when the floor is satisfied, but keeps residual heat in the slab to respond quickly when the floor starts to cool off. Each home is different, but start with a 5 degree F setback to see if the room responds the way you want. If not, you can adjust the floor temperature, setback temperature and lead time features of the programmable thermostat to get the performance you want. Try the SunTouch Programmable FloorStat and we think you will be very pleased. For smaller areas, say under 30 square feet, you might just want to install a non-programmable control and leave it on throughout the heating season.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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Yes. We recommend using our double-sided tape to hold the SunTouch mat to the membrane, then thin-set as you normally would. Many customers have had success with our Premium Cork underlayment or WEDI board as well.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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You can connect up to 3 mats totalling 150 Sq Ft of 120V and 300 Sq Feet of 240V SunTouch mat to one SunStat (15 Amp Load). More than 3 mats makes for an unsafe wire connection in the electrical box and violates most electric codes. So, keep it to 3 mats or less — simply choose larger mats from our selection of 67 sizes in 4 widths. You could also use a series of junction boxes to connect more mats to one SunStat, but this is seldom necessary or cost effective when you can simply choose the right mats for your project. Or, let us help you choose the correct mats.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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Our mat is Underwriter Laboratory (UL) Listed for interior floor heating. We are not UL Listed for snow melting because the wire is not designed to give off enough heat for that purpose. SunTouch mats do work great for heating steps around spas and tubs. You simply need more wattage to melt snow. If you want to melt snow or heat outside areas, consider Nexans cables.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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No. This also is dangerous and should never be done. The mat voltage must match the Line voltage supplied to the thermostat.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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Yes, if you are using the SunStat Controls (500670 or 500675) since these superior controls use a Class 1 sensor wire, which is approved for use in the same conduit as the power lead. If you are using any other control, you must run the sensor and power leads separately.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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We do not recommend it because the heat transfer will be poor below the tub. If it is a Claw foot or other free standing tub, it is acceptable to use up extra mat under this open type of tub.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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SunTouch radiant mats are UL listed for use with any type of finished floor if you embed it in at least a quarter inch of masonry. But, first make sure the vinyl flooring manufacturer rates their product for use with a radiant floor. The #1 & #2 manufacturers of Resilient Flooring, Mannington & Armstrong approve radiant heat under their products, as long as the Surface temperature is 85 Degrees F or below. Please check with the manufacturers instructions.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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We do not recommend the use of flooring adhesives with SunTouch. They are not designed to withstand the operating temperatures of a radiant floor. Self leveling mortars or latex modified mortars are the preferred bonding coat. Check with the manufacturer of your vinyl floor to see if the product is temperature rated for use with a radiant floor before you begin installing.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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Normally, we recommend you consider a “crack isolation membrane” when installing SunTouch over an old floor, especially if the old tile is broken, cracked, or has other symptoms of slab or tile failure. If the old floor looks good (and has been there for several years), then make sure the mortar you use is recommended by the manufacturer for bonding to existing tile.
by Customer Info on March 27, 2013
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Yes. Simply tape the mat to the mortar with the double sided tape in our installation kit and lay your tile or stone as you normally would. When in doubt, apply more tape. Thinset spreads easier when the mat is thoroughly attached. You can also use a hot glue gun and put drops onto the mesh joints and masonry from above.
by Customer Info on March 21, 2013
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No, you can not cut the blue wire in SunTouch Mats, that will ruin the mat. Each mat uses a different wire size and is built with a specific ohm (resistance) value, so the length must remain as it came from the factory.
by Customer Info on March 21, 2013
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Yes. Some tile installers would rather work over very flat surfaces and they prefer this two step method. First they cover the SunTouch mat with a self leveling mortar or they apply a level skim coat of thinset over the mat. Once dry, they spread thinset while applying tile. Many installers secure the mat to the backerboard and immediately apply thinset and tile. This is a one-step method. Both work fine, so it's a matter of personal preference. In both cases, we recommend using the Loudmouth monitor during the entire installation.
by Customer Info on March 21, 2013
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Yes. Ideally, get a licensed electrician to make the repair. Call us toll free and we'll send your electrician a repair kit. A detailed instruction sheet is also available for direct download. If the mat has not been installed, return it to Warm Your Floor for replacement. If the mat is damaged after installation and it is not feasible to take it up and return it, it can be repaired in the field with a SunTouch Repair Kit.
If a break in the wire is suspected after the tile is installed, it will be necessary to obtain a “Fault Finder” detector, which can help determine the location of a break, typically within 2 SF. A good tile setter can carefully remove the tile and expose the wire. Once you find the break, the electrician will separate the elements of the wire and splice the two sections back together again. The connections are tested and then covered with a section of shrink tube that provides waterproofing. Then an ohm reading is taken again. The repaired assembly is then re-embedded below the tile in fresh thinset. Call our toll free number with any questions you have at any part of the process: 866-558-3369 or the factory @ 888-432-8932.
by Customer Info on March 21, 2013
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Glass, ceramic, porcelain, stone, marble, granite and slate floors are all excellent choices with radiant floor heat. 1”x1” Mosaic to 4' x 4' slabs of Limestone You’re only limited by your creativity – see our complete installation instructions for details on tiles smaller than 6”. If you're not sure – call us toll free 866-558-3369.
We have Mat Sizes For the Smallest to Largest spaces. Need to warm a small 10 Sq Ft. area? We have 3 mats choices to help! If you have a little mat left over, you can always use up a square foot of mat by pulling out the blue wire and laying it along the side and behind the toilet. But, you can Never cut the blue wire to shorten the mat. We stock all sizes to help you fit any shape or size room - that is how flexible SunTouch is. Our largest job is almost 8,000 Sq feet UNDER CARPET right here in Sunny Southern Calif! And we have helped do thousands in between - Let yours be next!
by Customer Info on March 21, 2013
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No. Both systems have the same efficiency and produce the same amount of power: 12 watts per square foot. The only difference is that 240 volt mats pull half the amperage (current) of 120 volt models, which means a single thermostat can control up to 300 sq ft of 240 volt heating elements while 120 volt systems are limited to 150 sq ft. The only instance in which 240 volt is recommended for rooms smaller than 150 sq ft is when there is already an available 240 volt circuit in the room.