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Floor Heating Basics

Floor Heating Basics

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 method 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. You can also get help selecting the right products by using our interactive online quote builder.

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.

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Comments

  • Frank

    What is the width a 30" mat will heat under ceramic tile?

    • Author: Jacquelyn S. Posted: November 28, 2016

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for your question!
      The heat does not radiate past the edges of the mat, so a 30 inch mat will only heat 30 inches.

      Which is why we recommend buying a large enough mat to cover the entire area you intend to heat.

      Warm Regards,
      The Warm Your Floor Team

  • Christina B.
    Author: Christina B. Posted: December 6, 2016

    Is there a place where I can learn how to use the Nuheat system that is installed in the home we recently purchased? Thank you.

  • Steve T.
    Author: Steve T. Posted: January 2, 2017

    I would like to know how many 16' x 3' matts can you wire together per thermostat ? And how far apart can you space mats in a large area and still heat well under tile? Are there longer than 16' mats. Is there a price break for certain sq footage levels?

    • Author: Jacquelyn S. Posted: January 3, 2017

      Hi Steve,

      You can run up to 6 of the 240v 16' x 3' mats on a single thermostat, but you will need a junction box to hook them all together. Only 3 mats can be directly wired to the back of a thermostat. The heat only spreads about an inch past the end of each mat, so you will want to cover all of the areas that will have foot traffic.

      We also have 20' x 3', 30' x 3', and 40' x 3' mats available.

      Let us know if you have any other questions!

      Warm Regards,
      The Warm Your Floor Team

  • Paul K.
    Author: Paul K. Posted: January 25, 2017

    I have a metal building (not insulated). I want to put an exercise area in with the rubber(foam) interlocking mats. The area is 20'x30' and the walls are not insulated. (We live in MN). how warm will the room be in cold weather if I cover the whole floor?

    • Jacquelyn Sutterman
      Author: Jacquelyn Sutterman Posted: January 30, 2017

      Hi Paul,

      In an room without insulation like you describe, you can expect the floor to heat roughly 10 degrees above its starting temperature depending on the weather. Keep in mind that since this is a radiant heat system, it will warm the floor and any object/person on the heated area, but it will not heat the air.

      Also, it is not recommended to put rubber or foam materials over large portions of the floor as this will trap the heat and can potentially cause the system to fail.

      If you can forgo the mats, we would recommend using the WarmWire cable system spaced at 2.5" instead of the standard 3" spacing. This will add about 17% more heat to the room. If you need any help selecting cables, give us a call at 866-558-3369.


      Warm Regards,
      The Warm Your Floor Team

  • John Garner
    Author: John Garner Posted: March 17, 2017

    I have been looking into electrical radiant floor heating in planning the redo of a second floor bathroom on wooden sub-floor and joists. My top covering is not decided yet. My concern has been since starting to consider this, is what risk there may be having completed the room that there could be a failure in the underfloor wiring and having to rip it up. Another concern would be about possible overheating of the underfloor wiring by whatever cause. Is there a safety cutoff in the control system?

    • Jacquelyn Sutterman
      Author: Jacquelyn Sutterman Posted: March 20, 2017

      Hi John,

      The thermostats have built-in temperature limits and GFCI to protect both you and the system itself. If everything is installed properly, you won’t need to worry about the heating elements burning out or failing. Each one comes with a 25 year warranty and is expected to last much longer. Also, if the flooring is damaged and the heating elements with it, they can be repaired at the break, so there is never a need to rip out the entire floor for damage in one or a small area.

      Warm Regards,
      The Warm Your Floor Team

  • Dan R.
    Author: Dan R. Posted: March 21, 2017

    I've installed a SunTouch Mat in my master bath. Now I want to so the floor in a small basement bath. The shower is 2 steps up from main floor. Can I do the horizontal portion of the steps up to the shower (by trimming the mat)? The floor and steps will be tiled.

    • Jacquelyn Sutterman
      Author: Jacquelyn Sutterman Posted: March 27, 2017

      Hi Dan,

      Yes, you can trim & remove some of the mesh to run the wire up the steps, just be careful to not put any cuts in the wire. Also, keep in mind that according to electrical code you can only run a single heating wire up the front of each step on order to reach the top.

      Warm Regards,
      The Warm Your Floor Team

  • Melissa
    Author: Melissa Posted: April 6, 2017

    We live in Vermont (cold climate) and our mudroom has a dirt crawl space underneath. Although there is an oil baseboard radiator in the room, it's not enough to keep it above 55 F in the winter. I'd like to install radiant floor heating underneath tile to maintain a more comfortable temp. but have been told that I'd lose most my heat through the crawl space underneath. Any suggestions?

    • Jacquelyn Sutterman
      Author: Jacquelyn Sutterman Posted: April 13, 2017

      Hi Melissa,

      We recommend using the WarmWire cable system and spacing the cables at 2.5" instead of the standard 3" spacing when heating especially cold areas or rooms with high heat loss.

      This will increase the heat output of the system by about 17% for optimal heating and performance. Feel free to give us a call at 866-558-3369 if you need help selecting the correct size cable(s) for your project.

      Warm Regards,
      The Warm Your Floor Team