Stepping onto a freezing bathroom tile floor on a cold morning can literally send chills down your spine. If you dread the thought of getting out of your warm bed to face this cold reality, it very well may be time to ditch your bath mats and consider heated bathroom floors. This type of home improvement could well be the answer to keeping you warm on cold days and even saving you money in the long run. Read on to learn why heated floors are becoming an affordable luxury and may also have health benefits you never realized.
There are two types of heated flooring: electric radiant heat and hydronic heat. Here are the specifics of each.
- Electric radiant heat – This type of heated flooring has an electrical current applied to a heating element. It’s the best choice for heating a small area like a bathroom, since it’s more cost-effective and less complex to install.
- Hydronic heating – This type of heated flooring uses heated water which flows through a complex tubing system. This is the best choice for homeowners who are renovating their entire house.
For the purposes of this blog, we will discuss electric radiant heat because it relates to heated bathroom floors.
Benefits of heated bathroom floors
Did you know when your feet are warm, your entire body feels warm? Aside from the obvious underfoot comfort, there are several benefits of heated bathroom flooring that may impact both your life and your wallet more than you thought. Here are some benefits to consider:
- Increased energy efficiency – Heating a small space instead of an entire house is an energy-efficient way to keep you warm.
- Cost-effective– Using a programmable thermostat can help reduce your heating bill. And since ceramic, porcelain and natural stone retain heat, your bathroom floor will remain warm long after the system is turned off.
- Unique level of comfort— Uniform heat distribution warms the entire surface of the lower half of the room compared to a conventional heating system which blows air.
- May reduce dust and seasonal allergens – Hot air from a furnace can reduce the humidity in your home, leaving your air dry and your sinuses screaming for relief. In-floor heating heats the surface and not the air, thus eliminating the need to rely on air ducts, fans and returns to distribute hot air.
There are pros and cons to almost everything, and heated bathroom floors are no exception. We’ve discussed the benefits, so here are some downsides you need to be aware of to make the right decision for your home:
- Requires tearing out existing flooring, which may not be cost-effective in a recently built home.
- A home with high ceilings, many windows or insufficient insulation is not a good candidate for in-floor heating.
- Older homes will likely need extensive electrical work to meet manufacturers’ requirements.
- Any future repairs might require sections of the floor to be removed.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Contact an electrician and tile installer who are trained in heated floor installation.
- The electrician and tile installer will work together to lay the heating cables, which are interlaced with mesh mats.
- Flooring is placed over the system. The best flooring options are: ceramic, porcelain or stone since they are excellent temperature conductors. Wood, on the other hand, is not a good choice since it does not respond quickly to temperature changes.
- The system is connected to an electronic control, consisting of a thermostat which allows you to adjust the temperature. A programmable timer may also be included, so you can set your bathroom floor to be heated on cold winter mornings or any time of day that it’s needed.