In years past, heated flooring was a truly luxurious home feature, available in only high-end properties. In this century, though, heated floors are more affordable and reliable, and have gained popularity in every type of home. Tiny houses, apartments, single-family homes—even vans and buses—have either been designed with heated flooring or have been converted in recent years. Still, it’s not all good news when it comes to these comfort-boosting systems. Read on to learn more about some pros and cons of heated flooring.
1.) Compatible With Many Types of Flooring
Let’s first debunk the notion that heated floors can only be installed under tile or stone flooring. While these materials are excellent at conducting radiant heat, a skilled installer can safely install a radiant heating system beneath hardwood, luxury vinyl flooring, laminate, engineered wood, or even carpet.
There is one caveat: if your home tends toward high humidity levels, hardwood flooring may warp due to rapidly fluctuating heating and cooling combined with ambient moisture.
2.) Easy to Install
As a general rule, radiant heating systems are pretty easy to install, especially in comparison to all of the ductwork needed for a standard HVAC system install. All that is needed is a water heater, pump, and tubing under the flooring. An expert installer is also required.
3.) Zero Maintenance
Once it’s installed, radiant and electric heated floors don’t require maintenance or repair. Insects and rodents can’t chew or crawl inside the system, and it doesn’t have a filter or fan that will become filthy over time. You can choose a system that attaches to a programmable thermostat or smart home system, which means you won’t even have to turn your heated floor on and off!
Nothing is completely accident-proof, of course, but there’s no form of heating less prone to issues than under-floor heating.
4.) Silent Operation
Especially for those who are light sleepers or have sensory issues, heated flooring is ideal because of its nearly silent operating system.
5.) Reduced Allergenic Load
As any allergy or asthma sufferer knows, the intake and circulation actions of traditional HVAC systems blow allergens, including dust, pet dander, and pollen, throughout the air your home. While filters do reduce this allergen load, they can’t compare to heated flooring, which doesn’t contribute to recirculating allergens at all. Asthma and allergy sufferers will love breathing easier during the colder months.
6.) Even Heating
Traditionally heated homes will experience variations in the effectiveness of the system, resulting in some uncomfortably warm and cold areas. Cold floors remain cold, top bunks are sweltering, and vent placement can make some areas of the home impossible to keep warm. In contrast, under-floor heating is spaced perfectly, then installed from wall to wall, which guarantees even, complete heating. Because heat rises, the warmth radiating from the floor will gradually heat the air throughout your home.
7.) Increase in Home Value
A home with forced air is worth more than a home without, but a home with forced air and heated floors commands a premium over competing homes. As you decide which remodeling projects and home upgrades are worth the money, heated flooring should definitely be on your radar.
1.) Flooring Removal During Installation
As safe and straightforward as a heated flooring system is to install, the only way to install one is by either pulling up a perfectly good floor or timing the installation to happen during a planned floor upgrade. This process can be quite costly and disruptive to your life, albeit temporarily.
2.) Initial Expense
Is there a substantial initial investment when having heated flooring installed? Yes; with electrically heated floors costing less and hydronic systems coming in significantly pricier. You can reduce the cost per square foot by converting more rooms in your home to under-floor heating. You may also recover some of the expense if you sell your home in the future, as heated flooring is considered a luxury.
3.) Slight Increase in Floor Height
While it’s true that your floor height will increase by a negligible amount, there are options that can make the difference feel virtually seamless. Factors that can have an effect on the final floor height include: flooring type, use of underlayment or membrane, and the heating system you choose (electric heat vs hydronic heat).
4.) Heats Slowly
Depending on the type of flooring your home has, the size of each room, and how efficient your insulation is, it can take quite some time for your under-floor heating system to come up to your desired level of warmth.
A small room with linoleum, luxury vinyl, or hardwood floors will warm up within an hour. A large room with concrete, stone, or tile floors could take a full eight hours to do the same. In this type of home, keeping your heated floors warmed up continuously during colder months will likely be the best way to fully benefit from them.
5.) May Be Insufficient to Heat an Entire Home
In cold climates, a large home (especially one with high ceilings relative to square footage) may not reach comfortable temperatures via heated floors alone. This is doubly true if you do not wish to leave your home heated when you’re out of the house, because, as we’ve discussed, it takes time for heated flooring to warm up.
If it turns out that your home is not a candidate for wall-to-wall heated floors, you may still wish to heat your bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms this way. Your energy savings thanks to reduced use of your HVAC system will still be impactful, and you’ll greatly enjoy warm floors under your feet when you exit the shower on cold winter mornings.
6.) Poor Choice for Cooling
HVAC systems are the only all-in-one system that’s effective for both heating and cooling. When you need to cool your home, radiant floors aren’t a great option, even if your hydronic floor system is connected to a cooling machine that can pump cold air through the tubing. In combination with ambient humidity, cooled flooring is a recipe for slippery floors, as well as mold and mildew growing within your home!