Although radiant flooring has been around for quite a while, many people still don’t understand if it is a good choice for their comfort and budget. Here are the basics of the two types of radiant heating to help you decide.
Electric Radiant Flooring
Electric radiant heating uses a series of wires underneath the floors that are connected to a thermostat sensor to control the heat. Electric radiant floors basically work like an electric blanket to warm you and your home.
There are three types of electric radiant flooring:
Loose cables – Loose cable is placed on the floor with thin-set mortar leveled over it to produce a flat surface.
Mesh under tile – Cables are woven into mesh mats which are then cut to fit the floor and covered with thin-set mortar
Solid mats – Cables are completely enclosed in synthetic fabric. The mat is smoothed onto thin-set mortar with another layer of thin-set mortar on top.
Hydronic Radiant Flooring
Hydronic radiant heating is much like the electric method, except tubing with heated water is used. The tubing is connected to a boiler or water heater that can also be used to heat water for the home.
There are three basic techniques to install hydronic heat to your home.
Under-floor technique – This is used during new construction or if you have an unfinished basement or crawl space under your home. The tubing is attached below the floor joists with metal plates to support the tubing.
On top of floor technique – The tubing is attached to the top of the floor and is covered with a self-leveling compound, topped with thin-set mortar and the floor covering of your choice.
Buried in concrete- The tubing is attached to wire mesh or foam board insulation using staples. Concrete is then poured over top and finished. This method is used for slab homes or basements.
Which is Better?
Hydronic heating usually delivers more heat at a lower operating cost. This makes hydronic heating better for heating an entire home or large rooms and more cost-effective in the long term. However, hydronic heating is more complicated and usually requires professional installation.