Is in-floor heat right for you?

Determine whether you'd like to install hydronic radiant in-floor heating in a new home or retrofit your current floors.

By Jessica Ross


What are the main types of hydronic in-floor heating systems?
Embedded systems
The pipes are embedded into the concrete floor of new construction or basement renovations; in retrofit construction, the PEX is laid out over concrete, then a layer of concrete is poured over the system.

Main-floor installations
The PEX is installed over a subfloor, laid out within grooved panels and covered with flooring.

Joist-space heating
Upper floors are heated from beneath the subfloor. PEX runs between the joists, in contact with metal plates designed to transfer heat to the floor above.

What type of flooring works best with hydronic radiant heating?
Robinson cites polished concrete as the most efficient finished-floor option, followed by porcelain or stone tile. Of wood options, he says, engineered wood is recommended over solid hardwood because the former can handle heat better. The least efficient option is flooring with a higher R-value, such as carpet with underlay.

How much does it cost?
Hydronic in-floor heating tends to cost more than other heating methods. The cost to have a system installed by professionals could range from about $9 per sq. ft. to more than $15, depending on a lot of variables: such as whether you’ll use an existing boiler or other heating system; how much space you’re heating; whether it’s new construction or a retrofit; how many zones you require; who’s doing the installation labour; and so on.

How else can I heat with hydronic?
As long as your water-heating system, such as a boiler, has the capacity, you can complement your in-floor heating system with radiators. You can actually install stylish designs of yesteryear, perfect for retrofitting a home with traditional decor. Ask your hydronic installer for a local source of refurbished radiators or visit Modern designs that lend industrial chic to your space also are available, including thin-profile rads that run along your baseboards or in vertical stripes up a wall. For bathrooms, towel radiators can do more than dry towels—they pump out heat at more than 2,000 BTU/h, comparable to traditional space-heating rads.

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May. 19, 2014

9:43 am

Also see for infloor heating installer.


May. 19, 2014

9:43 am

See also for a Canadian installer of infloor heating solutions.


Jul. 17, 2012

1:03 pm

You may also want to check out Radiant Link by Embodied Energy. It basically uses the heat from a furnace to supply the hydronic system. This has the advantage of not requiring a complex boiler package, it also provides the ventilation for the house with the same unit, it can be easily added to an existing furnace system and if using a high efficiency furnace, it gives the high efficiency of a condensing boiler without the cost.

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