Heated floors: what you need to know

by Multi-Prêts Mortgages

What you’ll learn

  • Electric or hydronic system
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages

Building a home or replacing your flooring? Have you considered heated floors?

Although it may have been excessively costly under other circumstances, it might now be an option to consider.

Electric or hydronic heating system

Before you begin, it’s important to distinguish between the two systems: electric and hydronic.

In both cases, a system dispensing steady heat evenly is installed under your floor, and can be adapted to practically every type of flooring. However, electric is generally discouraged for hard wood floors, and hydronic is discouraged for softer woods.

A hydronic system is well suited for large surfaces or when building a new home, since it requires the installation of a boiler to provide water. An electric system is better suited for one or a few rooms.

Getting rid of electric baseboards

Installing these devices bring about many advantages in terms of room decor and disposition. Eliminating the noises and dust that go along with baseboards are just another reason why you should choose the comfort of heated flooring.

Unlike baseboards and radiators, they do not generate intense heat in one specific spot.

Floor heating system durability

If well maintained, a floor heating system can last up to 35 years.

Energy savings and installation costs

Expert opinions on the matter vary, and many factors (mainly isolation) can affect the result, but energy savings can range anywhere between 10% and 40%.

The installation costs cannot be ignored, however. They usually go from $6 to $13 per square foot.

You may want to consult an advisor if you need to borrow to renovate your home.

Disadvantages

Heat is produced more slowly with these systems. This is especially true for the hydronic system. With an electric system, at least 60% of the room’s surface area must be covered.

If you are a fan of carpeting, you’re better off forgetting heated floors altogether, as the carpet will limit the heat distribution.

If something breaks, it can be costly to repair, as the elements are not as readily accessible as a simple electric baseboard.

If you decide to change your bathroom tiles, you’ll need to redo the wiring on an electrical system under ceramic.

Final tips

Just like with anything related to renovations, you’re better off shopping around and getting more than one expert opinion. If you decide to go with a contractor, make sure you get at least three different quotes. Consult our article to help you find the right contractor for your project.

For those looking to build their own house, our article “What you need to know about building your own house” can be an excellent starting point.

Before making your final decision, make sure you contact your insurance provider to avoid unpleasant surprises in case of a break or damages caused by the system. Note that even though it is rare, a hydronic system could potentially cause water damage.

 
 
Key takeaways
 
  • Choose a hydronic or electric system according to your needs.
  • Heated floors offer greater comfort and energy savings.
  • If you’re a fan of carpets, stick with traditional heating methods.
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