There is something so satisfying and luxurious about feeling heat beneath your feet, particularly in a bathroom. Under floor heating is not a new invention. It actually dates back thousands of years. When the ancient Romans went to the public baths, (their equivalent of the spa or health club), it was a very social event where they would laze around, hang out with friends and catch up on local gossip. The floors were kept warm thanks to an ingenious system of heating known as the hypocaust. A surfeit of slaves would fan hot air from continuously burning wood fires into a hollow space beneath the elevated marble floors. Bathing has become a much more private affair, but bathrooms are still the most popular room to install underfloor heating. Radiant heating is another name for underfloor heating and there are two main types of systems:
Hydronic: heated water is pumped from a boiler through a network of tubing
Electric: an electric current is applied to a flexible heating element
These are more costly and complex to install but less expensive to operate and therefore a better option if you are considering underfloor heating as the primary heating source throughout the whole house. Hydronic heating is not a cost effective choice for small remodeling jobs but is ideal for homeowners who like consistent, comfortable year round heat. Once your home has reached the desired temperature, minimal energy is required to maintain it.
These frequently come in mat or sheet form, where the electrical coils are already attached to a mesh backing that is laid on the sub floor. Many of these sheets have adhesive strips making them very straightforward to install. Loose wire installation, without the mesh, allows for easier customization in odd shaped spaces. If you want to put heating under carpets, you can use a foil heating mat that is specifically designed for use without thinset or adhesive. The electrical wires on all these systems are very thin so they won’t raise the floor level when installed.
Electric underfloor heating uses a large amount of electricity and is therefore more ideal for small spaces such as bathrooms. Programmable timers and thermostats help with efficiency and cost saving.