A Heated Flooring Update

February 12, 2014

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It has been an intense 3 weeks since we pulled the trigger on going for faux wood tile for our first floor instead of hardwood (as well as a few other options we looked at). A few of you asked how the process was going, so while we are technically still in the same place–womp womp–we do have a little update to share.


We’ve spent the last three weeks figuring out the radiant heating situation. Our main floor is half tile and half carpeting. This is a little embarrassing, but we actually legitimately thought we had heated flooring under the tile portion already. We have lived here for 5 months, we’re in the dead of an Idaho winter and our tile is pretty toasty. Also, when pulling back the carpet, we could see several layers under the tile that we assumed was radiant heat. However, since we were tearing up all that tile, there was no way we could salvage the heated flooring since it was sandwiched between mortar and cement–which was fine since we also assumed that all the radiant heat needed to be connected. Are some of you laughing at us? It’s okay. We learned a lot in the last three weeks. Most importantly, we don’t have radiant heat under our current tile.


What a surprise! We were floored. Since we live in a ranch style home, all of the heating ducts are actually in the floors of the main floor with our vents on the floors themselves (on the first floor –downstairs they are on the ceilings). So our floors have heat running under them throughout the colder months. I just started noticing things like the tile is especially toasty in the paths of the strategically placed floor vents (you can see two near the far wall in the first photo) and that Charly mostly hangs out snoring near an exterior door where the floor must be colder. Even with this knowledge, we were still planning on going forward with the radiant heating (call us stubborn) and called an electrician to come in since we would need to add 7 more breakers to our circuit breaker box to accommodate the heated flooring. Also, each room would have a flooring thermostat.Turns out, they stopped making our box model, so the breakers had to be special ordered from ebay, and it would have been almost the same price to replace the whole box. It wasn’t until we were at this point, sitting on this extra $800 expense that we decided to forego the radiant heat altogether.

Dana just posted about how not adding heated floors to the tile in her “everything” room was one of their biggest regrets–and I definitely cringed. We hope we don’t end up feeling the same way, but our confidence is coming from the fact that we currently have a lot of tile and it is the dead of winter and the tile is pretty warm.  This Saturday, we have a crew coming to help move all our furniture downstairs and the demo will begin. We’re a little behind schedule, but not laying the heated flooring system actually shaves quite a bit of time off our time table anyway–so fingers crossed, we’ll still have it all done by the end of March. Even still, we decided laying flooring in the nursery’s direction first was probably the best way to go just in case.

What do you think?

  1. I think if it feels warm now that that shouldn’t change. Go on living in your fool’s paradise!

  2. Connie says:

    Radiant heat always seems nice, but in reality is a pain and not very efficient. Funny that your dog sleeps on the coldest part of the floor- our kitty is always (like, right now) sitting on the floor which is directly above a major intersection of our steam pipes. It’s super toasty there!

  3. Sasha says:

    While I covet the idea of radiant heat in the floors, I have been told by a number of contractors that it’s a huge pain because if anything goes wrong with the heat, you have to demo and rip up the tile. To me it seems that it could be a sunk cost (with the potential for huge future cost) and it might be best just to bump the thermostat a degree and wear slippers!

  4. April says:

    I live in super cold Edmonton, Canada and we just replaced the floor in our bathroom with tile, I was insistent on putting in radiant heating. So the husband did. My thermostat is still not hooked up and its the dead of winter (that is another story), I live in a bungalow like you where the vents run under the floor and my bathroom floor is still pretty toasty warm even without the thermostat being hooked up. Once it is up and running it will just be an added bonus. I think you made the right choice and agree with Dana and Jenny, it will depend on where the vents run. Good luck can’t wait to see how the new floors look.

  5. Too funny. I would have assumed the same as you guys so you are in good company! I think you made a good decision though – if you find the floors warm enough now, save the cashola and skip it. Like the old saying goes, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. If you’ve never found them cold in the past then I think you will be happy going forward. Can’t wait to see that flooring once it’s in!

  6. Jenny says:

    We did not install radiant heating when we tiled our entire first floor with faux wood tiles and even with the cold temps we’ve had recently in Kentucky the floors are fine to walk on bare foot. The only room that gets a little chilly underfoot is the half bath (even though it’s in the middle of the house) but I think that’s because it doesn’t contain any heating vents. I agree with Dana that it really depends on where the room is located and what type of subfloor the tile is installed on. Good luck with everything!

  7. Becky says:

    I don’t think you’ll have any regrets if your floors are comfortable now, they should be after your new floor is installed. If you end up regretting it you can always look into a hydronic system that can be installed with access to the bottom of the subfloor in the basement.

  8. Dana says:

    I think it’s different for different houses and even different rooms. I’m guessing you have a wood subfloor since you have a basement. We’re on a slab and our dining room / mudroom is next to our (poorly insulated) garage with two other walls being exterior ones. The tile does get pretty cold in there when the temp drops below 30 degrees. Our bathroom has tile flooring but is much better insulated and we have no problems with cold tile in there.

    I think you’re making the best choice for your situation!

  9. Having lived with a tile floor throughout the kitchen, living room, etc I would never choose to do that again. Cold cold and hard – I always had to have shoes or slippers on. Great for the dog, but not for us. I hope your floors stay warm and cozy for you though and you don’t run into the same problems. In our new house, though, I can’t wait to rip up all my first floor tile and put either hardwoods or cork down!

    Charly is awesome!

  10. We have been pondering heated floors for our toddler’s playroom – there is no heating in there at all right now, and it’s cold! But I know it’s expensive. If your floors are already warm, they probably won’t need an extra heating element. Good luck!

    • Julia says:

      Dana’s post (I linked in the last paragraph) is full of good information in the body and in the comments section you should check out if you’re on the fence!

  11. If you are happy with the tile temperature now, then I’m sure you will feel the same way with the new stuff. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!! I hope you’re taking it easy while others are doing most of the work (use that pregnancy card while you’ve got it!!) :)

  12. Interesting! Charly!!! What a dog. She is so stinking cute. and HUGE. I can’t wait to see this tile get installed. I’m so curious about it!

  13. Tina says:

    I have literally never heard of heated flooring, haha. If your floors are toasty now when it’s like the coldest winter ever, then I can’t imagine you’ll regret this decision!

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