Homeowners and home builders should consider the pros and cons of radiant heating when deciding whether or not this heating method is an efficient, economical choice. Available for new builds and as part of your home renovation project, radiant floor heating uses tubes laid below your flooring to heat specific rooms or the entire house.

What Is Radiant Heating?

Used throughout history as an effective, efficient method of heating living areas and bathrooms, modern radiant heating utilizes electricity or hot water. Electric radiant heating tends to be less efficient than hot water systems, however it is affordable and simple to install making it attractive to many homeowners around North America. Electric systems can be installed in exterior and interior spaces.

Hydronic radiant heating systems push hot water through plastic tubing. This heat radiates from the flooring and up into the room for consistent, uniform warmth.  Dry systems are installed onto the subfloor below your hardwood or engineered wood flooring, with insulation and metal reflectors installed below the tubing to direct heat upwards. Wet systems are inlaid in concrete floor slabs, and generally work well for new builds or extensive renovations.

Pros of Radiant Heating for Your Wood Floor

The heat created from radiant systems works well with wood floors, adding to the comfortable texture nature provides. It is a non-invasive heating system, warming up the area gently and without drying out the air. Many people find that forced air heating systems trigger allergies, while radiant heating systems help to reduce dust and pollen floating throughout the interior of your home.

This type of heating system can also be designed for maximum efficiency, providing concentrated heat in well used areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room. A supplementary system, often forced air or electric heating, is used to warm up bedrooms and other areas only when necessary, often significantly reducing your heating bills.

It's also possible to design hydronic heating systems with specific zones, allowing you to heat certain areas of your home at certain times and to specific temperatures. Hire an experienced contractor to design the optimum system, taking boiler size, floor plan and lifestyle into account.

Cons of Radiant Heating

You'll need a sizable investment to purchase a boiler, should you opt for the hydronic system. Using this heating system will save you money over oil, propane and electric heating, as well as natural gas systems, depending on energy prices.

Certain installation conditions are needed for this radiant heating systems. Your rooms must have the height required for tubing, which rests in the space between your subfloor and hardwood. Spacers are used to support the flooring, but this requirement can mean extensive renovations in some homes. Wet systems can be affordably installed in new builds, but pouring another concrete slab for existing homes is often cost prohibitive.

When properly installed, radiant systems will not damage your flooring and provide comfortable, efficient and affordable warmth. Talk to your flooring retailer about installing high quality hardwood or engineered wood flooring that will help your radiant heating system perform well for years to come.