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To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the question!

Posted by treasuretheday (My Page) on
Sun, May 1, 11 at 21:09

Hi,

We have just started demo today on our master bath remodel. (Bye, bye el-cheapo 4" builder standard white tile!) We have chosen, but not yet ordered, porcelain tile for the floor. We had not planned to heat the floor but it does sound like people here are pretty happy with their heated floors so you've got me thinking...!

We live in Michigan so the winters can get pretty cold and I think a warm floor would feel sooo nice at 5:30 am!

Since I'm brand new to this idea, I don't know what types there are to consider or what questions to ask to decide what would work best for us. Our room is about 15 1/2' x 10' with a separate tub, corner shower and enclosed water closet. The open floor area will be approx. 7' x 7', although not an exact square. Could someone give me an idea of what we can expect to spend?

Are you glad that you heated your floor? What do you know now that you wish you had known before?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

We've remodeled our entire house and I have to say my single favorite decision we made was to heat the tile floors in the bathroom, then the kitchen, then the breakfast nook and sunroom (can you tell we got addicted?). It makes a huge difference, especially for those of us that don't wear shoes in the house. No rude awakening in the morning when your sleepy feet hit the bone-jarringly cold tile first thing.

Call it addicted. Or spoiled. But if we moved into a house with unheated tile, I'd give serious consideration to ripping out the tile and putting in new, just to install heat below it. So yeah, definitely glad we heated our floors. (Note: we didn't do it in our other 2 1/2 bathrooms, foyer, or mudroom.)

You can either buy mats or wire that you tape to the floor. We went for the more economical method of wire, and bought Warming Systems for around $4/sq foot, though I think they cost more now. Other systems are up to $10/sq ft.

Make sure you heat all the floors you'll potentially walk on (i.e., front half of the water closet, but not behind the toilet), and go the extra few inches into the toe kick, since your toes often land there.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

a toaster is a toaster. They are all good.

The thermostat is what regulates the temperature; get the largest capacity circuit and let the thermostat take care of the rest of the work.

you will like it.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

We just completed our Master Bath & Bedrm. reno. We heated our porcelain floors with Thermo Soft. We LOVE it! Even though we live in California, we have cold winters with many foggy, frosty weeks. It's great to walk into the bathroom and feel the warm tile, vs. the cold tile we hit in our other areas. Even our carpet feels cool compared to the tile when on higher temps. It was a bit pricey, but well worth the investment in our comfort. I so wish we'd installed it when we renovated the rest of our house 2 years ago. Good luck with your decision.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Everytime we go in our bath, we go "aah". It only cost about $800 extra and was the best thing we ever did. We feel it adds a luxurious touch and will never be without a heated floor again. My contractor used the mats because it was easier for him. Mats are more expensive but labor is less. Don't think twice about getting it.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

The number one best thing I did was have our master bath tile floor heated! Our cat really appreciates it!! Who wants to walk on a cold floor?


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

I agree with everyone else.... the heated floors are by far the best "bang for the buck" we added to our two bathroom renos. Are you installing it yourself or will your tilesetter do it? As noted above, mats are more expensive but cable is cheaper. It cost about $250 in materials to do our smaller bathroom, but that's DIY.

We have a programmable thermostat and the floors are warm when we get up, then they stay at room temp all day and come on again in the evening. They are on all day on weekends. They are fabulous.

Here's where I got mine: WarmingSystems.com
A 50 sf mat kit (includes thermostat) is about $500, cable kit is $316.

I posted about tips and things I learned installing two of these systems here (linked below).

Here is a link that might be useful: Radiant heat: what I learned...


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Thank you SO much for all of the feedback. This sounds like an easy decision! I've been saying that this bathroom is going to be so nice when it's done that I will just want to live in it... heated floors would probably seal that deal!

Thanks, staceyneil, for the links and your detailed tips. I checked warmingsystems.com and was happy to see that I can email them my floorplan to have them design my layout (for free!)

Are these systems pretty reliable? Is there anyone out there who has had a failure and, if so, do you have any advice to avoid problems?

Thanks again... I am sooooo glad that I found this forum while there was still time to make these all-important decisions!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

they are more reliable than the heating circuit in a toaster, because their wires are shielded. Most toasters don't get an open circuit. Neither would a heating cable. To avoid problems, read instructions, follow them, install as carefully as anyone can install carefully, etc.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

I've heard that the most common failure is the temperature sensor that tells the thermostat how hot to make the floor. To that end, we installed TWO sensors, and just left the tiny wires of the second one un-attached in the junction box. If the first one fails, we have a backup.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

DH is still kicking himself that he didn't think of that stacyneil!

We used Nu-Heat. Love it!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Ohhhhh, I wanted to do this SO bad 4 years ago when we remodeled our master bath! DH could have easily done it but was jaded by the bad installs he'd seen on the various jobsites he's on every day. Four years ago there were more divided opinions here, not because the product wasn't liked but due to installation problems. Sounds like people have learned a few things in the last 4 years :) Enjoy! At least I'm hot natured and live in Texas (lol)
stacyneil...brilliant idea!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

I do love mine. It just feels so good on the tootsies on a chilly day or night. Mine is a Warm Tiles Easyheat.

My contractor told me the warm tiles could replace a heater attached to the exhaust fan, but I am sorry I didn't get that. The floor takes a long time to heat up (half an hour for me)and if it's not on, you really can't wait for it to heat up the bathroom for a shower.

I leave mine on all winter.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Love, Love, Love it! Had it installed on M bath remodel on previous home. DH griped about it( over budget) until he got to enjoy it. Then he loved it. In current build we used it again and this time did the closet too since it's right of the bath. Thinking...out of shower on warm tile. Don't want to walk on cold tile to get dressed. FYI-NO carpet in the new house!! I find carpet disgusting after living with and cleaning white carpet for nine years! Not a smart choice when we built.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Our contractor also put in two sensors in case ours ever failed. He didn't think it would but wanted to be have a back-up if needed.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Great advice... thanks, everyone!
A heated floor, it is!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

ours has only been installed a month or so but we LOVE it


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Warmingsystems.com advertises free no-obligation layout assistance if you send them your room diagram. They quoted me $269 for a cable system, including the digital programmable thermostat. Ahhhhhh, I can't wait for warm toes when I get out of the shower this winter!

Thanks, everyone!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

I DIY'd mine 6 years ago. The cat has gotten older, as have I, and we both love it. In fact, I rarely see him anymore......he's usually asleep on the bathroom floor!

The floor has held up very well, and everyone comments on how lovely it is to feel warmth. No problems with my SunTouch system.

It'll be the best decision you make, especially in a cool climate.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

I was wondering if it's worth it if you don't really spend that much time in the bathroom. You're not really hanging out in that room... It sounds like the system does not cost much, but the install cost needs to be considered too. Does it heat up the room and the attached master? Comments, please!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Beth572, I'll be talking to my tile guy this week and will find out how much extra I'll need to pay for him to install the heating system for me. I doubt that it's going to be so expensive that it would put me off of the idea now that I've gotten excited about warm feet this winter. (And because my master bath is about to become the nicest room in the house, I'm actually planning to move in there. lol!)


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

We are seriously considering heating our tile floor but can someone give me an idea of how long it takes to feel the heat?


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

We have our under tile heat mats on a thermostat /timer.
I haven't timed it precisely,
but it seems to take about a half hour for the floors to heat up.
The warm floor feel like pure luxury --
one of our favorite parts of the bath renos.
Yes, the cats love it too!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

".... can someone give me an idea of how long it takes to feel the heat?"

When heat (electricity) first flows, one can feel it. The tiles feel warmer than before. Within 30 to 90 seconds. This is if you are "there" with your feet on the tiles for those minutes in question.

Cables can be spaced close together or far apart. Based on this, one might feel more intense immediate heat, or less intense. The ability to sense heat is a very subjective thing. If you are just walking into the room a few minutes after the heat cables are turned on, you might notice the increase in temperature, or you might not.

Some electric heat cables are powerful, some are not. Cables on a 230V circuit produce more heat immediately which can be felt immediately. A 230V circuit is 4 times more powerful than a 110V circuit in terms of heat production. This statement is always true. Heat production, a physical quantity, is a result of the Square of the Voltage. (If you triple it, you get nine times.) When you double the voltage you get four times the heat.

In general, when in doubt, get the largest voltage and the tightest spaced cable, and let the thermostat do the normal work a thermostat does, of regulating temperature.

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After the initial pulse of warmth, a slower rate of heat increase happens. This is because the (now warmer) tiles have to warm up the material that is supporting them. The tile substrate (a slab or a wood joist structure) plays catchup.

Initially, the new heat from the cables goes into the tile and into the thinset glue holding the tiles together. Then, this new heat begins to spread. It moves out into the surroundings: the tile substrate: a slab or a wood joist structure.
1./ A concrete slab floor takes time to warm up. Many minutes. Or hours.
2./ A floor made of wood (joists) takes less time to warm up.
These statements are always true.
This is because concrete has a high thermal mass, and wood has a lower thermal mass.
The subfloor has to warm up too, because it is in contact with your tiles. Getting the subfloor temperature to rise a few degrees after the tiles begin receiving heat depends on the subfloor's thermal mass.

In either case, heat spreading into a substrate / subfloor is a good thing, not a problem. The whole house gets a bit warmer than otherwise. You are not losing the heat to the outside world. Some floors are insulated, some are not. Some buildings are insulated, some are not. No matter what, you are heating the floor as a whole and not just the tiles. All heat spreads, inevitably. It is the most basic "law" of physics. Having a heated floor means you have more heat inside your house.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Very helpful info, davidrol. You just made me re-think my plan for 110v mats.


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R5E: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questi

As a general rule, the total voltage is the factor that matters. The time difference in felt-heat, measured in seconds or in minutes at startup time, is not a big deal.

110V cables are good too.

As a general rule, don't undersize cables and spacing.

As a general rule, pay attention to the surrounding mass. To avoid being disappointed later, get a handle on the amount of total mass being heated, concrete or wood, insulated or not. It can be a big factor. How much of the heated area is in contact with large masses? Thermal mass is a factor for sunrooms, porches, basements, and most bathrooms. It can be a huge factor. How much of this mass (to be heated) is exposed to freezing outside weather?

You *can* install cables close to furniture and toilets too. The additional heat is not a significant factor. It adds a few degrees temperature to those areas. No big deal. You *can* install cables into anything else too: examples are a shower bench, a tub surround, a baseboard made of your floor tiles, a batch of wall tiles e.g. in the back wall of the alcove behind the toilet.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Sorry to bother again about heated floors. Thanks to all this wonderful info hubby and I decided to heat our floors BUT today the tile contractor came in and said not to. First let me say I'm a wimp when it comes to cold!! We live in Central Tx (I can hear the northerners LOL!) but have a large master bath with vaulted ceilings which is hard to heat; hence heated floors. We are putting down 18x18 travertine and contractor said the heat will cause the tiles to crack. If we go with the heated floors it will void the warranty on his tile work. Has anyone had experience with this happening? All you tile gurus, thoughts? THANKS for your help!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

no, he is just looking for reasons to warranty less than before.

after all, it's normal human nature.
if he is also from Texas he also doesn't know anything about heat in floors, so he will be "scared" just as much as anyone else. Normal.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Heavens no. The tiles aren't heating up to anything more than you'd get normally in the summer in Texas if you turned off your A/C and opened the windows. It's not like they're firing up to 400 degrees or something.

Geez.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

I installed a Nuheat cable system in my main bath 3 years ago and love it - works perfectly. Just installed another Nuheat cable system in my powder room. Both are on the Harmony thermostat.

Get a different tile installer - someone who's worked with heated floors before. It won't crack your tile. That's nonsense.

I like the cables vs mats - way more flexible in laying it out exactly where you want it, and cheaper too.

Lay out the cables, thinset or SLC over the cables. That dries. Then install your tile with a decoupling membrane like Ditra - I wouldn't install without it.

Can't wait to turn on the cables in the basement. The grout is going in tonight, but I have to wait 3-4 weeks for the thinset to cure fully before heating it up.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

keep your tile guy and charge him for the training and experience he will gain.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

"Lay out the cables, thinset or SLC over the cables. That dries. Then install your tile with a decoupling membrane like Ditra - I wouldn't install without it."

Tim, just to be clear, you are talking about installing the cable between the ditra and the tile, not under the ditra?


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Nope - UNDER the Ditra. Treat it as part of the subfloor, then tile as per normal as though the heated floor wasn't even there.

Works just fine. Toasty 90 degrees on the floor if I want it, and could probably go higher. Can't wait to turn it on in the basement, but have to wait 3-4 weeks for all the thinset / grout to fully cure before heating.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

We will be redoing our bathroom and I would REALLY love to have heated floors. However, we weren't planning on having a tile floor - I really dislike cleaning the grout. Is there any other surface, not needing grout, that can be used? Linoleum or sheet vinyl? Would the heating system work with the glue or against it? Any other considerations? Thanks, Colleen


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

We will be redoing our bathroom and I would REALLY love to have heated floors. However, we weren't planning on having a tile floor - I really dislike cleaning the grout. Is there any other surface, not needing grout, that can be used? Linoleum or sheet vinyl? Would the heating system work with the glue or against it? Any other considerations? Thanks, Colleen


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

yes there are other surfaces that can be heated. Is your bathroom on a concrete slab or on a wood frame structure?


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Hi davidro1. Our bathroom is on a wood frame structure over an unheated basement/cellar but is next to a concrete slab. The original part of the house was basically a hunting lodge (but not as nice as the image that comes to mind) built on a concrete slab. Later, an addition was added with a cellar and is a wood frame structure and this is where the bathroom is located. There is no other bathrooms in the original part of the house so they must really have roughed it when they were here. We are still just in the talking/planning stage (although last year I did buy an old dresser to use as a vanity) but we would like to have as good of a plan to start with as possible because we know that we will be having some surprises and setbacks - as with most reno's. I appreciate your response (and anyone else that would like to share a thought). This is a great topic. Thanks, Colleen


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

I hate to digress here, but what's the monthly electrical bill one can expect from 100SF of heated floors (kepth on for 3-5 hrs every day)?


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

electric consumption is the same as any other thingie consuming the same number of watts. Heat is heat is heat and power is power is power.

A thermostat regulates the cables and the consumption of power. Your cables may be in contact with uninsulated material that is a heat sink (that is concrete or stone) or they may be in contact with an insulated substrate. It makes a difference. So it is important to know the installation before predicting consumption. The amount of insulation or raw uninsulated concrete is a big factor.

sugarmaple consider getting a cork floor.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

The ~25 sq ft of Nuheat 120v cable I just put in my basement bath is around 220 watts if I recall, so the equivalent of 3-4 60w light bulbs.

100 sq ft of Nuheat 120v cable runs about 1000 watts according to their site (1042 exactly). In Toronto, we pay around $0.10 / kilowatt hour. 1 kilowatt hour = 1000 watts for 1 hour.

So, 100 sq ft would cost $0.10 per hour to heat. $0.50 per day based on your example of 3-5 hours per day, or $15 a month.


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Materials and how long..

BTW many flooring materials can be heated, including engineered hardwood (according to some of the manufacturers). Decide what material you want on the floor and do some research - chances are whatever you choose can be had in a variety that is capable of being heated.

The Nuheat thermostats I have used in my home have a switch on them to limit the output for wood / other flooring. With stone/ceramics etc. you can heat them up quite high - 90+ degrees - but you don't want to go that high with wood etc.

In terms of how long it takes to feel the heat, what you want is a programmable thermostat. You tell it what temp you want the floor at what time and it will get it there for you. Don't turn it on and off manually - you'll always forget and it will become a nuisance rather than the luxury it is.

I use my heated floors in the two bathrooms as the primary heat source and it works great in Toronto, with a 2nd floor bathroom with 2 exterior walls in a drafty 90 year old home.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

The estimated watt-hours that TorontoTim posted assume that full current is flowing in the cables for those hours. This is not what happens in the real world, because the thermostat lowers the current after the desired temperature is reached. This explains why real world consumption can cost less than the amount estimated when assuming the cables are full on when on.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Thanks TorontoTim and Davidro1. Do you keep the heated floors on in hot weather (like summer) and if so does that mean more air conditioning is necessary?


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

We turn our floors off when the weather warms up, as the tiles aren't as cold and our feet don't need warming up. In fact, cool tiles are preferred to warm ones in the summer.


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Go for it!! I live in upstate NY and have been in our new bath about 10 days. The absolute best part is the heated floor! Our bath is above an unheated garage. It is currently 19 degrees and by tomorrow morning it will be much colder. Tthe floor makes all the difference! We had carpet - which was great - but not esp. 'clean'. We love our new tiled, heated floor - by Warmly Yours -easy to install! if you can get heated flooring - do it! I also recommend the Panasonic Whisper Warm Heater! Hope to post pic's soon!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Sugarmaple: We put in a honed granite slab as flooring in our powder room remodel, with radiant heat. It looks and feels fabulous, and has no grout for easy cleaning. I so wish we had radiant in our master bath!


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RE: To heat or not to heat the floor? Help me answer the questio

Thank you so much for ALL the insight! We found a different tile guy AND have ordered the radiant flooring. We are making progress on this remodel madness. Yay! What a way to start a new year!


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