9 Steps to Install In-Floor Heating for your Bathroom

9 Steps to Install In-Floor Heating for your Bathroom

A Case of Cold Feet

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There is nothing worse than touching cold tile with your bare feet. To mitigate the problem, place a few thick rugs in front of the sink, toilet, and shower. Not only will they keep your feet warm, but they will also lend a soft, inviting feel to the bathroom. Related: How To—Get Your Bathroom Guest-Ready in 20 Minutes or Less westelm.com

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Importance of waterproofing

Whichever bathroom floor you choose, keep waterproofing a priority as a bathroom is prone to water spills and moisture. In fact, waterproofing your subfloor should be done regardless of whether you have heated floors or not. 

Tools and materials required

  • Glue gun
  • Trowel
  • Utility knife
  • Volt-ohm meter
  • Cement board underlay
  • Cement board screws
  • Mesh fiberglass tape
  • Grout
  • Radiant heat mat
  • Thermostat
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Tile or other floor surface

Don’t Be Left Out In The Cold

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Do you break out in goosebumps each morning when you leave your humid bathroom to go assemble the day’s outfit? Instead, choose it ahead of time and hang it on the back of the door. The clothing will heat up in the balmy bathroom—and the steam will loosen small wrinkles, too! fotosearch.com

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How much does a heated bathroom floor cost?

Floor-heating systems cost between $5 to $12 per square foot for electric heated mats, rolls, or cables. If you choose waterproof installation membranes instead of fixing strips, the cost of cables goes up to $15 to $20 per square foot

A 50 square feet bathroom, with approximately 35 square feet of heating area (leaving space for permanent fixtures such as vanities, showers, tubs, and toilets), would cost you between $175 and $420.

The average cost to install bathroom floor heating for a 100 square feet bathroom runs to about $600. The total price varies depending on the type of heating system and its quality.  

Keep in mind that the average cost of installing bathroom electric underfloor heating is generally cheaper and more energy-efficient than other traditional forms of heating like central-heating systems.

Radiant Floors: A Quick Historical Recap

Radiant heat dates to ancient times, when the Romans warmed rooms by running the flues for slave-tended, wood-burning fires under elevated marble floors, keeping toes and togas nice and toasty.

Many centuries later, in this country, Frank Lloyd Wright buried copper pipes in the concrete floors of his Usonian homes and warmed them with hot water. A few postwar subdivisions, including Levittown, followed suit. But when the pipes eventually corroded, most home­owners abandoned radiant rather than jackhammer their floors.

Today, plastic PEX tubing has replaced metal as the favored means of feeding hydronic heat into floors, making radiant heat systems more affordable than ever. And with a no-fail track record in Europe going back more than 35 years, it’s also made them more reliable.

Pros of Heated Bathroom Floors

Uniform Heating

The best thing about heated bathroom floors is uniform heating. They heat both the floor and the entire bathroom, providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

HVAC units disperse warm air, but it can be uneven. If you stand near the HVAC unit, you may notice that it’s warmer than other areas of the room. With heated bathroom floors, there are no cold spots.

Energy Efficiency

Did you know that heated bathroom floors are 25% more energy-efficient than traditional HVAC units?

You can even save extra costs depending on the type of floor heating system you choose. Electric floor heating systems take less than an hour to warm a bathroom.

Discreet, Space-Saving

With heated bathroom floors, you don’t need to mount large, hefty units on a wall. They’re tucked out of the way and don’t interfere with your design aesthetic.

Noise-Free

Let’s face it, forced-air systems can be noisy. When you turn on your forced-air system, it’s probably not silent. Heated bathroom floors are not only discreet, but they’re noise-free too. And that means no distraction when you’re trying to relax.

Customization

These units are user-friendly. They come with thermostats that have adjustable temperature settings so you can create the perfect temperature.

On top of that, they have timers too. Welcome a new day by keeping your toes warm and cozy in the morning!

Safety

Heated bathroom floors are safe. They won’t burn your feet. Besides, you don’t have to worry about sharp corners or the searing surfaces of HVAC units.

Along with safety, you can ensure that it brings out good air quality too. This is a major plus for people who have asthma and other allergies.

Maintenance-Free

An added benefit is that you’ll save money knowing your heated floors are maintenance-free. Once they’re installed, there’s no need to worry about maintenance schedules.

Higher Resale Value

Heated bathroom floors add value to your home, which increases its resale value too. Potential buyers love surprise luxury details.

Flooring

  1. Radiant floor heating systems can be installed under most types of flooring. While it can be installed under carpet, vinyl, wood or linoleum, any flooring material that insulates the floor will reduce the effectiveness of the heating system. Tile or stone, especially ceramic tile, is the most energy efficient and effective floor covering choice for radiant heating systems.

Costs

You can expect to pay at least $8 per square foot at a minimum for the materials for an electric radiant floor. For estimating purposes, $10 to $12 per square foot is a safe number to use for materials alone. On average, for professional installation plus materials, plan on spending about $16 per square foot.  

While it depends on where you are located and the cost of electricity there, you can figure operating costs of about 50 cents to $1 per day for an 8 x 10-foot bathroom, if the system runs 24 hours a day (regulated by thermostat). When operated 8 hours a day, costs run about 25 cents to 35 cents per day for the same 8 x 10-foot bathroom. 

How well does radiant floor heat work?

That’s the appeal of radiant floor heating, says This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, who has long been a fan. “It’s truly invisible,” he says. But a radiant heat system has more than just aesthetics going for it. It’s also a highly efficient way to heat a house, increasing comfort as it reduces energy costs.

In a radiant setup, the warmth is supplied by hot-water tubes or electric wires buried underneath the floor. As the invisible waves of thermal radiation rise from below, they warm up any objects they strike, which radiate that captured heat in turn. Though the air temperature remains relatively constant, you stay comfortable because the surrounding surfaces aren’t stealing warmth from your body.

How to Install Heated Bathroom Floors?

One of the fastest, least expensive ways to heat a bathroom floor is with a TempZone™ Flex Roll. These rolls feature electric cable embedded in a serpentine pattern in green mesh, so they are already properly spaced. The green mesh of the rolls helps to protect the electric heating cables during installation. Heated bathroom floor mats or rolls are typically installed by embedding them in thinset beneath a new tile floor.  

TempZone™ Flex Rolls under Tile Bathroom Flooring
TempZone™ Flex Rolls under Tile Bathroom Flooring

More specifically, TempZone™ Flex Rolls are installed in about 6 steps. 

  1. Get a Custom Installation Plan. Installing an electric floor heating system is relatively simple when you have WarmlyYours’s custom SmartPlan installation plan in hand. By submitting your room’s dimensions online, WarmlyYours will provide you with everything you need to know to get your project started. This includes what products you need, where the thermostat should be located, and how to lay out the heating element. 
  2. Prepare the Subfloor. Before you start the installation, you need to make sure your subfloor is clear of any debris. That means ensuring that there are no staples, nails or other sharp objects protruding from the subfloor that could damage the heating element. 
  3. Test the Heating Element.Use a digital ohmmeter to test your heating element. The results should be within 15 percent of the value marked on the UL label. 
  4. Install the Heating Element.Following the directions on your installation plan, roll out your TempZone™ Flex Roll with the heating cable face down. When you reach the end of a run, cut the mesh (not the cable) and turn the heating element to continue installation. You can free form the cable as well if you run into an awkward corner or pillar in the room.
  5. If your thermostat is compatible with a floor sensor, you can install it now. Place the sensor in between and parallel with two heating cables, making sure not to overlap them. Secure the sensor with hot glue to make sure it won’t move when you apply the thinset or self-leveling cement to bind to your flooring. 
  6. Test the Heating Element Again.Once the heating element has been installed, test it again with a digital ohmmeter as well as a Circuit Check to ensure it is in good working condition. 
  7. Install the Thermostat. Finally, have an electrician connect your thermostat per the instructions provided with the control. 

When heating under tile, stone or nailed hardwood, loose cable is also an option. TempZone™ Cable can be installed with fixing strips or a Prodeso Cable Installation Membrane. Fixing strips are provided with your purchase of TempZone™ Cable

This option is generally the most affordable, but it is also the most labor intensive. On the other hand, TempZone™ Cable with a Prodeso Membrane is the easiest installation method but also the most expensive. 

To see an installation of cable in a Prodeso Membrane in action, watch the video below. 

A challenging but achievable project

It has to be said that installing a heated bathroom floor is not a project for DIY novices. However, if you have a certain level of DIY expertise, it is a rewarding project that will leave you with a luxurious heated floor – and save you some cash at the same time too.

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