If you live in Minnesota, having toasty warm floors is a must, and one of the best ways to keep those pesky floors warm? Hydronic radiant floor heating – pipes that are laid under the floor, and filled with hot water. But don’t think this type of flooring is impossible just because your home is already built. Thanks to exciting installation advances, hydronic floor heating is no longer for only new construction homes.
Before these advancements, hydronic radiant floor heating required the pipes to be laid directly in the cement (under the flooring), which of course was the easiest to do when building a home from the ground up. However, we are now in a new era of hydronic floor heating thanks to the invention of a wooden base, known as either low mass hydronic floor heating or a modular board underlayment system.
How it works
Instead of installing hot water pipes directly into the cement (which was how hydronic floor heating was done for years), a wooden base is instead laid over the cement floor, making the installation process perfect for remodeling and pre-existing rooms. And there are loads of pros to having this installation as well. It has a superior responsiveness, it emits heat upwards quicker than a cement installation, and it’s also more efficient (financially and environmentally), and can operate at lower temperatures.
Once the wood base is installed, the hot water pipes are snapped into place (in the base). And since low mass floor heating tends to be physically closer to the actual flooring (compared to the cement installation), your rooms will heat up quicker, saving you money. This also means almost any kind of flooring can be installed over your in floor heat. Wood flooring conducts the heat the best, and tile and vinyl are good too. Carpet also works ok with hydronic radiant floor heat, although it’s considered the least effective flooring for conducting heat.
Excited to finally install hydronic floor heating now that it‘s possible? There are several manufacturers making this flooring, including Warmzo, Thermalboard and InFloor. And don’t forget, you’ll need the help of a qualified plumber to make sure both the flooring AND piping is installed correctly (for minimal maintenance down the line).