Installing Under Floor
Do It Yourself Or Hire Pros To Do The
Installing under floor heating in your home produces radiant heat. Why would
you want to take the time and trouble to install this? Why not just use the standard forced-air venting system that
you likely already have in your home? Or, if you’re doing new construction, why should you look to an under-floor
There are many reasons to install under floor heating instead of going with the usual system of
heating. These reasons include financial, health, and comfort considerations.
The bottom line is this: under-floor heating is more efficient and more comfortable. It heats
your feet first and makes the bottom portion of the room the warmest part.
Did you realize that with the usual forced-air system, the hottest part of the room is the
ceiling? Is that where you live? No, you live down at floor level. And your feet are the most important parts of
your body to keep warm. Underfloor heating systems not only heat up your feet. They heat up the objects in the
How nice does a cozy, warm couch feel in the Winter? How about a nice warm bed that doesn’t
require any possibly dangerous electric blankets? And you can probably now guess how much money you save by not
needing that thermostat turned up so high to get all the warm comfort you need and desire.
But installing under floor heating systems must be done correctly. If not, there are problems.
You could have uneven floors, cracks that develop between your floor boards, and even dangerous situations
involving electrical wiring or flooding.
The first thing to understand about installing under floor heating is that there are essentially
two types: one that uses electrical cabling, and one that uses piping for heated water. It is regarded as true that
electrical cable systems are better for use in limited areas, whereas hot water pipe systems are better for large
areas or whole-house heating.
For this reason, the electrical cable under-floor heating systems are usually put in place if
you are renovating just part of your older house and will continue using forced-air vents in other parts of it.
Doing even partial under floor heating saves you money and can bring you added comfort in the most trafficked areas
of the home.
Electrical cable systems, however, may also be used if you are building a new home and get to
start from scratch. But piping heated water beneath the floor is still the more popular option for whole-house
Should you do under floor heating as a DIY project, or hire
This is really a tricky question, because there are a number of variables. Once you’ve selected
the floor heating system that you’re going to install, you’ve got some questions to ask yourself.
1) Are you going to use a simple system, or a
more complicated system? There are some under floor heating systems that are pretty easy to install if you just
follow the directions. The easiest of all would be the electrical cable flooring mats. These are just what
they sound like: mats that come with the electrical heating cables running through them already in the correct
These can be cut to custom-fit in any room and even to go around permanent furnishings. The
cables are slender so the mats are quite flat.
The mats get laid down and then any flooring material can go right over them. You just have to
make sure that you plan in advance where you’ll plug in a mat for the power source. But if you want a more
elaborate system installed - one that is even more comfortable and efficient - keep reading.
2) Are you handy? If you’re handy or great with following technical
directions, then you may be able to hook up all of an under-floor heating system on your own. You’ll need to be
able to understand the basics of how to lay down sufficient insulation so that you don’t leave gaps. You’ll need to
be able to put down the right kind of basic flooring sub-surface.
You’ll have to be able to get the cabling or piping configured right in order to avoid dangerous
or flow-killing kinks. Then you’ll have to be able to hook up the system to the right kind of power source -
something that requires basic plumbing understanding if you’re using the hot water piping system.
You’ll have to be certain you know that your home’s electrical system is sufficient to handle
your under-floor heating system. And of course, you want to be able to finish up with seamless, flat top-surface
3) If you’re concerned that you’re not handy enough, or you shy away from technical
directions, just go with the professional install. Is it more money? Of course! But if you want assurance
that you’ve got it done right, lay out that cash.
Remember you’re going to realize great savings for better quality in the long run anyway. Get it
right the first time!