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Heated Flooring – DOs and DON’Ts

Written by Denis Vladyko

Floor heating systems/heated flooring.

Floor heating systems are becoming more and more popular. Almost every bathroom remodel we perform that involves tile flooring – comes with a heated floor system. This is in no small part due to the fact that heating systems have become a lot more affordable.

After installing many different types and brands of floor heating systems we have identified our favorite brand and type. SunTouch (www.sun-touch.com) electric floor heating – is what we prefer to work with. Like other brands it comes in many different set ups, shapes and sizes.

For bathroom remodels – of which we do a lot, heating mats or a heating wire works the best. One huge advantage SunTouch has to some of it’s counter parts is that it is a fairly energy conservative system. Almost all of the bathrooms with heated floors require only one dedicated 110V 12-2 electrical line to comfortably warm up to 200 square feet of floor.

Like a lot of other floor heating systems SunTouch kits come in Mats and Heating Wire. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, and are planning on installing your first heated floor system consider a couple of tips:

Heated Flooring

1. Hire an electrician to rough in a 110V 12-2 dedicated electrical line for your floor heating system. This is a good idea not only to satisfy all of the electrical permitting issues, but primarily for your own safety. Running a dedicated electrical line from your Load Center (breaker panel) is a very involved procedure, which must be done right!

2. Remember: you don’t need to install heating system under every square inch of your tile floor. All tile being a form of a stone product has a very good heat conductivity rating. This means that if you have a 5′x7′ floor space that you want to warm up – a 4′x6′ heating mat centered over your floor area would be plenty sufficient.

3. Consider using floor Mats instead of a Heating Wire. While Heating Wire offers a much greater flexibility in controlling heat distribution throughout your floor (especially if your floor is not in a rectangular shape), and the ability of “spot warming” – Heating Mats are some what easier and more straight forward to install by yourself.

4. While installing your floor heating system be that a Floor Mat, or a Heating Wire – make sure you have a continuity alarm such as “Loud Mouth” constantly hooked up to your Mat or Heating Wire. It takes some time to install a heating system, and while you are doing it – you are going to be walking on it, sitting on it, and some times dropping your tools on your wire. If you damage your heating wire during installation the “Loud Mouth” will instantly sound an alarm. There is nothing worst then damaging your wire and not knowing about it, setting your tile flooring on top of it then going to turn your heating system on, and ………… Nothing…….

5. If you have decided to install Heating Wire instead of a mat remember to follow manufacturer’s installation instructions very closely. One of the most important things you can do while installing a Heating Wire is to keep your spacing between wires at 2 inches or more.

6. Whether you are installing Heating Wire or a Mat it is very important to keep your wires and mats as “tight” and as close to the floor as possible. Remember: your floor heating system becomes your tile substrate, and all of the imperfections will translate through your tile work making your tile job a lot more time consuming because of all the time you’ll spend fighting your bumpy sub grade.

7. It is very important to not turn on your heating system right after you’ve set your tile. Contrary to a popular belief that the mortar you’ve used to set your tile with will cure faster if you warm it up by turning your heating system on – it can ruin your tile job. Most of the tile adhesives/mortars are curing by a process that’s called “hydration”.

The mortar actually needs moisture to stay inside of the mix as long as possible. If you introduce heat, and accelerate evaporation of the moisture the mortar WILL NOT cure it will just dry out – which will result in a very weak bond between your tile and tile substrate.

Whether you’ve decided to install your heated floor yourself, or hire a professional such as Corvus Construction you’ll be very happy when you first set your bare foot on a toasty, warm tile.

One thing I hear a lot from my clients that have chosen to install a heated floor system during their bathroom remodel is: “Thank you so much for strongly encouraging us to go with the heated floors”.

Based on our previous remodels the average cost for putting a heated floor into a bathroom is about $16.35 per square foot installed. The price varies from project to project, so please give us a call for a free, no obligation estimate today.

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