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Radiant Floor Heating Cost

Radiant Floor Heating Cost

National average
$28,000
(2,000 sq.ft. installation with two zones and new boiler)
Low: $20,000

(2,000 sq.ft. installation with one zone and existing boiler)

High: $35,000

(2,000sq.ft. installation with three zones, extra insulation, and new boiler)

Cost to install radiant floor heating varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from air-conditioning and heating contractors in your city.

The average cost of installing radiant floor heating is $14,000 - $48,000

In this guide

Pros and Cons of Installing Radiant Floor Systems
Types of Radiant Heating
Recommended Flooring
Energy Savings
Installation Process
Labor Costs
Cooling Your Home
Radiant Heating vs Baseboard Heating
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Additional Considerations and Costs
FAQ

How Much Does It Cost to Install Radiant Floor Heating?

There are many ways to heat a home, but most of these methods are inefficient, cost a lot of money to run, and provide inconsistent temperatures. One heating method that helps solve these issues is radiant floor heating 1. A few different ways of installing radiant floor heating exist, which can impact the total cost of the project, its efficiency, and your ongoing costs.

Hydronic systems, which use water, are generally the most common. To install hydronic radiant floor heating in every part of a 2,000-square-foot home, the average cost ranges from $14,000 to $48,000, with most homeowners paying around $28,000 for the project.

Radiant Floor Heating Installation Costs

Radiant floor heating costs
National average cost$28,000
Average range$14,000 - $48,000

Minimum cost

$28,000​
Maximum cost$35,000​


Pros and Cons of Installing Radiant Floor Systems

Like any home project, installing radiant floor heating has positive and negative attributes to consider. In-floor heating 1 is a very effective method of heating a house. It does so in three ways. First, directly heating the people and objects that come in contact with the floor is a method known as convection. This makes you feel warmer even if the air is cool. The floor may also “radiate” heat, which means that it will warm items and objects inches to feet directly above it. And finally, it also heats the air that touches the floor, which rises, heating the rest of the room. Because of these three methods, you can actually set the thermostat 2 lower and use less energy to stay warm. There are no drafts or energy loss, so you stay more comfortable as well. Because it remains on consistently, no hot and cool feeling occurs when the forced hot air turns on and off.

Radiant heating can be expensive to install, however, requiring a boiler and tubing that is ideally laid in concrete. While dry installations are available, sandwiching the coils between two layers of plywood 3 tends to be a little less efficient at holding heat long-term. Therefore, unless this is a new build, installing radiant heating requires very invasive construction throughout all the flooring of the home. Radiant floors also raise the height of your floor because they consist of a layer of compacted sand, followed by insulation, and then the tubing and concrete. This will add up to 3 to 4 inches to the height of your finished floor. 

Types of Radiant Heating

While hydronic floors are the most popular and cost-effective, they are not the only type of radiant heating available. There are actually three types of radiant floor heating - hydronic, electric, and radiant air.

Hydronic Heating

Hydronic heating uses a boiler to heat water, which is then circulated under the flooring through flexible tubes. The hot water is circulated constantly so that the floors remain an even temperature. It is the least expensive to install and run and can be done in a wet, concrete-based or dry, sandwiched-between-plywood installation. Costs start at around $10 a square foot, with most people paying about $14 a square foot installed.

Electric Heating

Electric heating is done via mats that contain embedded cables. These mats are very expensive and more costly to run because they are powered by electricity. Therefore, while you can use them in a whole-house install, they are most commonly used in bathrooms, kitchens, and other small areas. Costs for this heating start at around $16 a square foot, with most people paying approximately $20 a square foot installed.

Radiant Air Heating

The third method is radiant air heating and uses solar energy. Solar power heats air, which is pumped through the floors during the daytime hours. This is very cost-effective because it does not require a fuel source. But because it only operates during the day, you need another flooring method for nights or to install very thick concrete floors that hold onto the heat for longer after the sun goes down. Installation costs are similar to hydronic heating, starting at around $14 a square foot but have additional costs involved for the solar panels, which can double the total installation cost.

Technically, you can use nearly any floor covering over radiant heat. The key, however, is understanding that some flooring materials cause heat or energy loss. To compensate, more tubing can be installed at a higher cost, or the temperature of the boiler can be raised. So while you can install thin carpeting over radiant heat, it will cost more for the system and likely its everyday use.

The most recommended flooring allows the unimpeded transfer of heat to the user and the room. Porcelain and ceramic tile are both frequently recommended for this reason. But vinyl, laminates, and hardwoods can also be used, provided steps are taken to help prevent the drying of the floor. This includes acclimating the boards to the relative humidity of the room, using engineered rather than solid wood floors, and ensuring that the pipes are completely enclosed in concrete of at least 2-inches thick.

Energy Savings

Numerous factors go into whether or not radiant floor heating will save money on energy bills. The first is your boiler. Your boiler is what heats the water, and it requires energy to do so. Like furnaces, boilers have multiple degrees of efficiency, with more efficient boilers costing more. They can be powered by gas, oil, propane, or electricity, so exact costs vary.

Next, you need to consider whether you have a concrete subfloor for the radiant heating or a dry layer of plywood 3. Concrete provides better performance so that you can maximize energy usage. Finally, how well-insulated the room is and what you set your temperature to also impact your savings.

According to the Radiant Professionals Allowance, most homeowners see an energy savings of between 10 to 30% a year on average.

Installation Process

A concrete slab installation is the most common method for radiant floor heating. The concrete helps create more even heat with less heat loss. The process involves first putting down a layer of compressed sand or dirt, and then a layer of vapor barrier and insulation. If the concrete is reinforced, the mesh or rebar goes down next, and then the radiant heating tubing. This is usually zip-tied to the rebar or mesh, if used, or stapled to the insulation if not.

The concrete is poured over the tubing so that the tubing is embedded in the concrete. Once the concrete cures, the flooring can be installed over the top. Keep in mind that this will raise the height of the finished floor. 

If you install electric radiant heat in a small area like a bathroom, the mats or wires are usually embedded in a layer of thin-set mortar. The mortar is spread over the subfloor, and then the mats or wires are set into it. Another layer of mortar is spread on top before the final tile is installed.

Labor Costs

The bulk of the installation process of radiant flooring is in the labor. Material fees only account for $1.50 to $2.00 per square foot of the installation. Labor costs an additional $10 to $12 per square foot, making the labor cost of a 2,000-square-foot installation $20,000 to $22,000.

Cooling Your Home

The only major drawback to radiant floor heating is that it eliminates the ducts that most HVAC systems use for central air conditioning. If you live in a climate that does not see many days warm enough to use more than a window unit, this will not be a problem. For homes in climates that see an equal number of warm and cool days, you need to find alternate cooling systems for your house. This may include ductless air conditioning or investing in a geothermal cooler or chilling unit along with additional tubing to introduce radiant cooling systems as well. Keep in mind that these are very uncommon, less effective, and costly to install.

Radiant Heating vs Baseboard Heating

Another type of heating typically used in homes that do not have ducts is electric baseboard heating. This method uses small, electric radiators that line the baseboards of the walls. Like radiant heating, they “radiate” heat so that you feel warm near them. However, they tend to be very inefficient and expensive to run. They are inexpensive to install and less invasive, meaning you do not need to tear up existing flooring, and they will not raise the height of your finished floor after installation.

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Programmable Thermostat

You can make your radiant flooring even more efficient with the use of a programmable thermostat. They cost between $200 and $250 and provide better control over your heating.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Due to the high costs of electric heat, electric radiant floor mats are usually installed in small areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and mudrooms.
  • New advancements in technology have led to PEX tubing, which is flexible, easy-to-install, cheaper than copper, and leak-free. Using it means that radiant floors are less expensive and longer-lasting than previous versions.
  • If you are installing radiant heat in your entire home, you may want to consider zones. This lets you control the heat in different parts of the house more effectively, making the system more efficient so that larger rooms can get more heat than smaller areas.
  • Radiant floor heating systems are designed to last around 35 years before needing major repair or replacement.

FAQ

  • Is radiant floor heating cost-effective?

Radiant floor heating makes homes more comfortable and can save up to 30% over other types of heating.

  • How much does it cost to install a heated floor under tile?

Radiant heating costs between $10 and $20 a square foot, more for electric installations.​

  • How long do radiant floors last?

Radiant floor heating lasts roughly 35 years.

  • Can you cool a house with radiant heat?

While there are radiant cooling systems, they are uncommon and expensive. Standard radiant heat systems do not cool homes.

  • Can you put rugs over radiant floor heating?

​Yes, you can. You will have to set the temperature higher, however, to account for the extra insulation.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Radiant Flooring 1 In-floor heating: (Also known as Radiant floor heating, Radiant floor) A heating system using tubes or electric wires installed underneath the flooring
glossary term picture Thermostat 2 Thermostat: A device that senses and regulates temperature by turning heating and cooling devices on and off
glossary term picture Plywood 3 Plywood: An engineered construction material manufactured from thin slices of wood glued together in alternating grain patterns for strength

Cost to install radiant floor heating varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Radiant Floor Heating Installation

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Akron, OH
-6%
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Asheville, NC
-18%
Athens, GA
-9%
Athol, ID
-25%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Corpus Christi, TX
+4%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Eugene, OR
-11%
Farmington, MI
+32%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Frederick, MD
0%
Fremont, CA
+35%
Hagerstown, MD
-14%
Harrisburg, PA
+2%
Hilmar, CA
-12%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Littleton, CO
+2%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Meriden, CT
+21%
Millis, MA
+38%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Modesto, CA
-12%
Mogadore, OH
-7%
Oakland, CA
+36%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Ottertail, MN
-30%
Peru, NY
-13%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Riverside, CA
+13%
Sacramento, CA
+8%
Saint Louis, MO
+16%
San Antonio, TX
-4%
San Diego, CA
+11%
Labor cost in your zip code
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