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What is Radiant Flooring?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

Radiant flooring is a heating method that relies on a source of warmth inside a person’s floor. The heat radiates upward from the floor, and the whole room stays approximately the same temperature. This kind of heating system can sometimes be very efficient, especially if it relies on heated water in pipes. Radiant flooring is known to help with problems related to hot and cold spots in rooms along with issues related to air flow that tend to plague many other heating approaches.

The biggest advantages of a radiant floor relates to the evenness of the heating and the overall efficiency. When people use heat pumps or other systems relying on hot air blown from vents, the heat tends to pool up near a person’s ceiling. Eventually, it gets down lower and heats the whole house, but the upper part of a room may sometimes be several degrees hotter than the lower, which is often the opposite of what people would prefer. With radiant floor heating, the ground is the source of the heat, and the area near the ceiling might sometimes be a little cold, but usually that doesn’t bother people very much since they aren’t normally exposed to air at that height.

Concrete floors do a good job of capturing and radiating heat.
Concrete floors do a good job of capturing and radiating heat.

The two primary methods used for radiant floor heating are water-based and electrical. When houses are designed to use water pipes, it is usually a very efficient method of heating. Electrical heated flooring works very well, but it’s not considered very efficient. Sometimes people will use electrical wires if they only want to add radiant flooring to a single room, and this is because it is usually easier to install.

Most of the time, when people install water-based radiant floor heating, they will use concrete floors. This is the most traditional method because the concrete does a good job capturing and radiating the heat. Sometimes people also use a method where the pipes are installed in normal wood floors, but this method has disadvantages and may not be quite as energy-efficient. Most people who rely on radiant flooring will not carpet their floors because the covering can decrease effectiveness.

The idea of using radiant flooring isn’t actually considered new. For example, the ancient Romans relied on similar ideas to heat certain structures, although their methods of execution where slightly different. Radiant flooring using water was also attempted in the early 1900s, and while it worked well, the metal pipes of the time eventually rusted, and this made the systems lack durability.

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    • Concrete floors do a good job of capturing and radiating heat.
      By: Lilyana Vynogradova
      Concrete floors do a good job of capturing and radiating heat.