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Ashburn, VA 20149

Flooring Specialists on Thumbtack cost$1000 - $10000

National average price

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How much does radiant floor heating cost?

The national average cost to install radiant floors in your home is $5-$20 per square foot. Your installation and operating costs will depend on the type of radiant heat you use, size of the room or home, and cost to demo and install it. That means you can expect to pay anywhere from $450-$700 for electric floor heating in a small to medium-sized bathroom to $9,000-$20,000 to install floor heating to an entire 1,600 square foot home.

In-floor heating can be a wonderful way to add a bit of luxury to your home, and make chilly bathroom floors a thing of the past. Before you (or a professional heated floor installer) start tearing out tiles, use this guide to breakdown the cost to install radiant floor heating, the different types of radiant floor heating systems available, and how you can save money.

What's in this cost guide?

What affects the cost of installing radiant floor heating?

The size of the room you want to heat often determines both the type of floor heating system and overall installation costs. But unlike most construction jobs, the price per foot doesn't get cheaper with volume.

Smaller rooms, like a narrow bathroom, are actually more difficult to install subfloor heating in than a larger space like a bedroom or living room, thanks to how much electrical coil or hot water tubing it takes to heat a space. This is often reflected in a higher price per foot.

For example, a Thumbtack pro who specializes in installing heated floors in Long Island, NY installed a new electric heating system in a 40 square foot bathroom floor for:

  • A total cost of $1,240 for parts and labor
  • $31 per square foot
  • This included a new tile floor and was part of a larger bathroom renovation

Average costs to install radiant floor heating per square foot:

Size of room or home

Electric heating system

Hydronic heating system

Bathroom (40 square feet)

$20-30

$25-35

Bedroom (80-100 square feet)

$12-15

$15-20

Living room (400 square feet)

$10-15

$10-15

1,600 square foot home

$6-12

$8-15

4,000 square foot home

$5-$10

$6-10

Other factors that can add to the overall cost of a heated floor include:

  • The type of heating system you choose. Electric radiant heat tends to be less expensive than a hydronic system.
  • Type of flooring material. Tiles, concrete, carpet, and wood require different installation. Your price will also increase if you're installing new flooring.
  • The number of high traffic areas and unique “temperature zones".
  • The cost of demolition and construction. If you're not installing floors in new construction, you'll have to consider the cost to pull up your current flooring to lay down the heating system.
  • Additional hot water boilers or electrical panels and wiring for each system.

Type of radiant heat

The two main types of radiant floor heating are electric and hydronic. On average, the cost of to install each of these floor systems is:

  • Electrical floor heating: $10-25 per square foot for parts and labor
  • Hydronic floor heating: $20-35 per square foot for parts and labor

Labor and material costs may vary based on the size of the job, whether you're including this in a full home or bathroom remodel, and any unforeseen electrical or plumbing issues.

Electrical underfloor heating

Electrical underfloor heating is essentially a heating mat wired with a curved grid of electrical wires. A 20-foot section of the mat (or series of mats in larger rooms) is installed into a thin-set layer of cement or mortar and laid beneath the tile. Once it's hooked up, you can turn on the grid and control it with a thermostat to heat the floor and room.

Electric systems are cheaper to install than “wet" hydronic heating systems, since you don't have to install any pipes, tubing, or a boiler, but more expensive to operate. For that reason, a lot of people don't use electric heating systems to heat their entire home, but instead opt for directly heating specific locations, like a bathroom.

Keep in mind that even though electric systems are simple to install, every room is different. Hooking up the thermostat or additional wiring for the electrical floor heating system can cost as much as $450 extra for parts and labor.

Hot water subfloor heating system

The biggest difference between electric and hydronic or “wet" subfloor heating is how much lower the operating costs will be after installation.

Instead of electrical wires, hydronic subfloor systems heat a room by pumping and circulating hot water through pipes laid under the floor. This makes this system more difficult and expensive to install than electrical radiant heating, but significantly more cost-effective to run, since water conducts heat so well.

Hydronic systems are commonly used to heat an entire home, and typically cost around $25 per square foot for parts and labor on a standard installation—although contractors may charge as much as $30+ per square foot for harder to reach jobs, like a room on the second floor.

You may also have to install a dedicated boiler for your hydronic system, for an additional cost. Installing a 50-gallon water heater can cost between $400-$800, and larger boiler systems (for an entire home) can cost thousands of dollars.

If you're using wood flooring, also be sure to ask about wood flooring options that won't warp or swell due to any moisture.

Flooring material

Your radiant heating system is only as good as the floor it's under. Maximize your heating efficiency (and comfort!) with the right flooring. Below are three common types of flooring, and how they mix (or don't) with radiant heating systems:

  • Ceramic tiles. Ceramic floors typically cost $2.50 to $3 per square foot. Ceramic conducts and holds heat better than almost any other tile. It's one of the best options for any floor heating system.
  • Wood flooring. Wood floors cost $1.75 to $3 per square foot, but up to $9 for high-quality wood. However, not all wood floors work with heated floors. Wood can expand if there's too much heat or moisture in the air. Talk to your contractor about different laminates and plank floor options if you're installing hydronic heating in your home.
  • Carpet. Carpets and radiant floor heating don't really mix. Carpet is essentially insulation, so it actually prevents the heat from rising into the room. The average cost of carpet removal is $200.

How can you save money on radiant floor heating?

No matter what system you opt for, in-floor heating isn't cheap. Below are a few ways you can cut costs—without skimping on quality—when installing in-floor heat:

  • Install in-floor heating during a major remodel. One of the biggest costs of radiant floor heating is demo and installation. Save money on installing radiant heating during a remodel or when you're replacing your old floors or building a new addition or house.
  • Use hydronic radiant floor heating system for lower energy bills. The cost to install water-based underfloor heating can be more costly than an electric system, but they're significantly cheaper to run (up to 30% more efficient) afterwards.
  • Ask about solar. You might be able to save money on a hot water boiler or other heating fixtures with a solar heating setup for either a hydronic or electrical system. Ask a specialist if integrating solar can reduce heating and utility bills.

What are the pros and cons of subfloor heating?

Whether it's just your bathroom or your entire home, radiant systems come with their own unique set of pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons of having a radiant floor system in your home:

Pros of radiant floor heating

  • Even heating. Hot air rising from the floor not only warms your chilly toes in the morning, it also evenly heats an entire space. On top of that, radiant heating soaks into other items in the room—like your couch. When the heat source of a room comes from below it provides uniform temperature control which is not only more efficient, it's more comfortable.
  • Efficient. Hot water radiant floor systems can be 10-30% more efficient than traditional HVAC systems. While the upfront cost to install "wet" subfloor heating is higher, you can save hundreds of dollars a year in energy bills.
  • Clean air. Underfloor heating doesn't blow hot air, dust, or allergens around your home the way a central forced air heating system does. It's also silent and virtually undetectable (except for that warm fuzzy feeling).
  • Affordable luxury. Remember the first time you sat in a heated car seat? That's essentially what a radiant floor heated room feels like (especially bathroom floors). If you really want to impress friends and guests, radiant floor heating is an affordable way to add a hint of luxury to your everyday life.
  • Say goodbye to chilly bathroom tiles. If the thought of stepping onto ice-cold bathroom tiles every morning gives you anxiety, radiant floor heating—at least in your bathroom or other high traffic areas (like hallways) can be a worthwhile upgrade.

Cons of radiant floor heating

  • Not great with carpet. As mentioned earlier, carpet (not to mention the insulation and subflooring) isn't the best flooring for radiant heat systems. If you really dig that shag carpet, stick with traditional HVAC solutions.
  • Extensive construction. There's a reason why they call it "subfloor" heating. It takes a lot of work to tear up and install a heating system and a new floor. Don't underestimate the cost and time of demolition and renovation. Radiant floors are best installed in new construction.
  • Upfront cost. Radiant floor heating is up to 30% more efficient than forced air heating (and getting better thanks to new materials like PEX pipes), but there's no getting around the upfront installation cost. It can be cost prohibitive to install radiant heating in every room of a large home.

Underfloor heating is discrete and efficient to operate, simple to use, and a worthwhile improvement to nearly any home. To get started, find a radiant heated floor installer on Thumbtack to talk about your options and start experiencing the benefits of discrete, efficient subfloor heating in your home.

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