In Portland’s chilly, wet winters, a heating system that infuses your home with an even, draft-free warmth can be a real comfort. While radiant flooring is a good choice if you want this kind of warmth, it’s better suited to some situations than others.
Why Choose Radiant Floor Heating?
A forced-air system, such as a furnace, blows warm air into the room, which quickly rises to the ceiling. A radiant floor system gives off heat that directly warms people and furniture. This type of heat makes you feel warmer overall, allowing you to set a lower thermostat temperature to save energy.
No blowing air also means fewer airborne contaminants such as dust and mold spores, a plus if you experience allergies or asthma. With no motor or air moving through ducts, radiant floors are also quieter than forced-air systems. With no air vents to worry about, you can place your furniture and rugs anywhere.
Consider Your Options
Most homes with radiant flooring use either a hydronic (water) or electric design. A hydronic system uses tubes under the floor to circulate hot water produced by a boiler. The energy-efficiency of boiler heating makes hydronic systems suitable for heating the whole house. If the pipes aren’t installed during the home’s construction, however, the floor must be removed to install them.
In an electric system, pads embedded with electric heating cables are installed under the floor. Considering the relatively high cost of electric heating, these systems are best kept to a limited area, such as the bathroom. Some designs can be installed without removing the floor as long as the floor is accessible from underneath via the basement or crawl space.
Radiant flooring systems require a floor covering that holds and transmits heat well without suffering heat damage. Tile, stone, laminate, some types of vinyl flooring and even concrete are all options. You’ll want to avoid hardwood and thick carpet, though.