Putting radiant floors in the bathroom is becoming increasingly popular in new and renovated homes – and for good reason. Not only is stepping onto a warm floor far nicer than stepping onto a freezing cold bathroom floor, radiant floors also provide a great source of ambient heat, which is particularly helpful in bathrooms located in cold parts of the house (basements, corners of the house, above garages, etc.). But should you put it in your home? Here are some things to think about.
While some highly experienced DIYers can take on the job of installation I highly recommend having it installed by a professional. Improper installation can lead to serious issues and fixing them can be a big headache. A professional installer will perform a resistance test before covering the heating elements. This will ensure the system is working properly and none of the mechanics have been compromised during installation. If you skip this test and discover after the fact that there’s a problem your only option is to tear out the floor and start again.
I personally prefer to use Ditra Heat by Schluter Systems. It’s an electric system that incorporates uncoupling technology to ensure floors aren’t susceptible to cracks. The cables can be placed wherever heat is desire so that you can completely customize it for your room. Since bathrooms tend to be awkward spaces, the ability to customize is a big plus.
Technically all flooring materials can be used, but some definitely work better than others. Electric radiant heated systems are best covered by ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tiles, which are excellent temperature conductors. They’re also the best floors for bathrooms in general, so it’s a no-brainer. Wood, vinyl, and laminate can also be used but they come with temperature limitations, so you need to work with experienced installers who can advise you.
There’s no doubt that heated bathroom floors are a nice upgrade, and if you can afford it it’s a really nice luxury. But despite this they don’t necessarily give you a good return on investment. The exception is when it’s in a bathroom that lacks another heat source. When this is the case they can transform a bathroom that is a bit of a liability into a quality space in the home.
Having said this, despite the fact that they won’t necessarily get you a 100% return on your investment, they can help your house seem more appealing to potential buyers and ultimately help sell your house. I’ve installed them in a number of income properties and they certainly helped to get the spaces rented. My personal opinion is that if you’re remodelling your bathroom and replacing the floors anyway, a heated system can definitely be worth the expense.
All photos courtesy of Skit inc and HGTV Canada’s Moving the McGillivrays.