Renovation & Design

Put some heat beneath your feet

Heated flooring a great feature all year round

The thermostat for the heated floor includes a timer.

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

Placing more heating coil by the shower helps hasten evaporation of any water that escapes.

Once the coil and temperature sensor have been installed and tested, leveller is poured.

Homeowners can easily conclude that heated flooring will keep your feet warm on otherwise cold tiles, but they may not realize it can also accelerate evaporation and increase the overall temperature in a room.

There are also a few other must-have features that can be introduced during installation, and after doing numerous heated-flooring systems, there really is only one way to do it.

Establishing the proper amount of heated square footage is key. In a bathroom it is important to note where heated coil is not needed, such as under the vanity, at the toilet, and inside the closet space. By eliminating these smaller areas in the square footage count, you can drastically reduce the amount of coil that is required in a space. At a client’s bathroom renovation recently, the total area of the room was nearly 80 square feet. Of that, only 40 square feet required coil.

In such a small room with so little coil, a single 110-volt isolated circuit is required. And since an old heated-flooring system was first removed before installing the new one, it was easy to reuse the existing wiring. The connection end of the coil was run up and into the wall cavity, and subsequently into the electrical box. Once the power connections were made, the floor sensor (which sends temperature information to the thermostat) was also pre-wired up and into the box for later connection to the thermostat. The coil was now ready to distribute onto the pre-prepped sub-floor surface.

By strategically placing the retainer clips along the perimeter of the area receiving the coil, the wire coil is then installed by carefully wrapping the coil within the clips at three-inch intervals, from one side to the next, avoiding the non-areas. A simple trick used in my own home (that proved quite functional), is to concentrate at a lesser spacing the coil nearest the tub and shower area. This not only increases the temperature slightly close to the tub, this tighter spacing hastens evaporation when water finds its way onto the floor surface after using the tub or shower. By placing the temperature sensor within the loose strewn coil, the thermostat reacts to that area until the preset temperature is achieved, allowing the tighter coil to always exude a slightly higher temperature. Once the entire length of coil is set into position, the thermostat is tested. A successful test signifies it’s time to pour the leveller to hide the coil.

Preparation for leveller includes a clean sub-floor, plugging any potential leaks in the floor, as well as temporarily barricading any existing breaches such as floor vents and access to plumbing feeds and drains. Once the floor has been prepped and checked, leveller is mixed to a molasses consistency and poured gently starting at the far end, working back towards the entrance. The goal is to adequately cover the wire coil throughout the room, which usually encompasses a quarter inch of leveller thickness. After allowing the leveller to dry and set overnight, the aesthetic flooring can then be installed the following day — in this case, 12x24-inch ceramic tiles were chosen by the client.

Another feature that is imperative, is a fully programmable thermostat. There are a few on the market. In most cases however, common thermostats simply allow you to set a high and low, and turn on or off. Although this may have its usefulness in certain scenarios, in a bathroom setting I find its best to have a thermostat that provides weekday/week-end settings, and/or seven-day settings, with potentially multiple on-off modes per day, offering ultimate control of how best to use the heating of your flooring system. Once the thermostat has been properly programmed, changes can always be made at any time. For the most part, once you set you can forget it. Heated flooring is affordable, and can drastically improve the functionality of a bathroom space. It’s not a luxury solely meant for winter use, the benefits are year-round, and far-reaching.

When asked to provide a quote on a bathroom renovation, heated flooring is an aspect I often suggest. Clients who have never experienced the benefits of heated flooring simply don’t know what they’re missing. After installing my first heated floor system in my own home nearly 20 years ago, I simply cannot imagine stepping out of the shower and onto a cold tile floor, even in the summer. And when my basement finally gets the overhaul it deserves, there’s no doubt the basement bathroom will receive some heat under the feet as well.


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