How Much Do Heated Floors Cost in 2020?

$5.80 to $8.85 per square foot

The average cost to install radiant floor heating is $5.80 to $8.85 per square foot for a hydronic system including a boiler. If you already have a boiler with enough capacity to add radiant heat flooring, the cost of tubing and supplies installed is about $2.75 to $4.25 per square foot.

Electric radiant floor heating cost is $9.80 to $14.25 per square foot installed and connected to your home’s electrical panel.

 

How to Calculate Radiant Floor Heating Costs

Low CostAverage CostHigh Cost
$2.75 – $6.25/sq.ft.$6.20 – $11.00/sq.ft.$11.00 – $14.25/sq.ft.
DIYPartialNoNo
TypeHydronicHydronic or ElectricElectric
Boiler IncludedNoYes or N/AN/A
System SizeAnyLess than 500 sq.ft.More than 500 sq.ft.
Cost of LivingAnyLow – AverageAverage – High
ZonedNoYes or NoYes or No

For 1,000 square feet, hydronic floor heating for a boiler, materials and installation costs would be $5,800 to $7,900. These prices cover the cost to install radiant floor heating in a concrete slab, the most common floor installation type. The boiler alone costs $1,750 to $5,100 for a boiler with this capacity. An average cost for a boiler installed with capacity for 1,000 square feet is $3,300.

Electric radiant floor heating cost for 1,000 square feet is $9,800 $11,500.

For both types, cost per square foot goes down slightly as the size of the flooring system goes up.

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Types of Radiant Floor Heating Systems and How They Work

There are two types of radiant heat systems discussed in this article: hydronic radiant heating and electric radiant heating.

Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

Hydronic heating is water-based. The heat source is a boiler fired by gas, oil or wood or a combination of fuels. Electric boilers are also available, though they have higher operating costs.

The boiler in these systems heat the water and use a pump to circulate it through corrosion-resistant tubing, often PEX tubing, laid beneath the existing floor. The boiler heats the water up to about 90 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which in turn warms the floor surface. The acceptable temperature range is determined by the type of flooring and the tubing material used.

Many boiler systems regulate the entire radiant floor heating system with the home’s programmable thermostat – and all areas receive the same amount of heat.

Zoned systems use zoning valves that spread and manage the water flow from room to room. This gives you the ability to reduce heating costs by heating occupied rooms and not those that are empty.

Electric Radiant Floor Heating

Electric heating is what it sounds like: its source of power is electricity. Because of this, an electric heating system does not require a boiler, but instead features charged cables (resistance wires coated in a water-resistant polymer) that conduct heat. These cables can run directly through a layer of concrete or gypsum between the subfloor and the floor surface, or they are fastened to plastic or metal mats beneath the floor surface.

Electric radiant flooring systems are regulated by a thermostat.

Note on Subsurface Types: Hydronic radiant floor heating cost to operate is lower when hard flooring is used. Both radiant heating systems, hydronic and electric, are most cost-effective with concrete, tile and wood flooring. These materials hold heat better than vinyl flooring and carpet over OSB or plywood, for example, which allow the heat to disperse much more rapidly.

As a result, floor heating systems with soft floor coverings like carpet have much higher operating costs. This is especially problematic for electric radiant flooring because of the higher cost of electricity in most regions.

Radiant Floor Heating Cost Factors

How much does radiant floor heating cost? Consider these issues as you put together a rough estimate of your cost to install radiant floor heating:

  • DIY or Pro Installation: We recommend having a professional install a boiler or handle wiring connection to the panel for an electric system. However, you can DIY the tubing for a hydronic system or electric mats for an electric system if you have good skills and attention to detail. Labor cost savings can amount to 15-25% of the whole cost.
  • Type – Hydronic vs. Electric: Hydronic systems cost less, especially when a boiler is already installed. It’s worth noting that electric radiant floor heating cost to operate is also higher. The advantage of electric is that there is no risk of explosion, gas leaks or carbon monoxide leaks.
  • Whether a Boiler is Added: If you have a boiler, your radiant floor heating cost will obviously be lower. Your installer should be able to determine if your current boiler has enough capacity to handle radiant heating.
  • Boiler Type: See the cost chart below on the relative costs of boiler types.
  • Size of the System: Larger systems have a higher total cost, of course, but price goes down per square foot as system size goes up. For example, cost to install radiant floor heating would be closer to the $8.85 per square foot cost in a bathroom and closer to $5.80 per square foot large room or the entire home.
  • Where you Live: The cost of living in your area can affect radiant floor heating cost for installation and operation by as much as 30%. Prices are higher on the East Coast, NE and NW than in large metropolitan areas of the Midwest and South. Costs are lowest in small towns and rural areas.

Cost Chart and Additional Pricing Information

This cost chart provides the total prices and cost per square foot for each floor heating system as well as some additional expenses.

Hydronic Floor Heating
Electric Floor Heating
Per Square Foot Cost$5.80 – $8.85$9.80 – $14.25+
Total Cost – 1,500 sq. ft.$5,800 – $7,900$9,800 – $11,500
Natural Gas Boiler$2,900 – $6,600N/A
Propane Boiler$2,750 – $8,100N/A
Oil Boiler$3,500 – $7,000N/A
Electric Boiler$1,750 – $3,300N/A
Solar Radiant Flooring System$7,600 – $11,000N/A
Supplies
Electric Radiant Flooring MatsN/A$5.25 – $12.00/sq.ft.
PEX Tubing and Supplies$0.50 – $1.15 per linear footN/A

Electric and Hydronic Heating Operating Costs

Operating cost is a major factor to consider.

Hydronic heating is the most cost-effective and popular of the two options. Hot water radiant floor heating operating cost is lower too because gas heat of all types is cheaper than electric heat. Water is a better conductor of heat, so a hydronic radiant heating system is more efficient.

Electric radiant floor heating cost to operate is higher. You might be able to reduce radiant floor heating cost per month if your electricity provider offers lower rates during off-peak hours such as overnight or during the early morning. However, heating only at those times won’t keep your home comfortable.

If you choose electric, mats heat faster than cables, so are more efficient. The initial cost of mats is higher, but you’ll recoup the extra cost in +/-5 years through better efficiency. Mats also allow for optimal heating control through zoning, saving you money on electricity by giving you the power to regulate which rooms are heated and when.

Refer to this electric radiant floor heating cost calculator to determine the approximate amount of money you would spend to use your radiant heating system.

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Before You Buy a Floor Heating System

Before you purchase an radiant heating system, here are some things you may want to consider:

Upfront Investment: Radiant floor heating will save you money on your utility bills over time, but installing one requires substantial upfront costs, even if you already have a boiler in place. If not, see our cost chart above for more information on prices.

Potential Safety Issues: Hydronic and electrical heating systems are generally safe and reliable, but that does not mean they are foolproof.

  • For hydronic heating, leaking can occur if the system is improperly installed, such as kinking the flexible PEX tubing or nicking one with a fastener.
  • Electric heating can create a fire if either the subfloor wiring is not properly insulated, or the electric mats come into contact with wood scraps, dust or other flammable debris.

These specific issues may be avoided by taking the proper precaution to hire a radiant floor heating contractor with a proven track record of quality installation.

Difficulty with system repairs: Boilers are very accessible for maintenance and repairs. But hydronic leaks or electrical shorts or breaks beneath the finished floor are hard to find and costly to repair. It’s worth noting that the need for in-floor repairs is rare.

Contact a Professional

Here are tips for getting competitive pro estimates for quality work:

Ask more than one professional for a quote. Having options is a good thing. If you ask for quotes from multiple companies, you will be able to compare/contrast prices, deciding which company can best meet your needs and budget.

Competition. Tell the pros you talk to that you are getting multiple radiant floor heating estimates. If professionals know they are competing, they will be less likely to over-price you.

Do not settle for cheap. Don’t take the cheapest quote if you think quality will suffer. Floor heating can cause a range of issues, from a minor mold problem to a house fire, so it is imperative you do not sacrifice quality work for a cheaper initial price.

Past work. As you decide on which company to choose, look into how others have reviewed their work. Were other clients satisfied? You may find that the company with the cheapest quote has the best reviews, while the company with higher estimates has a track record of lower quality.

Do your due diligence reviewing companies you are considering in order to ensure the safety of your home and the best results for your project.

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