How Much Does Radiant Floor Heating Cost?
$10 – $16 per Square Foot Installed
The cost of radiant floor heating is between $10-$16 per square foot for professional installation of an electric floor heating or hydronic floor heating system. When water heating equipment is installed as part of the project, radiant floor heat costs up to $20 per square foot depending on the size of the job.
Average Cost of Radiant Floor Heating Installation
Expect radiant floor heating estimates around $11 per square foot for an electric system and $15 per square foot for hydronic floor heating. Cost per square foot goes down as the size of the project rises. Average completed job costs are $10,000 to $25,000 for 1,000 to 1,500 square feet.
When a hydronic floor heating system includes a boiler or water heater, total project cost rises by $1,500 to $4,000 or more depending on the type and capacity of the equipment installed to heat the water.
Overview of Radiant Floor Heating
One of the most economical ways to heat your home is to use underfloor radiant heat, especially a hydronic system. The heat rises to make the floor and entire room very comfortable. Hydronic systems require a water heater or boiler. Electric systems are connected to your home’s electrical panel using energy from the grid or, in some cases, energy derived from a solar power system.
Each type of radiant heat has it own set of pros and cons.
Cost of Hydronic vs Electric: Hydronic systems cost more to install than electric systems, but their energy use is less, so utility costs are lower. Hydronic floor heating can save you 15% to 35% on your heating bills compared with an 80% to 95% AFUE gas furnace.
Yes, the installed cost of an electric floor heating system is less, but it will use quite a bit more energy. As a result of the higher cost of electric heat, electric radiant floors are better suited to smaller locations, most commonly a bathroom, where heating a tiled floor adds luxurious comfort.
What Flooring Works with Radiant Floor Heating?
Radiant heating can be installed beneath most types of flooring. It is ideal under tile and concrete, but can be used under some carpet, laminate, hardwood and vinyl. Check with your flooring retailer to be sure the flooring you choose is a good fit for underfloor heating.
Hydronic radiant floor heating consists of continuous plastic tubing run back-and-forth over the floor space, with tubing rows about 10 inches apart. The tubing is connected to a hot water source – a water heater or a boiler. The water is circulated through the tubing. Heat transfers into the flooring and radiates into your living space.
Electric radiant floor heating is achieved mostly through the use of mats in sizes from about 9 square feet (3×3) to 100 square feet (10×10). The wiring in each mat is easily connected to other mats to create the heating zone. When fully installed, the wiring in the mat closest to the electrical panel is wired to its own circuit or circuits, depending on the size and electric capacity of the system.
The overall price to install radiant heating varies on type, size and other cost factors discussed below.
Product and Installation Supplies Cost Details
Radiant Floor Heating Cost Factors
How much does radiant floor heat cost? Estimates for this indoor home improvement project are based on these factors.
Who Installs the Radiant Floor Heating- The materials to install radiant floor heating are relatively inexpensive for how much comfort they bring to your home. However, the labor is expensive. If you decide to install the radiant floor heating system then you will up to $12 per square foot with an average of about $8/foot.
What Type of Radiant Floor Heating is Installed- The type of radiant floor heating you can install varies in both price and the difficulty to install.
Electric Floor Heating Systems – This type of floor heating system is installed using mats with cables inside them or with a grid featuring loose heating cables. This type of system can cost anywhere from $15-$25 a square foot installed. Since it is more expensive, this type of system is usually done in smaller rooms like bathrooms or kitchens.
Hydronic Floor Heating Systems – Also known as a water-based system, this type of floor heat is the most cost-effective for large area such as whole-house heating, but it requires a water-heating system. Boilers cost $2,500 to $5,000 or more and last “forever.” A combi tankless water heater costs roughly half as much, but might not provide as much hot water or last as long. Hydronic heating with a boiler already installed costs around $8 – $12 per square foot.
Size of the Job – Cost per square foot drops as the size of the project increases. Installing radiant heat in one bathroom, for example, will cost twice as much per square foot than when installing it in an entire home.
Where you Live- Like all home improvement projects, where you live determines the price for hiring an electrician, plumber, or HVAC technician. Labor cost ranges for a professional to install a radiant heating system for your floors are $50-$135 per hour with an average or about $75/hour.
Retail Radiant Floor Materials Costs
- $1,500 – $2,900 | Tankless Water Heater – These water heaters can be dedicated to the flooring heat system or be combination (combi) units that provide the house with hot water and the flooring with the heated water it requires.
- $2,100 – $4,000 | Conventional Boiler – Boilers offer higher capacity for large projects and last longer than most tankless water heaters.
- $.80 – $1.25 per Square Foot | Flexible Tubing for a hydronic system. The cost of the tubing ranges from about 30 to 50 cents per linear foot, but when arranged in a hydronic system, supply cost is 80 cents to $1.25 per square foot.
- $5.00 – $8.00 per Square Foot | Electric mat and loose wire materials.
- $100 – $400 | Thermostat – You will need a thermostat to control your radiant floor heating system. Depending on the type and model, this can cost between $100 and $400.
- $10 – $50 | Self Leveling Flooring or Thin-set Mortar for 1,500 Square Feet – Installing a radiant floor heating system in your home often requires that you lay a thin layer of self-leveling flooring over the mats or cables before you install the actual flooring. Depending if you are buying a mix in a bag or a premixed bucket of self-leveling flooring will determine the price.
Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time
Permits and Inspection Cost
- $150 – $400 | Most radiant floor heating projects require at least one of the following permits and inspections – Electrical, plumbing and/or mechanical. The scope of the project will determine which permits you need and the total cost.
Related Costs and Installation Time
If you are using an electric heating system to heat your floors, then an electrician will be needed to run the correct electrical wiring and add at least one new breaker to the electrical panel. The cost to hire an electrician to do this type of work is usually around $250-$300 at a labor rate averaging $75 to $100 per hour.
How long will it take to install radiant floor heat in your home? Depending on the type and how big the project is, the average amount of time is between 2 and 4 days. The first step is to install the wires or tubing that are going to go under the flooring, followed by a self-leveling mortar, and finally the actual flooring. The mortar will take at least one full day to completely cure.
Costs of Related Projects
What else is on your indoor home projects list? Here are related cost estimates, or Costimates, that will help you wisely allocate your budget.
- Dedicated Circuit – The cost to install a new circuit to serve an electric radiant heat system will cost close to $300.
- Tankless Water – A tankless water heater to provide your home’s hot water and serve the radiant heating system runs $1,400 to $2,900.
- Running a Gas Line – If you choose a radiant heat system served by a gas boiler or water heater, the gas line to fuel it will cost about $22 per linear foot, or around $400 for average jobs.
- Towel Warmer – Running the water or electric power through a towel warmer in the bathroom adds luxury to the project for $350 to $800 for most installations.
- Porcelain Flooring – Ceramic and porcelain flooring are ideal for underfloor heating. Porcelain tile cost averages $12.75 per square foot when installed by a pro tiler.
- Hardwood Flooring – Before installation of hardwood flooring over a radiant heating system, you must make sure that you purchase flooring that is made to be used with a heated floor. Engineered hardwood is a better choice at about $16 per square foot since it is more stable and handles heating better than solid hardwood.
DIY or Hire a Pro?
The labor to install radiant heat flooring is more than half the total job cost, which Home Advisor puts at $11 per square foot for electric and $13 for hydronic. Home Flooring Pros numbers are broader at $6 – $14 per square foot. Our numbers are a little higher at $10 – $16 for most jobs, especially when the project is limited to a single bathroom. The point is, money can be saved by doing some or all of the job yourself.
Our suggestion is to either hire a contractor for the entire job or consider a hybrid option – you install the electric mats for an electric system or plastic tubing for a hydronic system, and leave the electrical hookup or mechanical installation of a water heater to a pro.
Electric mats are quite easy to install. Just lay them out and connect the mats to one another for a continuous flow of power. The key to a hydronic system is getting the spacing right of the back-and-forth runs of tubing. Follow the manufacturer’s installation guidelines for optimal performance, and be careful when securing the tubing to the underflooring that you don’t crimp or pierce the tubing.
The first time you feel that floor beneath your bare feet begin to heat up is a wonderful experience!