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Warmth for the sole.

Banish chilly bathroom floors forever with electric radiant heat

One of life's little luxuries is quiet, unseen, and underfoot: a bathroom floor warmed by radiant heat. Typical radiant heat systems involve running warmed water through pipes embedded in a concrete slab--a complex and costly process often inappropriate for additions or remodels. But electric radiant heat systems have come to the rescue. Relying on slender cables or flat panels of conductive material to produce the heat, they layer on the floor without appreciably thickening it, and they're relatively easy to install.

Usually, the cables are placed in a bed of "thin-set" mortar and covered with tile, raising the floor level as much as 3/4 inch (sometimes a little more, if a tile setter adds concrete backer boards for a flatter, more rigid floor). Although tile or natural stone works best with these systems, you can use many of them under wood, vinyl, and even carpeting.

Don't despair if you already have an attractive tile floor. Some of these systems can be added under the floor in a crawl space. With this type of installation, it takes a little longer for the floor to warm up. And you'll have to add insulation below the radiant panels; local building codes may require a 2-inch air space between the panel and insulation. But you, too, can have toasty toes.

Sizing and installation

You can install cables or mats yourself, but sizing them to the shape and floor area of the room is best done by the manufacturer, who will use your diagram of the room--including cabinet, toilet, shower, and tub locations--to plan the best layout for the components. Heating cables or panels run only in areas with heavy foot traffic, stopping short of walls and cabinets.

Licensed electricians should make all the connections to the heating elements, timers, thermostats, and junction boxes. In most cases these radiant systems require their own dedicated circuit that includes a ground fault circuit interrupter. Additionally, two manufacturers offer low-voltage systems that require remote transformers. The cost of electric radiant system components (listed below) generally does not include labor timers, thermostats, or flooring material.

* CaloriQue, (508) 291-4224 or

A plastic film with printed circuits can go under the floor or be embedded in thin-set mortar. Comes in both roll and mat form ($7 to $10 per square foot). Maintains constant heat with heat sensing control.

* Easy Heat, (800) 537-4732 or

Warm Tiles Electric Floor Heating System uses strips of plastic that space cable under thin-set mortar Easy to install. Each thermostat controls up to 86 square feet. $5 to $7 per square foot.

* Heatizon Systems, (888) 239-1232 or

Low-voltage system uses runs Kit for 40 to 100 square feet, with Z Mesh or Tuff Cable, transformer, and control box, costs $750 to $850, but expense drops dramatically for larger square footage.

* Nuheat, (800) 778-9276 or

Cable in synthetic fabric that is embedded between two coats of mortar. Sold in preformed rectangular shapes that are combined to cover floor (custom shapes are also available). Works under tile or stone; not recommended under wood or carpet. Cost for average size bath (30 to 40 square feet) is about $500.

* Step Warmfloor, (314) 781-2121 or

Low-voltage polymer mat system uses a .plastic that develops heat. It is self-regulating, cannot overheat, and goes under tile, carpet, vinyl, or wood, and in the crawl space. Cut to size and wired on-site, it is installed with peel-and-stick two-sided adhesive. Needs transformer sized to system; $6 to $13 per square foot. Manufacturer will assist in sizing.

* Sun Touch, Bask Technologies, (888) 432-8932 or

Mat with wire ($12 per square foot), stapled to floor and set in thin-set mortar. Thermostats and programmable timers available. Manufacturer will design system from floor plan.

*, (800) 875-5285 or www,

Thin-profile wire on fiberglass mat sold by presized roll or mats. Easy to lay out. Attach to subfloor, then embed in thin-set mortar. Manufacturer will design from floor plan. A roll of 40 square feet costs $500.
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Title Annotation:heaters
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
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