From creating a toasty bathroom floor that warms your toes in the winter to heating your entire home, radiant floors are a luxurious and efficient home heating option. Radiant heat transfers heat from hot coils or a heating mat to the floor surface and surrounding room air. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about radiant floor heating costs.
The Today’s Homeowner review experts know that finding real cost information on home improvement projects like radiant floor heating installation can be difficult. That’s why we gather real cost estimates and data from a building materials database to provide the most accurate cost information possible.
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- It costs between $1,700 to $48,000 to install radiant floor heating in your home.
- Per square foot, expect to pay between $4 and $25 to install radiant floor heating.
- Running radiant floor heating costs between $1 and $7 per day.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Radiant Floor Heating?
The average cost to install radiant floor heating is $3,900 for the heating system alone, but most homeowners spend between $1,700 and $6,200 to install this type of heating system. However, this cost will depend on the type of radiant floor heating system you choose, the square footage to be heated, and several other cost factors.
Many homeowners install radiant floor heating in a few key rooms, such as the bathroom or kitchen. Others install radiant floor heating throughout the entire home. However, at an average of $12,000 to $48,000, heating the entire house with an in-floor heating system has a much more expensive up-front cost than central heating.
Cost data include the material costs and labor if applicable. All cost data in this article were gathered from RSMeans construction materials and labor database and bids from top contractors.
How Do Radiant Floor Heating Costs Differ By Material Type?
Radiant heat flooring systems cost between $4 and $25 per square foot, depending on the type of system you choose (this cost does not include the cost of the flooring that goes on top of the radiant heat system). Electric radiant heating systems are often the least expensive up-front — you may pay more for hydronic radiant heating.
The table below compares the different types of radiant floor heating by cost per square foot or the cost to heat your entire house.
|Material Type||Cost per Square Foot||Whole-house Average Cost|
|Geothermal systems||$4 – $12||$9,500 – $35,000|
|Hydronic systems||$6 – $22||$19,000 – $48,000|
|Electric systems||$8 – $15||$19,000 – $36,000|
|Solar systems||$18 – $25||$18,000 – $25,000|
Cost data include material costs and labor costs if applicable.
You don’t need access to water source to install geothermal heating because it gets energy from the Earth. On average, geothermal systems cost between $4 to $12 per square foot to install or between $9,500 to $35,000 for your entire home.
Hydronic floor heating systems cost between $6 and $22 per square foot. Hydronic radiant floor heating uses hot water supplied by a boiler or water heater to heat pipes under the floor, which then heat the surrounding air. Hydronic systems are a more energy-efficient heating option because water can retain more heat than air.
Electric radiant floor heating costs between $8 and $15 per square foot, making this type of radiant floor heating one of the most affordable. However, electric radiant floors use more energy than other types of in-floor heating, so you may spend more each month on your energy bill.
If you have solar panels installed on your roof, consider using solar energy to power your radiant heating system. Solar radiant heating ranges from $18 to $25 per square foot, but it may be worth it if you live in an area with lots of sunshine, as you may not have to pay that much per month to use your heated floors.
Want to know which flooring is the best to install over radiant heat? Check out the video below:
How Does Flooring Type Affect Radiant Heat Floor Pricing?
The type of flooring you install can affect the cost of your radiant floor heating. Not all floor coverings are suitable for radiant heat. The thickness of the floor and the thermal conductivity are the most important factors you need to consider when choosing the right floor covering. Regardless, you can install radiant heating under any of the flooring options we cover in the following sections.
Radiant heating can be installed in the floor, but also in ceiling panels. The following table shows the average cost per square foot of radiant floor heating by flooring (or other location) type.
|Flooring Type/Radiant Heat Location||Average Cost per Square Foot|
|Concrete flooring||$15 – $30|
|Engineered hardwood flooring||$15 – $20|
|Laminate||$15 – $20|
|Tile flooring||$20 – $40|
|Ceiling||$50 – $60|
Cost data include the material costs and labor if applicable.
Concrete floors are not the best option for radiant heat. Unlike other types of flooring that form a layer or two lying on top of the radiant heating, concrete flooring is poured over the radiant heat system, embedding it in the concrete and making it much more difficult to repair or replace. Installing radiant heat flooring under concrete costs between $15 and $30 per square foot.
Engineered hardwood floors are not the best conductors of heat, so heat won’t transfer as quickly. This means it will take more time and energy to heat wood flooring with radiant heat. To install radiant heat under engineered hardwood floors, it will cost between $15 and $20 per square foot.
Although it’s not the case for all laminate, you can install radiant heating under laminate flooring. If you do choose to install radiant heat under laminate flooring, make sure the system is compatible with laminate flooring and has the right underlayment so that it performs well. On average, you’ll pay between $15 and $20 per square foot to install laminate flooring with radiant heat.
Porcelain and ceramic tile floors are the best option for radiant flooring because tile is thin and conducts heat well. Tile also won’t rot if your hydronic system leaks water, making it ideal for this heating system. To install a radiant floor under tile, expect to pay $20 to $40 per square foot.
You can also install radiant heat in panels in your ceiling. At $50 to $60 per square foot of panel, this is the most expensive radiant heating system per square foot to install. However, you usually only need one to two panels in each room to properly heat the space, so the cost usually comes to $300 to $1,400 per room.
Which Factors Impact Radiant Floor Heating Cost Estimates?
The radiant floor materials and type of flooring you choose make up the bulk of the total cost, but there are some other cost factors you’ll need to consider. As you plan your heated flooring project, keep the following in mind, and you’ll be able to better estimate what your home improvement plan will cost:
- Square footage
- Need for a new water heater
- Installing temperature zones
- Old flooring removal
The larger your project, the more you’ll have to pay overall. As you’ve seen in the sections above, installing radiant floor heating can cost anywhere from $6 to $30 per square foot (radiant heat system plus flooring cost). Most homeowners don’t install radiant floor heating in every room of their home, as it can quickly become expensive. So if you have the option, only install radiant floor heating in the rooms you use the most.
However, the more square feet you heat with radiant heat, the less your project will cost per square foot. You’ll pay more overall if you install radiant floor heating in all the rooms of your home, but it’s better to do your entire flooring project at once so you get the best deal per square foot.
Need for a New Water Heater
If you choose a hydronic radiant flooring system, you need to make sure you have enough hot water to use for both your appliances and home heating. A new water heater costs between $730 and $3,000 on average, so if your current water heater can’t keep up with its new demand for hot water, you may need to add this cost.
Radiant Floor Heating Insulation
Without proper insulation, the heat that your radiant floor produces can be lost. The insulation won’t make your floors feel any warmer, but when installed under the floors, it helps them do their job more efficiently. There are four types of insulation for radiant floors, and each costs between $0.50 to $2.50 per square foot:
- Fiberglass batting: $1 per square foot
- Spray foam: $1 per square foot
- Foam board: $2.50 per square foot
- Vapor barrier: $0.50 per square foot
Installing Temperature Zones
If you plan to install underfloor heating throughout your home, it’s a good idea to set up temperature zones that allow you to adjust the temperature in specific locations (such as the primary bathroom, living room, and kitchen). Although it’s nice to have a radiant floor heating system you can control, this added convenience costs anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000.
Temperature zones also require a thermostat to control the temperatures in each room, so if you have an outdated thermostat, you may need to upgrade to a more modern unit. Most smart thermostats cost between $100 and $350.
Old Flooring Removal
In some cases, you can leave the existing flooring as is. However, because heated flooring comes half an inch off the ground, most homeowners remove all the old flooring to compensate for the floor’s increased height.
The cost of removing flooring depends on the type of flooring installed, with wood and tile being the most expensive because they require the most labor. Removing old flooring ranges from $0.09 to $1.55 per square foot. So if you need to remove 1,000 square feet of flooring, expect demolition costs to range from $90 to $1,550.
|Type of Floor||Demolition Cost per Square Foot|
|Carpet||$0.09 – $0.39|
|Tile||$0.78 – $1.24|
|Vinyl||$0.16 – $0.39|
|Wood||$0.66 – $1.55|
Cost data include the material costs and labor if applicable.
3 Tips for Saving Money on Radiant Floor Heating Costs
Installing radiant floor heating isn’t cheap, but there are several ways to save money on installation costs. The best ways to save money are to remove the old flooring yourself, use a less expensive fuel, and plan to install the underfloor heating system only in heavily used rooms. We’ll explore each of these money-saving tips in the sections below.
1. Remove Old Flooring Yourself
One of the most expensive components of installing your underfloor heating is the labor. You can save some money on installation costs by removing old flooring yourself and cleaning up the area so that your space is fully prepped for the installation company to come in and install the new radiant heat system.
2. Only Use Radiant Heat in High-Traffic Rooms
Using your radiant floor costs between $1 and $7 per day, and the more floors you heat with radiant heat, the more expensive it will be to operate. If you want heated floors but are hesitant because of the cost, you can choose to install the floors only in the rooms you use the most, such as the primary bathroom, primary bedroom, kitchen, and living room. This way, the floors you walk on most often will be warm, and you’ll save money by not adding underfloor heating to every square foot of your home.
Install radiant flooring in your bathrooms, kitchen, or basement to warm the floor during colder months.
3. Use Cheaper Fuel, Like Natural Gas
Natural gas is much less expensive than other home energy sources, such as electricity. Whereas the average monthly cost of electricity is around $121, the average monthly cost of gas is just $63. If you already use natural gas to heat your home, then it also makes sense to use it as the heat source for your hydronic floor heating system since you’re already paying for that utility. That way, you’ll save on energy costs.
Professional vs. DIY Radiant Floor Heating Installation
If you want to save the most money on your heated flooring project, we recommend you purchase your own materials and remove your old flooring. You’ll need to hire a professional to install your heated floor because if you attempt DIY installation and don’t do it right, your heated floors can quickly become a fire and electrical hazard.
Doing Radiant Floor Heating Installation Yourself
Although you can install radiant flooring yourself, we don’t recommend it as a DIY project because it requires electrical knowledge (if you’re installing an electric radiant heat system) and flooring installation experience. You must ensure that your current electrical system can sustain the new flooring system (again, if you’re putting in electric radiant heat), carefully install the cables or mat, install a control panel, and connect the entire system.
Because radiant flooring installation is complex, hiring a professional is the choice to get the job done. If you want to save some money during the installation, the best thing you can do is to remove your old floor to make way for the new one. This will save you money on demolition, labor, and removal costs and prep your space so it’s ready for your new floor.
Hiring a Professional for Radiant Floor Heating Installation
To install heated flooring, you need electrical skills (if you’re installing an electric system) and flooring expertise. Otherwise, your floors may not heat up, which may mean you need to start from scratch. But if you hire a professional flooring expert, they’ll install your floors so that they function properly and safely each time.
To find an expert flooring installation company near you, follow these easy steps:
- Find local experts near you: Use the tool below to connect with a local professional who can install your radiant flooring.
- Get a quote from a few options: We always recommend you get at least two quotes from local companies to compare prices and availability.
- Consult them about their recommendations: Ask each contractor what they recommend for your floor. They can recommend the type of radiant flooring and where you would get the most out of a heated floor.
- Choose your floor material: Depending on the floor material – tile, concrete, or hardwood – you choose, your contractor will recommend the best type of radiant floor.
- Choose the type of radiant floor: Once you have chosen the type of flooring you plan to install, you can pick the best underfloor heating system to accompany it.
- Get your floors installed: Pick a time to install your flooring, and your contractor will remove your old floor (if you haven’t already done so) and install the new one.
Ready to install heated flooring in your home? Use our tool below to get connected to the best flooring companies in your area.
So, Is Radiant Floor Heating Worth the Cost?
As we discussed above, it costs an average of $3,900 to install radiant floor heating, but you can pay anywhere from $12,000 to $48,000 to install radiant floor heating throughout your entire home. Underfloor heating systems are more energy efficient because heat isn’t lost through ducts, and water can retain more heat than air. So it may be worth it if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly solution for your home.
If you already have air heating installed in your home, you probably don’t need radiant floor heating for your entire house. However, radiant floor heating can be a great addition to a tiled bathroom or kitchen, as it can warm the floor so it’s not cold in the winter.
FAQs About Radiant Floor Heating
Now that you know what radiant floor heating costs and how to save money on installation, check out our most frequently asked questions about radiant heating.
Is radiant heat expensive monthly?
Radiant heating costs an average of $50 per month, or between $1 to $7 per day for operating costs. The total cost depends on how much of your floor has radiant heat, so the more square footage you have, the more you’ll pay to run it. Radiant heating can be a cost-effective way to heat your home.
What are the cons of radiant floor heating?
The major cons of radiant floor heating are:
- The materials and installation cost. Radiant floor heating is expensive and can cost up to $30 per square foot.
- Extensive installation process. Along with the up-front cost, there is an extensive installation process and you won’t be able to walk on your floors for several days.
- The increase in floor level. Radiant flooring will raise the level of your floor by half an inch. So if you have low ceilings, you may not want to install a radiant floor.
Is radiant heat more efficient than traditional heat systems?
Radiant heating is more energy efficient than traditional heating methods and can lead to lower energy bills. If you run radiant heat for 24 hours straight, the average cost is just $3 daily. On the other hand, forced-air heating systems cost an average of $20 per day.
Additionally, radiant floor heating can be more effective than traditional baseboard heating and forced-air heating systems because it eliminates heat loss as it’s transferred through ducts.
How does radiant floor heating work?
Radiant heating works by heating up electric or hydrophilic coils underneath the floor. As the coils heat up they heat the floor, and the heat will transfer into the room and surrounding air.