While heating from the floor up isn’t exactly a new invention, what’s new is the radiant style heating that can be installed in your home’s flooring. For some homes this can be a way to save money on your heating bills, and for other homes this can be a bit of a luxury. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of radiant heating? This article will make a quick rundown on both.

“I'm not into cold weather, I like warm weather.” - Amos Lee

The Difference Between Radiant and Forced Air Heating

Here's what radiant floor heating looks like before they put the floor back in
The layout for in-floor radiant heating in a living room. Source: Haker Heating

The biggest difference between radiant floor heating and forced hot air is the use of vents. Electric radiant floor heating is literally in your floorboards, heating up the wood and being carried up through your room via thermodynamics and warm air. Forced hot tubing is literally that, forcing hot air through ducts and vents in an effort to heat your home. It’s hard to say which is more efficient, as the ability to heat a home quickly is usually determined by how old or new the model unit is. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Radiant Heating

You can install radiant heating into most flooring units
Works perfectly with the majority of different home floors. Source: The Spruce

Radiant heating is a relatively new method of warming your home, even though the concept dates back to the hot stones of the ancient Romans. The technique involves heating the floor of your home and relying on that heat to rise and warm the rest of the room. This is great for people who get literal cold feet.

Advantages of Radiant Heating

  • Easy to install in modern homes
  • Incredibly energy efficient
  • No maintenance
  • Works with laminate, stone, tile, wood, or carpet floors
  • No noise
  • Clean energy
  • No ducts or vents

Disadvantages of Radiant Heating

  • Time it takes to install
  • Can be over budget for some
  • Will increase the height of your floor

Forced Air Heating

A more traditional form of heating your home
Why fix what isn't broken? Source: Signature

Forced hot air is the more traditional method of heating one’s home, and could be the model that your house is currently using. You’ll be able to tell by the vents on the floor of the room in your house. The ducts and vents will require occasional cleaning.

Pros of Forced Air

  • Faster heating than radiant
  • Doubles as a filtration unit
  • Heats more evenly
  • Cheaper

Cons of Forced Air

  • Requires more maintenance
  • Requires more cleaning
  • Dust particles and debris can be blown around

When Not to Use Radiant Heating

Hardwood floors may cause an issue depending on how dense the wood is
Sometimes really hardwood floors are best left to vents, and they can insulate better. Source: The Spruce

There are a few flooring options that are simply not compatible with radiant heating for one reason or another. Vinyl, old hardwood, and wall-to-wall carpeting actually hinder the heater’s ability to warm up the room because they act like insulators. In this case you have to ask yourself, “is radiant floor heat worth it?” The materials to avoid radiant heating include:

  1. Rubber floors of any kind
  2. Dense hardwood
  3. Solid hardwood
  4. Carpeting that is glued down to the floor

Heated Tiles

FOr the most relaxing early morning bathroom visits, try heated tile
Heated tile can make your morning so much easier to deal with. Source: Progloc

Is the cost of heated floor tiles worth it? Certainly this can be very comforting if your feet are cold in the morning tip-toeing to the bathroom and getting out of the shower. If this is the case, heated tile flooring can be a great asset and an efficient way to heat your bathroom.

While it can certainly seem like a luxury item, homes built in colder climates can certainly stand to have radiant heat coming from their tiles, because the laws of thermodynamics tell us that warm air rises, so it’s harder to keep your feet warm. This is especially true early in the morning. So, is a heated bathroom floor worth it?

Electric Heated Tile Floor Pros and Cons


  1. Works great in larger homes/bathrooms
  2. Can last up to 35 years without issues
  3. Can save on heating bills


  1. It’s unclear if this home improvement will boost the value of your home
  2. Can be expensive to install
  3. Not ideal for smaller bathrooms

Are you looking to get a new heating system installed? Preferably one more efficient with your household? Then call a professional to get started.

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