Are Heated Bathroom Floors Worth It? 18 Pros and Cons

A woman walks barefoot on a heated bathroom floor

Heated bathroom floors. What could be better on a cold and miserable day!  

Heated bathroom floors are worth it from both a comfort and a cost point of view. While the upfront costs of underfloor heating might be pricey depending on the system that you choose, the costs are minimal in the long run.

Although most modern homes have HVAC systems, very few have underfloor or radiant floor heating. This might be because of the misconception that radiant floor heating, especially in the bathroom, is a waste of hard-earned money.

But this is very far from the truth. 

Are Heated Bathroom Floors Really Worth It?

While some might think that radiant floor heating is a luxury beyond their budget, the truth is that by installing radiant floor heating in your home, you could do away with other forced-air methods of heating your home during the cold winter months.

Your aircon, electric or gas heater, furnace, or any forced-air heating method you usually use to heat your home indoors during the winter, could become obsolete if you install radiant floor heating. 

No more bulky heaters taking up storage space during the summer months and no more potential fire hazards during the winter months. Sounds good, right?

Heated Floors Are More Energy Efficient

Heated floors are more energy-efficient than any of the traditional home forced-air (convection) heating methods. In fact, many homeowners report a 25% reduction in their energy bills when they switch to a radiant system.

As the heat rises from the floor, you feel the heat sooner than you would using the forced-air method, which directs the air in one direction, eventually heating up the room.

Although it might take some time to heat an entire room, radiant floor systems run at a lower temperature, using less energy.

Radiant Heat Keeps Your Room Warmer for Longer

cat on heated bathroom floor

Traditional methods take some time to heat up and, in turn, heat up the room. But with under-floor heating, the radiant heat warms the floor and then keeps it warmer for longer. 

Heated floors are often better at heating up a room than traditional heaters as they provide radiant heat, which is absorbed by objects like your furniture, cabinets, etc., standing on the floor. These objects absorb and retain the heat, causing the entire room’s air to heat up. 

Traditional bathroom heating methods generally rely on steam produced by hot water to heat up the room, or a wall heater of sorts, powered by electricity or gas. 

But both of these methods will only warm the room for a very short time. Since warm air rises, unless your wall heater is near the floor, you will stand on a very cold, damp floor once you exit your warm tub!

Heated Floors Can Increase Resale Value

Radiant heated bathroom floors are not only energy-efficient, but they can also increase the resale value of your home – and of course, keep the cold at bay until you are ready to leave your sanctuary!

Read my post THIS Is What a Bathroom Is Worth on Appraisal to learn why investing in your bathroom is worthwhile.

And if you’re considering heated floors for a basement bathroom, you’ll definitely want to read this post.

How Do Heated Bathroom Floors Work?

woman walks across partially installed heated bathroom floor

A few centuries ago, before that wonderful invention, electricity, the Romans used an underfloor heating system called Hypocaust

This system involved heating the open space in the room below (under the floor) using a fire or a furnace. The hot air would rise into the room above, warming the space.

While that system worked well during the Roman era, these days, with modern technology, we don’t have to rely on fires or furnaces to provide warmth anymore.

Radiant floor heating systems are the modern-day answer to the ancient hypocaust system. This system works by producing heat through thermal radiation.

Technically, and in a nutshell, electromagnetic waves transmit thermal radiation through the air. Once the electromagnetic waves hit an object, in this case, the bathroom floor, the energy enters the object, and heat is released, warming the air. 

Conventional vs Radiant Heating

While a conventional underfloor heating system is controlled by a single thermostat, it will heat unused or unoccupied rooms, costing you money. 

A radiant heating system, on the other hand, allows you to warm only the rooms you are occupying, thereby saving you money.

This is why the best heating method for any bathroom is radiant floor heating. 

There are two different underfloor radiant heating systems used for private homes: electric and hydronic.

Electric Mat Radiant Heat

An electric current runs through a mat placed underneath the subfloor and the floor, warming the floor. It is easy to install by an experienced DIYer. 

Although budget-friendly during installation, operating costs could become expensive depending on the cost of electricity in your area.

Electric systems are generally used for smaller rooms like bathrooms rather than larger rooms.

Hydronic Radiant Heat

With hydronic radiant heat, water is pumped through plastic tubes that are installed underneath the subfloor and the floor or embedded in the floor tiles. 

This system requires installation by a professional. The installation costs of this system might be more expensive, but the operational costs are sometimes lower.

Hydronic systems are generally the most common type of radiant heating system used to heat an entire house as they are more cost-effective than electric mat radiant heating for larger areas.

14 Pros of Heated Bathroom Floors

 hydronic underfloor heating system during installation
Hydronic underfloor heating system during installation

Heated bathroom floors are not considered a luxury anymore. In fact, many people are choosing to install radiant floor heating in their bathrooms and often throughout their homes when they remodel or refurbish.

These are some of the best reasons to install heated floors in your bathroom:

  1. Heat is evenly distributed throughout the room.
  2. Radiant heating systems can be installed underneath your existing floor without compromising the aesthetics of the room.
  3. 25% more energy-efficient than forced-air methods.
  4. Individual room control allows you to manage the temperature according to your requirements
  5. Radiant heat systems have a long life and require little maintenance.
  6. Low operating costs.
  7. More cost-effective than convection heating as temperatures are generally set at 4–5°F lower than convection heaters.
  8. No hot surfaces offer a safe environment for children.
  9. Radiant heat does not dry out the air.
  10. Allergens and dust don’t circulate through the air as with some conventional heating methods
  11. Heated bathroom floors create an environment that is less conducive to the growth of mold and mildew.
  12. Radiant heated floors increase the resale value of your home.
  13. You can get rid of unsightly or noisy wall heaters.
  14. The floor is always warm without any cold spots.

4 Cons of Heated Bathroom Floors

Although heated floors are a great addition to any bathroom, there are a few things to consider before installation:

1. The cost of installation. These costs could include labor; floor materials, since you’ll probably need to replace your existing floor; the possible cost of a water boiler if you are using hydronic and you don’t already have a boiler; and the cost of an additional circuit which you may need to add to the main panel. 

2. The installation process, although easy enough, is lengthy

3. The height of the floor could be lifted depending on the floor type and type of system used. Tubes and wiring require space underneath the floors

4. When occasional repairs are necessary, a licensed professional might have to be called out

How Much Do Heated Bathroom Floors Cost?

A pile of 100 dollar bills

Heated bathroom floors are not costly to run. The cost is determined by the size of the area you are heating, the type of floor you have, and the kind of system you are installing.

A general overall installation cost should cost roughly $1,700 to $6,000, while the US national average is around $3,800. These prices vary from location to location. (source)

Let’s have a look at the various costs involved should you decide to install radiant heated floors in your bathroom:

Material Costs

The costs of radiant heat systems are calculated per square foot.

  •   Electric systems – $6 to $20 per square foot
  •   Hydronic systems – $8 to $15 per square foot

Installation Costs

The contractor determines the installation costs, but a general price to work on for a professional contractor is around $20 per square foot. 

Contractors will generally include materials in this price. Still, they may levy additional fees if they have to travel far to get to your residence or to install under certain floor types like marble and concrete.

If you are installing an electric system and you are handy, you may be able to do the work yourself.

Running Costs

If I were to put an electric heated radiant floor in my 45 square foot bathroom, it would cost me $91 per year if I were running the system for a full 8 hours a day.  

This type of system should last around 20 years, the equipment can last up to 35 years. As most radiant heat systems come with a 30-year warranty, you should not have any outlay on replacement costs.

This handy cost calculator will help you work out the running costs of electric radiant heat for your space.

Whether the cost of running a hydronic system is cheaper or expensive for you will depend on the cost of electricity in your area. 

But usually, the operating costs are pretty close of these systems are comparable in cost, ranging from $1-$5 per day. (source)

What Is The Best Floor Covering For Radiant Heat Systems In The Bathroom?

Installing a radiant floor heating system with a close up of heating cables fastened to the floor underlayment under ceramic mosaic bathroom floor while house renovation.

Although radiant heat systems can be installed under most floor types, some are simply better at retaining heat than others. 

If you are remodeling your bathroom and are intend to upgrade your floor after installing a radiant heat system, you’ll want to choose a water-resistant floor material like one of these:

  •   Vinyl Tile
  •   Laminate Flooring
  •   Natural stone
  •   Marble Tiles
  •   Ceramic Tiles
  •   Porcelain Tiles
  •   Glass Mosaic

Vinyl tiles and laminate flooring are affordable synthetic options for a bathroom and work well with radiant heat systems. This material does not expand or contract when heating up and cooling down.

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are excellent choices for the bathroom as they warm up quickly, retain the heat, and provide a consistent temperature over the entire floor.  

Do Heated Floors Increase Home Value?

Think of heated bathroom floors as an investment. Because of the bathroom’s smaller floor space, if you are going to put your home on the market, spending a bit more on making the bathroom a selling point is worth it.

And, while you are waiting for that perfect buyer, you get to enjoy the wonderful sanctuary you’ve created. 

So whether you intend to sell your home or simply upgrade the space for your own enjoyment, heated floors in the bathroom is often a worthwhile investment. 

Other Ways to Stay Warm in the Bathroom

a person puts a white towel over the rails of a towel radiator

You can create the ambiance of a relaxing and cozy bathroom in some other ways besides installing underfloor heating:

Use Towel Warmers

Install towel warmers. Read this post to see why towel warmers really are worth it! 

Heated towel rails keep your towel nice and warm so that when you step out of your shower or tub into the cooler air, wrapping up in a warm, fluffy towel will keep you warm and snuggly for longer. 

Like radiant flooring, towel warmers also come in electric and hydronic options.

Seal Windows and Doors

First, ensure the maintenance is up to date. Your steamy hot air can escape from the bathroom through cracks in the window panes and frames, while doors can let in cold drafts. Prevent this from happening with regular maintenance.

Allowing drafts in and the heat out will cost you more in energy fees while turning your warm space into a cold one very quickly! 

Try a Warm, Cozy Bathrobe

As it turns out, Oprah Winfrey and I love the same bathrobe. It’s made of the warmest, softest material called Kashwere you can find anywhere. Find out why I love this bathrobe so much!

Why Heated Bathroom Floors Are Worth It

While the heated floor installation might be expensive, the potential savings to your utility bill will be noticeable in the long run.

The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, so why not spoil yourself?! 

And if you’re about to embark on a bathroom remodel, be sure to download my Save Big $$$ Cheat Sheet. 

I’ll send a pdf to your inbox that has genius designer hacks that can literally save you thousands of dollars. Just fill out the form below.

Tags: electric, energy efficient, heated floors, hydronic, resale

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