Heating Ceramic Floors
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This article on installing heaters under ceramic tiles is featured on Flooring Trends, but as always - follow your manufacturers instructions.

Electric Radiant Floor Warming: the Affordable Luxury

If you are building or renovating a bathroom or kitchen you may want to consider the old saying: "Don't cheat your feet."

When it comes to flooring, most homeowners know that ceramic, slate or marble tiles are attractive and durable alternatives to wood, carpet or vinyl. Many families want the beauty and practicality of tile floors, but some find the tiles just too cold.

Bare feet gives an immediate indication as to the comfort level of any floor. For this reason alone, tile is often not the flooring of choice.

Radiant Floor Heating Systems Solve This Problem - Fast!

The most common radiant floor warming systems are either hydronic, where circulating hot water in tubes in the floor warm the tiles or electric, heating cables are laid underin the floor. Hydronic systems are more expensive and complicated, requiring pumps, valves and modulators and are more expensive to install. Electric systems are inexpensive enough for single room applications and simple enough for do-it-yourselfers and the best solution for a renovation.

Suitable for both new construction or remodeling applications, electric floor warming systems include a network of cables installed in the mortar just below the tiles. These cables gently warm the tiles, operating on ordinary house current. These systems are generally easy to install and will not compromise the integrity of the tile installation.

Step by Step Instructions for Installing Tile Warmers....

Deciding where to place the a floor warmer requires the homeowner to determine where they want the floor to be warmed. Areas that are inaccessible or under vanities, cabinets, or plumbing fixtures should not be included. When making the calculations it is advisable to design a layout that considers actual use and traffic patterns in the area to be warmed. Using care in measuring and calculating the area will help ensure that the proper cable is selected for the installation. Preformed mats can also be selected to simplify the installation, but these are usually only suitable for rectangular areas; odd shaped areas, such as "T's" or "L's" will often have cold spots if heated by mats.

Thermostats are also available with setback features to ensure that the cables are only heating the floor when the floor is being used. Floor heating thermostats differ from room heating thermostats in that they have a sensor that extends down into the floor to sense the actual floor temperature, and to control the cables accordingly, usually at about 85 degrees. Today, floor warming thermostats are available with sophisticated programming features as well.

A complete system often can be installed using nothing more than an electric drill and other ordinary hand tools. The installation process can be completed in three phases that will likely correspond with the construction or remodeling phases of your home or building.

1) Electrical Rough-in
During the electrical rough-in, the electrical box for the thermostat is installed, and the power supply cable pulled into it. Conduit holes are drilled into the wall plate (a two-by-four on the floor at the bottom of the wall) to enable the heating cable leads and thermostat sensor to be pulled into the electrical box.

2) Install Cables
For new construction, the cables are installed after the drywall is finished and immediately prior to the tile installation. The cables are provided with plastic strapping that is stapled to the floor, and the heating cable is simply woven over the floor on the strapping. The leads of the cable and the thermostat sensor are routed through the conduit holes and up to the electrical box. A "scratch coat" of mortar - just enough to cover the cables, is then applied and allowed to dry, usually just a day. Then, the flooring can be completed in the usual manner.

3) Thermostat and Power Connection
The last phase calls for the installation of the thermostat and connection to the power source.

4) Lay the tile over a scratch coat and enjoy your new warm floor!

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