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Old 03-21-2014, 10:46 AM   #1
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Ceramic tile or laminate for electric radiant floors?


would the extra heat you get from ceramic tile be worth the extra cost vs laminate floor?
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Old 03-21-2014, 11:15 AM   #2
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K im changing my post as I somehow missed the title in its entirety.

Last edited by creeper; 03-21-2014 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:40 PM   #3
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You don't get any extra heat from ceramic tile vs. laminate. The heat comes from the electric mat under the flooring, and the amount of heat generated has nothing to do with the type of surface you put on. If the floor under the heating mat is not insulated, some of the electric heat generated by the floor mat will heat the room below, which means that there is less heat available to heat the room above. Presumably you do not want to heat the room below, which may be a basement or other unheated space, so the solution is to insulate below the floor. I did that in my house using aluminum bubble foil, it works nicely to direct the heat upward towards my kitchen. Plus it prevents the space aliens from listening in to my thoughts when I am working in the basement.
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Old 03-21-2014, 03:54 PM   #4
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my understanding of electric radiant flooring is that the wires actually heat up the mortar pad that you set them in, and it is this heated pad that radiates the heat into the room. Since ceramic tiles conduct heat better than laminate, wouldn't they radiate more heat in the same way the concrete does?
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:20 PM   #5
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Which room is the one on question. My 2 cents is to avoid laminate ....in an area that might see any water...bath, kitchen, entrance.. avoid it at all costs.

Plus ceramic is better for your resale when the time comes. Plus properly installed it will last ages
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:35 PM   #6
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The subject of how much heat actually gets into the room from electric or hydronic floor heat is actually pretty complicated. One way to look at the analysis is to note that the heat produced by the wires themselves, which are the only thing actually producing heat, is constant, and is fixed by the voltage the wire operates at and the resistance of the wire. Most mats produce about 10 or 12 watts per square foot of heat, a few produce more, but the amount of heat produced is constant, and has nothing to do with what is above the wire or below the wire.

A small part of the heat form the wires is absorbed by the tile or laminate above, but most of the heat passes through to the room above or the room below. The amount of heat that goes into the room above versus the amount of heat that goes into the room below is based on the ratio of the insulation value of the material above the wire versus the material below the wire.

In your case, compare the results from having porcelain tile above versus laminate. The insulation value of materials is typically measured using R. You can see a nice chart of the R value of various materials here http://www.radiantprofessionalsallia...alueChart.aspx. You can see that 1/2 inch laminate has an R value of about 0.5, while 1/4 inch tile is only .02. So you are correct in your assumption that when comparing the amount of heat that goes into the room above versus the room below, tile is better than laminate, since it has a lower R value.

But you can control the ratio by insulating the room below, which directs most of the heat towards the room above. My previous point is that the TOTAL amount of heat generated never changes, and essentially all of the heat from the wires either goes up where you want it, or goes down where you (presumably) don't want it.

If you choose to use laminate floor, you need to insulate the room below pretty well to direct the heat upwards. If you use tile, you don't need as much insulation to get the same effect.
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:49 PM   #7
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A ceramic floor will warm up faster and conversely, lose the heat faster than a laminate floor will. You can heat under either and get the same effect; more heat in the space as long as you do what Dan suggested; insulate below.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
If you choose to use laminate floor, you need to insulate the room below pretty well to direct the heat upwards. If you use tile, you don't need as much insulation to get the same effect.
excellent post, so there is really no benefit to coating the wires in mortar as some products cite in their instructions? the same amount of heat would be given off regardless of the concrete? I assumed it worked much like a wood stove, with the wires heating up the cement pad and ceramic tiles like the wood heats up the steel on the stove and its the steel that radiates the heat to the rest of the room. Why are we encasing the mat pads and/or coils in cement?

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Old 03-22-2014, 06:58 AM   #9
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STOP! Let's be clear.

If you use a line voltage wire of any kind, it MUST be embedded in some kind of heat sink. For most, it's a cementous material of some kind. It acts as a "heat sink". As the mass heats, so goes the floor. That is how the heat generated from the wire is transferred to the floor.

Danfoss is the only company that makes a cable/insulated panel floor warming system that is not cementous in design. The concept is the same. The wire has an aluminum panel system that acts as the heat sink surrounding the element. The panels transfer the heat to the floor above.

That said; There is another electric floor warming system on the market that doesn't need to be embeddded. It's a low voltage system called Zmesh. Same heat source, completely different in design entirely.

Do some searching on the net and you'll find out everything you need to know.
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Old 03-22-2014, 10:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warmsmeallup View Post
Do some searching on the net and you'll find out everything you need to know.
Hah, ive learned more from you guys in 5mins than 4 hours of internet time. I've seen a number of installs like the one here at Homedepot, where your attaching the heat coils/mats directly to the subfloor, plywood, with no insulation below? Are you not losing a ton of heat through the floor as Dan mentioned? The 'heat sink' concrete installs as well, no insulation.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warmsmeallup View Post
STOP! Let's be clear.

If you use a line voltage wire of any kind, it MUST be embedded in some kind of heat sink. For most, it's a cementous material of some kind. It acts as a "heat sink". As the mass heats, so goes the floor. That is how the heat generated from the wire is transferred to the floor.

Danfoss is the only company that makes a cable/insulated panel floor warming system that is not cementous in design. The concept is the same. The wire has an aluminum panel system that acts as the heat sink surrounding the element. The panels transfer the heat to the floor above.

That said; There is another electric floor warming system on the market that doesn't need to be embeddded. It's a low voltage system called Zmesh. Same heat source, completely different in design entirely.

Do some searching on the net and you'll find out everything you need to know.
This is totally false. There are line voltage (120v & 240v) mats that act as laminate floor underlayment and are not "imbedded" into anything.

To the OP: The amount of heat you get has NOTHING to do with whether it's a ceramic tile floor or a laminate floor. The heating elements warm up and radiate out and through whatever material is around it, laminate or a cement mortar bed & tile. Watts in ---> BTUs out.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:49 AM   #12
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And yes, you will loose less heat "down" if you direct more heat "up" by insulating below the heating mats, either directly below or under the subfloor between the floor joists.
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Old 03-26-2014, 03:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandGuy View Post
And yes, you will loose less heat "down" if you direct more heat "up" by insulating below the heating mats, either directly below or under the subfloor between the floor joists.

great since its open air below the floor I want to heat (cottage), there will already be batted insulation between the joists, thick insulation too. Its safe to say this will be enough insulation? Will thermal bridging be an issue?
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