How to Install Radiant Floor Heating


Radiant floor heating can be provided by high-voltage cables or low-voltage mats. With the high-voltage radiant floor heating the cables are embedded in concrete. To install such a system it would require someone with more electrical experience than the handy-person novice. Low-voltage mats are much easier to install. Some low-voltage mats for radiant heating can be installed under the floor, and some are designed for above the floor. When installing above-the-floor style mats a layer of mortar must be applied to provide protection. The following instructions apply primarily to low-voltage mats. Manufacturer's instructions may vary.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors Measuring tape Staple gun Crimper Tinned copper sleeve
  • Determine if your home's electrical system can handle the additional power required to run the radiant floor heater. Check with your electrician to see if you can add a circuit if it proves necessary. Typically, for each square foot of heated floor you will need approximately 8 to 12 watts.

  • Verify the type of radiant heater you are installing will work with the type of floor you have. Systems are designed to meet specific building insulation and climate conditions.

  • Look for the two wires that run the length of the mat. You will be attaching the electrical wire to those ends. After the mat is rolled into place, you will be removing the insulation from the ends of those two wires. Keep this in mind when you complete the following steps, as you will want those two ends to be the closest to wires bringing electricity to the mat.

  • Measure the floor area where you will be installing the mat. Cut the length of mat you need to fill the space. If you have a helper, simply unroll the material and have your helper hold it while you staple it into place. Do not staple down the end with the two wires that will be attached to the incoming power. Leave about 2 feet on that end unstapled. You will either be stapling the mat into place above the floor or below it, depending on the type of installation you have chosen.

  • Remove the insulation from the ends of the two wires that we identified in Step 3.

  • Attach the two un-insulated wire ends of the mat to the wire you've provided for the power. There will be two wires: a white wire and a black wire. Attach the black wire to one of the wire ends you exposed. Attach the white wire to the other wire end you exposed. When you do this, you will use a crimper and a tinned copper sleeve. The sleeve will be slipped over the wire, and the crimper will be used to compress the sleeve over the wires. Cover the ends with electrical tape.

  • Install insulation over the mats if they are under the floor. Insulation should be kept between the joists. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations at how far to keep the insulation from the mats. For above floor insulation, apply a layer of concrete over the mats, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Manufacturer instructions can vary depending on the type of system you are installing. Always read the instructions that come with the radiant heating system you choose.

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