What is Tile Floor Heating?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Tile floor heating, also known as radiant floor heating, is a relatively new technology that is an alternative to traditional convection home heating systems. Instead of relying on baseboards and forced air, tile floor heating consists of specialized rods or tubing placed under the floor to distribute heat. In contrast to convection heating that blows heat from outside walls, this kind of system heats all the rooms of a home from the floor up, providing more of a greenhouse effect.

Tile floor heating is considered cheaper and more energy efficient than other types of heating.
Tile floor heating is considered cheaper and more energy efficient than other types of heating.

There are several advantages to choosing tile floor heating over other home heating systems. For one thing, it is highly efficient and economical. In fact, independent studies have found that homeowners can expect to lower their thermostats by up to eight degrees Fahrenheit, for an average thermostat setting of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 Celsius), even during the coldest winter months. In addition, installing tile floor heating may entitle certain homeowners to federal and state tax credits or deductions.

Hot air heating systems tend to recycle pollutants throughout a home, which can trigger asthma attacks.
Hot air heating systems tend to recycle pollutants throughout a home, which can trigger asthma attacks.

Heating with a tile floor heating system is also healthier for the home occupants. Hot air heating systems tend to recycle pet dander, dust mites, and other pollutants throughout the home, which can trigger allergy symptoms and asthma attacks. These systems also rob the atmosphere of moisture, which also contributes to breathing difficulties as well as an increased risk of respiratory infections. As an added benefit, tile floor heating doesn’t utilize any blowers or other moving mechanical parts, so it works without making any noise.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, radiant heating doesn’t involve any visible apparatus since everything is contained underneath the floor or slab. The absence of baseboards around the perimeter of rooms also translates to increased room for furniture placement. This is also a safety feature. Pets and small children can’t get burned from accidentally coming into contact with hot radiators or baseboards. In addition, the potential for small toys and other objects to find their way into such spaces is also eliminated.

Finally, tile floor heating is one of the most environmentally friendly systems available today. In the absence of burning a fossil fuel, such as oil or gas, there are no carbon emissions being produced. Radiant heat also significantly reduces energy use since this type of system is designed to run off of the same water heater that produces hot water for the home. In fact, if an up-to-date condensing water heater is used, it can capture steam that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere and convert it into water again. This not only increases energy efficiency, but also reduces water-soluble particle pollutants from being released into the environment.

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to wiseGEEK is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

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Discussion Comments


I hear you! We just bought our first home and are in the process of installing in-floor heat. We have a new baby in the house, and the base board heaters are awful for drying out noses!

We have a single space heater in our porch (recently insulated for an added room) but it's not enough to heat properly and it's forever in the way. In-floor heating is definitely worth it.

My mother and father in law did it themselves (to save money) and it's fantastic! They live in an old renovated farm house, but you'd never know it, heat-wise. Word of caution, though: Have an experienced crew do it. If it's not perfectly level, it will shift and crack your tile. You can have inexpensive tile that won't crack, as long as it's level.


I wish I could afford this! I'm forever worrying about the space heaters getting knocked over, or their cords melting etc. We don't have central air or a fireplace, so space heaters are the only option.

The double bonus for my family at least, would be that this system doesn't dry out the air, we all have sinus troubles during winter because of that.

Anybody have this kind of heating in their house-is it worth it?

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