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heated floor cost

How much do heated floors cost in Canada?

Heated floors cost in Canada: Installation, maintenance, and more

Heated flooring makes for a luxurious addition to any Canadian home, offering a warmth that radiates much more evenly than forced air from an HVAC system. Keep reading to learn about heated floor costs and how Alpine Credits can help you cover them.

Average heated floor costs in Canada

System Type Average Installation Cost Per Square Foot Total Cost in Standard 2,600 Sq/Ft Home
Electric $8 to $12 $20,800 to $31,200
Air $20 $52,000
Hydronic $20 $52,000

On average, in-floor heating costs between $8 and $20 per square foot. That wide range exists due to the variety of in-floor heating options available. Let’s take a look at the most common examples along with their costs, advantages, and disadvantages.

Please note that there are many factors involved in pricing an in-floor heating system. These are approximate numbers based on our research. No matter how much your in-floor heating system ends up costing, Alpine Credits can help you secure financing! More on that shortly.

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heated floor cost

Electric floor heating systems

Electric in-floor heating systems cost between $8 and $12 per square foot, making them by far the cheapest option on the market. They rely on thin wires that radiate heat from under your flooring.

One disadvantage of electric underfloor heating is that these wires can get damaged fairly easily, especially in high-traffic areas. If and when the wiring ends up being damaged beyond repair, you’ll have to replace the whole system, which would mean ripping up the entire floor.

Additionally, electricity is much more expensive than other forms of heating. As such, electric floor heating systems are primarily used in Canadian homes where other methods would be impractical.

Electric Floor Heating Operating Costs: Electric floor heating uses roughly 3.66 kWh per square foot each month. Given that electricity in Canada currently costs an average of 17 cents per kWh, that works out to 62 cents per square foot of coverage each month.

One very important thing to note regarding electric floor heating operating costs is that they don’t tell the whole story. According to Bob Vila, in-floor heating is best used for supplementary heating. As such, expect to pay additional costs to operate some other type of system (i.e. a traditional forced-air heating unit).

Air-heated radiant floors

Air-based in-floor heating systems cost roughly $20 per square foot to install, representing a step up from the electric variety.

This type of heated flooring system relies on warm air passed through tubes underneath your flooring. The problem, however, is that air does not hold onto heat very well.

Additionally, using air in an under-floor heating system exposes homeowners to the same pitfall that often prompts them to seek an alternative heating system in the first place: leakage. Piping that leaks air can be quite difficult to detect, often only making its presence known via a surprisingly-high utility bill at the end of the month.

Air-heated radiant floors – like the electric variety – generally represent a compromise. For example, homeowners often use them when they’d like to simply connect their existing furnace to an under-floor apparatus.

Air-Heated Radiant Floor Operating Costs: Air-heated radiant flooring systems are comparable to traditional forced-air HVAC units when it comes to operating costs. Expect to pay anywhere from 35 cents to 70 cents per square foot each month depending on your flooring material and furnace.

Hydronic radiant floor heating

Hydronic radiant heat also costs an average of $20 per square foot to install.

As you may have guessed, hydronic systems rely on water pumped through tubes. This is widely considered to be the best method for radiant floor heating as water is cheap and retains heat very well.

Hydronic Radiant Heat Floor Operating Costs: Hydronic heated floors cost roughly 30 cents to operate per square foot each month. This makes it the most cost-effective long-term option for in-floor heating, by a considerable margin.

How to keep in-floor heating costs low

In-floor heating installation projects are so costly in large part due to the laborious process involved. Workers will need to retrofit your existing flooring to make it compatible with whatever heating apparatus you’re placing underneath.

If you currently have carpet flooring, you may also need to factor in the cost of replacing it with something more conducive to radiant heat, such as tile or stone.

That said, here are some tips for keeping in-floor heating costs low.

Install heated flooring in a larger area

If you want to keep costs at the lower end of the spectrum, consider installing heated flooring in a larger area of your home.

This might seem counterintuitive. After all, a larger area means more materials and labour, right?

While that’s certainly true, a larger area also gives crews more space to work in, which can reduce your cost per square foot, delivering greater value for an incremental amount of money. Depending on what type of radiant heating system you choose, you’ll need to crunch the numbers to figure out the point at which additional square footage becomes too expensive.

Buy the best system you can afford

When it comes to keeping radiant heat costs low, think long-term. Many homeowners make the mistake of choosing electric in-floor heating systems for the lower upfront expenses, only to find themselves blindsided by costly wire repairs.

This isn’t to say you should never purchase electric in-floor heating. As mentioned earlier, there are valid reasons for making that compromise. As long as that reason isn’t shortsightedness regarding price, repair costs down the line won’t sting as much.

If you can spring for a hydronic system, you likely won’t regret doing so. It’s a solid investment in your home that will result in lower heating costs.

Use pre-fitted subflooring

Installing a radiant heating system under standard flooring panels requires a silicone sealant that must be left to cure and dry for 24 hours. This can add to your costs significantly.

If you have the luxury of pre-planning, choose sub-flooring that comes with pre-existing channels. Crews will be able to slide the tubing right into place in a matter of minutes rather than hours. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about the silicone coming loose.

Use tile or stone flooring

While wood flooring offers a classic look, it can complicate your installation significantly. An expert will need to ensure the system does not cause the wood to warp or expand, which requires careful engineering.

Tile and stone, on the other hand, make for a much simpler installation since they are less prone to being damaged by heat or moisture. They also transfer heat more effectively.

DIY heated floor cost

So far, the costs we’ve mentioned have included parts and professional installation. However, if you’re interested in installing a heated floor yourself, here are the material-only numbers.

System Type Average Cost of Materials Per Square Foot Total Cost in Standard 2,600 Sq/Ft Home
Electric $5 to $7 $13,000 to $18,200
Air $6 $15,600
Hydronic $6 $15,600

Keep in mind, however, that installing an in-floor heating system is not a simple task. There are major benefits to hiring a professional if you’re not experienced with this sort of work.

How Alpine Credits helps with in-floor heating costs

Having an in-floor heating system installed in your home is no small or cheap project.

At the very least, you’d pay roughly $20,800 to have an electric system installed in the average 2,600 square foot home. If you spring for a hydronic system, you’d be looking at roughly $52,000.

Most people don’t have that kind of money lying around, which necessitates some form of financing. While credit cards come with average interest rates as high as 29.99% according to 4Pillars, a home equity loan is a much more reasonable option.

Home equity is a simple concept. If you owe less on your mortgage than your home is worth, you’ve got available equity!

home equity loan equation from Alpine Credits

At Alpine Credits, we’ve spent more than 50 years helping homeowners tap into their equity for just about any major expense, including home renovations.

Click here to learn more about how Alpine Credits can bring you one step closer to having a radiant heat flooring system installed in your home. If you’re familiar with our services and would like to apply for a home equity loan, click on “Apply Now” button, below.

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Frequently asked questions

Baseboard heating relies on forced air and is typically used to warm a specific area within a home. Radiant heat flooring goes underneath your flooring material and is intended to heat your entire home.

Radiant heat flooring systems typically cost substantially more to install than your typical forced-air HVAC unit. While you’ll generally spend a minimum of $20,800 to install a radiant heat system, forced-air units can typically be had for under $4,000.

That said, a hydronic radiant heat flooring system’s typical operating costs are much lower than that of a forced-air unit.

BuildDirect recommends tile and stone for radiant heating since those materials transfer heat well and are less prone to warping than wood. However, if you’re insistent on wood, consider engineered wood rather than hardwood.

The heat from in-floor systems rises directly upward. It doesn’t drift through rooms as air from a conventional HVAC system would. As such, the only way to really achieve full-house heating is to install the in-floor system throughout your entire residence. This is feasible for most modern homes.

It depends on the type of radiant heat system you purchase. Hydronic systems are built to last decades without much headache. Electrical systems are much less durable and may represent a liability in the eyes of potential buyers.