The typical radiant floor heating cost ranges from $1,700 to just over $6,000
It's a cold winter morning, and you head to the bathroom to get ready for the day. But when your feet hit the bathroom tile, instead of recoiling at their frigidness, they're warm to the touch. Now that's a great way to start the day. Radiant floor heating is more than just an alternative method of heating your home—it has luxurious bonuses like the scenario above, and it's not as expensive as you might think.
A homeowner can expect to pay as low as $200 but as much as $11,000 for radiant floor heating. However, the typical range is $1,700 to $6,000 and the average is $3,900. The price you will ultimately pay depends on factors such as the type of installation, how remote the home is, labor costs, and the floor covering.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Radiant Floor Heating by Square Foot?
The typical cost to install a radiant heat boiler is $6,000 to $9,000, and you'll have to pay an additional $6 to $20 per square foot for a hydronic heating system, which uses a boiler to warm your home by distributing heated water through pipes.
It's the same price for a propane system. For an electric system, it costs a little more at $8 to $15 per square foot. However, the range differs greatly depending on the type of system you want to install.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Radiant Heating by Type?
When deciding what type of flooring is right for your home, radiant floor heating might be a top contender. But the amount you’ll end up paying ultimately depends on what type of radiant heating you choose. Here are four of the most popular types of radiant heating.
“For electric radiant heating materials, a good rule of thumb is $10 to $15 per square foot,” says Bob Tschudi, Expert Review Board Member and Raleigh, N.C.-based general contractor. ”Add $5 to $10 per square foot for installation.”
Electric Radiant Floor Heat
An electric radiant floor will cost $19,000 to $36,000. Typically, these floor heating systems use strips of electrical matting that go across the subfloor, which are then set in mortar. These systems are particularly good for heating individual parts of the floor.
Geothermal In-Floor Heating
Geothermal systems cost $9,500 to $27,000. These systems use thermal energy along with heat pumps to spread this natural heat underneath the floor. They use a series of pipes under the floors that circulate hot water.
Solar Radiant Heating
If you want a solar radiant system, it will cost $8,000 to $19,500. With this system, solar panels store energy from the sun and heat a fluid that is piped through a tank, and then circulated underneath the flooring.
A propane system is your most affordable option at $2,400 to $2,900. As the name implies, this system uses propane as the energy source for heating the flooring.
What Radiant Floor Heating Can I Get on My Budget?
Ready to upgrade your life with radiant floor heating? Here’s a look at what you can get at various price points.
At the low end of the budget, you will only be able to install a radiant heating system in an individual room.
This budget is still a little tight, but you can afford to cover a little more space. For example, at the median price per square foot for a hydronic heating system ($13), you could afford to cover almost 400 square feet of space in your home.
At this level, you are able to cover an entire small home of a little less than 2,000 square feet (if you’re at the bottom of the price range of $6 per square foot) or get more limited coverage from higher-end systems such as an electric rather than boiler-based system.
At this level, you may be able to afford a hydronic floor system for the whole home, which generally ranges from $14,000 to $48,000 (an electric version is $19,000 to $36,000, including materials and labor).
This amount covers even the most expensive radiant floor heating systems, so you should be able to get the best system that covers a large house between 2,500 and 8,500 square feet with this budget.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Radiant Floor Heating Yourself?
You can buy your own materials, but installing radiant floor heating is something you will still need to hire a professional to do if you don't have the know-how. This is potentially dangerous work due to its electrical nature, making it a DIY no-no. Plus, you might make some expensive mistakes—assuming you even have the tools needed to do the job.
The average price per square foot is $11 for professional installation including materials, $6 for DIY electric system materials, and $2 for hydronic system materials.
What Factors Influence the Cost to Install Radiant Floor Heating?
So will you end up at the high end or low end of the budget when installing radiant floor heating in your home? That depends on five factors.
Size of the heated area: This may be the biggest factor affecting your bill. Heating a single room is a lot more affordable than heating a large house.
Distance to your home: The cost of transporting workers and materials to your home—as well as the time spent doing so—will have a big impact on the final price tag.
Local labor rates: The cost of labor differs greatly depending on your location.
How busy the contractor is: If a contractor has a big workload, they may charge a premium to get the work done.
Site preparation and cleanup: Your bill will depend on how easy it is to prepare your home for installation—digging, installing foam, compacting, and other work to ready the area for installation—as well as cleanup afterward.
Type of radiant floor heating: An electric floor heating system is more expensive than a standard boiler-based system.
FAQs about Radiant Floor Heating Costs
Here are a few common questions people have about radiant floor heating costs.
Should I install radiant floor heating myself?
In general, the answer is no. Radiant floor heating installation requires hiring a qualified flooring contractor near you, so if you don’t have experience doing so, it’s best to just hire someone. You may be tempted to save money by figuring it out yourself, but you won’t save much and risk making costly mistakes. Since this work typically involves coming into contact with electricity, it can be dangerous as well and you should bring in an electrician.
“Since many flooring contractors provide turnkey solutions, the cost will probably be not much higher than if you do it yourself,” says Tschudi. “Not only can they get materials at bulk discount, they usually can include additional services, such as subfloor repair and electrical work, at a lower cost than a homeowner can get.”
How can I keep radiant floor heating costs to a minimum?
Many factors that affect cost are out of your control, such as the cost of labor. However, you can take some actions that will drive the cost down, such as choosing only to heat one room with this method rather than the entire house, or to shop around for contractors who charge less for their services.