The first time I experienced heated floors was in the mid-1980s, at the childhood home of my friend Meg. We lived in a city where winters got quite cold and it was sheer heaven to stand in their kitchen in my stocking feet. They had a hydronic radiant floor heating system…hot water was piped under the floor. This system is still used today and it is your best choice for heating an entire house or if you have hardwood floors. Since those days in the 80s, radiant floor heating has become more common, but they are no longer considered a luxury. If you’re going to reno one or two rooms, you may want to just use an electric floor heating system. I like the look of retro ceramic tiling, but there is nothing chillier for bathrooms in the winter. We plan on putting ceramic tile in the bathroom of our 100-year-old house and I want a heated floor. We’ll either use floor mats or tiles with electrical cables underneath the ceramic tile. We also have a red clawfoot tub which weighs a ton, so this project would have to be done during the summer. The tub will be parked outside while we work. According to Tim Snyder, with This Old House, “a bathroom-size warm-floor retrofit will cost $400 to $700 including the cost of the new tile.” I think this project will cost more in Canadian dollars, though. After we get the necessary electrical circuits set up, we’ll lay down the mats or tiles, then finish the wiring. Here are some companies that sell these heating cable products: Warmly Yours, SunTouch, EasyHeat. I look forward to a thermostat with a programmable timer. The floor will be warmed up before I roll out of bed, sleepy-eyed. Heavenly! Of course, before we’ve done all of this, ceramic tile must be chosen. Talking about tile, Snyder says, “there are certain thinsets that work better than others; check with the cable supplier for specific recommendations.” For our bathroom, we’ll be looking at retro hexagonal tile, as shown on the left, with or without detailing. Glossy, porcelain subway tiles are nice, too, for running halfway up the walls. In Vancouver, B.C., Bullnose Tile and Stone Ltd. carries the tile examples shown. (Plus a whole lot more…they carry Motawi, my favorite!) Here’s a map showing vendors for Subway Ceramics Tile on the east and west coasts in North America. This Old House recommends Florida Tile and here’s its store locator. In addition, here’s an eHow article called “How to Calculate how Much Tile you Need for a Room.” Finally, I’ll need a mildew resistant grout, so I’ll go to my local hardware store to get help choosing the best product. I have a feeling we’ll be hot when we’re laying our tile but, between sips of lemonade, we can dream about how wonderful it will be come winter….
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