There are three main floor heating system types: electric radiant systems, hot water or hydronic radiant systems, and radiant air systems. Also there are two main installation types: one called “wet installation” which involves a large thermal mass of a concrete slab floor over a wooden subfloor; and one called “dry installation” because it involves tubing installed in the subfloor or in between layers of plywood.
Below it is a thorough description of hydronic radiant floor systems.
Hydronic radiant floors
In areas where the cold season is longer the use of hydronic systems is the best choice and the most cost-effective. A boiler is used to heat water that is then pushed through tubing below the floor producing heat. To control the room temperature you will need a system of zoning valves and thermostats that will be used to control the flow of hot water from the tubing. To calculate the cost of a hydronic radiant floor system you will need to know the size of your home, installation method and floor covering.
If you go for the “wet installation” you will place the tubing or wiring in a thick concrete foundation slab layer of concrete placed over a subfloor. You will need to calculate the floor’s carrying capacity in order to support all the additional concrete.
The “dry installation” involves installing the tubing under the subfloor or between the two layers of subfloor. You will need to insulate the area below the tubes to maintain the heat’s direction upwards.