Concrete Floor Heating: What it is and What to Know

concrete floor heating

The thought of a cold floor during a Canadian winter can fill anyone with dread. But, what if we told you there’s a way to keep your barndominium’s floor warm and cozy while saving on energy costs?

Enter concrete floor heating, a modern and efficient solution becoming increasingly popular among rural homeowners and city dwellers.

Let’s discover the basics of concrete floor heating, how it works, and why it’s a perfect option for your home.

What is Concrete Floor Heating?

under floor heating coilConcrete floor heating, or radiant floor heating, is a heating system that uses radiant heat to warm your home through concrete floors. Unlike traditional heating methods, such as forced air heating and wall radiators, radiant heating works by warming the concrete slab directly beneath your feet. And this creates a comfortable, even temperature throughout your living space.

Concrete floors retain heat excellently because of their density and low conductivity. The heat produced through radiant heating in concrete remains concentrated and doesn’t rise to the ceiling. This feature of concrete is quite useful as it helps keep the heat on the floor and keeps it warm for longer.

The Difference Between Radiant Heating and Traditional Methods

Forced air heating and wall radiators rely on circulating warm air through vents or emitting heat from a specific location. These methods can lead to uneven temperatures and drafts, resulting in higher energy costs and decreased comfort.

Plus, heating using traditional methods causes the heat to rise upward, making the floors colder. Radiant heating, on the other hand, eliminates these issues by evenly distributing warmth through the concrete floor. It keeps the heat a little above the floor so that the concrete floors remain warm all the time.

What is a Radiant Floor?

floor heating diagramA radiant floor consists of three key components:

  • Insulation: Placed beneath the concrete slab, insulation helps reduce heat loss and improve energy efficiency.
  • PEX tubing: Flexible, durable tubing that carries heated water or an electrical heating element throughout the floor.
  • Concrete slab: The thermal mass that absorbs and releases heat, providing a comfortable and even temperature across the floor.

These components work together to create an energy-efficient, warm, comfortable, and inviting living space.

How Does Concrete Floor Heating Work?

Concrete floor heating transfers heat from the PEX tubing or electrical heating element into the concrete slab. The slab absorbs the heat and then releases it upwards, warming the floor surface and the room above.

As radiant floor heat rises, it spreads evenly across the floor, creating a consistent temperature without cold spots or drafts. That means you can enjoy a cozy room without having to crank up the thermostat.

Radiant heating systems are energy-efficient because they maximize the concrete floor’s thermal mass. The slab helps maintain a consistent temperature by storing and releasing heat, requiring less energy to keep your home warm.

Types of Concrete Floor Heating

There are two main types of concrete floor heating systems: hydronic and electric.

Hydronic Systems

Hydronic systems use hot water to heat the floor. A boiler heats the water, which then circulates through the PEX tubing beneath the concrete slab. These energy-efficient systems can be integrated with solar or geothermal energy sources to reduce energy costs further. This type of concrete floor heating is more suitable for larger homes as it is cost-effective.

Electric Systems

electric floor heatingElectric systems use an electrical heating element embedded in the concrete slab to generate heat. While installation costs may be lower than hydronic systems, electric systems can be more expensive due to higher energy costs. However, they are still more energy-efficient than traditional heating methods.

Benefits of Concrete Floor Heating

Concrete is the best material for radiant floor heating as it has inherent thermal mass. These floors naturally carry radiant heat when electrical currents or water start heating them, and then they radiate it upwards to keep the environment warm and cozy. Here are a few benefits of concrete floor heating:

Energy Efficiency

Radiant heating systems are known for their energy efficiency. By reducing heat loss and allowing for lower thermostat settings, you can save on energy costs while enjoying a comfortable home. Besides that, the heating costs are low, too, as the heat accumulates in the lower half of the room, reducing heat loss.

Comfort and Even Heat Distribution

No more cold spots or drafts! Radiant heating provides consistent room temperature, ensuring a cozy and inviting living space.

The people living in the home can walk freely on floors without worrying about cold floors freezing their feet. Every room feels warm and comfortable with concrete floor heating.

Improved Air Quality

If you or your loved ones suffer from allergies and breathing issues, having a concrete floor heating system will help.

With other heating systems, air infiltration from outside is possible. Having a concrete floor heating system improves air quality so that you can enjoy a cleaner and healthier environment.

Versatility and Customization Options

You can combine concrete floor heating with various flooring options, such as polished concrete overlays or heated concrete floors with tile, wood, or other materials.

You can modify your existing concrete floor. This versatility allows you to customize your barndominium’s interior to suit your taste and style.


1.    How is radiant heat installed in existing concrete floors?

For existing concrete floors, a thin layer of new concrete or a specialized product can be poured over the existing floor with embedded PEX tubing or an electrical heating element. This method allows you to install radiant heat without significantly raising the floor height.

2.    Can radiant floor heating be installed in new construction?

Yes, radiant floor heating is an excellent option for new construction. The PEX tubing or electrical heating element can be installed directly within the concrete slab during construction, ensuring seamless integration into your barndominium.

3.    How much does it cost per square foot for radiant heating systems?

The cost of radiant heating systems varies depending on factors such as system type (hydronic or electric), materials, and labor. On average, you can expect to pay between $6 and $15 per square foot for a professionally installed system.

4.    What are the maintenance requirements for concrete floor heating systems?

Radiant heating systems are relatively low-maintenance. However, it’s essential to monitor the system for leaks or malfunctions and conduct regular check-ups on the boiler or electrical components, depending on your installed system.

5.    Is Concrete Floor Heating Expensive?

Concrete floor heating requires two main costs; one is the installation cost, and the other is the cost to run. The installation cost for hydronic systems can range between $6 and $20 per square foot. Besides that, the cost to run both types of concrete floor heating ranges between $1 and $5 for 24 hours.

Wrap Up!

modern barndominium house canadaConcrete floor heating offers numerous benefits, including energy efficiency, comfort, and customization options for your barndominium. Whether you’re building a new rural home or upgrading an existing one, radiant heating systems provide a cozy and efficient solution to keep your floors warm during those cold Canadian winters. So, go ahead and explore the possibilities of concrete floor heating for your dream barndominium, and enjoy a warm and inviting living space all year round.