Australia is known for its amazing summers, but in many parts of our country our winter bring chills to our daily living, and often our homes aren’t designed for this season. We often think more about cooling than heating, and many of our homes are not designed to wrap us in warmth during winter. We just try to get through, holding onto our hope for those first whiffs of spring and the warmth in the air.
When you’re renovating your home, think about heating as well as cooling and one great option we’ve used is underfloor heating. It brings such a sense of luxury when you step into your bathroom and feel the gentle warmth of the floor, adding to the overall comfort of the room.
In all our bathrooms on The Block we’ve used underfloor heating, and most recently we used it in our Spa Room, running the heating up into the bench seat in the Steam Room – no one wants to sit on a cold tiled bench seat after all! …brrrrr.
Prior to this we always thought it would be far too expensive to install, to run, and then to repair if something goes wrong.
Well, we learned a few things since, and we often recommend to clients they consider this option. Here are some things to consider if you’re looking for something special in the bathroom!
Underfloor heating is radiant heat and provides even heating across a room, or space, without ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ spots in a room. As an option for bathrooms, installing heating under the tiled floor means you also have safety on your side, as there are no exposed elements or cords in a wet area, and you can still enjoy a sense of luxury and comfort. Also, floors dry faster, removing slip risks, and because floors dry quicker, it inhibits the growth of mold or bacteria in a damp room.
Can you use underfloor heating in the shower area? In certain situations, ‘Yes’ you can however, there are a few questions to consider. You need to consider how the tiles flow through the bathroom, are step downs, how is the shower screen installed and the location of drains, as the heat comes from coils laid under the tiles, and you need to eliminate risks they can be ‘squashed’ or pierced by screws holding a shower screen in place. We recommend clients think about heating options from the beginning of their renovations. We’ve used it in the shower areas of all our Block bathrooms because we incorporated it into the overall design, layout and choice of finishes.
Imagine on those cold mornings, when you’re waiting to get just the right water temperature, you can be standing on a toasty warm floor, with no risk! Perfect.
Installation is easier than you think. For clever handy people, there are DIY options ready to be installed, however, we recommend using trained technicians who know and work with these kinds of products daily. On The Block, the team from Hotwire helped us with installation and any solutions we needed.
What happens if things go wrong, how do you know where the fault is, how do you repair it and does it mean you have to pull up the floor? Firstly, this is a good reason to ensure you use reliable, trained technicians. If there is a fault, technicians can normally locate the exact location using thermal imaging, which means repair is usually as simple as lifting 1 tile, fixing the element, and replacing the tile. However, once installed by trained technicians, underfloor heating can last decades.
Another question we had was the cost! At current rates, the installation of underfloor heating for an average bathroom of 4-5 square meters should be around $1000, and for a living room of approximately 40 square meters around $3000. Make sure your electrician knows you’re planning to use this, so they ensure power supplies are roughed in correctly.
Underfloor heating is controlled with a timer, or via an app, so generally, it will operate for a limited number of hours per day. An average bathroom heated for 3-4 hours will cost around 10 cents an hour to run, approximately 40 cents per day. In larger areas like living rooms, your cost will be higher, however, using the same kind of mathematics costs for a 40 square meter living room costs will be approximately $4 for 4-5 hours of heating (cheaper than a takeaway coffee these days!).
Check with your supplier at the time of considering this as an option and remember the cost will vary according to to use (but no one needs to fry an egg on the bathroom floor, so keep the heat to a reasonable level!). There is a wealth of information that can assist in your decision.