I'm trying to make the best of a bad situation here.

New (old) house + slow drain + airhead teenage daughter = flooded 2nd floor bathroom.

It flooded so bad that the ceiling in my entryway underneath partially collapsed. I was in the process of removing the damaged sheetrock when my wife saw the underside of the floor and asked if we could heat the floors since they were exposed.

We don't have heat in that bathroom (Apparently code doesn't require heat in bathrooms in New Jersey), so it would be nice. But I can't imagine effective radiant heating through tile + subfloor. Is it possible? If so, should I be using a hot water system or electric. I've installed electric systems embedded in mortar but I'b be a bit intimidated about having them exposed to oxygen, and against the subfloor.


2 Answers 2


I had an embedded electric floor heater in my basement on concrete. The builder put it in to "take the edge off" and then put laminate flooring over the subfloor with the heating. What I think might be relevant to your situation was that the heat felt quite different than it did in the washroom where they used tile. It still made the room warmer overall but it took much longer to warm up and the floor itself never felt as warm as the tile did.

I think what you'll find is that the heat will transfer up into your washroom, but it won't be as warm/efficient as it would be if it were embedded in your tile. If the heat doesn't transfer well, what might happen is the thermostat you have to install might never reach temperature to shut off. In which case you'd just have to turn it on and off when you needed it and maybe plan a bit ahead, which is what we ultimately did with ours in our kids room at night(bedrooms were in the lower level).

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 15:49

I have hydronic radiant heat between the joists under my 2nd story tiled bathroom floor (subfloor + 1/2 CBB + 1/4" marble tile). It works fine. I did staple a kind of radiant barrier about halfway down the joist - basically reflective mylar. Not sure how much that helps, but it was cheap & easy.

  • Interesting, Was it copper or pex? what/where was the heat source? Did you have an independent boiler for this? Gravity fed or did you use a pump?
    – mreff555
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 20:18
  • Pex - dedicated circuit off a boiler, pumped Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 4:37

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