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How to Install Electric Radiant Heating

In this how-to video, This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey explains the warming attributes of electric radiant heat.

Electric radiant heat has been on the market for a while now. We’ve found it’s usually an easy sell to customers who don’t like a chilly floor on their feet in the morning. Another great use for it can be in a bathroom remodel, where it might not otherwise be cost-effective to get conventional heating in a room. And some super-efficient green homes without a central heating system are using electric radiant heat mats to provide supplemental warmth.

In this video, This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey explains how to install electric radiant heating.

Steps for Installing Electric Radiant Heat

  1. Start by having a licensed electrician test the radiant heat mat to ensure it's working properly.
  2. After preparing the subfloor for tile, use a trowel to spread thinset mortar onto the tile backer board.
  3. Press the radiant heat mat into the mortar, then spread another layer of mortar on top and set the ceramic tiles.
  4. For plywood subfloor, some radiant heat mats can be stapled down without a setting bed of mortar; check with the manufacturer.
  5. Have an electrician install a dedicated GFCI-protected circuit to the radiant heat mat.
  6. Install a thermostat with an automatic timer to control the radiant heat.


Several companies make these mats. We like the products made by NuHeat and here’s why: They warranty their products to be free from defects in material and workmanship effective on the date of the purchase by the original purchaser, effective for a period of twenty-five (25) years under tile, stone, laminate, and engineered wood floors. That’s hard to beat.