To install a radiant floor heating system, the homeowner must install a set of hot-water pipes or electric heating coils between the subfloor and the floor. In a new construction, the system is embedded in the floor; in an existing home, the homeowner must pull up the floor for installation.
In a new construction, the electric coils or the hot-water pipes are usually laid over the subfloor. The homeowner may also choose to embed the coils or pipes in the slab or run the heating elements through channels cut in the subfloor.
The pipes in a hydronic system are connected to the boiler, a pump and a thermostat, which control the flow of hot water. Electric coils connect to a thermostat and the building's power supply.
The installation process in an existing building depends on the structure of the home. If possible, the homeowner pulls up the existing flooring to install the heating elements on top of the subfloor. In rooms with engineered wood or laminate floors, thin heating pads may be laid directly under the flooring material. In other cases, the homeowner may staple the heating elements to the joist bays under the floor. This process requires access to the basement and usually requires an extra layer of insulation.