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Determining spacing for STEP Warmfloor heating elements | HeatMyFloors.com

Different floor coverings require different spacing of the STEP Warmfloor heating elements. Find out how you should space your elements before applying your floor covering. 

STEP Warmfloor heating elements rolled out across a wood floor.

When installing STEP Warmfloor heating elements, do-it-yourselfers need to take a few things into consideration to determine proper spacing between the elements. 

You might wonder, “Do I have to cover the entire floor with the heating element?” The answer is no, you do not. The heating element is 12 inches wide, and spacing will primarily depend on the floor covering, the square footage of the project and if the system is designed to provide total space heating or floor warming. Believe it or not, the floor covering you choose can have a dramatic impact on the performance of your radiant heating system. Regardless of floor covering, the radiant system will need to be properly designed to overcome the inherent resistance to heat flow (R-value) of each type of floor covering. When adequately designed, the comfort level of walking across the floor and living in the comfortable heating space is unparalleled with any heating systems on the market. Let’s take a look at recommended element spacing for tile, wood and carpet. 

Tile is going to be the most uncomfortable of all floor coverings without radiant heating, but it also can be the easiest to transfer heat in comparison with wood or carpet. With tile or marble floors the spacing between the heating elements is recommended at 2 inches to avoid cold spots.These cold spots are commonly referred to as striping. This inconsistent heat transfer is a common complaint among homeowners and is compounded if there is no insulation beneath the system. Heat encounters less resistance upward through the tile, so there will be less lateral movement of the heat. Spacing the element at 2 inches apart circumvents this problem. 

When installing wood or vinyl floors the spacing between the heating elements averages about 4 inches. The resistance to heat flow of wood floors is greater than that of tile. Given the same square footage, wood floor coverings need less linear feet of heating element than tile floor coverings. The concern with hardwood floors is cupping and warping of the wood and prematurely pulling the natural moisture out that can lead to failure of your system. The key is to have a system designed to provide low temperatures and still provide comfort, like STEP Warmfloor. 

Projects with carpeting are typically designed with 5 inches between the heating elements. Since the inherent R-value of carpet is greater than that of tile or wood, we can cover more square footage with less heating element.  STEP Warmfloor is the best system to work under carpeted floors as the heating element self-regulates and will never overheat. Electric cables typically are not designed under carpeted floors due to concerns of overheating and premature failure. You will not find a better heating system for carpeted floor applications than STEP Warmfloor.  

At HeatMyFloors.com, we look forward to working with you on your project and are here to answer any element spacing questions or other inquiries you may have. Reach us at (800) 785-8738 or by email at info@heatmyfloors.com, and be sure to watch our installation video