Can You Put Thermal Heated Floors Into A Mobile Home?

by Dec 13, 2019Blog, DIY, Mobile home life, Remodeling

There are multiple options you can choose from to keep your house warm and cozy, no matter the cold outside. Underfloor heating is one handy way to achieve warmth in your house. But you might be wondering – how challenging are these underfloor systems to install and do they provide a practical solution? 

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In this article, we are going to answer the question, “Can you put thermal heated floors into a mobile home?” Plus, we’ll provide some additional information that you might need to go about this.




What are thermally heated floors?

It is incredibly difficult to resist a heated floor. This heating solution makes it so much easier to move about in the winter. Unfortunately, these floors are still rather rare in households, but they are more available now than ever before.

Warming our toes in this way is by no means new. As an example, Greeks and Romans used underfloor systems around 500 BC

Over time, continuous innovations led to the advanced system that we use today.

The term “thermal” in thermally heated floors, simply refers to the process by which something is heated and through which energy is transferred.

Usually, this is done through what is called radiant floor heating. In short, this is an under-the-floor heating system that conducts heat through the floor surface instead of through the air (as in conventional forced-air heating systems).

Types of radiant heated floors

Overall, there are two primary types of radiant heating.

First, there are hydronic, or wet, systems. They work by transferring heat through hot water tubes. Generally, this option is less expensive to operate, so it works well for large rooms as well as for whole homes. But, its most significant downside is the high initial costs.

The setup is more complicated because you need to connect the pipes to some kind of water heater or boiler. 

Second, there are electric, or dry, systems. In this case, they produce heat with electrical wires. Most people prefer to use this option for heating smaller areas. Typically, it’s more expensive to operate and run yet easier and cheaper to install.

Both options are installed underneath the flooring of a building.

Take a look at this article if you need further information on the differences between the two.

Pros and cons of underfloor heating:

Before making any decisions, you must consider the overarching pros and cons of radiant heating systems.

The pros include:

  • Better for people with allergies as systems that blow air can increase the chances of dust mites.
  • More economical to operate than some other heating options like furnaces.
  • Energy-efficient
  • Doesn’t use much space
  • Easy to run and low maintenance
  • Hidden
  • Through infrared radiation, it heats the entire area, not just the floor.

On the other hand, some of the cons are:

  • High initial costs
  • Expensive installation
  • Potential issues with the height of the floor
  • Possible challenging setup 
  • Long installation time

The question: Can you put thermal heated floors into a mobile home?

As often happens with home upgrades and renovation, there isn’t a hard yes or no answer to the question, “Can you put thermal heated floors into a mobile home?” In general, it should be possible to install this type of system in a mobile home. But there are too many factors that can impact the setup and operation to say for sure.

Instead, the plausibility and practicality of this project is something that you need to assess individually for each house and model.

Person standing on wooden floor

The challenges of installing thermally heated floors in a mobile home

Below we’ll cover the main obstacles you could face in installing thermal heating.

Lack of or insufficient access

The first challenge you face when installing underfloor heating arises if you have to install it once the floor is already in place. It is much more manageable to do this before you have put down the flooring.

Otherwise, you might need to remove the floor to set up the system.

Alternatively, there are a couple of new products – for example, electric radiant pads – that you can place between the joists under the surface. However, to do this, you have to have access from below the floor through a crawl space or a basement.

Most mobile homes come with crawl spaces, but whether you have access or not depends on the specific structure as well as the foundation.

Ultimately, it would work best if you install the system while you’re replacing your vinyl, tile, laminate, or wood surface.




What types of floors work best for underfloor heating?

Theoretically, you should be able to use underfloor heating with any flooring. Yet, not all flooring types are equal. There are some materials and structures that will undoubtedly work more efficiently than others when paired with underfloor heating.

The big issue here is whether flooring can conduct and hold the heat or not. Radiant heating works by transferring heat to the material so that it raises and helps to maintain the temperature in the home. Experts typically refer to this as its thermal “mass.”

Preferably, you should use materials with thermal-conducting properties. Examples of these options are:

  • Stone 
  • Concrete
  • Ceramic tile

Aside from this, the substance should be able to withstand heat.

Examples of common flooring that don’t work as well are the following:

  • Wood: While wood floors are amazing, unfortunately, they usually don’t hold up to significant temperature fluctuations well. They can shrink and expand as it changes, leading to gaps between the planks. Or they can even change shape.
  • Fabric: Generally, the issue with carpets is that they have insulating properties. Some types could, therefore, prevent heat from transferring as it should.
  • Vinyl, plastic, and laminate: These three materials also have their limitations in conducting warmth. Plus, the heating system could damage the flooring.

Mobile home manufacturers often favor lighter materials over other options. That’s why they might choose plastic or vinyl for the models they build. So a mobile home’s original flooring might not work as effectively as other types.

In these cases, you might want to replace the flooring. Or else you would need to take additional steps to make sure it can withstand and transfer the heat.

Good news

On the other hand, there is some good news. No matter the type of floor, it will typically be possible to install an underfloor heating system. But you will probably need to make some adjustments as owners would have to do with many site-built houses.

Keep in mind these factors that could help your home’s ability to hold its warmth. For one, there’s the insulation in the flooring and crawl space of your mobile home. Plus, the air-tightness of the structure can also play a role.

You can improve the way the heating system would function by installing high-quality insulation. Aside from this, reflective shields could help you to bump up the efficiency, too.

You need to remember that these heating products and systems are being modified and improved all the time.

Nowadays, the pads and panels are much thinner than they used to be. Therefore, they’re more versatile and work better with more types of flooring. You need less space to fit them in.

DIY or professional job?

Let’s say our exploration of the question, “Can you put thermal heated floors into a mobile home?” has prompted you to want to install thermal heated floors in your own house. The question remains for most homeowners whether they’re going to install the heating system themselves or whether they should bring in a professional.

Overall, the project can be quite complicated. The following are a few situations where you might want to think twice about DIY:

  • You don’t have at least some knowledge or experience with similar installations and upgrades, and you haven’t removed and replaced flooring before, either.
  • There is extensive damage to the floor and subfloor of your mobile home.
  • The existing flooring of the house is wood.

In these cases, you might find it better to call an expert. They could troubleshoot and tackle obstacles with more confidence and possibly more success.

Besides this, in most situations, you would need to hire an electrician, plumber, or another expert to help you with certain parts of the setup. This is particularly necessary when it comes to installing and connecting new power cables and water pipes.

It’s no coincidence that the most significant issues after installation are faulty wiring in electric radiant systems and air in the pipes in water heating systems.

How much does underfloor heating cost?

Another critical consideration is what this whole process would cost you. Retrofitting underfloor heating is typically far more expensive than certain other possibilities. How much more expensive it is depends on whether you already have access to the subflooring. Plus, it depends on how much of your flooring you need to tear up and reinstall.

On average, you will need to pay between $5 and $7 per square foot on the materials for an electric radiant system. And if you’re opting for professional installation, it will typically cost you $8 to $12 more per square foot. Just remember that this type of system can be quite expensive to operate.

In contrast, hydronic radiant floor heating will cost $6 to $16 for a professional installation.

Therefore, to professionally install a dry system in a 1,500 square foot home will cost $12,000 to $18,000 – more or less . On the other hand, you can expect to pay $9,000 for a professional installation of a wet system in a 1,500 square foot house.




How do you install thermally heated floors?

A detailed, step-by-step breakdown of the process is an explanation for another day. But we can provide a basic overview of the different steps involved.

Installing hydronic radiant heated floors:

1 – Start by pulling up the floor. How you do this will depend on the type of flooring and how it’s secured. But mostly it involves removing the nails and beginning to pull the panels up.

2 – Next, you have to lay down the water pipes. You must connect them to a water heater or boiler. To do this, you might need to remove some of the wall paneling.

3 – Generally, you need to cover wet systems with screed to improve their insulation and conduction.

4 – Afterward, you can replace the flooring.

Installing electric radiant heated floors:

1 – Once again, you have to start by pulling up the flooring so that you can install the system.

2 – Afterward, you should lay down the necessary insulation.

3 – Now, you can roll out the heating mats and secure them. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for this. Some systems might work best if they are installed with double-sided tape – others with nails or other alternatives.

4 – You need to contact a qualified and certified electrician to make the connection to your main electrical supply.

5 – For the sale of insulation and conduction, you need to lay screed over the mats.

6 – All that’s left to do is to replace the flooring.

In both cases, you also need to install a thermostat and thermal regulation system to help you adjust the temperature as necessary.

Other options to heat your mobile home

Luckily, if radiant heating isn’t suitable for your mobile home or if the process isn’t worth it for you, there are plenty of alternatives. Many of these will be more hassle-free, less expensive, and just as effective.

But none of them will have quite the same feel as radiant floor heating.

Nevertheless, there are other standard options to heat your mobile home this winter:

  • HVAC control system
  • Electric or natural gas furnaces
  • Heat pumps
  • Cooling and heating window unit
  • Air conditioners
  • Boilers
  • Fireplaces
  • Wood-burning and pellet stoves
  • Gas or electric space heaters
  • Freestanding heaters like ceramic, radiant quartz, fans, and oil

Standing electric fireplace

In all of these cases, you need to back your heating method up with proper insulation. And you should also make sure that your mobile home is airtight.

Keep out the cold

Whenever you’re trying to make decisions about the heating in your mobile home, you must do your research. Now that you know the answer to the question, “Can you put thermal heated floors into a mobile home?” you need to sift through your heating options so that you choose the one that will suit your needs and requirements the best. 

Installing thermally heated floors can potentially be a costly and expensive process. But it will undoubtedly help make your winter more comfortable.

If you are busy with your last-minute winter prepping, take a look at how to heat a mobile home and be cost-efficient at the same time and how to prepare your mobile home landscaping for winter.



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