Guest column: Toasty floors = happy customers

HomeColumnsGuest column: Toasty floors = happy customers

by Bob Pratt

Temperatures may be rising but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about radiant heat. That’s right, radiant heat. Think of stocking it ahead of the season—like a department store does (by mid-summer, bathing suits are replaced by flannel pajamas and sweaters).

Along the same lines, now is a good time to start adding underlayment that incorporates electric radiant heating. It’s an opportunity to boost your bottom line with a product that has a good overall profit margin without any real extra effort on the part of the salesperson or the installer.

In addition to not costing the consumer much more initially, in some installations where the radiant heat is supplemental, it can enable the lowering of a thermostat after the room warms up.

Indeed, the image of toasty warm floors under bare feet in kitchens, baths and family rooms can be very appealing to homeowners. But many consumers are not aware cozy warmth delivered invisibly under foot is an affordable option.

Once a homeowner understands the benefits of electric radiant heating it is likely she will want to add it to the flooring sale.

Electric radiant heat underlayment that incorporates acoustical and insulating capabilities can be an easy upsell over traditional underlayment for use under tile, laminate and hardwood floors. Just think of the product as premium underlayment with its own heating system built in.

When the underlayment includes insulating capabilities, it will contribute to limiting temperature extremes. For instance, a product that adds an R-value of .5 will help keep floors warmer in winter and cooler in the summer.

If the underlayment has strong acoustic properties, it will dampen ambient sound in the room and help minimize impact and airborne sound from traveling to the room below.

It is worth pointing out to customers electric radiant heat underlayment does its work invisibly, rather than along the room perimeter like baseboard heating, and without any grills, ducts or vents, maximizing room layout possibilities for fixtures and appliances. Plus, it’s clean and quiet.

Electric radiant heating puts the generated warmth where it works most efficiently—on the people in the room, without drafts or hot and cold spots. It is controlled by individual programmable thermostats. The remaining areas in a room are filled in with unheated underlayment. Some companies offer program- mable thermostats with dedicated floor sensor probes and a built in GFCI.

Ultra-thin systems are available that essentially don’t raise the floor’s overall thickness beyond that of ordinary underlayment.

Radiant floor heating underlayment can be very easy to install and is often sold pre-packaged, with only the electrical connection requiring an electrician.

Systems are available that install easily on any structurally solid subfloor. For example, MP Global Products’ QuietWarmth features roll-out pads that are duct-taped at the seams. Each mat has long lead wires attached at one end. The pads include embedded non-metallic elements insulated with polymers to protect against moisture and damage and take advantage of temperature-limiting properties to prevent overheating. There is no need to bury the system in mortar or concrete. However, it can be adhered to the floor if necessary.

Clearly, radiant floor heating underlayment is a sensible, comfort-providing product that many of your customers—come the change of weather—will appreciate under their new floors.

Bob Pratt is technical director of MP Global Products, a manufacturer of sustainable underlayments for laminate and floating wood flooring. He can be reached at 888.379.9695.

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