3 Min. Read

How to Install Radiant Floor Heating under Luxury Vinyl Tile

Luxury Vinyl Tile LVT Before and After with TempZone Flex Roll and Self Leveling Cement 2

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are taking the remodeling industry by storm. It’s the fastest-growing flooring category, according to Zack Zehner, Vice President of Commercial Hard Surfaces for Mannington Commercial. In a Floor Trends magazine article, he said: “Residentially, LVT has enjoyed strong double-digit growth, even throughout these past few economically challenging years. Like the commercial segment, consumers are drawn to LVT for its incredibly realistic designs, ease of maintenance, superior performance, water resistant, characteristics and installation options.”

Floor Coverings International affirms this trend, noting some background information about the growing flooring type. The company explains that vinyl floors first became popular in the 1920s because of its durability and affordability, but in 2006 it got a major makeover. This allowed it to obtain the look of hardwood, stone and other flooring options but with the same durability and affordability of vinyl tile — a win-win for homeowners and commercial offices alike.

"Now, with DIY projects on the rise, LVT’s ease of installation has also become a point of sale. The tile can be affixed to the subfloor with adhesive strips, glued down or locked together. Some types can even be grouted for an authentic tile look! Installing a new floor couldn’t be easier"

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On top of all that, LVT can even accommodate electric underfloor heating. Below are eight steps to do so and get you closer to that luxury look and feel you’ve been seeking. 

Photo by A & E Flooring 

Step 1: Prepare the subfloor.

Start by clearing the subfloor of any debris. You will also want to dam off any areas like air vents or entryways that you don’t want self-leveling cement to flow into.

Then, use a marker to indicate how the heating element will be laid out per your custom installation plan.

Step 2: Test the heating element.

Using a digital ohmmeter, test the heating element to be sure it is fully operational.

At this time, you can also run the cold lead from the heating element up through the thermostat box if it’s present. Then, attach your Circuit Check and turn it on.

Step 3: Install the heating element.

Labeled Cross Section for Luxury vinyl Tile or Planks with radiant floor heating over plywood subfloor
Luxury Vinyl Tile with Electric Floor Heating Mats Cross-Section

Lay out the heating element according to your installation plan and floor markings. Use hot glue, staples or duct tape to secure the mesh part of the heating roll to the underlayment or subfloor every 6-8 inches, being sure never to staple the heating cable.

This is very important because the heating element will want to float to the top of the self-leveling cement that will be used later in the process. 

Step 4: Place the sensor wire.

WarmlyYours recommends using a sensor wire when heating under LVT, in order to ensure that your floor never reaches a temperature higher than the floor’s maximum threshold. 

To install the sensor wire, place it at least 6 inches into the heating area and lay it evenly between — and parallel with — the heating cable. It’s vital that the sensor wire not cross the heating element. Hold the sensor wire in place by using hot glue. Test the sensor with a digital ohmmeter before and after installation to make sure that the readings are comparable to your previous readings. 

Step 5: Affix cold leads.

A 15-foot cold lead is factory pre-attached at the start of the heating element. This wire will connect to your thermostat, so you’ll need to run it above the subfloor, while not crossing over the heating wire on its way back to the thermostat. Secure it with tape or hot glue so that it doesn’t move when the self-leveling cement is applied over the heating element. Test the system again using a digital ohmmeter to make sure no damage has occurred. If there are any problems, you want to discover them now — before the cement is applied! 

Step 6: Embed the heating element.

Once you’ve verified that the system has been fully tested, it’s time to apply the self-leveling cement.

Embed the heating element in a 3/8 inch layer of self-leveling cement. This will allow you to obtain a smooth, flat surface for installing the LVT in the next step. 

Step 7: Install the LVT.

Finally, you can install the LVT! As mentioned earlier, this could be done a few different ways — adhered, locked in place, etc. Follow the flooring manufacturer’s instructions to see how they recommend it to be installed.

Step 8: Connect the thermostat.

Once the floor is in place, have a licensed electrician hook the thermostat up to the underfloor system and you’re in business! Don’t forget to setup the temperature limitations on the thermostat according to the flooring manufacturer’s instructions.

Check out some of our most popular floor heating thermostats

For full, detailed instructions, please reference WarmlyYours’s Installation Manual.

Tell us About your Project Our team of Radiant Experts is ready to help! Just tell us a little about yourself and your project to get started.

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No need for a thermo underlayment between heated layer and subfloor?

WarmlyYours Responds...

That's a great question! You would only need to use an insulating underlayment when installing a floor heating system over a concrete slab.

Can I go over ceramic tiles?

WarmlyYours Responds...

Yes, you could install a radiant heated LVT floor over a preexisting ceramic tile floor. However, you'll need to make sure that the tile floor is primed and prepared to accept the self-leveling compound (SLC) that the heating system will be embedded in. Then the LVT flooring can be installed on the flat surface created by the cured SLC.

Is Warmly yours able to be installed safely under any luxury vinyl planks or only some types? What types will work? What types are best?

WarmlyYours Responds...

Typically speaking, our TempZone heating elements are compatible with almost every Luxury Vinyl Plank or Tile product but, of course, you should always check the manufacturer's guidelines to confirm that the product can be used with radiant floor heating. One thing to keep in mind is that it's probably a good idea to select a heating system that will be embedded in self-leveling compound as this will create a perfectly flat surface to install the floor covering on later. The best types of LVP or LVT products to use for electric floor heating will have a relatively low r-value (so that heat can efficiently be transferred and the floor covering shouldn't have any (or at least very minimal) padding or attachments of any kind.

Is any waiting period required before turning on the floor heating permanently?

WarmlyYours Responds...

That's a great question and the answer is yes, there is a waiting period before you'll want to energize your floor heating system if there's an adhesive like thinset or self-leveling compound involved. You'll want to wait until that adhesive is completely dry (or "cured") before turning on the system. Turning the floor heating on too early can turn the adhesive brittle. You'll want to refer to the adhesive's manufacturer's guidelines for estimations for how long it will take for it to cure. But after that, it should be smooth sailing. Thanks for the question and for reading! Hope that helps!

Why does it require a self-leveling compound? Is this only to ensure leveling?

WarmlyYours Responds...

This is a great question and you're right it largely has to do with ensuring a level surface. While many luxury vinyl products (plank or tile) are very durable, many of them are malleable, particularly when exposed to heat. So it would be possible that your floor covering would form around the heating wires underneath after enough time and use had elapsed. Embedding the heating cables in self-leveling compound will ensure a smooth installation surface and protect the floor covering from deformation around the heating wires.

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