how we are ditching baseboard heaters

We ripped off the construction band-aid and have been demo-ing our little hearts out over at our #samuelfamilyfixer and sharing loads of progress as we go via Instagram stories. I’ve put a bunch in my highlights if you’ve missed anything and I’ll be sharing more updates here now that things are really rolling. Along the way I’ve gotten a ton of questions over what we are doing with the baseboard heaters, if anything, and I tried to answer as best I could in a few short frames but really this is a full blog post kind of answer so here we go!

We love all the modern lines and unique features in the house but what we didn’t love was the look of the radiant baseboard heaters. They do the job ok, but boy are they a big bummer to have to design around. No matter how you slice it, they make a space feel dated. So I did a deep dive into researching alternative heating systems and the good news is we got to rip those babies out of there, and will be replacing them with radiant heated floors which will be nicely tucked away under the finished flooring.

Through all my digging I found a company called Warmboard, and their pretty green panels are the answer to our prayers. According to their site… As a whole-home heating system Warmboard is the premier radiant heating solution in the US. Their panels outperform all the competitive systems with faster response times, easier installations, AND lower energy use.

Tubing, that will eventually carry hot water, runs through those grooves in the panels and their patented design spreads the heat from the tubing throughout the surface of the entire floor, so there are no hot/cold spots and the water can run at a lower temperature which means its more efficient. What is really exciting from my point of view is that since these panels have a more even surface temperature than a lot of other radiant systems, the flooring possibilities are wide open. From what I gathered some radiant systems aren’t compatible with carpet or hardwood because the heat doesn’t make it thought the carpet efficiently and hardwood isn’t good with the temperature fluctuation, but with Warmboard you can use thick carpets, laminate, tile, hardwood… all fair game and I am using a mix of almost all of the above. WOOT!

Once I locked in on the Warmboard system it opened up my design choices for the flooring. Tile in the sitting room, tile in the kitchen, bathrooms and even tile in the bedroom! I’m doing it. Without the radiant heated floors there would be no way I would install tile in the bedroom in this cold climate, but I was set on keeping the wood ceilings as is and I didn’t want wood on both the ceilings and the floors, so with the Warmboard to keep the tile from feeling too cold and giving me the look I wanted, it was a win, win. We are doing carpet in the kids bedrooms and the large fireplace living room to keep those spaces extra cozy, laminate in the dining room, pantries and closets (I was originally planning on tiling those rooms too but when we got the labor estimates back for tile install we had to make some cut backs), and tile everywhere else. A peek at some of the finishes we’ve narrowed in on above!

Another way we are saving some pennies (like $5000 worth of pennies, because we are covering A LOT of square footage) is by installing all the panels ourselves. This whole renovation is a mix of DIY and hired out work through our contractor, to get the most out of our budget (and so I can splurge on certain things like terrazzo floors in the main living space) and the Warmboard installation is a perfect illustration of that. We install the panels and then licensed heating & cooling professionals come in to run all the tubing, install a new boiler (ours is on its last leg) and does all the plumbing and mechanical portion of the install.

We just started installation and Rupe got a new power tool… so he’s happy. It’s an auto-feed drill that allows you to stay standing while screwing in all 16 screws per panel. We did the math based on how many panels we have to install and needed 5,000 screws! Rupe’s knees are very thankful for the screw-loading stand up drill. Pop Pop and Rupe are on panels, me mostly on the sidelines this time, with the kids but jumping in and throwing my 2 cents in whether or not it is appreciated, and Mimi is sweeping up the floors as they go to make sure there’s no princess and the pea situation under the panels. Warmboard supplies an install kit and a detailed custom design plan to follow which makes it a little like a putting together a giant scale, but fairly simple, puzzle. There was a bit of a learning curve at the beginning but once we got into a groove (pun intended) things started to move. I’ll let you know how we do on the rest of the house! Wish us luck. x

Oh and p.s. I got the question a lot on IG if this will be our only heat source and the answer is yes! I’ve heard that some radiant systems may require supplemental heating, but not Warmboard! It is supposed to heat better than forced air, especially when it comes to heating rooms like ours, that are very large and have tall ceilings (ours are 20 feet tall at the peak!). But don’t worry, this girl has been in California for way too long… so it better do the job, I will be the true test and report back.

  • Don’t be scared! My architecture office does Warmboard for any of our projects that have the budget (it’s the Cadillac of heating as far as we are concerned), and it heats old Brooklyn Brownstones beautifully! It’s such a nice heat. Our clients report that it is delicious and comfortable.

  • So if we were to install Warmboard throughout our house does that mean we could get rid of our forced air furnace altogether?

  • This sounds fantastic. How wonderful to get rid of the baseboards! Are you going to install air conditioning?

  • Love that you were able to find a good solution! Don’t see much of this in Texas, but enjoyed learning about it! Glad you saved your husbands back too 🙌!

  • This is fascinating! Is there a risk of having a leak from one of the tube?

    LOVE your work, btw!

  • Oh man my tile floors are soooo cold in my old home, I really hope you find relief. I totally agree with you on the space heater killing a design vibe. I looked all over for wall mounted heaters and none of them had the output we need. Following for updates!

  • We have lived in 3 different houses with under-floor heating overseas & we never needed supplemental heat sources. It keeps you cozy without drying out the air like forced air. I’m sure it will be amazing!

  • Taking notes for my future home! :)

  • Hi! Do you mind sharing your tile resources? Love your selects.

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  • Ooh perfect timing. I’m in the planning stages of a kitchen and mudroom remodel and we have been looking at DIY radiant heat options. I’m definitely going to be looking into warmboard now. Thanks!

  • Can you give us details on the master bath flooring you chose? Is it cork? Love it!!

  • Elaine Passaris

    We installed Warmboard throughout our home in 2014. There is nothing, I mean nothing that even comes close to Warmboard!!! Our children will visit and not want to leave. The heating is silent with a warmth that envelopes the whole house and people in it. Can’t say enough good about it.

  • Sarah we are under contract for a 1966
    Mid century and I love following along with you on stories! Did you run into any lead paint issues with your home?

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