When it’s cold outside we turn up the heat, but it doesn’t always help our feet. It doesn’t have to be that way. Whether your floors are wood, carpeted, or concrete, there is a way to get rid of drafts and warm your floors (and feet) up. Most of your options take some manual labor or having a professional installation, but the benefits are … toasty.
Insulation is the first step
The first thing you’ll have to do is check the insulation under your floors and in your walls. Since each room is affected by the others, you’ll want to check the insulation in every room, not just in the room having heating problems.
Anywhere you have access to the beams under your floor, install insulation. You can get the batting or the styrofoam kind. Putting insulation between the floor beams will guard against cold air coming up from underneath. If you can’t get into your walls to install insulation, you can use blown-in insulation that only needs a small hole that can be covered afterward. See “Types of Insulation” at Energy.gov for a full listing of insulation types and how to choose the R-value you need.
Check for drafts
After insulation, drafts are a common culprit. Anywhere there is poor sealing between the edges of doors or windows, cold air seeps in and sinks right to the floor. Check for drafts coming through doors and windows by getting your hand wet and moving it all around the frame. Mark the sides where you feel cold air coming in and replace the weather stripping in those areas (check out our post on weather stripping for tips to do this). Also, check any crawl spaces and attic openings. These can be covered with a large sheet of thick plastic nailed down at the corners.
Updating the insulation and weather stripping may solve your cold problem completely. Your heater can now run more efficiently and there shouldn’t be any breeze moving across the floor.
Still feeling chilly?
If you still have cold floors, or you just want more warmth than normal, you can get heating for the floor. One of the most efficient is radiant heating. It involves plastic tubing filled with hot water that runs under the floor. This is easiest to install when the floor is first laid, but it can also be added to an existing floor. Or you can look at different options of floor heaters. You will want to take precautions with heaters on a wood floor as the heat mixed with reduced humidity can dry out the wood.
Option #1: If you haven’t laid your concrete yet, consider putting radiant heating in. The tubes are laid out in the concrete and the water running through them keeps your bare feet comfortable. For an existing concrete slab, you need to put in insulation. A lot of the heat is lost through the sides of a concrete slab. You can fix this by installing rigid foam board along the exterior perimeter of the slab that extends from the bottom of the house’s siding to below the frost line. Then cover it over with a material that is resistant to water and damage, like vinyl or stucco.
Option #2: Another choice for concrete is to apply a subfloor. This involves lying down compressed sleepers, then foam board, plywood, and finally your floor finish like carpet. You have to check the measurement from floor to ceiling before being able to choose this option since it will add a few inches. This measurement needs to be at least 7’ 8” to make a subfloor a viable option.
Don’t believe that a cold floor is something you just have to deal with. You can go barefoot in winter. It will take some work, but it will be worth it, cold season after the cold season.