The Cost of Warmboard

Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:09

“So, what does it cost?”
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It’s the obvious question to ask before making any purchase. With Warmboard, the answer is not always obvious because of many factors to consider. And you certainly cannot compare Warmboard to a simple sheet of plywood; it’s so much more.

If you care solely about upfront prices and not about long-term energy costs, noise, dust, airborne germs or uneven heat that dries out your skin and sinuses; a forced air system is an obvious choice. No radiant system can compete with forced-air on an initial cost comparison.

But when considering the long-term costs of a heating system (ie, 10 years of usage and energy bills), radiant heating compares very favorably with forced air. And if you’re remodeling or building a fine custom home and wish to place a high value on comfort, indoor air quality and health, a Warmboard radiant heating system is ideal choice.

But how does the cost Warmboard compare to other radiant systems?

If you consider only the cost of the radiant product itself, Warmboard can cost up to $4/sq.ft. more than other radiant products. If the comparison ended there, fewer would choose Warmboard. Yet we are the largest supplier of modular radiant panels in North America with over 25 million square feet of installed in just the past ten years. Why? Because there are many factors make Warmboard a truly unique product; wholly different from other radiant alternatives, especially when cost is fairly compared.

Let’s break things down for a better understanding. If you want to skip the details, scroll to the summary at the bottom.

Let’s start with Conductivity

Hydronic radiant systems perform one simple function; they conduct heat from water in a tube to the surface of your floor. And Warmboard performs that simple function far better than all other systems.

Warmboard panels are universally acknowledged to be the best in the industry. Each panel is permanently bonded with thick 1060 aluminum alloy plating. This coating goes edge-to-edge and into the tubing channels to create a large, unified surface for the heat to pass across. Slab systems bury tubing in a thick pour of cement (or non-conductive gypsum material) while others use thin aluminum sparingly on various portions of their panels. This is somewhat helpful, but not terribly effective. The superior quality of Warmboard costs more to make, but saves money elsewhere in the system, lowering overall costs.

Higher conductivity reduces tubing, manifold and labor costs. tubing installed gypcrete layout

As conductivity rises, tubing spacing can be increased. Warmboard’s 12 inch tubing spacing outperforms systems that need tubing every 4 to 6 inches – double to triple the amount. Water is distributed through the tubing using manifolds. Systems that rely on thinner tubing require a higher number of manifolds as well. So potentially, a “comparable” radiant system actually requires double or triple the amount of tubing and up to six times more manifolds if using tubing with a smaller diameter.

In the end, these other systems require far more components and a significant increase in labor to install them. With Warmboard this will save you about $1 sq./ft. compared to these less conductive systems. Add another $2 per square foot for the smaller tubing requirements.

Warmboard is the structural subfloor every framed floor home needs anyway.

Warmboard is the only radiant panel that functions, and installs, as a structural subfloor. Up front, this means there are no added subfloor costs (which all other radiant heating products require). It also saves enormously on labor. How much are the savings? Expect at least $2 sq./ft. compared to slab systems and as much as $4 sq./ft. for panel systems.

When just considering tubing, manifold, subfloor and installation labor, systems that start out four dollars per square foot ahead become either straight up the same cost or more expensive than Warmboard when just a few variables are fairly considered.

In other words, when considering parts and labor alone, “cheaper” radiant systems rapidly approach, or sometimes surpass, the price of Warmboard. And there’s still more.

Hardwood Flooring warmboard hardwood installation

Because Warmboard begins with dry, 1-1/8” thick Douglas Fir plywood, it is ideal for the installation of traditional hardwood – just nail the hardwood to Warmboard as you would with any standard subfloor. Many systems require at least $2 sq./ft. to overcome the inherent incompatibility of hardwood, especially over slab. If you are planning to enjoy hardwood in your home, Warmboard insures a beautiful, easy and low cost installation.

The cost of Warmboard, 10 years later

It is well established that radiant systems are more energy efficient than forced air, and Warmboard outperforms them all (click here to see). How? Conductivity. As conductivity goes up, water temperatures can come down; reducing energy usage while saving money on your bill. Rigorous lab testing, confirmed by our happy customers and the 25 million square feet in service, has established that Warmboard can comfortably heat a home using water temperatures that are 10–60˚F lower than other radiant heating methods. While individual savings can vary greatly depending on type of fuel, climate and the architecture of your home, we have numerous homeowners who rave about their low heating bills. Savings in the $1000-$4000 per year range are commonly reported. Over 10 years, that’s $10,000-$40,000. This makes Warmboard the wise choice based on a pure cost comparison with forced air.

Is cost alone the only reason for choosing a heating system warmboard radiant heating comfort home

For thousands of years mankind has built homes to provide a comfortably controlled environment to protect us from the elements. You can have the most beautifully designed and built home, but if the upstairs is too hot and the downstairs is too cold your home will be less comfortable. If your bedrooms are too warm but your bathrooms are too cold or if dry, noisy, blown hot air or dust irritates your sinuses, allergies or peace of mind, your home is less comfortable. People who have experienced living with the comfort of Warmboard become unsatisfied with the reduced comfort of all other systems. It’s nice to know that all that comfort need not break your budget.


In short, while individual Warmboard panels do have a high price, those prices are instantly offset during installation, and the benefits extend over the life of your home. 

There is no need for an additional subfloor. You will use far less tubing and manifolds saving you time, labor, and the need for additional parts (tubing, screws, manifolds, vapor retarder, etc.). The overall installation process with Warmboard will go much faster and more smoothly. Compared to slab systems, you will avoid having to strengthen the foundations of your home and significantly reduce the cost and time associated with installing flooring over the finished system.

All things considered (materials, panels, labor), a complete Warmboard system costs about the same as any other radiant installation.

Added to that are the long-term benefits of living in a Warmboard house. Warmboard will quickly adjust the amount of heat delivered, room by room, to precisely match your homes changing heat requirements, ensuring your constant comfort while significantly lowering your energy bills. You will enjoy peace, quiet and clean air. The choice is clear.


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