We delved deep into this question here last year, but wanted to dive into more detail about the cost of Warmboard compared to a specific, common radiant heating application – Gypsum Concrete.
Again in this analysis, we’ll look at all of the factors that need to be considered when putting a true price on a radiant heating system. If only the cost of the radiant product itself is considered Warmboard can be up to $4/sq ft more, but that comparison is missing numerous key components that are needed to complete any radiant system.
The job of a radiant panel is to conduct heat from water in a tube to the surface of your floor. Gypsum concrete may have a long association with radiant, but it is a poor conductor of heat, and its high mass cannot accurately respond to changing heating needs. The thick, aluminum plate that covers the entire surface of Warmboard is five times more conductive than a typical gypsum concrete slab. Yes, Warmboard costs a little more - just as all superior products do – but as part of a complete radiant system, that premium is small while the conductivity improvement is substantial! It is rare that a consumer is given an opportunity to pay about 10% more for a product that performs 500% better.
Warmboard’s high conductivity and low mass mean:
• Floors are more evenly heated, and the system responds more quickly to ever changing heating needs – both essential to your comfort
• The water in those tubes can be much lower in temperature, saving energy and significantly extending the life of the equipment in your heating system
• Your investment in beautiful hardwood flooring is protected through a combination of even floor temperatures, secure fastening and comparably dry material under your hardwood
• Tubing can be more widely spaced, saving on tubing, manifolds, controls and all the labor to install these components in your system
Items Associated With Gypsum Concrete That Do Not Apply To Warmboard
As we continue to look at the costs of a Warmboard system, consider the list below. These items add materials, labor and time to a gypsum concrete project.
• Additional subfloor installation
• Increased amount of tubing, manifolds, controls and the labor to install them all
• Sealant to protect porous gypsum concrete from damage
• Addition of pressure treated bottom plate for all walls
• Upsized floor joists for increased weight
• Addition of nailing strips or floating plywood overlay in order to achieve nailed in place hardwood flooring
• Vacation home may require remote communication system to heat a home a day or more prior to your arrival
• Higher water temperatures: 110-150° compared to 80-120° with Warmboard
(To learn about any of these specifics in more detail click here)
Square foot costs of Warmboard versus Gypsum Concrete
Because of variations in project size, geography and other variables, a direct comparison between Warmboard and gypsum concrete is not possible. However, the following table will allow a general comparison of costs.
Range for completed gypsum-based system without hardwood: $10.50 to $22.00?*
Range for completed gypsum-based system with hardwood: $11.00 to $25.00?*
Range for Warmboard: $11.75–$18.75
As you can both systems end up in the same price range. And depending on a number of factors, including hardwood application, Warmboard can actually be much less expensive than the inferior gypsum concrete.
But not included in this price breakdown are the extended benefits of a Warmboard home. You can save significantly on your energy bill by using water temperatures that are 10-60º lower than other radiant heating methods. These lower water temperatures also extend the life of the heating components pumping the water through the tubing. Faster response means less energy is being wasted as well. As you can see in the video below, Warmboard is able to output 10 BTUs per sq ft in 20 minutes whereas gypsum concrete took 2.5 hours! That is a really long time to wait for heat. And should the temperature need to be turned down, it will take a great deal of time for that high mass to expel the heat and return to a lower setting.
While individual Warmboard panels do have a higher price, those prices are instantly offset during installation, and the benefits of Warmboard extend over the life of your home.
There is no need for an additional subfloor. You save time, labor, and the need for additional parts (tubing, screws, manifolds, vapor retarder, etc.). You avoid having to strengthen the foundations of your home while significantly reducing the cost and time associated with installing flooring over the finished system. The whole process with Warmboard goes much faster and more smoothly.
Added to that are the long-term benefits of living in a Warmboard house. Warmboard quickly adjusts the amount of heat delivered, room by room, to precisely match your changing needs, ensuring constant comfort while significantly lowering your energy bills. You enjoy peace, quiet and clean air. The choice is clear.