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Cast iron rads vs. radiant floor...thoughts and opinions?

Doug_11 Member Posts: 16
I'm currently waffling back and forth over either (a) reusing my old steam radiators and switching them over to hot water or (b) going the radiant floor route.  I like the look of the old iron radiators but man, do they take up the floor space (my house is only a 1250 ft^2 colonial).  The entire house is down to the rafters and studs so access is not an issue.  What are your thoughts of one versus the other?  Thanks in advance for your time.  -Doug


  • Simply Rad
    Simply Rad Member Posts: 184


    First I would asked yourself and especially your wife(?)  were you comfortable with the cast iron radiators.  Were they in the way of your furniture layout?  Next, I would think about the home itself, does it have high heat loss, meaning lots of glass and tall ceiling, because radiant floors may not provide enough heat.  Then, I would think about comfort.  When you purchase radiant floors you are purchasing "the ultimate in comfort and efficiency".  If you simply desire heat then the radiators will work well.  Finally, think about what type of heat source you are going to use.  New condensing boilers are hot, put perform(efficiency)  much better with low temperature radiant floor systems.  If, you are looking into a cast iron boiler then I suggest use the rads.

    If, you are thinking radiant floors do it right!  Do a heat loss calc first.  Then use heat transfer plates, gyp or some type of radiant subfloor to distribute the heat.  As, I said earlier RF is all about comfort and efficiency.  So then, next think about floor coverings.  RF works best with tile, stone and woods.  You might want to do a combo system and use the existing rads in the bedrooms(with carpet) and RF elsewhere. 

    Lots to think about but there's a start.

    Jeffrey Campbell
  • MikeD
    MikeD Member Posts: 11
    Once You go Radiant...

    I got rid of the cast iron steam rads in my 1892 colonial and I am happy I did.  Got more space for furniture, got rid of the ugly riser pipes and have a much more comfortable heat delivery system.  So nice to pick your cloths off the floor and they are warm!  You have to make sure your house is insulated and sealed  properly, storm windows, door seals etc.  I did Warmboard where the floor was too bad to save.  Ripped up the fir t&g flooring down to the joists.  I retrofitted most of the house where the floor was good with aluminum channels from underneath.  Had to rip ceilings out in some rooms and got in from the basement where it was open already.  My house is actually more historically correct now because when it was first built they didn't have the rads, just stoves connected to the strategically placed chimneys.  They came in later to hack up the floor and put in the steam.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    I like the radiators.

    why not keep steam? I have seen very few steam lines hit when nailing down the new floor. and even less of them need repaired. Heat is about comfort. The thing with converting the rads is up in the air as I am not sure they can be converted. Are they connected along the top? Do they have tappings for air vents? If you decide to go all radiant floors I would be interested in what you want to do with the old radiators.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

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