The sunroom off the kitchen was especially cold this winter. The room used to be a Sleeping Porch and it gets wonderful sun exposure in the morning, both summer and winter. But, underneath it was open to the outside. I wanted it to be usable and comfortable 365 days a year. So, my first step was to make sure it had plenty of insulation in the walls and underneath. The insulation I used for the walls was ROXUL, purchased from Amicus Green Building in Kensington, MD. Roxul is an insulation made from stone, is fire resistant, and water repellent. With varying R- Value you can meet most insulation needs. There was also a step-down from the kitchen, which gave the room a feeling of “separateness” that I definitely didn’t want. I want the entire first floor to be open and integrated so I raised the floor about four inches with 2x4’s, and when the time comes I will run oak flooring in from the existing rooms, blending the space into one.
But here’s where the fun part comes in. Before I run the oak, I’m installing radiant heat flooring. Radiant heating systems basically supply heat directly to the floor or to panels in the wall or ceiling of a house. The heat then transfers out and warms the surrounding area. There are three types of radiant heat: air, electric, and hydronic (water). I am choosing to go with hydronic. It’s best suited for this project and from the existing boiler I can run tubing throughout the joists without much impact. In keeping with the open floor plan, I’m going to remove some of the traditional radiators on the first floor and zone the system into four basic areas: the sunroom, the living area, the dining area, and the kitchen area.
As you can see from the pictures, I’ve already started with the sunroom. Because of the unique characteristics of this room, I decided to use Warm Board as the subfloor. Warm Board can act as a structural subfloor AND a channel board for the hydronic radiant heat. The unique quality of Warm Board is the thin sheet of aluminum that covers the entire panel and is pressed into the channels. When the radiant heat tubing heats up so will the aluminum, allowing the heat to spread more evenly throughout that room. I am also hoping the heat from the sun/aluminum partnership will radiate back into the room in the winter. For this phase of the project I will use Brookville Radiant, Karl was great! He came and installed this phase of the project. Neat, efficient, and honest, wonderful to work with. Once the system is fully installed, I can glue and nail the oak flooring straight to the Warm Board.
Stay tuned for more heated discussion regarding radiant heat vs. forced air vs. puttin’ on a sweater!