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Community and Q&A

Can a hydronic radiant heating be used in a ceiling?

JBrinkman | Posted in Mechanicals on

I am building a well insulated house in NW Ontario, Canada I have been debating on the method of heat supply. I am leaning towards hydronic radiant heating, I plan to build using a slab at grade with a frost wall, the slab will have radiant heating. The 2nd floor I don’t want to install the tubing within the floor system since the floor joists and subfloor will be exposed, sort of a timber frame look nor do i want to pour a slab on the 2nd floor. However the ceiling suddenly seems like a good idea, my design calls for a truss with a 24″ heel height and I plan on using at least 36″ of blow in insulation. I intend to sheet the underside of the bottom chord of the roof trusses and then install 2″ x 4″‘s or 2″ x 6″‘s to the underside of the sheathing in order to run all the electrical wiring and now maybe some radiant piping.

The plywood or OSB would be completely sealed and I will potentially install a foil faced rigid foam to the sheathing, can this method provide an efficient and comfortable heat, thanks?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Yes, it's certainly possible to use hydronic radiant ceilings if you want to -- either by attaching the tubing to the ceiling, behind the finish plaster / drywall, or by installing ceiling panels. People do it all the time.

    Here's a link to a site with more information:

    It's also possible to use ordinary hydronic baseboard to heat your second floor.

  2. o89mgDkN5P | | #2

    Hello, the quick answer is yes, you can do radiant heating from the ceiling. The question that would come up would be have you done a proper room by room heat loss for your home? There are several factors to consider when doing radiant ceiling heating. Since radiant ceiling heating is not quite as effective as radiant floor heating you want to make sure that you will have enough capacity from the system to properly heat your home. Warmboard-R would be a simple & easy solution for doing radiant ceiling heating. Please call me anytime to discuss your project in more detail. 877-338-5493 or go to for more info. I hope this helps.

  3. wjrobinson | | #3

    Open 2nd floors need very little if any heat at least in the homes I have been involved with. You might just run some baseboard or European style wall heat as you may need very little. The one place that a European wall unit might be very nice is in your bathrooms. Or put tubes under your bath tiles.... or...

    We do bathroom floors different (built down) in any event on 2nd levels in timber framed builds.

  4. DEXnRYksiq | | #4

    An alternative would be to use electric radiant heat. It's a lot easier and faster to install, is about 1/2 the cost of hydronic radiant heat, and doesn't take up floor space for a boiler. And it's very easy to zone which helps you to take advantage of your time-of-use electricity rates.

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