Cold Tile and Heated Floors

We bought the tile for the basement bath/closet/beer cave when we bought the upstairs bathroom tile supplies.  Our local supplier was running a deal that if you ordered 200 sqft worth of tile, grout and thinset you would get a free wet saw.  Since we knew we would need a wet saw for both projects we ordered it all together.  Before we even knew what we were doing in the basement.  Yes, it made me anxious.  Mike wanted to order the future kitchen tile at the same time.  I had to put my foot down somehwere.

Ordering tile before you have a plan is a bad idea.  Luckily, we had a couple perimeters.  It had to be inexpensive, (it is a basement bathroom afterall), we wanted larger tiles for easier installation, (we were tiling the bathroom, closet, and beer cave), and it had to hide dirt, (I've explained the planned usage for the bathroom here).  We found some 12"x12" tiles that were beigy with some darker brown veins in the clearance section.  Not my first choice, but they fit the bill. 

So, after I primed the walls and painted the ceilings, we were good to go on installing the tile.  The first thing we had to prep was the heated floor system.  Yep, you heard right, all my explanations about the basement bathroom being more utilitarian than anything else, and we go all fancy and install a heated floor.  Well let's say it pays to know people.  Or, know people who know people.

Obviously you all know that Mike and I work in the construction management industry.  I work more office and Mike works more field, but basically doing the same thing.  Mike really likes to get to know all the guys in the field, including all the subcontractors.  He's made some good friends with some of them and an electrician buddy invited Mike to an electrical convention of some sorts, (I have no idea what it was, but I think there was food and drinks involved, so Mike was down).  There he was introduced to a rep the electrician knew and Mike got to talking and the conversation of heated floors came up.  Mike said it would be cool to have, but not in our budget.  That's when the guy said he had a system Mike could have.  Just like that.  I'm not sure if it's an outdated system, or something that was purchased for a project that was never installed.  I don't care.  It's ours and I don't care where it came from.  I mean the guy was a rep for the company so it wasn't a "fell of the truck" special or anything, we do have morals, people.

Anyways, the system was perfect for the bathroom.  I'm not sure the specifics of what was done behind the wall, but we had to cut the concrete to set the temperature sensor in, then we laid the mat on the floor.  We placed it in the middle of the room so that it's in front of the vanity and toilet and shower.

The white line that comes out at a diagonal of the wall on the right is the sensor.

Below, you can see that a wire was run under the wall and connected to the mat.

We have a designated switch for the controller next to the light switch.

Included in the box was this little sensor that you attached to the wire and when it's attached and has a battery installed, it doesn't make a sound.  When a wire is cut, or the circuit is disrupted for any reason it emits a noise.  This is used during installation and we attached it right before we started tiling.  That way, if Mike messed it up in some way, we would know right away.

Clear nail polish is the perfect base for paint splatter.  I'm to lazy to get the nail polish remover out just yet.

The tile installation went the same as any other tile job.  Mike did notice that the wires added a little extra thickness, so he tried to compensate in the bathroom on the floor where there wasn't any wire.

When he made it out of the bathroom, past the wires, be started thinning it out to normal thickness, so that it would line up with the laminate flooring.

I was the tile provider during this operation, which meant I had some downtime in between loads, so I took the opportunity to finalize my paint choices.

I waited until the lights were installed since I had no idea what the basement would look like all lit up.  I wanted light colors because we have such large and dark furniture, also, because of the lower ceilings I wanted to keep the room from looking small.

I ended up picking the bottom and top colors for the main family room and bathroom, respectively.  Both are Behr from Home Depot, (color matched to Sherwin Williams ProMar 200), the bottom dark color is Mineral, and the top is Cotton Knit, (the one in the middle is Canvas Tan, which I decided against at the last minute).

We finished tiling and grouting, and then I promptly painted everything, so I'll share some photos soon with the paint and tile complete.

We're still going strong and working way past our bedtime every night.  While I'm not saying we're going to be complete anytime soon, we've definitely made a lot of progress, and will hopefully have some exciting photos to share.


  1. I love your blog! It gives me great inspiration for the future. Following you now.

  2. Larger tiles are definitely easier to install than small ones. It also reduces tiling work because you only need a few large tiles to tile the entire room, unlike with small tiles, which require a large quantity for you to cover a certain space. Plus, grouting larger tiles is easy and cheap.

  3. Great post! It is really looks very beautiful. And I never saw this type of Flooring. Keep it up……Thanks for sharing.

  4. My parents used to have heated tiles in their bathroom. My siblings and I would sneak in there on cold days just to enjoy the nice warmth on our feet. It was great! but not as great for us as it was for our parents, who got to have warm feet on cold mornings!