Warm boards were invented to replace conventional subfloor framing, to accommodate radiant heat/in floor piping. Normally- where you would put down your sub floor, your plumbers would then come in, install the radiant piping into your subfloor and then concrete would be poured on top of this. With Warmboard however - this replaces all of the concrete.
Not only is it structurally very strong, the guy that invented it, is an architect/entrepreneur named Terry Alsberg who came up with this product when several of his clients began asking for radiant heat in their homes. Terry, using his background in architecture and engineering physics was also motivated in part by having two children who had asthma and allergy issues. He was unsatisfied with the conventional ways of heating a home and existing radiant options. He invented the product working out if his garage in California, and patented the product for market licensing in 1994.
Warmboard has a lot of different functions, but today we are talking about the routering aspects and method for easy installation.
To talk about the cost, the initial part of it, you’ll pay upward of $3.00 more a square foot roughly, than your typical radiant application. I think it is a little bit higher than that but we will just stay with that estimate for now. Installation is pretty much the same as any T and G plywood, although this is a little heavier, being at 1 1/8” thick, yet rated as ¾ ply, only because there is routering and some of the weaker points in it gets it down to a ¾ inch standard plywood.
The aluminum component of the product, is pressed into the grooves where the piping sits, conducting heat seven times faster than a radiant system - almost equivalent to a forced air system. It cools down seven times faster as well. As we are building homes tighter and tighter these days, the homes are getting so hot now, they are finding that people are keeping the air conditioning on, even into November. For that reason, this product has a very cost effective advantage to it for it's fast cooling capability, which in turn reduces your heating/cooling bills at same time.
The installation process is pretty easy. Your framers might have a problem with it if they are using it for the first time as it takes a little bit to get used to. Just make sure you refer to the installation instructions they send along with the panels. Warmboard does a great job of giving you a framing layout that shows you where the panels go – right, left, and centre, as well as the heating zones and where the piping goes for your plumber. Warmboard also provides project management and as part of the service throughout the installation process. Once you have the floor panels place - they will come out and mark where to router for the piping to go and where to modify the templates when needed, to make it work.
This is a great all-around system as far as ‘ease of execution’. It’s a little more work for the carpenter, but once the plumbers gets there, everything is marked up, ready for them – they don’t have to think – the piping just sits inside the channels, all they need to use is a rubber mallet to pop it in place, making it a pretty slick system. Overall, this helps to speed up a large part of the build process, and in the long term, saves costs on energy for the client.