Hot off the press: revisions to TCNA Handbook’s Radiant Heat Methods include electric heating methods

By Joshua Levinson, Artistic Tile

In 2011 when stone tile installation methods were first introduced to the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation, four radiant heat methods were included within the stone section. With radiant heating systems being in high demand due to their efficiency and ability to turn a cold floor into a calming experience, The Handbook committee has endeavored to increase the options for the 2015 Handbook.

The original four methods included the use of hydronic tubing (water system) only. No method was included in the Handbook for electric radiant heat systems. The original four included separate methods for hydronic tubing in both on-ground and above-ground methods where concrete is used to encapsulate the tubing, as well as a third method where an unbonded mortar bed is used to encapsulate the hydronic tubing, both in on-ground and above-ground methods. The fourth method involved the use of an unbonded mortar bed encapsulating the hydronic tubing, set on a wood subfloor system.

Two electric heating methods included in 2015 edition

1-bythebookThe 2015 Handbook will include six new methods. The methods include options to encapsulate hydronic tubing in poured gypsum or cementitious self-leveling underlayments, for both on-ground and above-ground concrete slab installations. Breaking new ground, the 2015 Handbook will now include two new methods for the installation of electric radiant systems, utilizing cementitious self-leveling underlayment for both on-ground and above-ground concrete slab installations. The floor-flattening aspects of each of these methods make them well suited for use with large-format stone tiles that are in demand today.

You might notice that there is still no method for electric radiant heat systems installed on wood frame construction. For this popular and efficient type of installation, you will have to continue to utilize installation instructions from the manufacturer of the radiant heat products. In all cases, it is strongly advised to read the complete manufacturer’s instructions and understand the compatibility of the product to natural stone. Don’t make the assumption that because a product says that it is a tile warming system, that a stone tile installation would be covered by the manufacturer.

2-bythebookAs you prepare for your next radiant heat installation, it is a good idea to take a few minutes to review the new methods in the 2015Handbook. Of equal importance, you are going to want to read the particular manufacturer’s instructions for the product that has been specified, and take up any contradictions between the two with the manufacturer. With all radiant heat systems, you will want to determine what type of membrane may be optional or required for your installation, and make sure that all steps including the use of any necessary primers are undertaken. Your membrane choice very well may have an impact on your setting material options, which in turn may be impacted by the stone color, since white setting material may be necessary for light colored stones.

3-bythebookJoshua Levinson (, president of Artistic Tile’s Wholesale division, participates in many industry initiatives as a member of the Marble Institute of American’s Board of Directors, voting member of the TCNA Handbook committee, NTCA Technical Committee member and voting member of the committee that recently developed NSC 373, the new standard for the Sustainable Production of Natural Stone. Artistic Tile has been a supporter of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) by hosting certification classes at its Secaucus, N.J. location. 


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