Saturday, April 28, 2007

Time for something else

Recently since it warmed up a bit we decided now was the time to tile our downstairs hall's radiant heated wall. We have wanted to tile this wall since we first put in the heat system. Heating this wall was a project that we "made up" while installing the rest of the radiant heat system. Not much was written at the time about running pex through the walls to warm the house. One article was all that we could find---and the writer has also been experimenting to see how he liked it.

Well, as far as heating goes we have been happy with it. It works really really well. But after having it for a while we kind of felt that tiling would help give it more "mass" which would make the heat more spread out and not somewhat in strips on the wall. Not that it didn't heat the hall well---it did, sometimes too well, but everyone knows mass helps hold the heat longer. We had also bought a new control for turning the heat up and down (much nicer than our original "jury rigged" one) and needed to install it. Because this is a hydronic (water) heating system we have to drain the entire system to do any changes what so ever. Hence the desire to wait for warmer weather. One more thing was that the hall was kind of "blah" so we felt it would punch it up a bit more than paint would have.

With the delay in my lambs during the last couple of weeks I felt this was a good project to keep me busy, which it did. Though not in quite the relaxed way I had hoped it would.
We had found the slate at Home Depot a couple months back. It was a regular 12 x 12 tile. Very nice but installed in that size it would have looked too much like a floor was installed on the wall. So to keep it from looking like that I cut down each tile down to three tiles of not quite 4 inches by 12, then applied them to the wall. It became quite tedious and I wondered where my brain was when I came up with this hair brain scheme. And before doing that we had also had to prep the wall since it had drywall on it, putting up cement board (rock board, wonderboard what ever you want to call it) on the walls, installing the new control and also moving and widening the door to our bedroom. My husband did all of the heating work (I don't know anything about that!) but I helped with the rest---except the cutting of the cement board. That requires a saw and I hate hate using the electric saws.

Anyways in one of the before pics you can see the foil behind the radiant tubing---that is just heavy duty aluminum foil. And yes, it does work. We also have pink board behind part of the wall since it backs up to the garage storage room. No sense in radiating heat into the storage room! The red tubing is what the hot water moves through and it is amazing stuff. My husband says that tubing like that is the easiest plumbing work he has ever done. He says if we ever build---he will use it for all of the plumbing since it is quick to install and easy to get to where it's needed.

The last pictures are of the wall basically finished. I still have to fill the holes in the molding and then seal the molding. At first about half way through---I didn't think I liked it but now that it is done I really do.
And really ---the picture doesn't do it justice. It is not as blue looking in person. Kind of black and grey and golds which goes well with the black metal rails and the oak stairs. It is supremely cool when we open the door and walk into the hall. Very "posh" hahaha


Cheryl said...

Monica, that is absolutely stunning! I love slate tile, but I never would have thought of cutting it down and doing a "subway tile" effect with it. It looks gorgeous.
Wall heating is a neat idea. Do you only have it in areas where you will be sitting or working nearby, or does it heat a large enough area that you can put it anywhere? We're seriously considering radiant heat, so I would appreciate any resources you could point me towards.
I'm glad to hear that Pex is as easy as we'd heard. We're planning to use it in the new house.
Wanna come help me design it? :D

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

If we were doing it all over again we would do more walls than just the one. There are pros and cons though. It is cheaper than a radiator---especially if you already are using the pex and have leftover as we did. It is also "out of sight out of mind" and takes up no space which I liked since we couldn't spend the money on the "fancy" radiators. We considered one of those radiators that is also a bench---but didn't really have enough room AND they are very expensive.
One con though is that you either have to keep it in the lower half of the wall or ALWAYS remember it is back there and not hang pictures or things on the wall---in other words no nails and screws or pre plan for some way to hang them. I had a brain spasm and forgot while hanging some things in the garage storage room---luckily I hit all studs but I couldn't believe I forgot it was there on the other side!! Was I lucky!

I really like it in the hall since it is toasty warm all over when you come in. It heated so well even with the drywall that unless it is really cold we have to turn it way down or off. Makes a huge difference. I highly recommend it. Contact me off the blog if you want more info or to pick my brain.
By the way---spend the money (about $100??) and buy the "real" tool to make the pex connections. We bought a cheaper "home-made" job (thinking we didn't need the more expensive one since we didn't do it for a living) and felt at the end it would have been worth the extra money. It could be less now though.

Robbyn said...

That is beautiful! What a great idea...this one goes in the list of musts to show my husband. Wow, that slate looks great!