Hydronic floor heating can be installed above the subfloor or slab in a sleeper system. A sleeper system raises the floor to allow for the tubing to sit below the floor covering. It may also help conduct the heat from the tubing into the flooring system. Sleeper systems have some benefits over other installation methods.
If you have an existing flooring system, i.e. an existing slab or a subfloor where we can not get the tubing below the floor; installing the tubing above the floor in a plywood sleeper system is a great option in adding heat to the zone.
- The sleeper system would be lighter than a new concrete slab to accept the radiant tubing.
- The sleeper system may be the cheapest option compared to a slab or underfloor option.
- Sleeper systems get the tubing up high in the flooring for optimal heat transfer rates than underfloor installations.
We classify sleeper systems into two types; site-built and shop-built
Site built sleeper systems are where the installer supplies a wood sleeper; usually 3/4 in. to 1-1/2 in. and then installs the tubing into the channels between the sleepers.
Shop built sleepers are factory made panels made for easy installation and maximize heat transfer. They are made to tight tolerances and hold the tubing tighter and improve heat conduction. Installation in usually much faster and cleaner than a site built system.
Site-built Sleeper System
Rip plywood sleepers with a gap between them to minimize noise
Routed factor Panels hold the tubing tight to the channels
Types of Sleeper System Tubing
Hydronic sleeper system tubing comes in a few different choices and some find it quite confusing. Here is a little details on tubing materials.
One of the most popular tubing materials for radiant floor heating heating. Low cost, high flexibility, very durable and up to 25 year replacement warranties. However, PEX tubing has a high coefficient of expansion. It grows with temperature! Unless the tubing is tight in the sleepers , it may make noise or rub on fasteners.
The next generation of plastic slab heating tubing. More flexible than PEX, lower cost, durable and 25 year warranties available. However, PERT tubing has just as high coefficient of expansion as PEX. It grows with temperature! Unless the tubing is tight in the sleepers , it may make noise or rub on fasteners.
Has been around for a long time. There is a layer of PEX on the inside of the tubing for corrosion resistance. Surrounded by a layer of aluminum for strength and oxygen barrier. Then a layer of PEX on the outside of the tubing for durability. This is nice tubing to install since the aluminum maintains the tubing shape. I.e. if you bend the tubing it will stay bent. If you straighten the tubing it will stay straight. It does not expand with temperature as PEX and PERT tubing's do so it is an excellent choice where the tubing is not tight in the sleepers to minimize noise and risk of tubing damage.
The most flexible tubing we have on the market. The most durable tubing we have on the market, almost unable to be damaged. Very high heat transfer characteristics. No expansion with temperature. Noise free! 25 year warranties available. However, the most expensive tubing we carry. But if you price out a system you may find the EPDM tubing the best for your application.