One of the reasons that we decided to switch to radiant last year was because we didn't want to blow all the old dust and grim out of our heat ducting. Ironic that by trying to avoid that we ended up with a mess three times the size, and no heat starting into Dec. in Utah. When our house finally dropped to 50 at night with our little radiant oil heater on high, I finally sold out and hooked up the old furnace. By this time we had managed to install our boiler panel, and boiler, and get it all hooked up to our indirect water heater. All we needed was to run our pex tubing. For the front room where I had put in a new subfloor, it was actually quite easy and enjoyable. We cut sections of 3/4" plywood 9" wide, and arranged them around the room so that the tubing could lay under the finished floor without getting squished. (If that doesn't make sense, look at the pics) On top of that we will install our finished floor. We planned on changing the layout of our home with a new addition, so we didn't want to install a bamboo floor until we were done moving walls. That and the fact that we had spent all our money on the radiant heat led us to look for a more affordable temporary solution. A local hardwood dealer MacBeths Hardwood has a damaged pile where all their imperfect and damaged sheets go. We managed to buy 20 or so sheets of 3/4" plywood for $8 a sheet. It was a mix of oak, red oak, birch, etc. We cut the sheets into 4 x 4 squares and arranged them alternating grain. It turned out costing about $0.50 a square foot. Very inexpensive and it looked great too. We didn't end up sealing it, sense we plan to switch them out eventually, but the end result was very effective. With the front room done, all that was left was the crawl space. It turned out to be a complete horror. Around 75% of the space was only accessible by crawling army style and stapling pipe up while laying on my back in the dirt. There were sections where the spaces were so tight my chest was literally wedged between the floor joist and the dirt as I tried to staple as far as I could reach. I am not generally a closterphobic person, but I admit I got freaked out a little several times. Two weeks before Christmas all our hard work paid off. Our house was finally fully heated. We cranked it up to the low 70's for a day, just because we could. The floors truly were wonderful. I walked around barefoot all the time. Along with heating our house, the boiler also heated a 50 gallon indirect hot water heater, so our showers never get cold. All in all it took us just over two months from the first day I ripped up the floor on a whim. The radiant heat and domestic hot water cost came in somewhere around $4,000 when it was all said and done, plus the cost of the new subfloor and leveling plus all the other little bits I forgot about the grand total was probably under $5,000. While it was a way bigger hassle than I had anticipated, in hindsight it was all worth it. Radiant heat was something we both really wanted, and it felt good to know that if we were tenacious enough we could achieve our goals.
Our scarce furniture in a pile. Heat reflecting shields help make the radiant heating more efficient with wood floors. Notice the 9" sleepers that the heat shields sit in, then the tubing sits on the heat shields.