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Can You Install Radiant Heat Under Wood Floors?

Published on January 27th, 2021

Yes, radiant heat can be installed under wood floors. In fact, you can install a floor heating system under almost any type of floor. However, some materials are definitely more efficient than others. When deciding between flooring options, you’ll want to think about four properties to determine the materials’ suitability for radiant heat:

  • Thickness
  • Thermal conductivity (ability to transfer heat)
  • Tendency to contract or expand
  • Potential for heat or water damage

Wood floors conduct heat efficiently and have come in a wide variety of thicknesses. But temperature changes can cause them to expand and contract, and they can be damaged by water. For these reasons, wood floors aren’t the best option for radiant heating. However, with a bit of foresight, you can definitely install radiant heat under wood floors.

The type of wood flooring you use makes a big difference. Compared to engineered wood flooring, solid hardwoods are far more susceptible to expansion and contraction. Whatever kind of wood you use, make sure to get quarter-sawn boards. Their grain runs vertically, limiting their expansion to the sides, which helps prevent gaps between boards. Also, nail-down wood flooring is not compatible with most underfloor heating systems so look for a floating or glue-down wood flooring solution.

If you plan on installing radiant heat under an existing floor, you’ll need to make sure that the flooring isn’t nailed down. This applies to wood flooring as well as every other kind of flooring material. Flooring that’s nailed down runs a high risk of damaging the heating source below which can lead to costly repairs or worse.

Can You Put Bamboo Flooring Over Radiant Heat?

Yes, you can put bamboo flooring over radiant heat. But you’ll want to make sure to select bamboo flooring that’s specifically designed for the task. Although bamboo is a hardwood, it doesn’t swell or contract like other hardwoods. It also thrives in tropical locations, making it an ideal wood for rooms with high humidity levels like kitchens and laundry rooms.

Like with any woods, engineered bamboo flooring is more suitable for radiant heating systems than solid wood. Other species of wood that work well with radiant heaters include Oak, Ash, Cherry, Maple and Hickory. If possible, make sure the flooring you install was engineered with radiant heat in mind. Adding radiant heat to beneath some floors will void their warranty, strongly suggesting that radiant heat could damage them. Always check with the manufacturer of the wood flooring system to ensure it is compatible with radiant heat.

Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone are the most common flooring materials for radiant floors. But if you have your heart set on heated wood floors, you don’t have to settle for anything less. If you live in the Chicagoland area, our electricians for underfloor heating can install radiant heat under your wood floors to keep your feet warm on cold winter mornings.

Give us a call today at 847-832-0700 for a free estimate!

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