What flooring material is an ideal fit for your home style and radiant floor heating units? A choice that will affect the maximum heat output and efficiency of your underfloor heating system, this decision must be carefully weighed.
More than a Style Choice
The heat output of your system is influenced by the size of the space you have to heat, air temperatures, and floor temperatures. If the flooring material you choose limits the floor temperature maximum, this can make a drastic difference in comfort levels. Before selecting a floor finish, always check with your radiant floor heating contractors to ensure your selection will not limit the performance (and your satisfaction with) your heating system. Just a 2-degree difference in heat output can have drastic temperature effects.
What are the Best Flooring Materials for Radiant Floor Heat?
- Ceramic & Stone Tiles
An ideal choice for underfloor heating. Stores/transfers heat well, and cleans easily.
Highly conductive and durable, a superior choice for your radiant heat system.
Polished concrete is highly conductive, heating rapidly.
Slower to heat, but a good thermal conductor.
- *A 2-part flexible tile adhesive is necessary with tile and stone underfloor heating installations, as is insulation atop concrete subfloors.
Different types of wood offer different thermal properties, affecting suitability. In general dense(harder) and thinner = better. For most wood flooring, exceeding a temperature of 80.6°F is not recommended, and it should be noted that no matter your heating and cooling system, fluctuating temperatures can change the appearance of some floors over time.
- Engineered Wood
The best wood radiant floor heating option, engineered wood performs better with the temperature/moisture fluctuations of underfloor heat.
Similar to engineered wood, bamboo works well with radiant floor heating and is a good conductor of heat.
- Solid Hardwood
Humidity/temperature changes can cause cupping, crowning, and gapping. Maximum heat tolerance can also be an issue. Always check with the manufacturer before purchasing solid hardwood for underfloor heat.
- Soft Wood
Suitable for use, provided thickness does not interfere with heat output.
Some engineered and solid types may be compatible, as above.
Cost-effective laminates are often suitable for use with radiant heat flooring, but to avoid warranty and longevity issues, it is best to check with the manufacturer prior to use.
Vinyl flooring can be safely used with radiant floor heating, heating and cooling quickly. However heat output tops-out at around 80.6°F, making it a poor choice for areas that suffer rapid heat loss, such as older sunrooms.
Solid rubber flooring, an excellent choice, heats up fast, and is very conductive.
Carpet is compatible with radiant floor heating, provided carpet under/overlays do not exceed 2.5 tog. (Tog measures thermal resistance/insulation.)
- *For all flooring materials, always consult the manufacturer prior to purchase regarding its specific compatibility with underfloor heating.
With the cost of radiant floor heating vs forced air , which one is best for your home and budget?
The HVAC installation service professionals at H & H Heating & Air Conditioning are happy to help you make an educated decision. Contact us to learn more today.