Installing Flooring over Radiant Heating Systems
28th December 2016
Radiant floor heating is an increasingly popular way of keeping a home or business warm and comfortable in Virginia. Many companies now manufacture, install, and guarantee radiant floor heating systems, and many types of finish flooring can be installed over radiant heat in both new and existing construction.
There are many advantages to radiant heat over conventional central heating systems. Radiant heating is evenly warm, virtually silent, and free of drafts of air, vents, and return air registers, eliminating the circulation of dusts and allergens.
There is also little maintenance compared to other heating systems. These qualities make radiant heating system an ideal choice for anyone who enjoys a quieter, cleaner, and more evenly warm and comfortable environment.
Two Types of Radiant Heating Systems
There are two basic types of radiant heating systems: electric and water-filled, or hydronic systems. Electric radiant floor heaters are designed for heating smaller areas, such as a bathroom or small kitchen, and can only be installed under masonry floors. Electric radiant floors are not recommended or guaranteed with other types of flooring finishes.
Hydronic radiant heat systems use plastic tubes of 3/8 inch to æ inch diameter filled with water heated to about 120∫F (49∫C), circulating under the floor. These systems are compatible with many types of finish flooring, especially concrete, tile, stone, and engineered wood floors.
Both electric and hydronic systems can be installed by embedding the mats or tubes in concrete or mortar, or by installing the components under the floor between floor framing members, or in a built-up floor over an existing floor. Both systems provide similar advantages, however electric systems are usually more expensive to operate and are not suitable with many types of flooring.
Installing Flooring over Radiant Heat
Installing the wrong type of finish floor over a radiant floor system, or doing an incorrect installation job, can result in an expensive and unusable floor. It is essential to get the right flooring for the situation and to have everything installed correctly. Each flooring type and radiant flooring manufacturer has its own instructions and warrantee requirements which must be followed closely.
All radiant floor systems can cause floor surface temperatures up to 80∫F (27∫ C). Wood is particularly susceptible to shrinking and expanding when temperatures vary. Wood is also much more absorbent of ambient moisture than other types of flooring. Solid wood flooring can be used over radiant floor heating systems in some cases, but, radiant heating systems are not recommended for use with solid-wood floors made of pine, Brazilian cherry, hickory, or maple. They are also not recommended in areas of high humidity, such as basements or some ocations near the Virginia coast.
When solid-wood flooring is installed over radiant heating, the materials must be stored for two weeks in advance in the location where they will be installed and kept at a temperature of about 70∫F (21∫C). Thermostats which automatically heat the floor gradually at the beginning of winter are recommended for keeping solid wood floors over radiant heat in good condition. Most solid-wood flooring manufacturers do not provide a guarantee of their product when installed over radiant heat systems, so when choosing this option, careful installation is essential.
Best Flooring over Radiant Heat for Hopewell and Prince George Areas
Tile, stone, and concrete floors work especially well with radiant heating systems due to their capacity to store and evenly distribute heat. Installing the radiant floor system before a concrete or tile floor is built is the most practical and economical construction method. If a stone, tile, or concrete floor is already in place, it would need to be torn out or have a new floor poured on top.
Another popular type of flooring used over radiant heat are floating and non-floating engineered wood floors. These types of floors have locking joints on the side of each piece of flooring, locking the floor into a single unit. This allows the floor to expand and contract evenly when temperatures fluctuate with the radiant heating system, unlike solid-wood flooring.
The surface of engineered wood flooring looks like solid-wood planking and is made of a veneer of real wood. Several thickness of veneer are available and there are many choices of wood species, color, and finish. Many manufacturers of engineered flooring provide warranty of their product when it is installed over radiant heating according to their requirements.
Radiant floor heating systems are becoming popular in Virginia. Talk to our flooring specialists about flooring solutions for your home or business.