Homeowners Are Installing Hardwood Floors Over Radiant Heat Systems

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As more and more people become conscious of the amount of energy they are consuming as well as the expenses from that, radiant heating is becoming more popular. Radiant heating involves coils of metal wires or metal pipes. The pipes run underneath the floor. They are heated either by running electricity through the wires or by running hot water through the pipes. That heat transfers into the floor and radiates into the room. It’s considered more efficient than a traditional heater which uses heated air to warm up a room. It’s more efficient because a radiant system heats up the floor and the furniture as opposed to heating the air. A floor will obviously hold heat longer than air will. So, less heat is required to heat a room. However, hardwood floors are also trending. Are there dangers?

Things to Consider about Radiant Heat Systems

The greatest danger when you install a hardwood floor over a radiant heat system is warping. Typically, the warping occurs in the form of cupping. Cupping occurs when the sides of planks of wood curl upwards so that the plank forms a bowl shape. That occurs when moisture works its way into the wood. Since wood is porous, moisture will always be a danger. When heat is applied to the moist wood, it can cup. Alternately, the wood can warp when it is dried out too much. That can occur if the wood is under constant heat that is too high.

There are a few ways to avoid cupping with a hardwood floor and a radiant heating system. Some installers will shellac or polyurethane the bottom of the wood planks as well as the tops. Shellacking the bottom will help prevent moisture from rising up into the wood.

Also, many installers will use a vapor layer of some kind. A vapor layer is typically just a layer of waterproof material that goes on top of the subfloor. Choosing the right hardwood matters as well.

Choosing the Right Hardwood

When you are choosing hardwood to go over a radiant heat system, consider the construction and the width. The wider a plank, the more likely it is to cup. Wide plank hardwood is very popular right now; it evokes rustic looks from the past. Anything six inches or wider is generally considered wide plank. These gorgeous planks are most likely to cup. Anything 2 ½ inches or narrower is least likely to cup.

Furthermore, engineered hardwood is less likely to cup. Engineered hardwood is a thin veneer of hardwood over plywood. Each ply is laid perpendicular to the previous ply to create strength. Engineered hardwood is unlikely to cup.

Our Detroit weather can get rough during the winter! Imagine having radiant heating underneath your new hardwood floors!

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