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Dec 21, 2022

​Tips for Using Radiant Heating with Wood Floors

Tags: Flooring

One of the best parts of living in Montana is experiencing all the seasons – and yes, we include wintertime. However, as much as we may love the changes in weather, we definitely don’t want to feel those inside our homes.

If you’re building or looking to upgrade your heating system, you’ve likely found yourself wondering about radiant heat. At Marks Lumber, one of the most common questions we get about our circle sawn flooring is whether it can be installed with a radiant heat system. And while we would love to give you a simple yes or no answer, unfortunately, it is a little more complex than that. Here are a few things you may want to think about if you’re considering installing wood floors over a radiant heat system.

Can I Use Radiant Heat with Wood Floors?

Radiant heat generally isn’t recommended for wood flooring. Since wood is a natural, living material, it will contract and expand with changing temperatures and moisture levels. Because radiant heating is direct, dry heat, it can lead to a contraction of the board, resulting in cupping or warps. However, if you have your heart set on warm, cozy wood floors, it’s best to use your judgment and talk to the professionals about the best way to mix wood flooring and radiant heat.

Types of Radiant Heat

There are two main types of radiant floor heating that people typically consider: electric and hydronic. Electric radiant is more costly and generally less efficient than hydronic and, therefore, is often confined to one or two rooms in a home.

Hydronic, or hot water radiant, is a much more cost-effective way to heat an entire home. Hot water heating is usually installed in grids on top of the concrete or subfloor; however, it can also be embedded into poured concrete if you’re building a new home.

Limiting Movement

As mentioned above, wood is a living, breathing material that will move and change throughout its lifecycle. This is one of the many things that makes wood so unique. However, it is also important to keep in mind when installing wood products. If you decide to use radiant heat and wood flooring, using a narrower plank can help lower the risk of excess movement. A narrow plank, such as a 4” width, is less likely to cup than something wider. Additionally, the more planks you need, the more seams you will have, which can help offset potential movement.

Professional Installation

While you may feel confident installing flooring in general, you might want to consider hiring a professional if you’re installing over a radiant heat system. Because wood flooring should be nailed down into a subfloor, you could risk puncturing the tubing or electrical work below the subfloor. With that in mind, hiring a professional is the best way to ensure safe installation and avoid damaging your heating system.

Radiant floor heat can be an excellent addition to any home. However, if you plan to mix wood flooring with radiant heat, it is best to call a professional and discuss the best option for you. Contact Marks Lumber today and talk to our qualified sales team to learn more about using radiant heat with our circle sawn, Douglas fir flooring.

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