If you live in an older home with an addition or are planning to expand your house with an enclosed patio, sunroom, or utility room, extending your house’s HVAC system to heat these areas might not be the most practical solution to stay warm. Whether you’re renovating an older home or searching for an energy-efficient and allergy-friendly alternative to forced air heating, radiant floor heating can reduce your heating bill and help you breathe easy. Radiant floor heating uses a heating element installed beneath the floor to fill the room with gentle, cozy, and comfortable convection heat. Besides its use in building expansions, radiant floor heat is often found in bathrooms, kitchens, and even bedrooms, keeping you toasty through the winter.
For residential use, radiant heat comes in two variants: electric and hydronic. Electric systems use a system of cables to charge a concrete element with heat, which then dissipates throughout the day. Hydronic systems, the most popular and efficient choice, pump hot water through tubing laid in the floor. Radiant heat is only as good as the floor above it, however, and the type of flooring in your home will make a big difference in the effectiveness and practicality of in-floor radiant heating. Keep reading below for our tips on the best flooring types for radiant heat.
Porcelain and ceramic tile are perfect for radiant floor heating. Because tile is thin, waterproof, retains heat, and resists warping or shrinking, it is the ideal conductor for your in-floor radiant heating. Furthermore, tile is easy to clean and maintain, and is increasingly popular with modern designers in every room from the basement to the living room. Check out our recent blog post to learn more about the benefits of installing tile floors in your living room.
When you need the look of hardwood and the luxury of in-floor radiant heat, laminate flooring brings the best of both worlds. Though you’ll want to double-check the manufacturer’s specifications and take it easy with the thermostat, laminate flooring is safe for use with radiant heating systems. If that back bedroom is always chilly at night, a laminate floor with radiant heat is a safe alternative to a risky space heater.
In-floor radiant heating can be used with hardwood floors, but this is one application where laminate planks outperform hardwood. But if you are installing hardwood floors with a radiant heating system, be sure that the heating element is enclosed within a concrete subfloor and that you use narrower floorboards, as the extra seam space allows for expansion and contraction with variations in humidity and heat.
Types of Flooring Not to Use with Radiant Heat
Some materials don’t mix well with heat. Carpeting, for instance, is already a natural insulator that makes radiant heating systems work harder, reducing their efficiency and leaving you stuck with the heating bill. In-floor radiant heating systems should never be used with rubber floors, which gives off an unpleasant odor and could even melt; any flooring installed with chemical adhesives that emit harsh chemicals–including carpet, cork, or any other floor using glue instead of a locking tongue-and-groove pattern. If you’ve got questions about the best type of flooring to use with your in-floor radiant heating system, give us a call, visit any of our four northeast Ohio locations, or click the free consultation button to schedule your in-home shopping appointment today!