How To Install Radiant Floor Heating With Wood Floors

If you’ve been in a place that gets cold during the winter, then you understand that heated floors can be a major boost to one’s quality of life. There are lots of reasons to want to get your hardwood floors heated however. Not only do they make a home more comfortable during the winter, but they also do it while being cost-effective. 

Many property owners are surprised to learn that they can get their hardwood floors heated with radiant heating. They think that radiant floor heating systems can only be installed in tiled floors. The great news is that you don’t have to choose between heated floors and the style and class of hardwood floors.

However, not every hardwood floor can have heating installed in it. As hardwood flooring experts, we’ll walk you through some of the basics for heating hardwood floors and how to have it installed.


What Kind of Wood Floors Can Be Heated?

It’s important to keep in mind that not all hardwood floors can have radiant heating installed. This means that you could have the best possible hardwood floors and, depending on the situation, you may not be able to have radiant heat. Overall, you need a durable variety of wood that is very stable while also being cut fairly thin. Not too much to ask, right? In all seriousness, if you’re having a new wood floor installed, you’ll likely be able to find a variety of wood that can have heating installed beneath it, while still meeting the rest of your needs.

“radiant heat” by JonathanCohen is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


Heating Engineered Hardwood Floors

A common way to get some of the aesthetic benefits of hardwood floors at a more cost effective price point is to opt for engineered hardwood floors rather than solid hardwood. Unlike solid hardwood that is made from one single plank of wood, engineered hardwood is made out of a fused core of either fiberboard or plywood and then completed with a veneer of solid wood. 

One aspect of engineered hardwood that is usually beneficial is that it is able to expand and contract easily in response to moisture. This is generally a good trait as it can prevent the wood from suffering moisture damage. However, this property is a downside when it comes to being heated. If the wood is heated too much it can lead to permanent swelling in the wood. This doesn’t mean that you can’t heat engineered wood floors, but the property and quality of the floor will really be a factor as well as having a thin cut.


What Species of Wood is Best for Heated Floors?

There’s no one species of wood that is going to be best. Those particulars depend on the details of the installation, from plank lengths to floor thickness. One major factor when choosing a species for your wood floor is the dimensional stability of the wood (meaning its ability to expand or contract in response to environmental factors). Species that have low dimensional stability should be avoided. Unfortunately, this includes some popular options like Maple and White Oak. You’ll want a wood species with high dimensional stability like Cypress or Mahogany.


Installing Radiant Heating in a Wood Floor

As important as the wood you’re working with when installing heating is the method of installation. Traditional installation of a hardwood floor means that the new hardwood is attached to the subfloor below with nails or glue. This is opposed to a floating installation in which the wood planks interlock. Floating wood floor installations are better for heated floors because they allow more room for the planks to expand. As for the installation of the heating element this usually involves running pipes or tubes in a grid system in the subfloor. It can be a serious project to tackle so we recommend getting professional help. The team at Artisan Wood Floors LLC are Philadelphia’s wood floor experts, and if you’re thinking of taking your radiant heating project to the pros then give us a call today at (215) 515-7355 and ask for Steve!




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