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Add radiant heat when installing wood flooring in your home

There is no better time to install an electric radiant floor heating system than when you’re changing out your floor coverings.

Wood flooring, in particular, is a popular choice among homeowners looking to upgrade their floor finishes. Laminate and engineered wood flooring dominate the floor market, followed by the more expensive hardwood flooring types. Depending on what level of the home wood flooring is installed on, it may be a little too chilly to comfortably walk on – especially if it’s installed in a basement. However, underfloor radiant heating products can enhance the comfort of your new wood floors.

Here are some basic guidelines when choosing a hardwood floor that will work well with radiant-floor heating systems.

  • The important thing to remember when dealing with wood floors is controlling moisture. The wood flooring you select to install should be acclimated to the indoor temperature and moisture levels in the home for a 10-day period prior to installation.
  • The thinner the wood flooring, the easier it will be to transfer radiant heating though it. However, the aesthetic life of the surface may not be as long as a thicker type of wood.
  • Dense woods also allow heat to transfer easily.
  • The surface temperature of the wood floor should not exceed 80° F.
  • Wood flooring typically runs perpendicular or across the direction of the floor joists.
  • Hardwood floors used in conjunction with radiant floor heating should be comprised of quarter sawn boards that are less prone to shrink.
  • Laminate boards are less likely to cup or crown and are better suited for floor-heating systems.

The STEP Warmfloor electric underfloor heating system is ideal to use under wood floors. One of the main reasons homeowners and contractors choose STEP Warmfloor is the product’s ability to self-regulate at 82°F. This translates to a temperature of 76-80°F, which is ideal for wood flooring types.

In addition to its low, self-regulating temperature, installation is a breeze with STEP Warmfloor, as you can nail through the heating element without fear that your underfloor heating system will fail. I would not recommend this with an electric cable or hydronic tubing installation!

A few more tips:

  • If it’s possible to insulate over the top of a concrete floor – DO IT! If you do not insulate, the heat from the element will transfer to the colder, concrete floor resulting in higher heating costs and loss of thermal comfort.
  • If your STEP Warmfloor installation is planned over a wood sub floor, insulate the sub floor if there is access.
  • The heating element should be installed perpendicular to the direction of the wood-floor planking.

Not all cable systems are recommended for use under wood. The cables will get too hot and run the risk of overheating and eventually failing.