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Design Ideas for Your Radiant Floor Heating Systems

Radiant floor heating systems are composed of electric cables and mats. When the system is in the design process, there are two important features that need to be considered: floor coverings and insulation.

design ideas for radiant floor heating

Best floor coverings for radiant heat:

The floor covering you choose for your radiant floor heating system can affect its performance. Regardless of floor covering type, the system will need to be properly designed to overcome the inherent resistance of heat flow. When designed correctly, the comfort level of walking across the floor and living in the warm space is much better than any other heating system on the market. Let’s take a look at each of the main floor covering choices: tile, carpet and wood are the best floor coverings for radiant heat. While they are all suitable to use, each has special requirements that need to be addressed in the design process.

Tile – Tile is going to be the most uncomfortable of all floor coverings, but it also transfers heat easier than wood or carpet. When installing radiant floor heating systems under tile, a common concern is the spacing between the electric cables or mat. If the cable or mat spacing exceeds three inches, a cold spot can occur. The cold spot will then sacrifice the true comfort of the radiant floor heating system. This is referred to as “cold striping of the floor.” I highly recommend following the manufacturers recommendations regarding the proper layout of the cables or mats related to tiled floor installations.

Carpet - If you chose to install carpeting over a radiant floor heating system , it is best to use thin carpet. Carpeting has a much higher resistance to heat flow (R-value) than any other flooring types. However, the heat flow problem is not just because of carpet. The carpet pad will also need to be taken into account. Both the carpet and pad R-values need to be figured into the design. Also be aware that some carpets and pads are manufactured with chemicals that are released into the indoor environment when heat is applied underneath them. Look for low VOC carpet and pads. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. These types of carpet and pads will reduce off-gassing of the chemicals.

Wood - Installing wood over a radiant floor heating system is a great choice. However, it can also be a bad choice if the system is not designed properly. Some people think that wood flooring is warm and doesn’t need heating. However, ask someone with wood flooring and you are sure to get a different answer. Hardwood floors can cup and warp, prematurely pulling the natural moisture out of the wood and leading to failure. The key is to have a system designed to provide low temperatures, while still providing comfort. The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) recommends that the surface temperature of wood not exceed 85°F. This will still provide comfort, while reducing the risk of cupping and warping. Laminate wood floors and engineered wood flooring systems are more forgiving than hardwood types as well.

Regardless of what flooring type you choose, make sure you consult with the radiant designer or installer so the complete flooring system is designed correctly and you will not compromise your investment in comfort.


Why it is necessary:

Insulation is an important component of your radiant floor heating system. It is important to ensure that the base of the floor is warm enough and doesn’t allow heat to escape to the ground below. The use of insulation ensures that the majority of heat supplied will make its way to the intended area. In return, you will experience maximum comfort and lower energy bills.

For more information, call a representative at (800) 785-8738 or visit our underfloor heating product information web page.