Are you considering installing a radiant heating system underneath a wood floor and unsure if it will damage the floor? If you select your wood floor wisely, there will be no need to sacrifice the beauty of wood for the function of radiant heat.

Without a doubt, radiant heating is a perk that can offer significant advantages, and knowing what you are getting yourself into is half the battle. The two most common types of radiant-floor heating systems are electric (heat via electric wires) and hydronic (heat via hot water tubes), both of which are buried underneath the floor.

Electric radiant-floor heating systems are easier and more affordable to install, but more expensive to operate, making them ideal for heating small areas (such as bathrooms). Hydronic systems are less expensive to operate, so they work well for large floor areas and even entire houses. The caveat is that they come with higher initial costs because they’re more complicated to install and require heated water from a boiler or a water heater.

Most people opt for hydronic systems in their home being that it’s more cost effective in the long run. When paired with wood flooring, it is essential to have the ability to control the temperature of the water that runs through the pipes. In order to achieve this an easily accessible control panel must be present. The final temperature should never rise above 85 degrees. This simple yet important step will save you much aggravation by avoiding ‘movement’ of your wood planks.

Practice safe heating by opting for an engineered wood floor — it is your only option. The strength and stability achieved through engineered flooring (by many layers of pressure-assembled perpendicular birch wood) is not possible with a solid wood floor. Engineered vs. solid wood flooring is not comparable when thinking in terms of radiant heating. Due to the inconsistent temperature patterns that your floor will be experiencing with this heating system in place, it is natural for wood to swell in the heat and shrink in the cold. This will cause the planks to shift and warp. Engineered planks are much more stable and controlled through changes in temperature/ humidity.

As much as you don’t like climbing out of bed on a chilly morning to step on an ice-cold floor — you won’t appreciate finding new gaps in your beautiful planks every day. If you’d like your investment to last a lifetime, opt for engineered flooring.

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