Underfloor heating is an energy-efficient way of heating a home, providing comfortable and consistent warmth without taking up valuable wall space.

This article will explore the compatibility of underfloor heating with hardwood floors, considering factors such as the type of flooring, thickness, and type of underfloor heating system used.

The compatibility of underfloor heating with hardwood floors is a common concern. Thinner hardwood flooring is generally more suitable for underfloor heating, as it allows for better heat transfer. Electric underfloor heating systems are the most suitable for hardwood floors.

However, factors such as insulation, room size, and ceiling height should be taken into consideration before deciding to install underfloor heating.

Can I Use Underfloor Heating with Hardwood Floors?

If you are considering using underfloor heating with hardwood floors, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, it is important to ensure that your hardwood floors are compatible with this type of heating system.

Most hardwood flooring types can be used with underfloor heating, but it is essential to check with your flooring manufacturer to confirm compatibility.

Additionally, it is important to consider the thickness of your hardwood floors. The thicker your floors, the more difficult it can be for heat to transfer through to the surface.

As a general rule, hardwood floors that are less than 3/4 inch thick are best suited for underfloor heating systems.

Here are some examples of hardwood flooring types and their thickness:

  • Oak: Oak is one of the most popular hardwood flooring types and is compatible with underfloor heating systems. The thickness of oak hardwood floors typically ranges from 5/16 inch to 3/4 inch.
  • Maple: Maple hardwood floors are also compatible with underfloor heating systems. The thickness of maple hardwood floors typically ranges from 5/16 inch to 3/4 inch.
  • Walnut: Walnut hardwood floors can be used with underfloor heating, but it is important to ensure that the floors are not too thick. Walnut hardwood floors typically range in thickness from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch.
  • Cherry: Cherry hardwood floors are compatible with underfloor heating systems, but it is important to ensure that the floors are not too thick. Cherry hardwood floors typically range in thickness from 5/16 inch to 3/4 inch.

It is important to note that the thickness of hardwood floors can impact the efficiency of underfloor heating systems. Thicker floors can impede heat transfer, resulting in a less efficient heating system.

Hardwood vs. Engineered Wood Flooring

When it comes to choosing a flooring material for underfloor heating, homeowners often consider both hardwood and engineered wood flooring.

Here are some key differences between the two:

Hardwood FlooringEngineered Wood Flooring
CompositionSolid woodPlywood base with a veneer of hardwood on top
ThicknessUsually thicker than engineered wood flooringTypically thinner than hardwood flooring
StabilityCan expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity, requiring proper acclimation and installationMore stable and less prone to expansion and contraction due to the layered construction
CostGenerally more expensive than engineered wood flooringGenerally less expensive than hardwood flooring
DurabilityCan be sanded and refinished multiple times over the yearsCan be sanded and refinished only once or twice due to the thin veneer layer
Compatibility with UFHGenerally compatible with underfloor heating systems, but thickness and installation method are important factors to considerMore compatible with underfloor heating systems due to the layered construction and greater stability

Ultimately, the choice between hardwood and engineered wood flooring will depend on a variety of factors, including personal preference, budget, and compatibility with underfloor heating systems.

Selecting the Ideal Hardwood for Your Underfloor Heating System

When it comes to combining hardwood floors with underfloor heating, several factors need to be considered to ensure optimal performance and long-lasting results. Here are some key qualities of hardwood when used with underfloor heating:

  1. Thermal conductivity: Different hardwood species have varying levels of thermal conductivity, which impacts how well they transfer heat. Denser hardwoods, like oak, maple, and walnut, have better thermal conductivity and are generally more suitable for use with underfloor heating.
  2. Moisture content: Wood naturally expands and contracts due to changes in moisture content and temperature. When installing hardwood flooring over underfloor heating, it’s essential to select a wood species with a stable moisture content that can handle these fluctuations. Engineered hardwood is often a better choice for underfloor heating systems, as it is less susceptible to moisture-related movement than solid hardwood.
  3. Thickness: The thickness of hardwood flooring affects how quickly and evenly heat is transferred through the floor. Thinner hardwood floors (e.g., 15-18mm thick) tend to provide better heat transfer and faster response times to temperature changes. Thicker hardwood floors may be less efficient in transferring heat, resulting in longer warm-up times.
  4. Expansion gaps: It’s crucial to leave adequate expansion gaps when installing hardwood floors over underfloor heating. These gaps allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the wood as it reacts to temperature and moisture changes, preventing buckling and damage to the floor.
  5. Insulation: Installing proper insulation beneath the underfloor heating system is essential to ensure efficient heat distribution and minimize heat loss. A well-insulated subfloor will help the hardwood flooring heat up more quickly and maintain a consistent temperature throughout the room.
  6. Acclimatization: Before installation, hardwood flooring should be acclimatized to the room’s temperature and humidity conditions for a few days. This step helps minimize the risk of warping or other issues related to moisture content changes.
  7. System compatibility: Not all underfloor heating systems are compatible with hardwood flooring. It’s essential to choose a system specifically designed for use with wood floors, typically with a lower maximum surface temperature (around 81°F or 27°C) to prevent damage to the wood.
  8. Maintenance: Regular maintenance is necessary to prolong the life of hardwood floors with underfloor heating. This includes keeping the relative humidity levels within the recommended range (usually between 30% and 60%) and promptly addressing any moisture-related issues.

To Install Electric Radiant Heat Under Hardwood Floors?

  1. Measure the room to determine the heating area and make a sketch of the installation area.
  2. Locate the thermostat location, approximately five feet off the floor and on an inside wall, and send the sketch to Warmup for a quote.
  3. Run a GFI circuit and a dedicated circuit to your thermostat location.
  4. Inspect the subfloor carefully and fix any problems that could affect the installation.
  5. Install wood strips or sleepers from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch thick, 2 to 3 inches wide, 12 to 16 inches on center, and glue or screw them down.
  6. Install fixing strips to help you space the wires 2 or 3 inches apart and run the heating cable through the fixing strips in a serpentine pattern back and forth between the wood sleepers.
  7. Install the temperature floor sensor evenly between two runs of heating cables, at least 12 inches out from the wall, and do not cross any wires.
  8. Embed your heating system using a leveling compound, such as a latex modified thinset, that can withstand temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Install your hardwood flooring by attaching it to the wood sleepers only, making sure not to damage the wires with your fasteners.
  10. Program your thermostat to avoid drying out the wood and causing warping, setting the maximum temperature to 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Thick Can A Wood Floor Be For Radiant Heat?

Here is a table with the different types of rooms, their corresponding heating efficiency, and the recommended wood thickness for each room:

Room TypeHeating EfficiencyRecommended Wood Thickness
BathroomHighLess than 3/4 inch
BedroomMedium-HighLess than 3/4 inch
KitchenHighLess than 3/4 inch
Living RoomMedium-High3/4 inch or more
Dining RoomMedium-High3/4 inch or more
Home OfficeMedium3/4 inch or more
BasementLowLess than 3/4 inch
GarageVery LowLess than 3/4 inch