Solid hardwood over radiant heat

ontariomomMarch 9, 2012


We will be heating our house entirely with hydronic radiant heat. Our system will have around 12 zones, and at no time will the temperature be above 73 degrees F. It will be a deluxe system.

I wondered if we can use solid hardwood in some rooms given the zones and temperature controls we are putting in. I worry the wood might crack, warp etc with the infloor heating. Should I be worried about using solid wood? I am not fond of the gaps in between the boards for engineered hardwood. We want hardwood in our kitchen and everyday dining area, so I don't want the cracks in between the wood boards to be floor debris collectors, which is the main reason we are wanting to use solid hardwood.

I would love to hear your opinions.


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We are building now and also went with radiant heat. All my research pointed me to engineered. More stable. I, like you, don't want gaps in my floor. Nor do I want beveled edges. Kahrs engineered flooring locks together in a way that pulls the seam very tight to where it is nearly indetectable. I like the smooth look of a sanded, solid hardwood floor, and Kahrs engineered appears to provide it. I recommend checking into it.

We will be floating our floor.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 3:41AM
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Thanks for the recommendation for Kahrs flooring -- I will check that floor out for sure. I have also been reading that engineered flooring might be a safer bet. What is the advantage of a floating hardwood floor (probably a stupid question)?



    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Radiant heat normally calls for a floating wood floor. you need to get to a big time floor store that can give you guarantees that the product you are choosing will work. When radiant heat is involved, we get statements from the manufacturer that it is approved for over your exact type of radiant heat. Do not gamble with it.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 3:30AM
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Thanks Floortech for your advice. I will see to it that we get that guarantee. Our radiant heat is mounted underneath from the ceiling below. The HVAC guy who is installing the radiant said we don't need a floating floor, but I will go to a few big flooring stores and see what they say. If we don't do a floating floor, I am not sure how we would be sure to avoid nailing into the tubes.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Hardwood floors over radiant is a beautiful thing & very comfortable. If installed correctly you can use virtually any type of hardwood on top of radiant, whether its solid, engineered, nailed down, nailed & glued down or floated. It is a misconception that radiant floor hurts hardwood, but really it is the relative humidity of the home & the hardwood that makes wood expand & contract. If you want to speak with a great hardwood company go to they warranty all their wood products on top of radiant & have testing facilities of their own. Additionally, the company I work for, Warmboard, uses lower water temperatures than other systems. You can also nail hardwood directly to our product. Feel free to call or email if you have any questiosn 877-338-5493

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 5:08PM
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The temperatures used in floor heating will not damage the wood in any way. Temperature is only a factor when gluing wood directly to a subfloor. Some mastic is temperature sensitive. While floor-heating temperatures will not harm the wood, variances in moisture content will cause it to move in numerous ways. When installing soft or hard wood floors in any situation, moisture content is a key factor to successful floor performance. Adding heat to the floor makes attention to moisture even more critical. The wood floor installer and the heating contractor both need to be aware of the special considerations required when combining floor heating and wood floors.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 2:23AM
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Thanks tectonicfloors and Warmboard Rep for your helpful tips. I will speak to the HVAC contractor about moisture control. We will have a high end HRV unit. Is that the sytem you recommend for humidity control, or do we need something else?

I have also been told by the HVAC rep that you can use solid wood, however there is lots of advice on the web that points to engineered being safer. I will ensure the flooring product has a guarantee for radiant.



    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 10:22AM
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Alice Flynn

Questions about radiant heating and wood floors are addressed in the FAQ page of Radiant Engineering at their website. They are in my home town of Bozeman, Montana, and have decades of experience in designing hydronic systems in our cold climate. They also invented what many professionals, like This Old House, call the top of the line product for hydronic radiant heating, an aluminum heat transfer plate called ThermoFin. The ThermoFin-U is installed with plywood sleepers, and frankly, is more efficient and costs less than warmboard. There are also installation videos on their youtube channel. You can contact them directly if you have more questions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Radiant Engineering

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 10:25PM
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