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Best Flooring to Install Over a Radiant Heating System

By: Danny Lipford
Installing hardwood flooring over a radiant heating system.

Installing hardwood flooring over a radiant heating system.

Under floor radiant heating systems work by running hot water through pipes, or electricity through resistance wires, which are installed under the finished floor. This gently warms the floor under your feet. Hot water based (hydronic) radiant systems are much more energy efficient than those that use electricity.

Radiant heating systems can be installed under most types of floors, though it’s not recommended under vinyl flooring. Also, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s flooring warranty to make sure installing radiant heating under it doesn’t void the warranty.

Tile and hardwood flooring work best when installed over a radiant heating system, since these types of flooring feel cold in winter. Installing radiant heating under carpeting, on the other hand, is not as effective.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

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Danny Lipford: Greg wants to know, “ Can I install radiant heat under any type of flooring?”

Yes, you can install just about any type of flooring over a radiant heat system, but I would not recommend any type of vinyl flooring. And also, you want to check with the manufacturer, because installing some floor over a radiant heat system will void the warranty.

But think about it with good common sense. What kind of flooring is the coldest on those bare feet? Well, generally it would be a ceramic or a porcelain type floor, so this is perfect to install over a radiant heat system. Now carpeting pad, not so much, just won’t be as effective.

Hardwood floor is also a great one to have over a radiant heat system. But another thing you have to decide is what type of system—whether you go with electric or hydronic. Hydronic has proved to be a lot more energy efficient.



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4 Comments on “Best Flooring to Install Over a Radiant Heating System”

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  • ronkeddy Says:
    September 27th, 2016 at 12:24 am

    I think there are a few options for flooring over a radiant heating system: laminate, porcelain, stone, ceramic tile, vinyl, LVT, or carpet. I am confused as to which one will suit my home best.



  • Kathryn Says:
    May 29th, 2016 at 7:02 am

    We have gutted and are rebuilding an existing structure and plan to install hydronic radiant heat using the subfloor model. What is the sequence we should use in completing this phase of the project? Should we foam insulation and sheetrock before installing the radiant flooring and hardwood floor or should the radiant flooring be installed first, then the insulation and sheetrock? A big thank you for your help!



  • karen webb Says:
    April 22nd, 2016 at 7:00 am

    we’re using radiant floor heat for our new-build home. Is “engineered” hardwood a good option? thanks



  • Pam Bowrs Says:
    August 8th, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    We have radiant floor heat with cement slab and want to replace the wall to wall carpet in the bedroom with laminate flooring. Is this a good idea? The rest of the house has ceramic tile. Thank you so much………


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