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

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  • Cortney G Says:
    August 9th, 2018 at 10:25 am

    I have geothermal heating and I want to replace the tile in my kithcen. Do I need to tear up the old tile or would it be possible to lay some type of flooring over the tile? I’m just wondering if the heating would still come through


  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 26th, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the TodaysHomeowner.com community, Judie!

    Everyone definitely has their favorite kind of floor and heating method.

    Take care. 🙂



  • Judie Says:
    July 16th, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Considering replacing flooring on 1st floor which has radiant heat it is mostly covered in ugly tile now but there is carpeting in bedroom and living room which I’ve have learned is not a good idea for radiant heat.
    Wood is a no no since the heat will cause the wood to dry out warp and splinter which makes perfect sense. Vinyl and linoluem is made with chemicals and glues so once heated releases gases. I’ve research and found engineered wood or laminate is a good choice but tile is the best
    since it allows the heat to permeate the room. I have tile now and yes
    it is nice on your feet.
    The new wood looking non slip planks are a good choice I did use that in the bathroom and love it so may just continue with it throughout.
    The problem the cost of ripping out the flooring and laying the tiles.


  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 8th, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Hi, Miriam,

    Danny says, “I think you would be safe to put down a rug up to 60 percent coverage of the floor. You won’t have any problem with the overheating.”

    Good luck!



  • Miriam Says:
    June 23rd, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Is it all right to use an area rug over engineered wood flooring on a radiant heat system? If so, how big can the rug be compared to the floor space? I have read that area rugs may cause the floor to overheat, thus damaging the engineered wood floor.


  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 8th, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Hi, Janis,

    Danny says, “It depends to a degree on the type of radiant floor heating — whether it’s electric or hydronic. The more mass to the floor, the better the retention of heat. Vinyl is not the best for the retention of heat for that reason.
    I would suggest the floating floor to give room for expansion and contraction when the heat is on and not on.”

    Good luck!



  • Janis Says:
    May 29th, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    Most of the flooring stores we have visited recommend vinyl flooring for radiant heating. Why don’t you recommend it?
    We are building a slab on grade home for someone in a wheelchair. It will have radiant heating throughout. Some places say it should be a floating floor, and others say to glue the flooring. Which is correct?


  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 8th, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Hi, Trish,

    Danny says, “It’s done all the time and you shouldn’t have any problems; it won’t affect the usefulness of it. Best of luck on your project.”

    Good luck!



  • TrishW Says:
    May 2nd, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Hello,

    I have purchased a home that has in floor radiant heating roughed in, in the basement. Its not yet hooked up to the water tank. I am wanting to install a wet bar and was hoping to do the work myself however I haven’t worked with in floor radiant heat before and was wondering if I can install my wet bar cabinets over the heated floors? I am not sure about this but I don’t think its possible to remove a section of the in floor hear, especially since its not electric. Would I still be okay to install a few cabinets over the heated floors?



  • Laura Says:
    April 1st, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    We are moving into our new home soon. The previous owners installed tile over radiant heat (electric) and while we love the heat, we’re not fans of the tile. What’s the easiest way to go about replacing the tile without harming the heating system? Or is it even possible?



  • Aaron poulin Says:
    March 11th, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I have radiant heat with ceramic tile, can I go over the top of the tile with laminate flooring



  • Aaron poulin Says:
    March 11th, 2018 at 10:05 am

    I have radiant heat with ceramic tile, can t go over the top of the tile with laminate flooring



  • Stuart Says:
    December 10th, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Ive installed radiant floor heat in my new remodeled home
    I managed to save a lot of pine plank flooring that was in the home originally
    Used it for my flooring
    As I use the heat Im noticing that it separates quiet a bit
    Still wondering its ok to seal the floors or leave them alone
    I was thinking to go thru & use putty to fill in the spaces or use a lot of sealer to maybe fill the joints or leave well enough alone & use a light sealer
    Since the boards are old planks they arent always level anyhow even after a lot of sanding
    Hope to hear from you soon
    Thanks much



  • Anita Williams Says:
    October 6th, 2017 at 8:15 am

    I have hydronic radiant heated floors. My kitchen and Livingroom are together [open concet]. What would be the number one flooring to put on top?



  • Rose Todd Says:
    March 2nd, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Never install bamboo flooring over radiant heat – I t dries out the glue (since nothing can be nailed or screwed to the flooring) and shrinks once the heat is turned up thus causing the seams to pull apart. This product was recommended to me by Lumber Liquidators at point of sale, then once I delivered it to my new home via Uhaul, was told that they could not warranty it.



  • Megan Poitras Says:
    January 28th, 2017 at 11:42 am

    We have a main floor concrete surface. We have always had carpet over this surface. Can we have engineered wood flooring installed over this surface. There is no moisture problem with this surface. Can we use a “clickable flooring” as opposed to an adhesive flooring? There is perimeter duct work for heat from an electric furnace.



  • 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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Best Flooring to Install Over a Radiant Heating System