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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

Print   Video Transcript

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

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  • 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