What Are the Best Kinds of Flooring for a Radiant Heating System?

Radiant heating systems are a great option for heating your home, especially if you’re looking for a more energy efficient option than traditional forced air systems. Unlike forced air systems, however, radiant heating forces some considerations beyond the heating system itself. Let’s examine how radiant heating is affected by flooring, and what you should do about it.

Why Does Flooring Matter?

Before we get into the best flooring options for radiant heating systems, it might help to discuss why flooring matters in the first place. Unlike forced air systems, radiant heating systems utilize a network of hot water pipes to transport heat throughout the house. These pipes are mainly installed in the subfloor of a room, though other areas like walls are possible as well.

The type of flooring matters because the heat from the system is transmitted through the floor to get into the room. This means that if the flooring is more or less conducive to heat, the system itself will be more or less effective.

What Kinds of Flooring Work Best?

Technically, any kind of flooring could work with a radiant heating system. That doesn’t mean that all flooring types work equally well, however. Generally, you’ll want to pick flooring that is more conducive to heat, making it more able to transmit the heat from the pipes to the room. Stone is a good choice, as is ceramic and even concrete. All of these materials conduct heat quite well, although they will take longer to warm up than lighter materials.

Hardwood can work, as can LVT or LVP (Luxury Vinyl Tile and Luxury Vinyl Plank). The problem with those last three is that they will contract and expand with the heat from the pipes, which can warp your floor. There are ways to mitigate this problem, but it will take some extra steps from whoever is installing your floors. Carpet is just about the only flooring option that really shouldn’t be considered with radiant heating. Carpet is designed to insulate a room, repelling heat instead of absorbing it. This makes it a particularly bad choice for radiant heating, as it will work at cross-purposes.

If you’d like to know more about radiant heating, call ACI Northwest. Our heating experts cover all of Spokane.

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