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Wood Floor over Radiant


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Ralph's Forum Posts: 26
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By Ralph in Nashua, NH on 9/28/2006


Okay, I need someone to give me the facts or even your own experience here. My wife and I are planning to build a new home soon and plan to use radiant heating on the first floor. Since the cost of installing it in the subfloor was too much, I had planned to do a joist install. We had been investigating wood flooring options, knowing that it is important to select the right type for expansion/contraction. My wife was just told by a salesman at Lumber Liquidators not to go with a floating floor since this incorporates the use of a foam pad that will significantly impact the efficiency of the heat transfer and will require higher water temperatures. We had wanted to purchase an engineered flooring of a wide plank (5-8") to get a rustic look. However, the same salesman also advised against it since he said that the wider board would expand/contract greater than a thinner board.

I believe that while there may be some truth to all of this, in the end, we would still have a heating system and flooring that we're happy with even if the system may not be as efficient as we'd like. Does anyone happen to know if there are any radiant or flooring manufacturers that have done field testing on this to show the true affects of wood flooring installed over radiant and what the real loss of efficiency is between subfloor vs. joist install of radiant?

Thanks!


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By Ed in Loveland, CO on 9/28/2006


The added layer of insulation most floating floors require will greatly reduce the efficiency of the radiant system and will cost you in monthly operation costs. You will have to boost the temperature on the boiler to get the heat transfer you need to be comfortable. There could be other problems also if you are in an extremely cold environment; such as condensation on the interior windows, etc. You should consider a hybrid system with radiant floor systems under hard systems and baseboard systems at perimeter where your flooring is not conducive to in-floor radiant and look carefully a doing an in-concrete (gypsum system) over a wood joist floor for better efficiency and comfort.
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By Ralph in Nashua, NH on 11/12/2012


Here is an update to my original post...


We found in a company in Maine, Northeast Radiant Technologies, who designed our system for us. They convinced us to go with a radiant "ceiling" installation and we LOVE it! It was cheaper to install and we find it to be very energy efficient. The metal fins and tubing sit directly on the ceiling sheetrock, so the entire ceiling surface radiates the heat. No need to worry about what type of flooring to install or potential for voiding flooring warranties.

We purchased the control board and all materials from them. They supplied us with detailed color-coded loop plans that were easy to follow and their tech support was outstanding!

Doing a ceiling install does require some forethought and site changes for working around lighting fixtures, location of manifolds (we put them in closets), and obviously any future changes to add add'l. lighting can be tricky (rent an infrared thermal scanner to detect location of heating loops).

Our finished house is 2,800 sq.ft. and will come up to temperature (from 60 to 70 degrees) in about four hrs. I consider this response time to be very quick as we're only heating the mass of the sheetrock. With a joist install, you have to heat the joist cavity, subfloor, sub-plywood (if applicable) and finished floor... this takes a lot of energy. I would recommend a radiant ceiling install to anyone!

-Ralph

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