The Best Hardwoods to Install Over Radiant Heat Systems

Radiant heat systems are great, but they can really do damage to solid hardwood floors. Hardwood flooring can dry out much faster when installed over a radiant heat system, but understanding radiant heat systems and knowing which wood species work best with them can help reduce the amount of damage the system will do to your floors. Here are the top types of hardwood flooring that work best with radiant heat systems.

Oak Flooring

Natural Red Oak Flooring
Natural Red Oak Flooring

Domestic Oak flooring is a great choice for installing over a radiant heat system. Both Red Oak flooring and White Oak flooring have a natural dimensional stability and a lower density, two great features to have when pairing wood flooring with radiant heat. Species with higher densities, such as Brazilian Cherry and Maple, are less stable and thus more likely to warp or bend due to temperature fluctuations.

Narrow Boards
Wide boards are less dimensionally stable than narrow boards and don’t work so well with radiant heat systems. The general rule of thumb with width is any board under 3” works well. The preferred width is 2 1/4”, especially in solid flooring.

Engineered Flooring
Engineered flooring is often preferred over solid hardwood flooring simply because it is very versatile, can be installed in any room of the home (including below grade), and can be installed using a number of different methods. Engineered flooring is the preferred choice when it comes to radiant heat systems, too. The dimensional stability of engineered flooring makes it a perfect pairing with radiant heat.

Quartersawn Flooring
Again, dimensional stability is the key factor here, and quartersawn and rift-sawn floors are simply more stable than their plain sawn counterparts.

These are just a few things to consider before installing hardwood flooring over a radiant heat system. For more information on radiant heat installation of hardwood flooring, check with the National Wood Flooring Association – they have some great tips.

Aiming For That NWFA Seal of Approval

Think all hardwood flooring distributors are the same? Think again! According to a recent press release, the National Wood Flooring Association has started offering what’s called the Accepted Product Seal Program. This completely voluntary program will help manufacturers and distributors earn recognition for meeting certain industry performance standards. It will also help consumers identify companies that meet these standards and, most likely, offer high quality hardwood products.

Prefinished Natural Acacia Flooring
Prefinished Natural Acacia Flooring

So what is involved in the Accepted Product Seal Program? Well, the program tests standards for six unique product categories, including abrasives, adhesives, engineered wood flooring, fasteners, finishes/stains/sealers, and underlayment. The tests are performed by independent, third-party testing facilities. Testing requirements are created by ASTM/ANSI, two of the leading organizations in industry-specific international standardization.

The NWFA has been around since 1986 and currently boasts over 3,500 members, including architects, designers, specifiers, builders and consumers. Members receive high-quality educational training, technical resources, and industry networking opportunities. For more information about NWFA practices or if you’re interested in joining the group, call 800-422-4556 or visit the NWFA website.