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.
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.
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 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.
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.