As winter draws nearer, you may find yourself considering options for keeping yourself warm. Apart from upgrading your furnace, there's also another step you can take: heating your floors. Heated floors produce radiant heat from below your flooring, and the hot air then rises up, warming the rest of your home. Here's what you need to know.

What Flooring Can Be Used with Radiant Heating?

Tile, laminate, engineered wood, and natural stone are all excellent to use over radiant heating sources. But wood often has some advantages. The best type of installation over a radiant heater is a floating floor, which can make wood flooring preferable over other options such as tile, laminate, and natural stone. Hardwood installations also can improve the value of a home, especially alongside radiant heating, and it creates a surface that is both comfortable and attractive.

Should there be the need to make any adjustments or repairs to the radiant heating system, it's far easier to pull up a floating wood floor than it is to pull up tile or laminate. And because hardwood floors have a little "give" that tile and natural stone do not, heated, hardwood floors will generally be more comfortable than the other options.

That being said, engineered wood is generally preferred over solid wood for these types of applications. Engineered wood will transfer more heat energy into the home and will have the same appearance as natural and solid hardwood flooring. In many situations, it will also be easier to install.

What Are the Types of Radiant Heating?

Radiant heating for flooring comes in a few different types. Radiant air floors have hot air forced underneath them; though this can be pleasant, it's usually expensive and inefficient.

Electrical radiant floors use electricity to warm the flooring material. Finally, there are liquid-filled radiant floors—hydronic, as they’re more formally known—which tend to be more cost-effective. These systems use hot water pumped through the floor to warm the surface.

Though these liquid-filled radiant floors tend to be quite affordable in the long run, they do come with risks—namely, that of water leaking out into your flooring. You’ll also need a boiler in order for this type of radiant floor heating to work, so the up-front costs can be a bit higher than with other radiant floor heating types.

Is Radiant Floor Heating Green?

Like the variety of the flooring types we cover in this blog: yes! Radiant floors, no matter the type that you buy, are eco-conscious for a number of reasons. For one, they allow you room-by-room control over your heating needs, which can help you trim the fat and only climate-control the spaces that you’ll be occupying, reducing energy expenditures. Typical thermostats aren’t nearly as precise, as they usually govern whole-home heating and little else.

Per the United States Department of Energy, radiant floor heating has a leg up over forced-air heating—the kind that comes through your vents—because it “eliminates duct losses.” Your home’s air ducts are subject to leakage and a lack of insulation, and both of these can mean that your home isn’t making use of all the energy that you’re paying for. Seams, joints, and even the duct itself can spring holes over time, releasing precious treated air where you’re not intending for it to be.

Grist, a nonprofit environmental news site, also states that radiant floor provides a relatively even source of heat as opposed to forced-air systems. They therefore can help cut down on the need for space heaters—which aren’t the most environmentally friendly devices.

Are Radiant Floors Hypoallergenic?

Just like hardwood flooring can cut back on your family’s allergy problems, so can radiant floor heating. Combine the two and watch your loved ones breathe a little easier! This is because, unlike forced-air heating, your radiant floors don’t blow air around; they instead operate by producing heat directly, much as a fireplace or candle flame would.

UB Hardwoods: Your One-Stop Shop for All Types of Flooring

Whether radiant heating is right for your home depends on your budget, your needs, and the type of flooring you're interested in. If you want to explore your options further, contact the experts at UB Hardwoods. You can reach our Plymouth office at 763-807-4500.