Radiant heat systems have been around for years, but they are gaining popularity in homeowners that want to cut down on their energy consumption and save a little money in utility bills. However, floor radiant heat systems can really mess up a hardwood floor. These types of heat systems can cause your wood flooring to dry out quicker than other heating systems, which can lead to warping and buckling. Luckily, there are certain types of hardwood flooring you can install that are less likely to experience the negative side effects of radiant heat systems.
The key to using hardwood flooring over radiant heating systems is to choose a product that is very dimensionally stable. Dimensional stability is the measure of wood's tendency to shrink and swell as it gains and loses moisture. Because radiant heat systems pump heat directly through the floor, it's very important to find boards that are less likely to move around as their moisture levels change.
Domestic hardwood species with a lower density tend to have better dimensional stability than their more denser exotic counterparts. North American oak, American walnut, and American cherry are all great known for their natural stability.
People prefer engineered flooring over solid hardwood for a lot of reasons — it's easy to install, it's versatile, it's light-weight — but what a lot of folks don't know is that it is also much more stable than solid flooring. These reasons combined make it a perfect match for radiant heat systems.
Fact: wide hardwood boards are inherently less stable than narrow ones. In fact, any board over three inches wide is frowned upon for installation over radiant heat systems. Stick to the industry standard: 2 1/4".
We could go on and on about the differences between quartersawn and rift-sawn floors, but for this post you really only need to know one thing: quartersawn is more dimensionally stable. Done and done.
Questions? Read Radiant Heat Installation of Hardwood Flooring on our website or give us a call at 1-888-448-9663.