how to extreme

Install a Heated Wood Floor

Construction How-To, Flooring Installation, Floors, Radiant Heat August 9, 2016 Sonia


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Here’s an efficient system for heating new oak flooring.

By Rob Robillard

Installing an electric floor heating system under a hardwood floor is a great way to add warmth and comfort to any room. It’s also a fairly simple process because there are no vents, ducts, pipes or radiators involved.

I like using electric radiant heat because, simply put, it heats really well. A radiant heat system heats the entire room from the floor up, resulting in heat that is consistent throughout the room. The heat produced by the system also reduces humidity and draftiness, which results in fewer dust mites and allergens in the air.

Electric Radiant Heat Solves Remodeling Problems

On one recent remodel, I was updating an unheated four-season porch with three exterior walls, a roof above, and a crawlspace beneath. The client had their HVAC contractor try to access the porch for heat, but all they were able to do was split an existing heating duct to get some heat into the porch. Unfortunately this was not enough, and the porch was still cold. They turned to me for help.

We chose to use the Warmup Inc. “Loose Wire Heating System” (NADWS) paired with the company’s new programmable 4iE thermostat. Using the Warmup system, we were able to offer our clients the ability to continue their hardwood flooring into the adjacent porch, and add heating comfort. The result was a luxurious warm floor, and the benefit of a maintenance-free heating system completely hidden under the hardwoods.

After addressing moisture issues in the crawlspace beneath the floor, the next order of business was to prep the subfloor. To raise the height of the new finished floor to match an adjacent room, we installed a layer 1/2" CDX plywood followed by 1/4" sleepers.

After addressing moisture issues in the crawlspace beneath the floor, the next order of business was to prep the subfloor. To raise the height of the new finished floor to match an adjacent room, we installed a layer 1/2″ CDX plywood followed by 1/4″ sleepers.

Moisture and Temperature: Common Misconceptions

Radiant heat, whether water-based or electric, does not affect wood floors. Only moisture can negatively impact wood and cause it to contract, resulting in floor cracks. Temperature has little impact on wood floors; it is therefore completely safe to use radiant heat with wood.

It is common to confuse the effects of moisture and temperature on wood. Temperature only has an impact at very high levels, while even moderate amounts of moisture can hurt a wood floor.

The layout plan provided by the heat-system manufacturer will help guide placement of the sleepers.

The layout plan provided by the heat-system manufacturer will help guide placement of the sleepers.

Controlling Crawlspace Moisture Issues

Because the porch was built over a dirt floor and adding a concrete subfloor was not in the budget, we knew we would have to control for moisture. So the first thing we did was close the crawlspace vents and apply closed-cell spray to the underside of the floor system.