If you wish to add warmth and coziness to your home, the correct type of floor can be an ideal starting point.
The right flooring will allow your radiant heating systems to work seamlessly and energy-efficiently.
So, what are the best types of floors for radiant heating systems?
The best floors for installing radiant heating systems provide good thermal conductivity. This means you should go for floorings that warm up quickly from the heating system. These flooring materials also make running such underfloor heating systems more energy efficient.
Keeping this information in mind, I will suggest some great flooring solutions that could do wonders for your radiant underfloor heating system.
For a better understanding, I will also add some factors to consider before finalizing your ideal house flooring.
Keep reading, and let’s begin!
Just as important as your choice of heating system, is making sure that your home is adequately insulated. We’ve written a cheatsheet to help you understand this important topic here.
Table of Contents
Before we explore which floors are best for your home’s underfloor radiant heating system, you need to learn about the deciding factors.
For example, an ideal flooring for optimal radiant heating is one that:
- Does not contract and expand with weather changes.
- Comes with optimal thermal conductivity.
- Has high tolerance against humidity, heat, and moisture.
- The flooring material is not too thick or too thin.
So, while looking for suitable home flooring that can keep your rooms warm, remember these factors.
Doing so will help improve the effectiveness of your underfloor radiant heating system and make it more energy efficient.
Now that you know the type of flooring to avoid for radiant heating system installation, establishing the best options will be much easier. Here are some of the ideal floorings and their benefits.
Ceramic tile is a well-known choice, especially for bathrooms and kitchens.
Its darker baked clay formation gives it a sturdy and strengthened structure. Moreover, it absorbs minimal moisture and is softer than many other floorings.
Being affordable and an excellent heat conductor, ceramic is a much sought-after choice for many new and renovated homes.
The tiles are also thin enough to conduct the right amount of heat and stay warm under your feet without scalding your skin.
Due to its thermal mass, ceramic tile retains heat for longer, making your home feel cozy and snug for hours. It also absorbs heat faster, making the radiant heater work with more energy efficiency.
You can safely allow your ceramic tile to heat up to 84 °F (28.89 °C) without worrying about your tiles overheating or deteriorating.
These tiles also evenly distribute the heat from under the floor and can last for years. So, if you have a tight budget and want tiles that keep your rooms warm, go for ceramic tiles.
Porcelain tiles are a great choice if you want to renovate your flooring to improve your home’s heating system.
These organic and mineral-based tiles absorb and evenly distribute heat throughout the floor. Additionally, the tiles are very compact and can absorb excess moisture, allowing your feet to remain warm and comfortable.
Due to their mineral-based nature, porcelain tiles effectively conduct heat in no time and retain the heat for longer after you have switched off the radiant heating system.
And since these tiles are porous, they absorb water, helping the heated floor stay dry and cozy. They are ideal for placement in your bathroom and all floors in general.
Porcelain tiles are relatively expensive in terms of the product price and installation. However, their durability and ability to retain their structure under all weather changes make them a wise, long-term investment.
They are excellent for underfloor heating and can be applied to all your home’s flooring.
You will find that many homeowners with underfloor heating systems choose natural and solid stone flooring due to its quick heat absorption and distribution throughout floors.
Moreover, stone floorings take the crown when retaining heat for the longest after the system goes off. So, if you have a power shortage during winter but have natural stone tiles, you will be comfortable for hours till power returns.
Natural stone tiles do not expand or contract during summer and winter, allowing them to stay durable without forming cracks and creases over the floor.
These tiles can also keep moisture at bay, helping to ensure your feet remain dry and warm and keep you feeling fresh and cozy.
The only drawback to these tiles is their thickness. Natural stone tiles are relatively thicker than ceramic and porcelain tiles and take longer to heat up.
However, due to their heat retaining abilities, they are a popular choice among many homeowners. And while stone floors are naturally cool, a radiant heating system underneath makes them an excellent home warming solution.
Like ceramic tiles, laminate floorings can quickly heat up to 85° F (29.44° C) without warping.
These floorings are multiple layers of synthetic floors bound together to form a single flooring structure. They look like natural wood flooring but are better at absorbing heat and are structurally sturdier.
These floors are durable, making them perfect for kitchen and living room heating.
You can install a radiant heating system underneath these floorings and set them to come on and off at specific times of day with a timer and set the temperature for optimal heating.
Laminate floorings are also more affordable than natural wood flooring and are easy to maintain.
However, due to the flooring’s temperature limits, you need to keep the heating system temperature limited to under 85° F (29.44° C) to avoid discoloration and warping.
Moreover, these floorings can react to moisture if you are not careful enough. Hence, I advise you to confirm your type of heating system and local temperatures before opting for laminate flooring.
If you want to opt for vinyl flooring, go for options like:
- Tile vinyl
- Sheet Vinyl
- Luxury Vinyl
These vinyl floorings are excellent for radiant heating systems and can conduct and distribute warmth throughout your home.
Like laminate floorings, you need to keep the temperature under 85° F (29.44° C) to prevent the flooring quality from deteriorating.
Vinyl floorings are pocket-friendly and best for bathrooms and kitchens, making them a flexible option for where you need heat the most in your home.
They are also 100% waterproof and easy to maintain. They might be weaker than wooden flooring but are better in terms of heat absorption.
So even if you need to replace these floorings, they will not cost you much compared to the alternatives.
You can also opt for cushioned vinyl flooring. It is naturally warm and needs less radiant heating power to keep your home cozy in chilly temperatures.
All in all, these floorings are affordable in terms of maintenance and replacement.
Engineered wood is best if you want the look and feel of wood for your floorings and something compatible with your underfloor radiant heating.
The top of this flooring is made of solid wood plank, while the bottom has multiple laminated base layers or high-density fiberboards that add to its durability.
These wooden floorings deliver a natural warmth and absorb underfloor heating perfectly to keep your home cozy and warm in harsh climates.
Moreover, engineered wooden floorings are more affordable than natural ones and are best for long-term home warming solutions.
Another reason to opt for engineered wood is that it does not expand and contract with temperature changes. It is also not susceptible to moisture build-up.
Remember that while engineered wooden floors are durable and stable against atmospheric temperature changes, they are not very strong thermal conductors. This means that engineered wood takes longer to heat up and distribute warmth.
Therefore, if you reside in a predominantly cold area throughout the year, you might need a thinner flooring option.
Not only does polished concrete flooring add aesthetic value to your home, but it also helps to distribute warmth from your underfloor heating systems.
Due to its high thermal mass, concrete flooring can absorb and spread the heat around your floors and maintain a constant warmth inside your home.
Furthermore, polished concrete is well-known for retaining heat for longer, allowing you to enjoy a warm house even when the radiant heating system is off. It also absorbs heat quickly, ensuring that your heating system works efficiently without adding too much to your electric bills.
Remember that concrete reacts poorly to sudden spikes and drops in temperature.
So before finalizing your installation, consult an expert to ensure the radiant heating system is installed within a concrete layer of 50 mm to 100 mm (1.9 inches to 3.9 inches). Doing so will help the concrete to heat up and cool down slower, giving it more durability.
All in all, these are the seven best flooring types for your radiant heating system.
Since the system itself is a hefty expense, you can choose any of these affordable and durable flooring options to ensure the system operates efficiently to distribute the warmth inside your home.
Depending on your locality and construction budget, choose the flooring that best meets the demands of your climate and your bank balance.
For information about potential problems with radiant floor heating, be sure to read our article.