There are a lot of factors to consider before deciding whether or not a wooden floor is right for your home or business. If you have, or you’re thinking of having, an underfloor heating system installed, it’s crucial to check the floor you’ll be fitting can be used alongside underfloor heating.
Wooden floors are notorious for their tendency to warp when exposed to changing temperatures. So, with that in mind, is it even possible to use underfloor heating with wood flooring? Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know.
Is underfloor heating safe to use with wooden flooring?
Thanks to advancements in wooden flooring, it is possible to use underfloor heating alongside it. However, this will depend upon the type of wood being installed.
Generally speaking, underfloor heating can be safely used with laminate and engineered wooden floors. The only type of wood flooring that it should never be used with is solid wood. This is because solid wood flooring isn’t stable enough to be used with underfloor heating. They therefore won’t be able to cope with the change in temperature and will become severely damaged. This isn’t what you want when you’ve spent a small fortune installing it!
Engineered wooden floors on the other hand, have been manufactured to give the planks exemplary dimensional stability. This means they won’t warp or become easily damaged when exposed to underfloor heating. The same applies to laminate flooring too. It’s worth remembering that laminate flooring isn’t actually made from real wood, it just benefits from a real wooden effect. So, out of the three different types of wooden flooring, laminate is generally considered the safest to be installed with underfloor heating.
While the majority of engineered wood and laminate floors are compatible with underfloor heating, there are exceptions. Therefore, it’s recommended you double check the floor you’re considering buying states that it is suitable to be installed with a heating system.
What type of heating system are you using?
Another thing you need to take into account when buying a floor to install with underfloor heating, is the type of system you have. There are two types of underfloor heating systems, including water-based and electric systems.
The electric underfloor heating systems tend to be the most commonly used. They typically contain a foil heater, which is basically a heating mat that is really quick and easy to install. The foil wrapped feature means the floor will heat up very quickly, and it also guarantees more even heat distribution.
The water-based systems are less common, and they come in numerous options. These include rail and panel varieties. You’ll find that they differ depending upon the manufacturer.
When choosing a wooden floor to install over your underfloor heating system, you’ll need to make sure it’s compatible with your system type. For example, some wooden floors are only suitable to be used with electric underfloor heating systems, rather than water-based ones.
Understanding temperature guidelines
Regardless of what type of underfloor heating system you have, you’ll need to know what temperature it reaches. All wooden floors which are suitable for use with underfloor heating, have a maximum temperature they can withstand.
Top manufacturer’s such as Kahrs, recommend never exposing your wooden floor to temperatures over 27 Degrees Celsius. You need to be aware of this, particularly when you’re installing the floor around radiators, where the temperature will be a little higher than the rest of the room.
Always check the maximum temperature guidelines of each floor before going ahead and installing them. A good temperature to aim for is 23 Degrees Celsius.
Other important factors to consider
Temperature and the type of heating system you have aren’t the only factors you’ll need to consider. You’ll also want to ensure that if you’re using an underlay, it’s constructed to a high quality. Using incorrect underlay could lead to numerous problems, including the risk of a fire. So, always follow manufacturer’s underlay guidelines when installing it with underfloor heating.
If you’re installing a new underfloor heating system at the same time as a new floor, you’ll want to run the system before installing the floor over it. That way, if there’s a problem, you won’t need to take up your brand-new floor to get to it. You’ll also want to make sure that the screed is dry before turning the heating system on. Underfloor heating systems should always be installed by a professional too. This will ensure it is fitted safely and there is less of a chance that there will be any problems once you turn it on.
It’s also important to avoid installing the wooden floor with nails or screws. Doing so could mean you’ll end up puncturing or damaging the underfloor heating system. You shouldn’t need to use nails or screws anyway as the majority of wooden floors today come with patented click systems which make them really easy to fit.
It’s important to leave an expansion gap around the room when you’re installing wooden flooring. This becomes even more important when you’re installing it over an underfloor heating system. Make sure you leave an expansion gap of around 10mm around the room. If you don’t, there could be problems with overheating, and if the wood does warp slightly, it could become damaged if it doesn’t have enough space to expand into.
Finally, if you are using underfloor heating alongside wooden flooring, you’ll need to make sure it covers the entire floor. If the underfloor heating is limited to a particular area, it could end up damaging the wood due to the fluctuating temperatures.
So, the good news is, most wooden floors are compatible for use with underfloor heating. However, you should never install real solid wood flooring with underfloor heating, and you’ll need to double check manufacturer guidelines before installing any type of wooden floor. If you don’t follow the manufacturer guidelines and the floor becomes damaged because of the underfloor heating system, its warranty won’t be valid.