Radiant floor heating systems are a popular construction feature in new home construction and large-scale home renovation projects. They can be expensive to install, but there are several benefits that make them a very appealing feature to homeowners. For example, radiant heat provides an energy-efficient heat source for your home, it’s effortless to run, it’s a safe heat source that provides added comfort, and it’s also relatively easy to install.
What is a radiant floor heating system?
It’s a system where the heat is introduced into a subfloor, then into and through the top layer of flooring, and finally into the rest of the room and its contents (including people!).
What are the advantages of a radiant floor heating system?
- Compared to baseboard heating or forced-air heating, it is more efficient because it doesn’t lose heat through air ducts.
- A radiant floor heating system is better for those with allergies because there is no forced air to spread pesky or even dangerous allergens.
- You might not have enough room for the ductwork associated with an HVAC system.
- Radiant floor heating systems have lower energy costs.
Let’s take a look at the three different types of radiant floor heating systems.
Hydronic Radiant Flooring: This type of floor heating system heats water using a water heater or boiler and then runs the hot water through pipes that circulate it within the subfloor, which is then conducted through the top layer of flooring.
Electric Radiant Flooring: Electric radiant flooring works like an electric blanket with wires running through the subfloor material creating heat that rises to the top layer of flooring. This system is good because the floor will stay warm for longer periods of time, even after power has been shut off. It’s a quiet system, its efficient, and it’s really easy to install.
Radiant Air Flooring: In this system, air is heated and then carried through the subfloor which then warms up the top layer flooring. Unlike forced-air systems, the air that carries the heat in a radiant air flooring system is contained within the system and is not blown into the room. Therefore, it cannot obtain or distribute allergens like the forced-air system will.
What type of flooring is best for radiant heat?
Radiant floor heating is growing in popularity because it works with virtually all floor coverings. It can be used with tile, laminate, engineered hardwood, natural stone flooring and more. While tile is often thought to be the most effective floor covering to use with radiant floor heating, engineered bamboo flooring is also especially effective. That’s because engineered hardwoods, in general, are more dimensionally stable than their solid cousins; when radiant heat is used with traditional solid hardwood flooring, the heat that rises from the radiant heating can sometimes dry out the wood too much. Dry installations don’t often affect engineered hardwoods quite as much.
Follow these five steps when installing bamboo flooring over radiant floor heating.
- Read the NWFA Radiant Heat Protocol. The National Wood Flooring Association has a radiant heat protocol that every installer and homeowner should read before installing and hardwood (including bamboo flooring) over a radiant heat system, you can check it out here.
- Allow the bamboo flooring to acclimate before installation. Acclimation is an important first step to extending the life of bamboo flooring. To ensure the flooring won’t expand or contract during installation, place it in the room where it will be installed for at least 3-7 days, with the radiant heat system turned on to around 75-80 degrees. This allows the bamboo flooring to acclimate to the room’s standard temperature and balance with the environment.
- Install subflooring between the radiant floor heating system and the bamboo flooring, use underlayment between them, or glue the floors down. Manufacturers of radiant floor heating systems highly recommend you do not place flooring directly over the heated flooring. Most recommend using plywood that is at least 5/8” thick to provide a barrier of protection between the radiant heat system and the bamboo flooring, or 3mm thick 3 in 1 underlayment, and/or gluing the flooring down to one of those surfaces.
- Use glue adhesive or a floating floor system. It’s common to attach hardwood flooring to the subflooring with glue or nails; however, there is a risk using nails because they can penetrate through the subflooring and into one of the heating coils. For added protection, use glue with the bamboo flooring to adhere it to the subflooring or use a floating floor system.
- Leave the radiant floor heating system set to one temperature. When using bamboo flooring over radiant heat, it is best to set the temperature and leave it at that temperature. Bamboo flooring will naturally withstand changes in temperature; it’s one of the many advantages of bamboo flooring. However, it performs best when radiant heat is set to a constant temperature and does not change more than a few degrees per hour. Also, never let the subfloor radiant heat exceed 85 degrees.
More about Ambient bamboo floors…
What is the cost of radiant heating?
Radiant floor heating systems can cost about $5 to $7 per square foot for the materials or $8 to $12 per square foot with professional flooring installation. The installation costs are offset by some of the long-term cost savings that come from using radiant heating.
According to Energy.gov, radiant heating is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses. Another benefit is for anyone suffering from allergies because radiant heating doesn’t distribute allergens like forced-air systems do. Energy.gov also says that a hydronic system (liquid-based radiant heating) uses minimal electricity, which is good for homes that are either off the power grid or in areas with high-priced electricity.
Ambient bamboo flooring comes in a variety of over 30 beautiful styles and colors including strand woven bamboo floors, hand-scraped bamboo, engineered bamboo, and click-lock floating floors. If you are considering installing radiant floor heating and would like to reap the advantages of bamboo flooring, call one of our flooring specialists today at 866-710-7070. We are happy to answer any questions.