Radiant heat systems installed below the flooring of a house tends to give off gradual heat which fills the room by setting up convection currents.
Installation of radiant heat under the floor of a house either by using hydronic pipes or electrical wires can be extremely beneficial especially if the weather tends to become very cold in winter. However, not all types of flooring options are conducive to the installation of the same like:
Carpet which is known for its insulating properties tends to reduce the efficiency of the radiant heat system installed below,
Vinyl floors tend to get discoloured from the heat and might also result in off-gassing of certain chemicals,
Solid hardwood tends to shrink and swell with the cooling and heating of the radiant heat system, especially if a humidifier is installed in the room and
Rubber flooring too tends to give off an unpleasant odour.
Options which are absolutely favourable to the installation of a radiant system under the flooring of the house include:
Tile flooring: Tiles, especially those made of porcelain or ceramic, are extremely good conductors of heat. They do not expand or contract as they get warm or as they cool down and hence do not crack due to the varying temperatures. In fact they tend to increase the efficiency of the radiant heat system by conducting the heat quickly from its point of generation to the surface of the floor thereby enabling the convection current to be set up faster.
Laminate flooring: This is another option which works absolutely in sync with the radiant heat system installed below it. It replicates the look of hardwood yet has no tendency to shrink and swell as solid hardwood since laminated flooring tiles and planks are made up of wooden layers running in opposite directions. This results in the creation of a stable material and also eliminates instances of expansion and contraction.
Engineered wood flooring: Planks and tiles of solid engineered wood are also made up of layers of wood thereby creating a stable base which does not expand and contract to the application and removal of heat. Only the top layer is made up of solid wood and hence engineered wood flooring looks great, maintains and sustains itself well and even warms up pretty nicely imparting a warm feeling to the floor which feels great to walk on.
Natural stone flooring: This comes in many options like granite, sandstone, travertine etc. All of these options are wonderful conductors of heat and installation of the same over a radiant heat system is an excellent way to increase the heat radiating efficiency of the radiant heat system installed. They conduct heat from the base to the surface pretty fast thereby making it very comfortable to walk on during the cold winter months.
Thus from imparting the floor with a comfortable heat to proving to be economical in the long run thereby reducing utility bills, the radiant heat system is definitely a good decision to implement provided the flooring option is either tiles, natural stone, engineered wood or laminate.