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Keeping Your Toes Warm During the Winter Months

November 14, 2018

With the weather getting colder and the snow beginning to fall, more homeowners begin to ask about how they can help keep their floors nice and warm while still maintaining the natural beauty of real hardwood floors throughout their home. Radiant heating is the perfect option to keep your home nice and cozy. Radiant, or underfloor, heat is a system that is placed underneath the floor and emits heat through either hydronic or electric methods. However, it is not recommended for use with hardwood flooring products, as they naturally are sensitive to drastic changes in temperature and humidity levels.
Installing wood flooring over a radiant heating system is difficult, and the flooring product must be carefully chosen to ensure that the seasonal changes are minimized. It is also important to have a supplemental humidity control system to help keep the humidity levels constant as the heating system begins to reduce moisture content.

Picking the right species of hardwood is important when installing a radiant heating system, and the dimensional stability of the wood must be taken into consideration. Species such as Oak, Maple, and Hickory are much better choices, whereas Pine, Cypress and Mahogany would not hold up as well. It is also important to consider using an Engineered product, as these are generally more stable than solid products. When looking at Engineered flooring products be sure to ask about the manufacturer's recommendations with regards to radiant heat, as there are many different methods for producing the flooring that will impact its stability. Be sure to speak with a hardwood flooring specialist about all the different products available, as they will be able to make the best recommendation for the product type.

Not only is the species of wood important when determining flooring type best to install over radiant heat, but the type of cut and the widths of the boards should be taken into consideration as well. Quartersawn and riftsawn wood flooring are the best options, as they are cut from the source logs in a way to be the most stable, whereas plainsawn may be more cost-effective, but overall less stable. Also, narrower boards will naturally expand and contract less than wider boards, so choosing a product in the proper widths is beneficial.

Finally, when looking at any hardwood flooring, especially in arid climates, consider the possibility of a humidifier to help maintain the moisture content of the wood. With hardwoods, the more stable the temperature and humidity levels, the less change will occur naturally over time. This process is sped up with the addition of radiant heat, and the first time that it is turned on in the winter months can start changing the appearance of the flooring. Working with your hardwood flooring specialist, you can install a humidifier that will minimize the impact to the moisture content of the wood, and keep your floors looking beautiful for years to come. 

Almost any wood flooring can be installed over radiant heat, provided the proper environmental conditions for the flooring are created and the proper installation methods are used, as well as daily care and maintenance. If you are considering installing a radiant heat system, Ward Hardwood Flooring can help you with the process. With professional and experienced installers, we are able to help create beautiful and practical floors for the chilly winter months. Give us a call at 303-674-6966 or email today to get started!