Best Types of Flooring To Be Installed Over Radiant Heating

Radiant heat has many benefits. Walking on heated floors in winter is very cozy. The dog will love laying on it. And radiant heat can be very economical.

If you’re considering the installation of a radiant heat system, some flooring options work better than others. Here are the top 4 flooring options for use over radiant heat.

1. Tile Flooring

Porcelain and ceramic tile are great conductors of heat, so your home will get the full benefit of the radiant heating system. In addition, tile flooring will not expand as it warms or contract as it cools. Such expansion and contraction can cause cracking. That’s not a problem with tile.

2. Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring replicates the look of solid hardwood flooring or tile flooring without the expense. It also does a great job over radiant heat. The laminate material is built up with layers of wood that run in opposite directions. This creates a more stable material than solid hardwood. The laminate won’t expand and contract, in other words, like solid hardwood flooring wood.

3. Engineered Wood Flooring

Like laminate, it is produced in layers, so it has a more stable base that won’t react to the heating and cooling process. The top layer, or wear layer, is solid wood and comes in all the same varieties that you’ll find with other solid hardwood flooring. Engineered flooring even comes in bamboo. It looks great, wears great and warms great.

4. Natural Stone Flooring

Granite, travertine, sandstone and other natural stone flooring types conduct heat wonderfully. You might think of stone as cold, but not when it has got warm water flowing beneath it. If you never thought you’d like to walk on stone flooring bare-footed in January, you never considered radiant heat!

What Flooring Should Not Be Used Over Radiant Heat?

What about the opposite question?  What type of flooring should not be installed over radiant heat?  Carpet has insulation value, so it will prevent some of the heat from transferring through into your home. You can use a few area rugs over the flooring, but avoid large rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting.

Vinyl flooring is not a good choice either. The heat may discolor the vinyl or cause the off-gassing of chemicals. Finally, solid hardwood flooring will swell and shrink with the heating/cooling process, especially in homes that use a humidifier during winter. You don’t want to invest in pricey hardwood flooring only to have it cup, buckle, crown and crack.

If you’re planning to install comfortable, efficient radiant heat, your best choices for use with radiant heating are tile flooring, laminate flooring, engineered flooring and natural stone flooring.

Learn More About Radiant Heat And Flooring Options

  • Energy.gov – Informative website run by the Energy Department that addresses energy and environmental concerns.
  • Nuheat – Top manufacturer of radiant floor heating systems that can help you save energy and live a greener lifestyle.
  • DIY Network – Learn more about radiant heat flooring mats and how to complete a DIY installation.

Have you installed radiant floor heating in your home or are you considering it? Share your thoughts below.

15 thoughts on “Best Types of Flooring To Be Installed Over Radiant Heating

  • February 16, 2015 at 8:39 pm
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    Will a 3 1/4 lock and fold bamboo floating floor work well with the electric radiant (laticrete brand).

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    • February 17, 2015 at 10:14 am
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      Hi Greg, I wouldn’t make generalizations about floor types and radiant heating. Check the manufacturers recommendations on each individual product.

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  • May 31, 2015 at 3:04 am
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    As far as energy costs, would tile save because of its ability to conduct heat. That is when compared to wood floors

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    • May 31, 2015 at 7:04 am
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      Hi Greg, that sounds logical but I think it would be worth asking a radiant heating specialist…I’m not sure how significant and cost savings would be. Also tile would hold heat better I imagine but might take more time to heat up in the first place?

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  • November 28, 2015 at 2:05 am
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    Hello, we have a bonus room above an unheated garage. We have central air and heat which keeps all the rooms in the house warm except the bonus room. The heating vents in the bonus room are in the ceiling (ceiling is vaulted) and floor stays icy cold in winter. We are changing out the carpet in that room. It has a plywood subfloor. Do you all think electric radient heat mats would warm up the room enough to make the room comfortable. I have heard carpet is not a good conductor of heat. The room is 372 square feet. 16ft by 16ft. Any help would be appreicated. Also is it safe? Thank you.

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  • December 11, 2015 at 12:45 am
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    What is the best type of underlay to use under laminate floors?

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  • February 22, 2016 at 6:40 pm
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    2 Bay Concrete garage floor has radiant heat. Can I install a thin rubber mat to capture dirt from vehicle on one side only?

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  • July 19, 2016 at 10:53 am
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    Can you put cheap tile over carpet that has heat in the floor in the winter

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  • September 5, 2016 at 2:16 pm
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    We have radiant heat in our whole house, love it but we want to put ceramic tile down in the dining room, question is we were told we could not do this cause of tiles would crack. Right now we have carpet in almost every room but kitchen and bathroom. I really want ceramic tiles but am afraid of it coming back to bite us if we do this. I am so tired of carpet please any info would be greatly appreciated.

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  • September 27, 2016 at 12:22 am
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    Very helpful information regarding flooring choices that go with radiant heat. We have a radiant floor heating system with a concrete slab and need to replace the wall-to-wall carpet in the bedroom with laminate flooring. The rest of the house has clay tile.

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  • March 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm
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    Thanks for your informative write up! I’m having a hard time finding information regarding the use of cement tiles with radiant floor heating, do you have any advice? The manufacturer installation guide doesn’t mention it either. Thanks!

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    • March 15, 2017 at 10:33 am
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      Yes you can use cement tiles above radiant floor heating. Make sure your installer has previous experience.

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  • May 18, 2017 at 5:50 am
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    Hi! Thank you for the info!
    Thinking at 5-10 years down the line, what lifetime does an underfloor heating system has and what sort of maintenance/repair does it typically need? I am thinking this cause lifting or removing laminate/engineered flooring can be a lot easier than tiles/stones. Maybe this should be taken into account?

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