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!
5. Vinyl Plank Flooring

Luxury vinyl flooring, in particular wood look vinyl plank flooring, is incredibly popular and with the introduction of higher quality rigid core technology most vinyl plank and tile can now be used with underfloor heating.

Be sure to to check the installation requirements for each individual product as the warranty will often state the maximum temperature that the vinyl plank has been certified to work with.

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.

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

  • July 6, 2021 at 1:51 am
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    hello pros,

    can steel sheets be used for flooring with floor heating? steel wouldn’t be in direct contact with the floor, it will be raised to 2cm creating a void underneath it above the surface of the radiant floor.

    Reply
  • June 27, 2021 at 10:12 pm
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    We are building a new home and have the slab already done with the radiant in floor heat. We are wanting to install the new luxury vinyl plank floors. It is safe to do that. We do not want ceramic or carpet.

    Reply
  • January 5, 2021 at 9:57 pm
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    We have radiant heat with ceramic tile throughout the entire downstairs of our home. We are also on a slab. My question is / can we put stick and peel tiles directly on top of this flooring? I say no, but someone I know says yes. Can you please comment ASAP.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 4:40 pm
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    Thanks for this useful site. We have purchased Coretec Enhanced composite floor tiles. The tile manufacturer says this product is compatible with radiant floor heating. But the heating system we bought (IdealHeat’s 3 ft. x 18 in. 110-Volt Radiant Floor Heat Film with Anti-Fracture Membrane from Home Depot) seems to assume it will be used with a tile floor above it. (Lots of details about appropriate trowels, etc.) Will this flooring and the heat system work together OK?

    Reply
  • January 23, 2020 at 1:34 pm
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    I have heated floors and they have ceramic tile on them my question is can we put laminate over the ceramic?

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  • December 4, 2019 at 1:52 pm
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    Dear Pros,
    I have to heat a floor void of 100mm over a slab raised floor cement tiles.
    Do you think this could work if space is enclosed and the slab isolated?
    Tiles are 25mm thick cement core metal casing.
    We wish to warm up the surface of the tiles to 30ºc.

    Best regards

    Reply
  • September 9, 2019 at 5:56 pm
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    We have poured resin floors over floor heating. Works well and you can get any color. Super easy to clean Maybe not a thing in the US. We are in Europe and it’s becoming popular.

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  • January 19, 2019 at 12:28 am
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    If you are taking about hydronic, in-floor heating (tubes are in the concrete or cement-like material), whomever told you this is incorrect! Yes, if you drop a hammer, it’ll probably crack. Or, if your floor base material settles and becomes offset, it will crack. Otherwise, it efficiently conduct (transfers) heat and will not crack.

    Reply
  • November 8, 2018 at 3:48 pm
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    We built our house in Northern Wyoming with water base radiant heat 22 years ago. The house stays comfortable in Wyoming winters very economically, engineered wood works great. Hope this is helpful.

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    • November 27, 2018 at 10:53 pm
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      Thank you for this comment! We bought a house in Wisconsin that was built in 1946. It has radiant heat with a boiler. It is toasty warm, but we do not like the bare concrete. I have spent hours online searching for which flooring would be best for us, and so many contradicting answers! Sounds like you have a similar situation to ours, so we will be looking into engineered wood!

      Reply
      • October 6, 2019 at 10:52 pm
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        We renovated a home built. In 1973 It has a concrete slab foundation with radiant heat (water runs thru copper tubing within slab ). We wanted a wood floor and spent a lot of time talking to flooring experts. We were told the only way to go was a wood engineered floor glued down. 14 years later still in good shape and seems to keep house warm and comfortable

        Reply
  • October 17, 2018 at 12:24 am
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    Question for you….we are thinking of putting Traverine flooring in our entry way, bathroom, office and hall to the garage. These are all connected together. Our contractor also said it works to put tile right over tile. I like the idea of saving money, but…we have in floor heating. To me, that says we have another layer between the travertine and the water pipes. How will that impact our heating?

    Reply

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