Radiant Heat and Hardwood Flooring: Heat Your Feet

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It’s no secret that radiant heat is one of the fastest growing green trends in the construction business. Its location underfoot means it transfers heat directly to the individual instead of dispersing it into the air. Radiant heat systems also reduce the amount of heat lost when external doors are opened. And as anybody who has walked on a heated floor can tell you, they’re unbelievably wonderful in cold weather.

Now it turns out that radiant heat combined with hardwood flooring results in an especially efficient heating situation that dramatically reduces a building’s carbon footprint. We’re not talking about some sort of special voodoo between the wood and the heat that makes them act differently. We’re just talking about simple common sense. As documented and explained copiously by Carlisle and others, hardwood flooring is the only type that’s 100 percent ecologically sustainable. The green benefits of radiant heat, for its part, are undisputed. So pairing them is a simple matter of 2 + 2 = 4.

As described in an April 15 press release from the National Wood Flooring Association, “Eco-conscious consumers can reduce their carbon footprint even further by installing radiant heat under wood floors.  Because wood floors are sustainable and renewable, they increase radiant heat’s benefits.” Of particular interest to people thinking about going this direction is the fact that radiant heat can work with wide plank floors. A Google search combining them turns up many recommendations to use strip flooring, but these are a bit like the old saw that you can’t install hardwood floors over concrete, when in fact you can. Using radiant heat effectively beneath wide plank flooring simply calls for an installation process involving a floating plywood subfloor.

Note that Carlisle has an FAQ about wood flooring choices where the first question deals with this very issue. Readers who are interested in both hardwood floors and environmentally sound living could do worse than to consider Carlisle’s emphatic assertion that radiant heat is “our favorite heat source with our floors!”

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