Can You Put Electric Radiant Heat Under Hardwood Floors?

Can You Put Electric Radiant Heat Under Hardwood Floors?


Radiant heat is a great way to warm up your home during the cold winter months, but can it be installed under hardwood floors without damage and still make it warm and cozy? There are a few things you need to consider before installing electric radiant heat under your hardwood flooring, so read on to learn more!

Electric radiant heat

What Is Electric Radiant Heat?

Radiant heat is a type of underfloor heating system that warms surfaces rather than the air in a room. Electric radiant heat uses electromagnetic waves to generate heat. When you turn on the system, an electric current flows through wires that are embedded in the flooring. The wires get hot, and they radiate heat onto the surface of the floor, which makes this type of heating very efficient.

A person installing electric radiant heat

Is Electric Radiant Heat The Right Choice For Your Home?

The thought of always having warm flooring is incredibly tempting. However, this is a significant decision. If you're putting it in an existing interior, your floor may be disassembled for days, if not weeks. So before you begin, make sure this is something you can deal with.

Radiant floor heating is an excellent option for some home designs. Houses with high ceilings or spacious rooms may significantly benefit from such heating methods. Traditional heating systems waste a lot of energy in these households, blasting hot air from a few vents inefficiently. Radiant underfloor heating overcomes this issue by operating with the natural rise of hot air. 

When evaluating whether radiant heat is best for you, consider your own flooring preferences. It is important to note that heaters should not be installed under carpeting, which already serves as an insulator. Other materials, however, such as hardwood, stone, and tile, perform much better with radiant heating systems. These types of flooring are not naturally insulated and might get chilly, particularly in the winter. 

A person walking on a wood flooring

Can You Put Electric Radiant Heat Under Hardwood Floors?

While many hardwoods can be used with electric radiant heat, there are several others that should be avoided. So think about the timber you're using carefully.

Some species, such as pine, are more susceptible to temperature and humidity fluctuations. They are more prone to expanding and contracting in response to changes in their surroundings. While these woods may be used in certain houses, they do not perform well when dry heat is added under the floor. When wood dries out, issues such as gaps between the boards might arise.  

A person installing hardwood flooring on top of electric radiant heat

Which Wood Species Are Best For Radiant Heating?

Wood species with high dimensional stability are the way to go. Cypress, Teak, Mahogany, and Black Cherry are examples of wood species that are suitable for electric radiant heat.

Whereas species such as Beech, Maple, White Oak, and Hickory, should be avoided. 

A cat laying on a wooden floor

The Best Wood Flooring Option

While the finest engineered wood flooring is intended to expand and contract in response to moisture changes, its flexibility may be detrimental when put over a radiant heat system. Too much heat might cause permanent swelling, which can ruin your floor's appearance.

Is it still possible to put radiant underfloor heating under an engineered wood floor? Sure! However, you must be extra cautious and avoid heating wood planks that are over 18mm thick.

A stack of wood boards on top of a hardwood flooring

Radiant floor heating can be a great option for certain types of flooring, but there are some things you’ll need to take into account before making your decision. Ultimately, the best way to decide if electric radiant heat is right for your home is to consult with a professional who can help you assess your specific needs and recommend the best solution for you.