May I install wide board flooring over a radiant heated subfloor?

Certainly………with a few cautionary words. There are many types of in-floor hydronic heating systems available. It is critical that the mechanical contractor be aware that your intention is to install wood flooring above his system so that he can engineer it properly. In traditional wood frame construction, my favorite type is the “Warmboard” system – which is comprised of an additional layer of plywood with the tubing inset into it. This allows a lower operating water temperature which is ideal for solid plank flooring installation, as well as a reduced cost of operation. Another option would be that which clips to the underside of the plywood subfloor with a radiant shield or reflective barrier and/or insulation below it. This is designed to accommodate wood flooring and allows installation to proceed in a traditional manner, albeit with shorter cleats (complete penetration of the plywood is contra-indicated). Wood flooring can also be directly glued down to a slab – using one of the permanently elastic urethane adhesives that I recommend under my Useful Links tab – or, a plywood subfloor can be applied over the cement. This can be glued or floated (a minimum of 5/8″ plywood is recommended, 3/4″ is better) and then the plank flooring can be nailed down in the normal way – again with shorter than normal cleats. In any application though, acclimation of the wood flooring, prior to installation, in the room with the system running at occupancy levels is necessary.

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