Comprehensive Guide of Underfloor Heating on Wood Floor Types


underfloor heating on wood floor


Different types of woods differ in thermal properties. The denser and the thinner, the better they conduct heat and typically more suitable to use with underfloor heating.

Engineered timber is the best type of wood flooring to use with an underfloor heating system as it performs well with changes in floor temperature. You can also use other wood floorings. But a softer and less dense wood attention must be paid to the thickness of floorboards. This helps the floorboards do not act as an insulator blocking the heat.

Heating the floor, changes the moisture content of wood. That means, you should choose wood flooring that can adapt to the changes in floor temperatures without changing the appearance of the floor. Kiln-dried wood tends to work best with floor heating. But always check with the flooring manufacturer about suitability for use with underfloor heating.


Types of Woods for Underfloor Heating


Underfloor Heating and Solid Wood Flooring is a Bad Idea

When you fit solid wood flooring, it’s best if you fit it in a room where the chances of fluctuations in temperature and moisture are minimal. In other words, rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens are generally accepted as ‘no-no’ places for solid wood flooring. This is because, when temperatures and moisture levels increase, solid wood flooring expands, just like a tree would in the forest. Then, when temperature and moisture levels fall again, solid wood flooring contracts again. When this occurs occasionally and the fluctuations are minimal, solid wood flooring harm will be minimal. However, when expansion and contraction are extreme and frequent, solid wood could start to cup and bow and gaps could appear in the floor, allowing draughts to pass and spoiling the look of your floor. These are the same reasons why fitting solid wood flooring over underfloor heating is a bad idea.

If you consider the heat that from underfloor heating needs to pass through the floor to heat the room, it becomes clear that the very nature of solid wood flooring makes it a bad proposition. The rise and fall of the temperatures of your underfloor heating will cause solid wood to expand and contract. This happens exactly as it does in rooms where there are extreme temperatures. In fact, the constant changes in temperature caused by underfloor heating are arguably worse than the occasional rises and fall in bathrooms and kitchens. Add to this, the fact that wood is a natural insulator. You’ll see precisely why solid wood flooring and underfloor heating are not good bedfellows.


The Best Type of Wood for Underfloor Heating

There are plenty of flooring options that work well with underfloor heating, but if you want a wood floor, combined with floor heating then engineered wood flooring is the best option. Engineered wood flooring is cleverly constructed so it resists significant expansion and contraction, even in some pretty extreme conditions. This is why it is the wood flooring solution recommended for bathrooms and kitchens, as well as for installation over underfloor heating.

engineered wood

Layers and layers of ply construct engineered wood flooring boards. These are bonded together to create a solid and stable core board. That core board is then topped off with a solid wood lamella or top layer. This method of construction means that engineered wood flooring boards are exceptionally strong and stable. When it comes to choosing the right engineered wood flooring option to install over underfloor heating, we generally recommend that the board thickness should be no more than 18mm. Thereafter, the top layer, or lamella should be 5mm or less. We believe these to be the maximum thicknesses for heat efficiency. You can further increase the effectiveness of your engineered wood flooring by gluing it down over underfloor heating.

Engineered wood flooring perfectly suits for fitting over underfloor heating. They also provide the benefit of the heating method of your choice, without having to compromise on the flooring you want. Engineered flooring comes in a really broad choice of species, finishes, grades and board sizes. And while your choice of species and finish will be largely unaffected by your underfloor heating, there are certain things to respect when choosing your board size.

One more thing to keep in mind, when choosing engineered wood flooring, to go over underfloor heating is your fitting method. We recommend a glued down. Gluing the floor down means that it can comfortably expand and contract as temperatures rise and fall. Thanks to the flexibility of the glue. This method of installation also helps minimise the risk of air pockets appearing in your floor.

The Heating Company excels in underfloor heating in NZ. In fact, it’s what started the business in the first place. Get a free quotation now.