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Radiant Heat Subflooring

Whether you are building a new house or remodeling an existing one, you may want to consider installing a radiant heating system to gently and evenly warm your rooms. Using a floor-based radiant heating system can save energy since it primarily heats the lower part of the room, where the heat is needed, and uses lower temperatures than baseboard or wall mounted radiators.

If you are thinking of installing a radiant heating system in your floor, investigate using as your subfloor the special plywood panels that are manufactured with aluminum lined channels already cut into them:

  • These panels are made from premium grade seven layer plywood that fits together by tongue and groove. They measure four feet by eight feet and are 1 1/8 inches thick. Aluminum tubing is bonded to channels cut in the plywood. The aluminum surface heats up quickly, providing heat with very little waiting time.
  • Ceramic and stone tiles can be laid over the radiant subfloor, but a layer of mortarboard or backerboard needs to be installed between the tile and the subfloor to provide the necessary stiffness.
  • Carpeting can be installed by nailing carpet tack strips directly to the panels. A slab foam rubber carpet pad should be laid before the carpeting goes down.
  • Hardwood can be laid over the radiant subflooring, but best results will be achieved by choosing a stable type of wood that has been quarter or riff sawn into strips rather than planks. The wood should be acclimated to the room at normal heating temperatures. Hardwood
    floors will require heating temperatures between 60 and 80 F degrees and humidity levels of 30 to 50%. Laminated/engineered flooring is a good choice, as it is less prone to shrinking and swelling.

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