Our shouse (shop/house) has radiant in floor heat on its lower level and we love it! (read about it here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/radiant-floor-heating/) I encourage anyone who is building a barndominium, shouse, post frame home or even a garage or shop to at least have Pex-Al-Pex tubing placed in any slab-on-grade concrete floors (research Pex-Al-Pex here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/pex-al-pex-tubing-for-post-frame-concrete-slabs/).
Radiant heat has many benefits. Walking on heated floors in winter is very cozy. And radiant heat can be very economical.
If you are considering the installation of a radiant heat system, some flooring options work better than others. Here are the top four flooring options for use over radiant heat.
Porcelain and ceramic tile are great conductors of heat, so your barndominium gets radiant heating system’s full benefit. In addition, tile flooring will not expand as it warms or contract as it cools. Such expansion and contraction can cause cracking. This is not a problem with tile.
Laminate flooring replicates solid hardwood or tile flooring’s look without requiring a huge investment. It also does a great job over radiant heat. Laminate material is built up with layers of wood running in opposite directions. This creates a more stable material than solid hardwood. Laminate won’t expand and contract, in other words like solid hardwood flooring would. Much of our shouse’s second and third floors have oak flooring – we can vouch for it growing in humid weather and shrinking when humidity is low.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Like laminate, it is produced in layers, so it has a more stable base and will not react to heating and cooling processes. Top, or wear layer, is solid wood and comes in all the same varieties found with other solid hardwood flooring. Engineered flooring even comes in bamboo. It looks great, wears great and warms great.
Natural Stone Flooring
Granite, travertine, sandstone and other natural stone flooring types conduct heat wonderfully. You might think of stone as cold, but not when it has warm water flowing beneath it. If you never thought you would like to walk on stone flooring bare-footed in January, you never considered radiant heat!
What Flooring Should Not Be Used Over Radiant Heat?
Carpet has insulation value, so it will prevent some heat from transferring through into your barndominium. You can use a few area rugs, but avoid large rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting. Vinyl flooring is not a good choice either. Heat may discolor vinyl or cause off-gassing of chemicals. Finally, solid hardwood flooring will swell and shrink when heated or cooled, especially in barndominiums using a humidifier during winter. You don’t want to invest in pricey hardwood flooring only to have it cup, buckle, crown and crack.
Planning to install comfortable, efficient radiant heat, your best choices for use with radiant heating are tile flooring, laminate flooring, engineered flooring and natural stone flooring.