Radiant Heat refers to a heating system that raises the temperature of a floor or wall surface. Radiant heat in the floor creates a macroclimate of dry air that can put undue stress on a wood floor if not properly designed and regulated. Engineered flooring is routinely warranteed for radiant heat as long as correct installation procedures are followed. Before installation, the system should be slowly brought to operating temperature (3-4 days), and then turned off. This is designed to drive any latent moisture out of the subfloor. After installation, the same procedure is repeated, taking care to ramp up to operating temperature slowly (so as not to “shock” the wood).
Most wood flooring manufacturers recommend that the operating temperature of the water not exceed 89 degrees F, but the most important thing is that the surface temperature of the wood flooring does not exceed 80 degrees F. Solid wood flooring over radiant heat is endorsed by the National Wood Flooring Association only with a specially prepared floating subfloor system involving two layers of ½” plywood, or a sleeper system embedded in concrete and skinned with plywood. Planet Hardwood recommends floating wood flooring engineered for stability over radiant heat. Solid wood flooring may suffer excessive seasonal movement. If solid flooring is used, the seasonal movement will be less apparent with a narrow width (3 ¼” or less), and a specie with inherent stability. In summary, solid wood flooring over radiant heat will have more seasonal movement than with other heating systems.