Online educational resource on achieving indoor environmental quality with radiant based HVAC systems
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Featured Mechanical Room Radiant Based HVAC
Total Comfort System

Return to Part I
Considering Radiant Heat?

Go to Part III:
Our Favourite Reference Book on Wood and Wood Flooring

Part IV:
Wood is Good by Dr. Joseph Lstiburek, P.Eng.,

Modern Boiler Room

Jeffrey from Climatec Advanced Heating Technologies knows how to simplify a mechanical room and make it look outstanding!  This pump and control set up is for a really nice home in PA.

Steam Humidifier

This is a picture of our steam humidifier which we use to hold constant RH all year long.

Software Technology for Radiant Systems

Radiant heating and cooling design has really benefited from software developments. This is a simulation of a heated floor. This is a useful tool for understanding how floor coverings like hardwood and radiant work together.

Beautiful Heated Hardwood Floors

Everybody in the radiant business knows Moses of  New York fame...he does the most incredible radiant heated floors anywhere.

Preperation for radiant heated wood floors

Andrew from Radiant Engineering took this picture showing their heat transfer plate system.  These products make it so easy to radiant floors with hardwood.

This is another shot from Andrew before the wood strips were laid down.

There are so many great ways of doing hardwood and radiant and it all begins with working with professional radiant contractors and professional hardwood installers.

You can learn more by downloading this free document.

Radiant Heated Hardwood Floors

Guide to Hardwood Floors and Radiant Heating
(.pdf slide show)

Other useful resources:

Learn About Thermal Manikins

Learn About Thermal Comfort

Radiant Floor Heating and Cooling

Click on the floor temperature graphic to enlarge.

Radiant Based HVAC System

Click on the climate control graphic to enlarge. We discuss the details of this systems in our online forum and in our design courses.


Part II : How to Install Hardwood Floors Over Radiant Heat
(click here for illustrations of other heated floors)

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With advances in heating and insulation technology, and effective management of wood's natural expansion and contraction, builders, architects and designers achieve faultless installations of hardwood flooring over radiant heat.

Parquet floors are readily used in radiant heat applications. With strip flooring, the wider the board, the greater the potential for gaps between the boards when they contract with seasonal changes in temperature and humidity. Tongue-and-groove strips are recommended and beveled-edge boards show fewer seasonal gaps.

It isn't recommended to use radiant floor heating under plank flooring wider than 3". Despite all your precautions, there is a high probability the user will not be satisfied.

Infloor Heating and Hardwood Floors

How It Works

Radiant heat systems use a three-stage process to convey heated water to its destination. (See diagram).

  • A water heating system that can be either a standard boiler, water heater, a geothermal heat pump or even solar panels.

  • The heated water is pumped through a tubing network installed in the subfloor.

  • As the warm water moves through the tubing network, it releases its energy and returns to the boiler system to be reheated.

Installation Details

Good communication with the radiant heat system designer is critical. Everyone should be notified of any work pertaining to the installation, especially if specifications are changed.

To ensure a superior end product, pay attention to the following factors before, during and after installation:

Radiant Heating and Hardwood Floors

Supplemental Notes:

Red rosin paper is the preferred and recommended choice for a slip sheet.  Tar paper (roofing felt) has been known to outgas in some cases.


































Work with the system designer to choose the subfloor option (see illustrations.) The heat system designer is responsible for the subfloor installation, but you will want to be familiar with the choices. Direct contact of the tubing with the flooring is not recommended. The subfloors shown here are recommended for hardwood floor installations.

Plywood (5/8") or oriented strand board (3/4") make good candidates for subfloor materials in radiant installations. Particleboard subfloors are not recommended by radiant heat companies.

Floor Temperature

Provide the radiant heat system designer with the hardwood flooring dimensions, species, and the desired temperature of each room. This will give him/her the information needed to calculate the necessary water temperature.

Tube Installation

Consult with the system designer to determine the tube network layout, so you'll know where the tubes are before you nail down the floor. It is best to have the tubing spaced evenly down the joist cavity (between the sleepers). Then you can nail down the finished flooring onto the sleepers on eight-inch centers. When the tubing circuits are crossed over the center of the joist cavity, have the system designer use nail plates to protect the radiant circuits from being punctured.

Climate Controls

The following climate controls will minimize expansion and contraction during and after installation of the floor.

Mechanical Humidity Control: The heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system should have mechanical humidity control. This will monitor the room and keep the relative humidity at an even level, which will keep the equilibrium moisture content of the floor stable.

Heat Transfer Point Control: The system designer also should install a set point control that will monitor the wood floor temperature. The set point control should either reduce the system water temperature or temporarily cycle the system off to prevent overheating the flooring if equipment malfunctions.

Exterior Thermostat: An exterior thermostat (aka weather compensator) is recommended to protect the perimeter of the system from condensation absorption during the spring and fall when rapid temperature changes may occur.

Once the subfloor, tubing and climate controls have been installed, the HVAC system should run for at least 72 hours to bring the house to the desired relative humidity.

Temporary, unvented sources of heat - such as propane-fired "salamanders" - can add excessive amounts of water vapor. Avoid them if possible, but if they must be used, leave windows open to vent the humidity.

Now follow the customary procedures for installing any hardwood floor.

Republished with permission(c)2001-2005 Hardwood Manufacturers Association

Words of wisdom from the National Wood Flooring Association
(see also, NWFA, Appendix H – Radiant Heat Installations, Hardwood Flooring Installation Guidelines) Copyright 2007 National Wood Flooring Association

"Maintain relative humidity planned for building occupants, and an ambient temperature between 65 and 75 Fahrenheit in spaces to receive wood flooring for at least seven days before installation, during installation and for at least seven days after installation. After post-installation period, maintain relative humidity and ambient temperature planned for building occupants."

  • For unfinished products, open sealed packages to allow wood flooring to acclimatize.

  • Do not install wood flooring until it adjusts to the relative humidity of and is at the same temperature as the space where it is to be installed.

  • Close spaces to traffic during flooring installation and for time period after installation recommended in writing by flooring and finish manufacturers.

  • Install factory-finished wood flooring after other finish operations, including painting, have been completed.

Part III: Our Favourite Reference Book for Radiant Heating and Wood Floors

Suggested reading for consumers and office workers:
How to "ball park" your budget for indoor climate control.
Built to code: What does it mean for consumer thermal comfort?
Indoor environments: Self assessment
Thermal Comfort: A 40 grit perspective for consumers
The Total Comfort System - The "Un-minimum" System
Thermal Comfort: A Condition of Mind
Do-It-Yourself HVAC - Should you do it?
The Cost of HVAC Systems - Are You Paying Too Much for Downgrades?
Radiant Installations - The Good, Bad and Ugly
Thermal Comfort Surveys - Post Occupancy, Part 1
Thermal Comfort Surveys - Post Occupancy, Part II

For additional support visit our visitor services page.

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