Radiant Floor Heating Education Guide

Radiant Floor Heating Education Guide or radiant heat installation guidelines, must be read thoroughly before installing the floors.

Hallmark Floors’ hardwood flooring is an exceptional choice for installation over specific hydronic radiant heat (warm water) or FiberThermics Mat (electric). We use only true hardwood veneers and Carb II complaint glues for the center-ply in our engineered floors. The center veneers are cold pressed, then hot pressed with tremendous pressure. This process makes the center core Eco friendly. It makes our engineered wood floors harder and more proportionally stable. Hallmark Floors is a better choice for in floor radiant heat systems.

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Flooring Products Suitable for Installation over Radiant Heat:

Engineered Hardwood Floors:

True – All (excluding Hickory)
Organic 567 – Engineered only (excluding Hickory)
Alta Vista – All
Regatta – All (excluding Hickory) – Excluding Open Surface Channel Hydronic or Glue-Down
Monterey – All (excluding Hickory)
Novella – All (excluding Hickory)
Ventura – All
Silverado – All

Engineered Installation Options

  • Hydronic: Float or Glue – Open Surface Channel (Float Only)
  • Electric FiberThermics – Float, Glue, Nail, or Nail Glue assist

Reminder: Regatta – Not approved for Open Surface Channel or glue-down (floating only)

Solid Hardwood Floors

Organic Solid all (excluding Hickory) – FiberThermics Mat (electric) only

Crestline all (excluding Hickory) – FiberThermics Mat (electric) only

Solid Installation Options

  • Hydronic: Solid Not Approved for use over Hydronic
  • Electric FiberThermics – Float, Nail, Nail Glue Assist

Waterproof Floors:

Courtier Rigid – Specified Hydronic & Fiber Thermic Electric – Specified Hydronic and FiberThermics Electric Mat – Excluding Open Surface Channel Hydronic
Waterproof 3Twenty – All – Specified Hydronic Systems Only – Excluding Open Surface Channel Hydronic.  Electric systems are not suitable
Waterproof 2Twelve – All – Specified Hydronic Systems Only – Excluding Open Surface Channel Hydronic.  Electric systems are not suitable
Waterproof Times Square – All – Specified Hydronic Systems Only

Benefits of a Hallmark Floors over specified Hydronic and Electric FiberThermics systems:

  1. More installation versatility than ever before.
  2. More climate control, flexibility, and greater comfort in use
  3. Eternity and Floor Muffler pads provide pleasing acoustic signatures in floating floors while adding little material to heat
  4. Electric FiberThermics systems add 1mm of thickness to the overall install, for low profiles, and the heating element is in the mat, providing even heat directly to the floor.
  5. Specified Hydronic Systems are limited by Hallmark Floors to those that are best compatible and safe for hardwood and vinyl products.

NOTE: Hallmark Hickory and Solid Hardwood Flooring excluded from Radiant Heat Installation Method.

Benefits of a Hallmark Floors over specified Hydronic and Electric FiberThermics systems:

  1. More installation versatility than ever before.
  2. More climate control, flexibility, and greater comfort in use
  3. Eternity and Floor Muffler pads provide pleasing acoustic signatures in floating floors while adding little material to heat
  4. Electric FiberThermics systems add 1mm of thickness to the overall install, for low profiles, and the heating element is in the mat, providing even heat directly to the floor.
  5. Specified Hydronic Systems are limited by Hallmark Floors to those that are best compatible and safe for hardwood and vinyl products.

NOTE: Hallmark Hickory and Solid Hardwood Flooring excluded from Radiant Heat Installation Method.

Radiant Heat FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Radiant Heat Systems: In-floor heating systems must be of the above specified water based, or Electric FiberThermics mats and designed to prevent the surface temperature of the hardwood floor from exceeding 80º F.

  1. At what point should a Hallmark Floors wood or vinyl floor be installed?
    A. Hardwood flooring should be installed last whether the system be hydronic radiant heat or an electric FiberThermics mat system. With hydronic the system is installed during the construction or retrofit of the structure. Electric FiberThermics is installed at the same time as the flooring.
  2. What must site conditions be before installation of flooring
  3. Hardwood or vinyl flooring should be the last items installed last on the hydronic radiant heat floor project. Electric FiberThermics are designed to be installed at the same time as the flooring. All windows and doors must be in place and the structure completely weather tight. If the tubing is encased in concrete, lightweight concrete, or gypcrete they must be completely dry prior to installation of the floor. Kitchen cabinets must be in place prior to installation of the floor. The relative humidity conditions must be between 30 and 55%, and the temperature between 65⁰- and 80⁰-degrees F.
  1. How long before installation of the floor should the radiant heat system be powered on?
    A. Hydronic – Two to three weeks prior to installation of the hardwood flooring with the thermostat set at 70º F and then at 85º F for 3 more days. The home should be aired out briefly every day to allow excess humidity from the thermal mass to exhaust moisture out of the structure. Electric FiberThermics mats are not to be powered on until the floor is complete. Subfloor, moisture content, temperature, and humidity must be within target range.  The mats are powered up slowly,    5⁰ F per day until desired temperature is reached.
  2. What should the moisture content of the lightweight concrete be before installation?
    A. The lightweight concrete moisture content must not exceed 1.5% as measured with a Tramax Moisture Encounter meter.
  3. Do the floors move, deflect up and down?
    A. A floating floor with have a degree of resilience or give that a nail-or-glue-down floor does not have.
  4. Do wood floors gap or expand and contract?
    A. Hardwood flooring is a natural product and will change size with variations in temperature and moisture content. However, engineered hardwood floors are far more proportionally stable than solid hardwood floors. Good humidity control can minimize these changes even more with radiant floor heating.
  5. What constitutes a low humidity environment?
    A. This varies by geography but is usually defined by areas that experience long periods of freezing weather or have naturally low humidity like the deserts or higher elevations present in the mountains (below 30% humidity).
  6. Should an engineered wood floor be acclimated?
    A. Since the floor is engineered, as such it is pre-acclimated to a 30 to 55% environment. As such long acclimation times are not required. Place the material on site 24 hours prior to installation.

Q. Should radiant heat be turned on before weather becomes cold?
A. Radiant heat should be turned on at low power in the fall and the heat increased gradually. This allows the temperature to be increased slowly with less shock to the floor. An exterior thermostat should be used for radiant floor heating.

  1. What is Hydronic Radiant Heat?
    A.Hydronic radiant heat is a system that uses warm water driven through a tube network. Energy is released to warm the room and cool water returned to the boiler to be reheated.

Q. What is Electric Radiant Heat?

A. Electric Radiant heat uses current to warm heating elements, introducing warmth to the floor.

  1. Are there any design limitations you need to be aware of?
    A. Radiant floor heating is very efficient but does have some limitations. When ceilings exceed 10’ high, the amount of cubic air that needs to be heated can create problems for a hardwood floor. Rooms with high ceilings can create a situation where the floors can become too warm due to the high volume of space to be heated. Rooms with high ceilings may require radiant heat to be installed in the ceilings and ceiling fans mounted to circulate the air.
    NOTE: All systems should have an in-floor-sensor to act as a fail-safe to ensure that the surface of the floor never exceeds the recommended surface temperature of 80º F.
  2. Are all hydronic systems OK for use with Hallmark Wood Floors?
    A. Only the hydronic systems specified in Hallmark Floors Radiant Heat Guide and ensure a very even distribution of heat. Hydronic radiant heat systems that do not include thermal mass or aluminum transfer sheets will not provide even distribution of heat. Good systems will not have temperature variations exceeding 3º F within a 2’ radius and 5 º F in a 5’ radius
  3. Are electric radiant heat systems OK for Hallmark Wood Floors?
    A. Only the Electric FiberThermics Mat specified in the installation instructions and the Hallmark Floors Radiant Heat Guide is accepted. Many electric radiant heat systems require transformers or embedding in cementitious layers. FiberThermics mats eliminate the need for these costly add-ons with Thermal Cut Off properties and in-floor temperature sensors for additional safety.
  4. Can area rugs increase thermal resistance and overheat the floor?
    A. Depending on the thickness of the area rug, a situation can develop where the floor could be overheated (heat trap). However, a well-designed radiant system is usually operating well below the maximum of 80º F. After rugs are in place, ask your radiant heat contractor to turn back the rugs and measure the surface temperature of the floor with an infrared surface thermometer to determine if the rug is making the floor too hot. Make adjustments to turn down the heat down as necessary.

Q. Can bookcases and entertainment units increase thermal resistance and overheat the floor?
A. Just like area rugs, anything that sits on top of the floor can create a heat trap. This can be compensated for by running the system at a lower power setting to ensure the surface of the floor does not exceed 80⁰F.

Q. Can a system be designed to avoid developing heat traps beneath area rugs, bookcases, entertainment units, and closed bottom furniture?

A. Electric FiberThermics mats can be laid out to accommodate for heat traps.  At the time of layout the mats themselves can be eliminated or disconnected should that be desired for later reconnection.  Unlike hydronic the electric mats sizes   can be placed or not connected withheat-trap avoidance and long-term flexibility of use in mind.

  1. Can radiant heat damage a wood floor?
    A. Poorly designed or passive radiant heat systems can damage a wood floor.  Air movement and proper humidity are crucial to proper performance of the floor.  Surface temperature should never exceed 80°F.
  2. What is passive radiant heat?
    A. Passive radiant heat is one where the structure does not have the ability to move air and control humidity.  Heat and humidity move from warm and moist to cool and dry, and if the atmosphere or air is too dry moisture is drawn away from the hardwood floor. Introduction of humidity and nominal air movement restore humidity that is being lost as warm moist air is exfiltrated from the structure.
  3. Why is humidity control and air movement so important with Radiant Floor Heating?
    A. Wood is hydroscopic and if it gets too hot or the moisture content of the wood gets too low, problems occur. Without air movement, and stable relative humidity the heat and moisture rise from wood floor towards the cooler drier atmosphere and creates low moisture content in the floor.

Q. What about vinyl floor, especially those with high stone or aggregate/stone contents in their cores?

A. While these products are not influenced very much by relative humidity, they have some cautions to consider as well.  While many are not affected in high heat, the tests to confirm this are done in controlled test chambers, raising the temperature in the material uniformly.  However, PVC plastic the binding material that holds the aggregate together are exposed to heat the swell.  When a wide disparity in heat occurs with a poorly designed radiant system, high heat temperature in front of baseboard heaters or windows, this does place stress on a vinyl floor.  Our vinyl floors also test to a very high heat resistance.

GEOTHERMAL HEATING

A. Yes, Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), sometimes referred to as Geo Exchange, earth-coupled, ground-source, or water-source heat pumps, have been in use since the late 1940s. They use the constant temperature of the earth as the exchange medium instead of the outside air temperature. The heat extracted from the ground is transferred to the boiler making it more energy efficient. Although many parts of the country experience seasonal temperature extremes — from scorching heat in the summer to sub-zero cold in the winter— a few feet below the earth’s surface the ground remains at a relatively constant  temperature. Depending on latitude, ground temperatures range from 45°F (7°C) to 75°F (21°C). Like a cave, this ground temperature is warmer than the air above it during the winter and cooler than the air in the summer. The GHP takes advantage of this by exchanging heat with the earth through a ground heat exchanger.

Q. Can geothermal be used with a heat pump and run through traditional duct work?

A. Yes, The geothermal energy is run through a heat pump (blower motor) to warm the air. Since geothermal is a very expensive system, geothermal is usually used in a radiant manner.

B. Can geothermal be used to cool the floor in the summer?

C.The NWFA (national wood flooring association) prohibits the use of geothermal for cooling.  Due to condensation from the system.

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