Are you planning to build or remodel a space in your Hilton Head home and heat the room with in-floor radiant heat (either electrical or hot water) and are unsure as to the type of flooring to use? Your choices should be dictated by how the space will be used, and what material will conduct the heat effectively while still providing a floor that will serve your living needs. Review the information provided here and consult with your Hilton Head heating and air contractor before deciding which option best suits your needs.
The type of flooring that will transmit heat most efficiently will be a ceramic tile or natural stone, as the material is extremely dense, and when it reaches the temperature of the in-floor heating system, it will slowly radiate heat evenly and over an extended period of time. Ceramic tile comes in a multitude of colors and textures – from solid colors for a clean contemporary look, to rustic stone looks that can be textured or polished.
Most ceramic (or porcelain) tile does not need to be sealed, so clean up is easy, and as the material is extremely durable it will hold up under muddy feet, spills, and oil and grease. Natural stone is beautiful, and will have its own characteristics with no two pieces of stone being identical. If you have large windows in the space, using a dark floor tile will act as a heat sink, and will absorb and radiate heat from the sun – a free source of solar generated heat.
Wood flooring is another beautiful choice. There are very few species that are recommended for installation in a solid hardwood to go over radiant floors – ash and quarter sawn oak seem to perform well. Other than these two native species, only engineered wood flooring is recommended over heated floors, as the wood veneer surface is stabilized by the engineered core.
Wood floors will require more maintenance than a ceramic tile floor. If you have gritty foot traffic, the finish will wear off, and you will void any manufacturers warranty on the finish. So keep the floor swept up, and follow floor manufacturers directions on maintenance, and you will have many years of a beautiful natural floor that will look great with any style – from Contemporary to Victorian.
Carpet on floors is soft, and can be very comfortable – great in bedrooms, childrens rooms or an office, with multitude of colors and textures. The thicker the carpet, the greater the insulating factor will be and the longer it will take to bring the surface temperature to the desired. Also, make sure you put carpeting in areas that are not subject to areas where spills can occur or in an area that is directly accessible to the outdoors as it will show traffic patterns quickly and will get quickly soiled.
You also have options like vinyl flooring or eco friendly linoleum, but they do not perform very well with continuous heated floors. They have not been fully tested, and before you install sheet goods on your in floor heated floor, check manufacturer warranties.
Concrete floors are beautiful, and textures and colors are only limited by your imagination and the skill of the installer. Concrete must be sealed, but prior to sealing make sure you test the moisture content of the floor, as sealers can peel off if there is excessive moisture in the concrete floor There also may be some structural concrete, as concrete is heavy – and even more so when wet and just installed! So choose wisely. You will love the comfort and cost savings with your in-floor heating system.