What Flooring is Best for Radiant Heat?

Explore the most common types of flooring and their suitability for use with radiant heat flooring


What Flooring is Best for Radiant Heat?

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As radiant heat systems become increasingly popular as a way to provide heat in peoples’ homes, we are often asked what flooring is best for radiant heat systems.

The quick answer is that porcelain and ceramic tiles are the best flooring for radiant heat, closely followed by natural stone tiles. 

But this answer only goes so far. Some people don’t have these kinds of tiles in their homes, don’t what them, or are working on a limited budget that is not amenable to using them. In which case knowing that these types of flooring work best with in-floor radiant heat systems doesn’t really provide much assistance, does it?

But fear not. Below we will take a look at some of the most common types of flooring and provide an overview of their respective strengths and weaknesses in relation to their suitability for use with radiant heat flooring.

Key Takeaways

  • Ceramic, porcelain, and stone tiles are the best surfaces for radiant heat flooring


  • Radiant heat systems can also be used with other types of flooring including engineered hardwood, laminate, vinyl, carpet, and even concrete.


  • Avoid using traditional solid wood, as it can dry them out and create cracks.


What Makes Flooring Suitable for Radiant Heating? 

Before we take a look at the different types of flooring and how well they work with radiant heating, we should understand what makes some types of flooring more suitable than others. 

  • The primary attribute of suitable flooring materials is their thermal conductivity. The better a particular material conducts (or transfers, if you prefer) heat, the more suitable it is for radiant heat systems.


  • The other major influencer in determining a material’s suitability for radiant heat flooring solutions is its structural stability. A good example of this comes when we compare traditional wood floors with engineered hardwood.


  • Traditional wood flooring will warp, bend, expand, or shrink under the stress of heat or extreme cold, which renders it an unsuitable material for radiant heat.


  • Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is much tougher and more stable and will not be affected by swift changes in temperature in either direction or a change in humidity.


Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles

As mentioned in the introduction ceramic and porcelain tiles are two of the best flooring options for radiant heat systems. 

Both are excellent conductors of heat and extremely stable, in addition to being durable and easy to maintain. With all that as a given, ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles are not the same things.

Stone Flooring

Stone flooring, such as granite or marble, is another great option for radiant heat systems. 

Stone tiles actually boast one significant advantage over both ceramic and porcelain tiles, which is that they actually retain heat better than porcelain or granite tiles.

It does, however, come with a couple of notable disadvantages. 

  • Firstly, stone tiles tend to be more expensive than either granite or porcelain tiles. 
  • Secondly, because stone tiles tend to be thicker, it can take longer to heat up in the first place, meaning they aren’t as efficient and can cost more to run.

Engineered Hardwood

We saw earlier that engineered hardwood is a type of flooring that is designed to withstand fluctuations in both temperature and humidity. This makes it a prime candidate for underfloor heating.

Unlike traditional hardwood, which is made from a single layer of wood, engineered hardwood is made from multiple layers of wood that are compressed together under high pressure. This gives engineered hardwood its superior stability.

The major drawback, however, when compared to porcelain, ceramic, or stone tiles, is its inferiority when it comes to thermal conduction.

In many cases, this won’t be an issue and the perceived aesthetic benefit might be the trump card, but it is worth bearing in mind.


Vinyl is another viable option for radiant heat systems. 

Like porcelain, ceramic, and stone, vinyl is a popular flooring material because it is 

  • Robust
  • Durable 
  • Easy to maintain
  • Affordable

Radiant heat flooring can be used with vinyl tiles, vinyl sheeting, or luxury vinyl plank.

The only major drawback with vinyl when it comes to underfloor heating is that it acts better as an insulator than as a conductor of thermal heat. This means it will use more energy in the long run. 

As such, if you are considering getting a heated floor under vinyl plank, sheet, or tiles, you should weigh up if the lower upfront costs balance out against the long-term savings you could achieve with an alternative type of flooring material.


Whilst carpet is another viable medium for radiant heat flooring, like vinyl it works better keeping a room warm much more than it helps make a room warm in the first place/ 

That being said, don’t automatically rule out the option of in-floor heating under carpet, especially if you intend to use a radiant floor heating to augment your existing heating system, rather than replace it.


What are the Main Problems with Radiant Floor Heating?

Typically the biggest issues with radiant floor heating systems are perceived to be the initial costs of procuring and installing them. Otherwise, they are generally held to be easy to maintain and extremely reliable.

Are Radiant Heat Systems Suitable for Heating Garage Floors?

Absolutely. It may come as a surprise but concrete is an excellent storer and distributor of heat.

Is Heated Laminate Flooring Possible?

Yes, radiant heat systems are compatible with most laminate flooring products. But do bear in mind that a suitable, non-conductive underlay must be used when installing electric heat mats under laminate flooring, and thermal insulation must be installed under the heating elements.


There are many surfaces that work well with radiant heat. 

You can have heated laminate flooring, heated floors under vinyl plank, radiant heat wood flooring, and even radiant heat concrete flooring, in addition to porcelain, ceramic, and stone floor surfaces. If you are not sure, simply ask a professionals for help! 


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