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Can You Put Heated Floors Under Hardwood?

Can You Put Heated Floors Under Hardwood?

Heated flooring has become increasingly popular through the years and offers an energy-efficient way of providing heat to the home, but can you put heated floors under hardwood or does this only work for tiled floors?

Heated floors can be installed under hardwood flooring, and just about any other type of flooring, but there are a few things to consider when it comes to hardwood specifically.

Let’s take a look at what types of heated floors there are and how they work to get an idea of how they interact with hardwood and some of the issues that can arise.

Types of Heated Floors and How They Work

There are two main types of heated flooring available today, one works using electricity through a series of wires and the other through heated water pumped in pipes.

New technologies and methods to create more efficient heated flooring are popping up all the time, but they all work on similar principles using either electricity or water.


Electric heated floors work by a network of wires that are installed under the floor level. When the system is switched on, the wires heat up which in turn heats up the floor.

This network of wires is usually secured on a mat or foil and has no impact on the floor level after it is installed. Once installed the heater is controlled via a thermostat.


Water-based heated floors use pipes that are usually installed under the floor level, which can cause the height of the floor to increase. This is why water-based heated floors are preferable for new builds or large renovation projects, as this added height must be taken into account.

This method also requires the pipes to be connected to a heat source that is usually the boiler and is again controlled by a thermostat.

How Heated Floors Are Installed On Existing Hardwood

If you have an existing hardwood floor and are looking into installing heated flooring it can be quite daunting to figure out how it will work.

For starters, your floor will have to be pulled up for the heating system to be fitted and then replaced once this is done. Although this will be an added cost, it isn’t actually a massive job to do and the cost is not too high in comparison to the energy savings the heating will provide.

In practical terms a heated floor installation involves pulling up the existing floor, installing the heating system and then the floor will be levelled using a covering compound which requires a day or two to dry.

The process can add height to your floor, so keep this in mind if you decide to have a heated floor fitted.

Benefits of Heated Floors With Hardwood

Heated floors have a lot of benefits for hardwood floors

Uniform Heating

For one, the heat is distributed evenly over the entire floor, which provides uniform heating to the room. This is much better than conventional heat sources like electric heaters or radiators that provide heat in concentrated locations.

This is also a benefit in a practical sense as you can walk over your floor barefoot and be warm rather than losing heat through your feet.

Energy Efficiency

Another benefit is energy efficiency as the heat is maintained consistently over a large surface area.

What this means in practical terms is that the floor doesn’t have to be much hotter than room temperature to heat up the room as the energy is distributed over a large area. This translates to heated floors using between 15% and 40% less energy than a radiator.


Since the heating system is under the floor it doesn’t take up any space in a room, unlike an electric heater or radiator.

This can free up much-needed space for furniture or trying a different layout of the room.

Potential Problems With Hardwood

Heated flooring can be used for hardwood in the majority of cases, but it can cause a few issues if your wood hasn’t been installed correctly.

Installation Problems

If your floor has not been installed to allow for the changing size of wood through both different humidity and temperature environments then it is likely not suited for heated flooring.

Type (and size) Of Wood.

When wood is heated it loses moisture which causes it to shrink. Depending on the type of wood you have and the dimensions of the panels, it may shrink at a different rate which can cause gaps to appear between panels and other issues.

Most heated flooring systems work to a temperature of 27 degrees celsius, which is researched and accepted as an industry standard as a temperature that won’t cause too much size change of wood.

The safest thing to do is to contact your wood supplier and ask them directly if your floor is suited for a heated floor or not. Some types or dimensions of wood will simply not work under heated conditions as they will change shape too much.

How Much Does It Cost?

So, how much does it cost to have a heated floor fitted?

Electric-based systems are cheaper to install and cost around $60 to over $100 per 10 square feet. Water-based cost well over $100 per 10 square feet and can even go higher than $200 depending on whether it is in a new house or a renovation project.

Running Costs

You can expect a heated floor to produce around 15 watts per square foot which equates to a running cost of 4.2kWh per day in an average bathroom for 8 hours.

This is considerably cheaper than space heaters and other similar technologies.

Final Thoughts

Heated floors can make all the difference for hardwood, a type of flooring that is typically ice cold in the morning and takes a while to heat up naturally.

Despite it seeming like a huge project to undergo, getting heated flooring fitted to an existing hardwood floor is relatively simple and you can easily find a specialist to get the job done quickly.