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Can You Install Vinyl Flooring Over Radiant Heat?

There is nothing quite as comfortable as radiant heat flooring. Many people want to dress it up with some vinyl flooring. Can you put vinyl flooring over radiant heat?

Vinyl plank flooring is ideal for putting over any type of radiant heating. Since vinyl is waterproof, you can use it in areas of the home where you would likely use radiant heating, such as the bathroom and kitchen. As long as you don’t allow the floor to get too warm, the vinyl tile should last for a long time.

Man putting vinyl tile on the floor

As is the case with any type of flooring option, it is important to consider the specific vinyl plank that you are choosing. There are many different options and not all of them may be suitable for radiant heating.

One of the issues that need to be considered is the fact that radiant heating is going to put at least a little bit of stress on the floor. If you are using a cheap vinyl plank, you might end up with some problems that could include discoloring or offgassing.

Can You Install Vinyl Flooring Over Radiant Heat?

The primary reason why people choose radiant heating for the floor is that it is a very comfortable option. If you’ve ever lived in a cold part of the world and walked in your bare feet on a tile floor, you realize that it can be a very cold experience.

It is especially a good idea if you have it in the bathroom or another area of the home where water is a problem. If you step out of the shower onto a tile floor, it can be uncomfortable but radiant heat will leave you smiling.

Of course, the choice of flooring over radiant heat is going to make a difference in the comfort and beauty of the home. Vinyl plank flooring is one of the options that many people choose for use in the bathroom because of its versatility.

Since vinyl plank flooring is essentially waterproof, you will not have a problem if water gets on it. It’s still a good idea to keep it as dry as possible, but you don’t have to be as careful with vinyl plank flooring

There are still options that need to be considered and not all vinyl tile is going to be suitable for installing over radiant heat.

Typically, it is best if you have a floating vinyl plank floor to give the option of having radiant heating under the floor. If you are using any type of floor that staples or glues down, it will not typically give room for the flooring wires.

It may also be necessary to put down an underlayment to help the floor float evenly over the radiant heating floor. This could include various options, but it might also involve having a vapor barrier in some locations.

If you have any questions about whether you can put a specific vinyl plank floor over radiant heating, it is always best to check with the manufacturer. It is good to verify in advance so that you are purchasing something that is well suited for the job.

The type of radiant heating system is also going to make a difference. Perhaps one of the best options is to choose a hydronic radiant heating system, which essentially is like having a radiator under your floor.

Hydronic radiant heating offers many benefits, including warming the living space along with warming the floor. When installed under vinyl, it can make your bathroom or other rooms very comfortable.

One of the things you may need to avoid is using any type of radiant heating mat. If you put vinyl flooring over one of those mats, it could result in problems. This could include discoloring or off-gassing.

You should also not put down the radiant heating floor and the vinyl plank floor on the same day. It is always best if you give the heating system some time to operate so that you can calibrate the temperature and ensure that it is as comfortable as possible.

There may also be some limitations on how warm you can have the floor. If you are somebody that really likes to crank the heat up, vinyl planks may not be the best option for you.

Generally speaking, you should keep the temperature of the floor under 85°F. If the heat gets warmer than 85°, it could cause the vinyl plank to discolor.

One other thing is to lower the temperature of the radiant heat before you install the vinyl floor. It is best if you keep the temperature down to 65° or lower for at least three days before installing.

After you install the vinyl plank, you can start to adjust the temperature of the radiant heat floor by a few degrees every day. This will allow the vinyl to acclimate and keep it from getting damaged in the process.

Finally, make sure that you are working with a stable and suitable subfloor and that you give the vinyl floor plenty of time to acclimate to the room.

Other than that, you can begin the job almost immediately and it typically goes very quickly. If you make the right choices, you can have vinyl plank flooring that will last for a very long time and keep your family comfortable.

Should You Put Vinyl Flooring Over Radiant Heat?

Man putting vinyl tile on the floor

It is always good to consider both the reasons why you should do something and the reasons why you should not before making your decision. This includes putting vinyl floor over radiant heat.

The main reason why vinyl flooring is such a good choice over radiant heat is that it is waterproof. For the most part, you will be installing radiant heat in parts of the home that could get wet, including the bathrooms. Vinyl flooring over radiant heat provides a warm, comfortable way to step out of the shower.

Let’s consider some of the reasons why vinyl flooring is such a good idea and why you might want to avoid it.

Pros:

Beauty – High-quality vinyl flooring is versatile and beautiful. There are so many different options available that at times, it can be difficult to choose the one that is right for your family.

Comfort – Radiant heat is able to come up through the vinyl plank flooring very easily. It provides a comfortable way for you to walk on the floor in your bare feet.

Durability – Although there may be some reasons to consider other types of flooring, vinyl plank flooring typically provides enough durability for you to be happy with it for many years.

Installation – A floating vinyl plank floor, which is what you would want over radiant heat, is easy to install. Most DIY homeowners can install it in a small room in under a day.

Cons:

Warranty – In some cases, there may be a warranty associated with your vinyl plank floor that could be avoided if you use it over radiant heat. It’s always a good idea to check with the manufacturer for details.

Discoloration – If the heat gets too high or if you are using an inexpensive vinyl plank floor, it may discolor. It’s always best to use a high-quality floor and keep the temperature at under 85°F.

How To Lay Vinyl Flooring Over Radiant Heat

Man putting vinyl tile on the floor

The process of putting vinyl tile over radiant heat is not difficult. It does, however, require you to consider a few things.

Typically, the most important factor for laying vinyl flooring over radiant heat is the type of heating system. Hydronic radiant heat is always going to be preferable because it will not damage the floor, as could a radiant heat mat. As long as you use proper padding and a vapor barrier, the installation should go smoothly.

Time is important for a number of different reasons when laying vinyl flooring over radiant heat. It may take a few days before the job is complete.

First of all, the temperature of the floor should be kept below 65° until the floor is installed. After the vinyl flooring is over the radiant heat, you can begin turning it up slowly to a maximum of 85°F over the course of a few days.

It is also important to have the vinyl flooring in the room for a few days prior to installing it. This gives the vinyl time to acclimate so that you don’t experience any shrinkage.

Once everything is set and you have the subfloor ready, you can strike a line in the center of the room and install the vinyl flooring. You should install it on one side of the room and then turn around and work on the vinyl flooring to install the other side of the room.

Generally speaking, you will be laying vinyl flooring over radiant heat in a small room, such as the bathroom. If you are doing it in a larger room, make sure of your measurements so that you don’t end up with a thin strip of vinyl plank at the edge of the room.

Once vinyl flooring is over radiant heat it does not require much maintenance. Simply sweep it clean regularly and on occasion, you can run a lightly damp mop over it.

What Tools And Preparation Are Needed?

Measuring the vinyl tile on the floor

Make sure that you prepare properly by getting the subfloor ready and gathering all of your tools.

Essentially, you are going to need the same tools for putting vinyl flooring over radiant heat that you would need for any vinyl flooring installation. Always make sure that you are using quality tools, as they can make a difference in the quality of the installation process.

Preparing the subfloor really is a matter of making sure that it is clean and free of defects. You should then ensure that you give the heating system time to acclimate with the vinyl floor.

In order to do so, start with the floor at a maximum of 65°F for a few days. After installing the vinyl tile, slowly turn up the heat but don’t allow it to get over 85°F.

Have the following tools on hand before you start:

  • Digital Ohmmeter
  • Kneepads
  • Safety Glasses
  • Gloves
  • Knife With Sharp Blades
  • Straight Edge
  • Long Level
  • Short Level
  • 25-Foot Tape Measure
  • 12-Foot Tape Measure
  • Square
  • Vinyl Floor Installation Kit

For the most part, installing vinyl flooring over radiant heat is a great idea. As long as you choose quality vinyl floor and hydronic radiant heat, you can continue with the project. Always keep the temperature at a maximum of 85° to avoid damaging the floor or causing excessive off-gassing.

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