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Can You Put Heated Floor Under Vinyl Flooring?

Heated flooring seems to be a luxury only the rich can afford. However, this doesn’t have to be the case with a DIY project and an affordable yet classy vinyl floor. This raises the question whether you can actually install heated flooring under a vinyl floor. In this article, I have done some research to find out.

Heated flooring can be used with any vinyl floor covering, including vinyl planks, tiles and sheets. Vinyl planks are more versatile and can be laid directly on top of thin floor wiring, whereas adhesive vinyl tiles and sheets can only be laid over wires that are embedded within a cement layer.

Heated floor installation

I will go into more detail about why vinyl is a suitable candidate for heated flooring below. I will also outline how to install heated flooring under a vinyl floor.

Can You and Should You Put Heated Floor Under Vinyl Flooring?

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Vinyl flooring is safe to use with a heated floor system. Vinyl floors are entirely synthetic, made from PVC (‘vinyl’), fibreglass and plasticizers, as well as the print layer and the cork or foam backing.

All of these materials combined can withstand temperatures up to 85oF. However, it is recommended to keep the temperature less than 80oF to prevent shrinkage or discoloration.

Heated flooring works through radiant heat transfer, meaning that the heat is transferred through the floor and radiates into the room. Vinyl does not conduct heat as well as ceramic and stone, but the thin layers used in vinyl floors make them quick to heat up and cool down.

Vinyl floors usually come in 2mm, 4mm or 8mm material. In order for the vinyl to be thin enough to conduct the heat well, the material should be no more than 5mm in thickness.

One key thing to consider when installing vinyl is that it requires a flat, smooth and level surface. Laying the vinyl directly over a heated flooring system would be like laying it on an uneven subfloor. Therefore a levelling compound is required over the top to create a smooth flat surface.

I will discuss installing each different type of vinyl flooring further down.

Advantages of Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl floors are very affordable and, with better technology, can be made to look just like a wooden floor or ceramic tile. There is also a wide range of prints available to get you the appearance you would like.

Because vinyl is made entirely of synthetic materials, it is also waterproof and easy to maintain. It does not need to be polished or cleaned in any particular way like wooden floorboards do.

Vinyl is also very easy to install in comparison to other types of floor coverings. This is why it is quite popular in home renovation projects.

Materials Required to Install Vinyl

Vinyl Floor Covering: Vinyl flooring can come in three different styles, which are listed below. I will discuss each of these individually throughout the article.

· Vinyl Planks

· Vinyl Tiles

· Vinyl Sheets

Self-levelling Compound: A self-levelling compound is a cement mixture that is easy to pour. Once it covers the surface of the floor, gravity will allow it to settle into a flat, even surface. Like concrete, it must be cured (dried) for a number of hours before laying your floor on top.

Heated Floor Components: The components that make up the heated flooring system include the tubing or wire that is woven beneath the floor, as well as the material that holds it in place. That material can either be mesh or clips or a looping mat.

Primer: A product spread across the subfloor to create a stronger bond with the self-levelling compound when poured. It can also be used on the self-levelling compound to help stick the vinyl down.

Caulk: Used if you have a wooden subfloor. You don’t want the self-levelling compound to seep through the floor boards onto the joists, so you will need to plug all gaps and holes with caulk to make the floor water-proof.

Different Types of Heated Flooring

Below is a table outlining the two main types of heated flooring.




A wire or cable is woven beneath the floor covering. The cables, powered by electricity, radiate heat into the room above.


A tube is woven beneath the floor covering, connected to a boiler system. Hot water is pumped into the tube, radiating heat.

Hydronic heating is more bulky because the tube has to be a certain size to pump water through. This system will always need to be embedded into cement to re-establish a flat surface.

Electrical floor heating, on the other hand, takes up a lot less space. This makes it more versatile and easier to install than a hydronic system. Below are the main variations to electric floor heating systems.

Loose-lay: The cables are woven along the floor and secured with fasteners.

Mesh: The cables are woven into a mesh roll that can be cut into sheets and laid over the floor.

Fabric: The cables are embedded within a fabric that can be cut into sheets and laid over the floor.

Can You and Should You Put Heated Floor Under Vinyl Plank?

Man with questions and hands raised

Vinyl planks are one of the easiest to install with a heated flooring system and are a very popular choice for heating.

Vinyl planks are designed to imitate floorboards or a laminate floor. They are still made up of all the layers of the vinyl floor, but come in rectangular ‘planks’. They interlock and do not need to be adhered to the floor beneath, just like with a floating floor.

Vinyl planks are very easy to install, which I will discuss in the next section. Because they do not need to be stuck down to the floor beneath, they can be installed over any type of heated floor.

As I mentioned earlier, most floor coverings require a smooth, flat and level floor beneath them in order to achieve a quality installation. Vinyl planks, on the other hand, have some flexibility in that regard.

Vinyl planks can be laid directly on top of the wiring of the floor heating, provided the wires are quite thin and allow the planks to lay flat. This means that the heating system can be installed without burying the wiring in a levelling compound.

One thing you do have to look out for is that some types of vinyl planks have a rubber backing on them. This will act as insulation, preventing the heat from radiating through the floor. It is better to choose a style that does not have this backing to save yourself from wasting energy.

Advantages of Vinyl Planks

Vinyl planks are very easy to install. There is no glue involved because they simply lay on top of the subfloor, underlayment, or in this case, the heated flooring system. The biggest challenge is levelling and preparing the floor beneath, but floating floors have the most leeway in this regard.

They are also very comfortable. Vinyl planks are softer underfoot than other floor coverings, such as solid wood or tiles. Even though it is not real wood, vinyl planks come in a wide variety of textured patterns that look very similar to real wood.

Finally, interlocking planks are one of the easiest and cleanest to replace because there is no glue or nails involved. Therefore, if you change your mind about the look of your home and want to remodel, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up anything left behind.

Disadvantages of Vinyl Planks

As I mentioned below, some vinyl planks come with a rubber backing. This will not work well with heated flooring and therefore limits your options.

Vinyl planks can also be prone to expansion with temperature fluctuations. If they are not installed properly, this means that there may be buckling or lifting of the floor when it is heated.

Unfortunately, vinyl is not as strong and durable as other floor coverings, such as tiles and hardwood. This means it can be prone to damage from furniture and will not last as long.

How to Put Heated Floor Under Vinyl Plank

Blueprint and construction tools

Step 1: Remove the quarter-round from the base of the walls and vacuum and clean the floor.

Step 2: Level the floor using a self-levelling compound. This involves pouring the cement mix over the entire surface of the floor and allowing it to cure for up to six hours.

Step 3: Measure the thickness of the vinyl planks and underlayment (if using it). Lift the bottom of the door frame to accommodate this height if needed.

Step 4: Apply a moisture-resistant primer to the newly-levelled floor and consider laying underlayment that insulates the heat.

Step 5: Lay the heating system wires and test it is all working.

Step 6: Pour more self-levelling compound to bury the wires (unless you are using loose wiring).

Step 7: Lay the vinyl planks as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to leave a gap of approximately ¼ inch from the wall to allow for expanding and contracting of the vinyl. Also make sure that you stagger the boards so they don’t line up.

Step 8: Re-attach the quarter-round and have an electrician finalise the rest of the wiring.

Can You and Should You Put Heated Floor Under Vinyl Tile?

Confused man with arms raised

Vinyl tiles are thick sheets of vinyl, cut into tile-sized pieces. They are made to look like ceramic tiles and have an adhesive backing to glue them to the floor.

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These can also be used with heated flooring. As long as you do not heat the floors above the recommended temperature for vinyl (80oF), the glue should not be affected in any way. Higher temperatures will degrade the quality of the tiles and may cause them to lift sooner.

Anything that needs to be glued to the floor must have the heated flooring buried within self-levelling compound. This ensures that there is a completely flat, smooth and level surface area to adhere to.

If the surface is too rough or not flat enough, the tiles will not stick properly. The appearance of the finished product will also be compromised because there may be areas of lifted tiles.

One thing people worry about with vinyl tiles is placing them incorrectly. Although it can be frustrating trying to position the tiles perfectly without any gaps, there is a grace period with the adhesive. The adhesive will be at its strongest after an hour of laying the tile, which means you have time to lift the tile and reposition it if needed.

Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of choosing vinyl tiles.

Advantages of Vinyl Tiles

The great advantage of vinyl tiles is that they are so much cheaper than their ceramic counterparts. They are a great way to achieve a classy look, but for a much better price.

Although they are difficult to remove with the adhesive, they are still easier to remove than ceramic tiles. The adhesive also means that the vinyl will not lift or buckle when it expands from the heat.

Similarly to vinyl planks, vinyl tiles are also quite comfortable to walk over and are easy to install.

Disadvantages of Vinyl Tiles

One of the biggest disadvantages of vinyl tiles is the use of an adhesive. This makes the floor covering difficult to remove when you decide to change the floor covering again. It also means you have a time limit to lay the tile perfectly before the glue becomes too strong, even if that is about an hour.

Tiles can also be prone to lifting. This is especially the case if the adhesive has not worked properly in some areas. If needed, you can attempt to use extra glue to stick the tile back down.

Vinyl tiles are certainly not as strong as ceramic tiles. Therefore they will wear down and require replacement much sooner.

Although vinyl tiles are waterproof, this does not mean that excess water cannot seep through the cracks in the tiles and become trapped underneath. This problem is what causes mould to grow and ultimately destroys the floor.

How to Put Heated Floor Under Vinyl Tile

Man installing heated flooring

Preparing the subfloor is the same for vinyl tiles as it is for vinyl planks, so follow steps 1-6 above to prepare the floor and lay the heated flooring system.

The challenge to laying vinyl tiles is getting them straight. These steps should help you with this.

Step 1: Find the centre of the room by measuring each wall. Once you have found the centre, draw a little ‘X’ to mark the spot on the floor.

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Step 2: Draw four more marks; above, below, left and right of the centre mark. Make sure these still align with the half-way point between the walls.

Step 3: Extend the centre ‘X’ so that you have a relatively large cross in the centre of the room. This will guide you for laying the four centre tiles in the middle of the room.

Step 4: Continue to lay the vinyl tiles in line with these centre tiles, extending all the way to the walls.

Step 5: Once you are close to the walls and there is not enough space for a full tile, measure the distance left to the wall.

Step 6: Use this measurement to cut the next tile. Continue until you have laid the entire floor.

Can You and Should You Put Heated Floor under Vinyl Sheet?

Vinyl sheet flooring being installed

Vinyl sheets are the cheapest and least durable of the three types of vinyl. It is very flexible, and is usually laid in either one large piece, or in several big cuts of the sheet. This is also safe to use with heated flooring.

Vinyl sheet has the same properties as the vinyl tiles and therefore very similar advantages and disadvantages. However, one major disadvantage is that it does not last as long, so you will need to replace it sooner.

Another thing to consider is that vinyl sheets are thinner than the tiles and the planks. It is known that heat can be used to make the vinyl conform to a particular problem area, so there is no question that the heat from the floor system will soften it. This makes thinner vinyl sheets more susceptible to damage when using with a heated floor.

Because you are already spending money on installing floor heating in your home, it might be better to consider a higher-grade vinyl than the thin sheets, such as the tiles or planks I have discussed. Unless you particularly like the look of vinyl sheets, it is not worth damaging a newly-installed floor covering with your heating system.

How to Put Heated Floor under Vinyl Sheet

Vinyl sheet floor installation

If you do decide to install vinyl sheets over heated flooring, you must ensure that the wires or cables are completely embedded in concrete. This thin type of vinyl will conform to the shape of whatever is underneath, which should just be level cement.

As long as the heated flooring wires are completely embedded in cement, you can proceed to install the vinyl sheet as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

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