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Choosing the Best Flooring for Radiant Heating Systems

Choosing the best flooring for radiant heating systems

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Choosing the best flooring for radiant heating systems

If under floor heating is important in your home or commercial property, you have to wisely choose a new flooring material when renovating or working on new construction. The floor that goes on top of your radiant heating system to keep the property warm should be designed to handle the heat demands of that system. You’ll also need to consider factors such as the comfort level and durability of the floor heating systems.

In most cases, you’ll probably need to settle for different flooring types in different areas of the property such as a stain-resistant floor for the kitchen, carpeting for the living room and a waterproof floor for the bathroom. Whatever floor type you choose to install, it is important to understand the under floor heating options available for you.

Wooden flooring

This is a popular option mainly because it adds a unique character and warmth to the home. Wood is also comfortable underfoot, even though it may require more maintenance to prevent damage. Wood is a good insulator, which is one of the major drawbacks if you want to use under floor heating in wooden flooring. For instance, if your floor is made of extra thick solid wood, it can be very difficult for heat to transfer. Thin-engineered wood is one of the best options if you want to install under floor heating on wood. Also, you need to ensure that the wooden floor is not exposed to temperatures above 27 degrees centigrade. The system should be properly installed with controls to guarantee optimal performance. Always check to ensure if the wood flooring you’ve chosen can be used with under floor heating. A heat map can be laid between the battens and controls used to ensure the maximum output of the heating system is 160W per sq. ft.

Laminate & vinyl flooring

Most homeowners choose vinyl floors because it’s a more flexible and affordable material compared to options like wood. The good thing with vinyl is that it conducts heat very well which makes it a great option to use with under floor heating. Laminate and vinyl floors are also easier to maintain than wood, which is why you can use them in areas like the bathroom and kitchen. Since vinyl and laminate floors are great heat conductors, it’s important to ensure that the floor doesn’t get too hot when you install radiant heating systems. A temperature sensor must be installed to prevent this. Also, it is important to ensure that the heat is spread evenly throughout the laminate floor to avoid discoloration and movement. With vinyl, the heating element can be covered with screed or levelling compound in order to help ensure it spreads evenly across the floor.

Carpeted floors

Thick carpets are designed to act as good insulators. This makes under floor heating less efficient when installed in a carpeted floor. If you want to use carpeting together with under floor heating in your property, consult a technician to advise on the best type of carpets to use before installation. Thin carpets don’t insulate as much and may offer efficient warming of the room above.

Other flooring options

Polished concrete floor: If you are renovating, polished concrete is a great option. Not only does it conduct heat very well, but it is also durable and retains the heat for long hours. If you have a polished or painted concrete floor, heating cables embedded directly into the concrete would work best. It’s an affordable option that doesn’t add extra height to the floor and offers stable temperature.

Slate: This is an ideal option for busy areas in your home. Slate is a durable material that not only withstands lots of foot traffic but also conducts heat very well which makes it suitable for use with heating systems.

Granite: The main disadvantage of granite is that it is prone to cracking. However, granite is an effective flooring material to use with radiant heating systems. It comes with very beautiful and unique finishes with lots of options to choose from.

Porcelain: This is a non-porous tile that is designed to resist stains. Porcelain tiles can retain heat very well, but may require longer installation time for heating systems.

Marble: Marble floors may take longer to heat up than most flooring types but once they do, they retain the heat well. Marble is also a good conductor of heat.

Screed tiles: Though not a very popular option, screed tiles, conduct heat much faster than most tiling materials. The tile is also designed for different kinds of under floor heating options.


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CorkWood a beautiful new flooring from Torlys

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CorkWood a beautiful new flooring from Torlys

Torlys Inc., a company synonymous with bringing innovative flooring solutions to market, launches a truly revolutionary new type of floor with CorkWood.

“CorkWood is a specially engineered floor that has been created to bring together all the best features and benefits of other types of floors in one superior, all-inclusive product,” said Brian Gencher, VP of marketing at Torlys. “It combines the striking look of wood with the long-standing durability of laminate, and the wonderful comfort of cork.”

The Beauty of Wood

There is nothing like the welcoming look of hardwood. The top layer of Torlys Cork- Wood is made of a high-definition digitally printed compressed layer of cork in beautifully realistic patterns of oak and walnut. This innovative new program is offered in two collections. CorkWood Designer, featuring extra-long six-inch planks in nine beautiful, on-trend colours. CorkWood Elite comes in planks almost four-inches long and a diverse range of five colours.

The Durability of Laminate

CorkWood is engineered with a durable HDF smart core for dent resistance and a 3mm-thick (Designer) or 2.5mm-thick (Elite) top layer of compressed cork. The polyurethane finish is equivalent to AC4 laminate and the sophisticated printing process makes CorkWood more fade resistant than its traditional counterparts. This means it will perform like laminate and retain the stunning hardwood look for years to come.

The Comfort of Cork

Along with the compressed cork top layer, CorkWood includes the Torlys CorkPlus attached underlay for added warmth and sound insulation. The CorkPlus underlay is even infused with Microban antimicrobial product protection that inhibits the growth of mould and mildew. This program, along with all other Torlys cork collections, is Forest Stewardship Council (FCS) certified, ensuring the wood and cork used in the manufacturing process comes from responsibly managed forests. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Torlys is a fast expanding global flooring company that specializes in beautiful, responsible flooring. Torlys smart floors use the patented Uniclic joint to create an extensive selection of reusable flooring in leather, hardwood, laminate, cork, EverWood and EverTile and now CorkWood. Torlys sister brands include Torlys SuperSolid Hardwood and Marquee Floors.

www.torlys.com

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Flooring: It's a Hard Choice

Flooring: It’s a Hard Choice

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Flooring: It’s a Hard Choice

by Samantha Sannella

Wood

Wood floors can be extremely durable and offer an unparalleled natural beauty. Wood floors must be chosen carefully whether solid or engineered. There are many things that should be considered: hardness, finish, pattern and maintenance. The National Wood Floor Association (NWFA) sets standards for flooring and produces guidelines that manufacturers must meet to be certified. You can also refer to the Canadian National Floor Covering Association for guidelines when sourcing flooring.

The hardness of a wood is rated on an industry-wide standard known as the Janka test. It measures the force required to embed a .444-inch steel ball into the wood by half its diameter. This test is one of the best measures of the ability of a wood species to withstand denting and wear. It is also a good indicator of how hard wood is to saw, mill and nail.

Log's End reclaimed floor "pine"
Log’s End reclaimed floor “pine”

For example, Brazilian cherry, mahogany and pecan are at the top of the scale, while maple, ash and oak are in the middle. Soft woods include southern pine and Douglas fir. The NWFA also sets forth acceptable moisture content, board lengths, edge dimensions and thickness for both finished and unfinished hardwood. There are installation guidelines along with sanding and finishing.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing hardwood floors is the extent to which is will be used throughout the home. Due to its structural stability, engineered flooring is recommended for the basement. Many times, owners desire heated floors so recommending engineered flooring throughout the home can be a practical solution. Engineered flooring offers more stability during moisture shifts and typical problems seen in hardwood floors can be avoided when using a good quality engineered flooring.

Log's End reclaimed floor "birch"
Log’s End reclaimed floor “birch”

Not all flooring is created equal. There are many foreign sourced floors on the market that don’t meet strict North American quality guidelines. These product choices can be risky. Also, be aware that some product packaging can be misleading and make buyers believe that the products are Canadian, but they are not. Sticking with reputable products that provide good customer service is highly recommended when sourcing flooring.

Porcelain

One of the biggest trends on the market today is large-scale floor and wall tile. Some of these tiles are full-scale slab size 48-inch by 98-inch or larger. While the aesthetic of large tiles can be a bold choice, they sometimes also bring a large installation price. Ultrathin porcelain tiles can require special backings before installation to strengthen them, which can greatly increase the installation price. Tiles that are $12 per square foot can easily be $30 per square foot or more to install.

Max Fine porcelain tile floor
Max Fine porcelain tile floor

Tile patterns can be a unique way to add interest to floors. Many of the newer patterns — such as hexagons, herringbones and chevrons — can make beautiful entries, kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms. One of the biggest benefits to porcelain floors is durability and ease of maintenance. Through-body porcelains also offer aesthetic protection in case of deep scratches or chips. Many of the newer choices also mimic natural stone and can be almost identical at a fraction of the cost.

To be certain of the quality of porcelain products, consider doing your homework at the Tile Council of North America. Porcelain products are moisture tested to ensure that they meet the strict standards set forth for non-absorption. Certified porcelain products can be used outside and are considered frost proof. Certified products carry the Porcelain Tile Certification Association label.

Stone

While natural stone carries a lifetime of beauty, careful thought must be given to using natural stone, a non-renewable resource, in appropriate situations. Building interiors that have long life spans, such as commercial lobby spaces, are the perfect choice natural stone. Homes that are designed to be timeless, rather than trendy, are also a good choice for natural stone products.

Visiting showrooms to view natural stone products can be like visiting a candy store. Marble, granite, onyx, limestone, quartzite and slate (among others) are some of the most beautiful finishes our earth offers.

Stone requires special maintenance, so reviewing this with the client before specifying it is necessary. While clients may like the idea of natural stone, many won’t like the idea of the special maintenance it requires.

There are numerous associations that regulate standards and make recommendations for installation. The Natural Stone Council is a good resource for designers to learn about natural stone characteristics.

One of the most interesting things about designing with stone is the ability to create your own patterns through water-jet cutting. It can be as simple as providing a vector file to a supplier and specifying sizes, repeats and dimensions. Cutting in metal or glass inlays can also offer something unique. While this can be costly, creating your own patterns or inlays can offer clients original ideas and solutions for their spaces.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes.

She is an expert in the field of design and construction and is a columnist for RENO & DECOR and editor of the Ontario Design Trade Sourcebook.

urbanretreathomes.com



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