Your House is Your Haven: Don't Neglect the Interior

5 Ways Area Rugs Interact With Underfloor Radiant Heating

by Cherly King

Radiant heating is becoming a popular way for people to increase their comfort in tiled rooms and even heat their entire house. However, when you install an underfloor radiant heat system, there are some things that you need to be aware of. One thing you might not consider is the various ways that area rugs can interact with your radiant heating system to cause problems or increase your comfort. Knowing these interactions ahead of time will allow you to select an appropriate area rug for your floor. 

Rugs May Slightly Decrease the Effectiveness of Your System 

Because rugs, and the pads placed under them, are not great conductors of heat, they may reduce the effectiveness of your underfloor heating. However, if you are using an electric system solely for increased comfort and not as your main source of heat, the rug should still feel pleasantly warm to the touch. 

To increase the radiant heat in a room that has rugs, you should select rugs with short fibers and use a high quality pad beneath them. 

Rugs Can Increase Your Joint Comfort 

The best floors for radiant heating systems include stone, tile, and concrete. These materials store heat better than wood or carpet and allow uninterrupted flow of heat into the room you are heating. Unfortunately, these floor types are known to be hard and rough on your joints. 

An area rug, strategically placed where you stand or walk most often, can ease the stress on your joints while allowing the rest of your room to function efficiently as a radiant heater. 

Rugs Can Cause Issues In Combination With Wood Floors Paired With Underfloor heating 

Pairing wood floors with underfloor heating can be problematic. The heat from the floors can cause warping and lifting of boards. Area rugs can make the situation worse because they can increase the temperature in areas, causing adhesive to fail. 

To prevent problems, you should make sure that your heating system is installed properly. It should be brought up to temperature slowly, giving your wood time to adjust to the changes. You may choose to move your rugs while your floor is being brought up to temperature, and then replace the rug once your system is running at full strength. You should be sure to regularly check beneath area rugs to make sure your floor is not showing any signs of temperature wear. 

Underfloor Heating May Cause Buckling of Rugs Tufted to Synthetic Material 

Just like wooden floors, area rugs themselves can have problems when placed near a heat source for a long period of time. This is especially true if your rug is tufted onto a synthetic material that can melt when exposed to high temperatures. 

To avoid melting, be sure to purchase high-quality rugs made from natural fibers. Also, keep in mind that hydronic underfloor heating tends to run at a lower temperature than electronic underfloor heating, so you may want to consider hydronic heating as a safer option. 

Rugs Can Be a Source of Underfloor Heating 

If you are not ready to tear up your floor to install an underfloor system, you may be excited to know that there are systems designed to work beneath area rugs. These systems consist of an electric pad placed beneath an area rug, and works with a similar effectiveness to electric underfloor heating installed beneath tile or wood floors. Since rugs tend to be placed where you are often standing or sitting, this is an effective way to deliver warmth directly to residents of your house. 

Underfloor heating and area rugs can work well together to create a warm, inviting home environment, but you should think critically before combining the two.