How to Put Radiant Heat Under a Cork Floor
LESLIE: Now we’re going to go to Virginia where Keith listens to us on WJFK.
Keith, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help?
KEITH: Yes, hi. I’m thinking of putting a radiant floor – an in-floor radiant heat system under my flooring that I purchased. It’s a cork flooring. And I’m just trying to figure out if there’s anything I’m not considering as far as possible damage to the floor or maybe it’ll be a waste of energy to heat up the cement underneath because it’s the basement floor.
LESLIE: I don’t think it’s going to be a waste of energy. The only thing I’m not familiar with, with cork flooring, is I know that sometimes there’s a special installation process that is required for the cork floor. So make sure you speak with the manufacturer to make sure that whatever is used as the subflooring for the cork does not interfere with that radiant heat panel.
TOM: Yeah, because if there’s an adhesive involved or something like that, it could dry it out quite quickly and then the flooring could separate and come up. I have no qualms about you using a radiant floor. It’s a wonderful product.
LESLIE: And I love cork flooring. Cork flooring is beautiful.
TOM: Yeah. Exactly. So I think you’re on the right track. Two good ideas. We just want to make sure that they work well together. And the question is not so much to the radiant heat folks; it’s to the cork floor manufacturer to make sure that that product can sit right on top of those radiant panels without causing any damage.
KEITH: Right. Because one of the instructions I read dealt with putting down some kind of concrete over it; you know, some mastic product that would seal it into the existing tile or cement floor.
LESLIE: This is the radiant heat you’re talking about.
KEITH: Yes, the radiant heat pad. And then another source recommended just laying it underneath and that it would be fine. So I’m not sure if a more extensive installation is required or not.
TOM: It is possible for you to pour a lightweight concrete product on top of that and have it be part of it. Again, that comes down to what the manufacturer’s recommended installation guideline is. So start with the radiant floor. If you’ve landed on a product that you like, make sure you understand the installation options. It might be usable both ways. But before you put the cork on top of it, check with the manufacturer to make sure that that adhesive is rated to be able to stay right on top of that heated floor. But …
LESLIE: Right, because I know cork flooring requires a special adhesive, because I’ve worked with it before, that’s specific for the backing on the cork. So make sure that that doesn’t interact badly.
KEITH: Right, right. That’s a laminate floor, so it’s – one of the free-floating, click-together floor systems?
LESLIE: Oh, so it looks like cork.
KEITH: Well, it’s got a cork layer. It’s three layers. It’s a cork underlayer; then the laminate, click-together layer; and then a cork layer on top.
LESLIE: Well, that sounds nice.
TOM: OK, well that’s good because it sounds like it’s going to float then and it’s not going to rely on adhesive, so you might be OK.
TOM: Alright, Keith, I hope that that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and for joining us from WJFK, listening to us on 106.7 Free FM.