Can you use Carpets and Rugs with a Radiant Heating System?

Posted in Tips & Trends

Many of our customers are curious if they can install carpeting or area rugs over radiant heat. We went straight to David Buss New England Carpet Inspection, LLC for his advice on working with radiant heat and floor coverings. Here is what David had to say:


The advantages of energy efficiency combined with a distinctly comfortable heat source have made heated floors increasingly popular in many parts of the country. Often referred to as hydronic or “radiant heated” floors, these floor systems have been popular in Europe for many years.  Most systems utilize low temperature water of about 80°F to 125°F flowing through flexible tubing installed beneath the floors. These systems can be embedded in concrete slabs, lightweight overpours or in joist cavities.

When thinking of installing wall-to-wall carpet or placing a loose-lay rug over the heated floor, several situations come under consideration. First and foremost, do not install any flooring, regardless of the type, before the heating system has had time to balance itself as far as the water temperature is concerned. Any and all hot spots must be corrected and the system should have been running for at least five to seven days to acclimate to the subfloor and the building’s environment.

If it is a wall-to-wall installation, the R-value of the combined cushion and carpet come into play. It is accepted that there is an insulating factor with carpet depending on the carpet’s thickness especially with heavier carpet and denser, thicker cushion. This does not mean that the heating system may not work as well but it may require slightly warmer water. Not hotter, warmer. The reverse of that is the carpet and cushion will provide warmer floors and possibly shorten the heating season.

Loose lay rugs should not present any problems with radiant heating systems, especially rugs of woven construction. The cushion should NOT contain rubber since rubber exposed to long periods of a warmed floor may produce a slight odor that some homeowners could find objectionable.

Adhesives used to secure flooring to radiant heated concrete subfloors are designed to withstand the warm temperatures. As there are certain wood flooring products that cannot be installed onto the radiant heated floor, placing a loose lay rug over those would not be a concern.

Please contact Colony Rug is you have any questions on whether the carpet you have selected or carpet backing will work well with radiant heating systems.

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