Radiant barriers under wood floors


Old 10-19-08, 05:54 PM
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Radiant barriers under wood floors

We want to install solid hardwood flooring , likely cherry or oak, over a concrete slab floor in an areas with humid summers. The slab extends about 18 inches above grade.

Iíve read a great deal about the aluminum foil radiant barriers and how they will help to make the floor warmer by reflecting heat back up to the floor. Most of the commercial radiant barrier products Iíve seen have micro-perforations to allow for moisture exchange while still allowing for the radiant effect.

Iíve discussed this with a few flooring contractors and none have heard of it and none were seriously willing to do this, so if I can find advice on how to do this, I might attempt to do this project myself.

My questions:
1. What about the vapor barrier? Needed? Applied below radiant barrier? If I can find a radiant barrier without micro-perforations would this suffice?
2. Should I install the radiant barrier and have a contractor install the flooring over it?
3. Any other ideas? (Iím sure I donít understand all of the issues here.)
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Old 10-19-08, 06:46 PM
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A good friend of mine installed snap together wood laminate without a moisture barrier & soon found bubbled up places in the floor.
Those bubbles had water puddles under them.
Do plenty of research or you'll be changing it all out like he did.
Old 10-19-08, 10:23 PM
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Solid is a nail down only. Solid should never be placed over concrete. It has been done in the past and some have been successful, but you said humid... This equals dew point and your concrete slab being below dew point, causing condensation to form.

Engineered is made just for known moisture associated with concrete, but even engineered has its limits.
Old 10-20-08, 08:24 PM
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Ditch the solid wood and go with an engineered hardwood. It is made for your situation. Check out Kahrs brand cherry and oaks. They have the most beatiful ones i've seen. Float it if you want radiant heat.

1) You will need a moisture barrier over concrete. Radiant heating comes in some underlayment built in. http://www.mpglobalproducts.com/quietwalk_index.html
2) I think you are asking if you should install the underlayment since the contractors you are talking to are not knowledgable? I'd find another contractor myself.
Old 10-21-08, 04:59 PM
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Radiant barrier is not radiant heating

Thanks for the tip on the flooring brand and using and engineered flooring rather than solid wood.

That said, a radiant barrier is not radiant heating. A radiant barrier is a thick aluminum foil sheet, often with some sort of mesh inside, that reflects heat up and keeps heat from being conducted through to the slab. It is like one of those "space blankets" that many people carry in case they are stranded in winter; thin and reflective, keeping the heat inside when it is wrapped around some one. These things work in the blankets. On the floor, it should help to keep the floor warmer than it would otherwise be because the slab would otherwise act like a heat sink taking heat out of the floor.

So, I hope that clarifies what I'm asking about.

Using a radiant barrier on top of a moisture barrier would add another layer not much thicker than what is typically used for a vapor barrier. Can I use the radiant barrier and a moisture barrier?
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