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Wide Plank Floors and Radiant Heat – a Great Combination

(ARA) – Wide plank floors are prized for their weathered patina and the sense of history and character that they add to a room. Among the many attributes of wide plank floors is the fact that they can be used with radiant heat.

If you have questions about using radiant heat with the floors in your home, contact an expert. Don Carlisle, president of Carlisle Wide Plank Floors of Stoddard, N.H., gets this question frequently. His family-owned company has been manufacturing wide plank flooring for 40 years.

‘It often surprises people that you can use radiant heat with hardwood floors, especially traditional wide board floors,’ says Carlisle. ‘But once you consider the history of wide plank floors, it makes perfect sense.’ He points out that wide board floors were used in the days when heat’s main source was a fireplace or a wood stove. ‘These are very crude heat sources, in the sense that they aren’t very balanced and provide heat in a very uneven way throughout a home,’ says Carlisle. But wide board floors remained flat, stable and comfortable. ‘If these floors have beautifully withstood the worst of environments over time, they can certainly live in a more refined controllable one.’

And experience has borne this out. ‘We have made thousands of wide plank floors for many years, and have found that these floors hold up very well with radiant heat systems,’ says Carlisle. ‘As wood floors are a living resource, they respond well to the more consistent and warm environments supplied by today’s advanced heating systems.’

When buying wide plank solid wood flooring, keep in mind these three critical factors:

* Old growth wood – Carlisle uses only hand selected old growth (trees that have grown for 100 to 150 years) from areas of the country with colder climates that allow for the slowest growth. These timbers will have a very tight growth ring structure that produces the most stable floor plank, regardless of width.

* Air drying and kiln drying – One of the most critical steps in ensuring stability in a wide plank floor is to dry the boards for up to a year before placing them in a lower temperature drying kiln. This slow, natural drying process allows the fibers of the wood to remain pliable and healthy so that a plank will not be ‘shocked’ when heat is introduced and it will be able to adapt with minimal movement to its new environment.

* Appropriate acclimation – Once the floor arrives at the job site, the wood should be ‘stickered’ in its live-in conditions for an appropriate period of time, depending on the climate and the time of year. Make sure that all materials surrounding the floor, such as the concrete slab, plywood sub-floor and filler material, are also acclimated.

Carlisle stresses that the most important thing to remember when using wide plank wood floors with radiant heat is to use good wood – stable, high quality, properly dried. ‘Any issues that arise with this marriage are typically due to one of the critical factors being absent, not due to the use of radiant heat,’ he says. ‘Wide plank floors love radiant heat . . . period.’

For more information on the use of wide plank floors with radiant heat (or any type of heating system), or to see photos of wide plank floors installed with this application, call Carlisle at (800) 595-9663 or visit the company’s Web site at

Courtesy of ARA Content