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Can You Use Radiant Heat Under Rubber Flooring?

What effects will in floor heating have on rubber flooring?

By Julia Nass

Rubber has a reputation for being highly susceptible to contraction and expansion in temperature flux, which raises an important question for those who are using a radiant heat system and considering a rubber gym floor: what are the radiant heat effects on rubber flooring? For those wondering about in-floor heating with rubber floor mats, it is first important to understand a little bit about both.

What is Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating, also known simply as in-floor heating, transfers heat energy from the floor directly to objects in a room. Many people prefer radiant heat to other types of heating systems because it can be more energy efficient, as heat energy is not lost through duct systems. Plus, objects maintain heat for longer than air so radiant floor heat can operate at a lower temperature to maintain heating. People with allergies also find radiant floor heating to be ideal because it does not distribute allergens through the air.

Different Types of Radiant Heat

There are three different types of radiant floor heat. Air-heated floors are the least common because air cannot hold large amounts of heat, which makes them not very cost-effective in homes (that being said, the cost and efficiency of all heat systems depends on many factors including size of the room, remoteness of the space, labor costs and type of installation).

Electric radiant heat utilizes electricity and heating coils, often within heat-conducting plastic mats, to conduct heat through the floor. This type of system is more effective with a large mass like concrete that can hold heat for longer periods of time. Finally, hydronic (liquid) radiant floors tend to be the most popular and cost effective. These kinds of systems pump warm water from a boiler through tubing in the floor.

Radiant Heat Effects on Rubber Flooring

Rubber flooring is a super popular flooring choice for all kinds of space. Home gym owners will often choose a rubber gym floor for its durability and consistency. Rubber floors do great in workshops, pet areas, horse stalls and barns, playgrounds and more.

So what are the effects of radiant heat on rubber flooring? Can rubber flooring even be used over radiant floor heat?

The short answer is yes, but it is not usually recommended as a top option. The longer answer to that question is that it depends entirely on both the heating system and the rubber gym floor or other rubber flooring product, and there are a few things to be wary of.

Expansion and Contraction

Because rubber may expand and contract depending on the temperature, direct heat from an radiant floor heat system may affect a rubber floor. That being said, there are certain rubber products designed to withstand changes in temperature without a significant change in size. Vulcanized rubber, for example, is not as susceptible to expansion and contraction. Acclimatization before installation will help ensure a longer lasting rubber floor placement.

Odor

Further, certain rubber products may give out a chemically smell when heated up, so odor is another factor to be wary of when choosing rubber flooring to go over radiant floor heat.

Thermal Conductivity

Rubber typically makes a great heat insulator, but not a great heat conductor. That means heat energy does not move through rubber super quickly, so it may take a while for a rubber gym floor to heat up and release heat into other objects in the room.

Other Options

There are those who do not recommend risking the radiant heat effects on rubber floors. Instead, the most popular and common option for radiant heat is porcelain, ceramic and stone tiles. Hard tiles both conduct and hold heat better than almost any other material, so they are the safest and best bet for installing over radiant heat.

Overall, make sure to talk through your options through a radiant heat expert or the person installing your flooring system. Certain floors are more conducive to one or more of the three radiant floor heat systems, so make sure you have a clear understanding of your own system.

Then, when searching for rubber flooring products, make sure to talk through your options with a Greatmats' flooring expert. They can help you determine what kind of radiant heat effects may occur on rubber flooring. Ultimately, the flooring industry leaders at Greatmats will help you determine if a rubber gym floor or other type of rubber flooring is right for you and your radiant heat system.


For more on this topic please review our Rubber Flooring product page.