Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit

Wood floors and area rugs

Venus Member Posts: 4
Hi all,

Thanks in advance for the help, and forgive me if an answer to this has been posted elsewhere (I searched but couldn't find anything).

I'm an educated amateur designing a radiant heat system to replace my 100-year-old steam heat system that was abused so much over the years (prior to my husband and I buying the house last year) that repairing it really isn't feasible.

We're doing staple-up underneath in the basement to heat the first floor.  We have lovely original hardwood floors, and we cover quite a bit of area with large wool area rugs.  There are at least a couple of quite large rooms where 3/5ths of the floor will be covered by area rugs, and only 2/5ths will be bare wood.  (We're avoiding this problem entirely on the 2nd floor by installing in the ceiling.)

Here's the question, in a few parts to make it easier to respond:

1.  Because a rug pad and an area rug basically act as insulation, and because we'll be insulating under our staple-up so we don't radiate heat to the basement, won't the wood floor under the area rugs get hotter than the bare wood floors around it (assuming all is running at the same temp)?

2.  If that's so, and I use a set-point thermo to make sure my floor isn't getting too hot, I'd be tempted to place it under the rug so that I don't overheat the wood under the area rug.  However, if I do that, won't I run the risk that the under-rug area will trip the upper limit before the bare wood reaches its highest temp?

3.  Assuming everything up to this point is correct, would it make sense to actually use a *lower* temp under the area rugs, and use a set-point thermo in two places, one for the bare wood areas, and one for under the rug?

4.  If I went this route, I'd think that getting a smart manifold (or smart actuators)  would be the way to go... allowing me to run loops at diff temps (actuators set to listen to the diff set-point sensors) but keep the entire room on the same zone.


Thanks again!!



  • MIke_Jonas
    MIke_Jonas Member Posts: 209
    My main concern is..

    Will the 2/5ths floor area put out enough to heat the space?

    Im guessing you've done the calculations that reflect this?

    You are using plates, right?

    Seems a shame not to fix The Steam.
  • Gordan
    Gordan Member Posts: 891
    I started out thinking along similar lines

    Staple-up with extruded transfer plates for the first floor, because I could gain access to the joist bays from the basement, and radiant ceilings on the second floor, because I planned to attach transfer plates between the joist bays on the attic side. All so I wouldn't have to mess with drywall. Well, ok, there was this idea that it would be nice to have warm floors in the living space, but more research revealed that properly designed radiant floors don't get toasty, and you wouldn't want them to for health reasons.

    After much consideration, I decided that furring out on the bottom of the existing plaster ceilings, both upstairs and downstairs, was the best option for efficiency, ease of installation, and alleviating any concerns for the well-being of the beautiful wide-plank oak floors. Installation-wise, no joist drilling and threading of tube is necessary. Added structural weight is minimal with 1/2" drywall. I get fresh ceilings out of the deal - sure, drywall is not as nice as glass-smooth, hard plaster, but neither is it cracked. :-) When painted, one can't tell the difference.
  • NRT_Rob
    NRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013

    You're nuts. In a good way ;) Kudos for imagination!

    But you're really delving into a territory that probably won't deliver what you want. You might as well pipe the area under the rugs with a separate loop and shut them off, just in case you remove the rugs some day. but then you better be sure you can meet load with what you have left.

    Large wool rugs and radiant are a poor combination. You could try removing the pad and just using no-skid strips, which would help, but really, the question quickly becomes, "why floor" if you're just going to cover most of it in insulation anyway?

    You could do a naked staple up feeding a couple of panel radiators and bypass the whole issue while still conditioning the floor, running a nice low temp. Or radiant ceiling is a nice option in some cases as Gordan notes.

    Or ditch the rugs. You're heating the floor after all...

    But staging and multiple temps and floor sensing and inventing a new kind of manifold... well, I wouldn't recommend it.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    try to

    find a guy in your area that is well versed in radiant design. He ought to have the software to tell what will work with the rugs you are using, the heat output of the floor vs. what the home's heat loss is, etc. Tread carefully. 100 year homes have high floor loads due to the drafty nature of the structure. Throw a rug on top, and you may need supplemental heat.

    Get that design done first so you will have a map. Contact me if you'd like for more info.

  • Join
    Join Member Posts: 1
    wool rugs

    You should be at least a couple of quite large rooms where 3/5ths of the floor's. I think, modern wool rugs can be very effectively. So go ahead!
  • NRT_Rob
    NRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    last post

    appears to be spam, dan.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
This discussion has been closed.