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Solid vs Engineered Hardwood for Overpour

James DayJames Day Member Posts: 185
I am building a new house for myself and I am wondering what everyone else prefers when doing a gypcrete over pour.  I've installed both for customers... but now that its my own house just looking to see what everyone else prefers.  Is it worth the hassle to put down sleepers for solid hardwood,   or would a nice engineered hardwood be a better option.  House is around 3200 sq ft,   going to be mostly hardwood.  

Thanks, James


  • hot rodhot rod Member Posts: 7,062
    one of my favorite

    installation was solid hardwood over the Roth foam/ aluminum panels. Warmboard is a close second.

    With the Roth or other similar products you can get a nice tight tube spacing. I think 6" is a good choice to leverage the lowest possible supply temperatures.

    I never did like the gyp with sleepers. It's tough to keep the flooring in contact with the gyp which you need for a good conduction transfer.

    The sleepers get very wet during the gyp pour, then dry during the heating.

    To have the entire wood floor in contact with an aluminum heat transfer surface make the most sense. I also like the low mass aspect for quick on/ off cycles.

    As for the flooring, the solid wood allows for more sanding and refinishing and a wide selection of woods. If you go with an engineered product look for brand that has a solid hardwood core also.

    Check with They still have some of the best wood flooring and radiant testing.

    Good luck on the project, send pics.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,122
    edited September 2013

    Definitely, nice web site Hot Rod.

    Do some searching in your area may get lucky, and find someone who makes hardwood flooring. I found a guy any width I wanted, and five different species. Not one piece was under 5' long all the way to 12'. Some of the suppliers your lucky to get 1 4' board down to 6" pieces.
  • Paul PolletsPaul Pollets Member Posts: 3,022

    I prefer the pre-engineered hardwoods over a gypsum pour. Never had an issue with over 1000 projects using a quality pre-engineered wood product. We usually refer the client to either Khars, Junkers, Timbergrass (bamboo) or Launstein. These products do not off-gas and are a far more "Green" than using conventional strip oak. Acclimatizing the wood to the indoor temps is critical, before installation. The moisture content needs to be with 3-6% (depending upon product) before installing. Making sure the boiler has correct mixing controls to keep the surface panel temps under 85 degrees is the other part of the equation.

    Using sleepers, as Hot Rod said, is passe.
  • James DayJames Day Member Posts: 185

    My biggest concern is the not so solid feel of the floating engineered floor.   I like the solid feel of traditional hardwood better... But I do understand the risks with solid hardwood.  I like the ease of not having to install sleepers everywhere with the engineered.     That is the dilemma that I am having.   I have a system design that am working on now.  Geothermal radiant with chilled water air handlers.  Will space the tubing 6" on center for future Radiant Cooling (Not in the budget for now but I will put the tubing and floor sensors in).  Will have a Viessmann Vitodens 200 for DHW and secondary heating to subsidize for the Geo.  

    Thanks, James
  • Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood

    I would do everything possible to get away from engineered flooring.  It doesn't look anywhere like the real thing and like you said, it's bouncy which may be easy on the back, but it sure doesn't evoke solid quality.

    Warmboard, Climate Panel, Raupanel, Quik Trak, Thermalboard..........whatever it takes.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,122
    Clopping sound

    For sure with engineered. Not to mention about a 5mm finished surface to work with for future refinish.

    Bottom line it's a poor mans DIY hard wood knock off that's not a whole lot cheaper than the real thing. The only good is dimensional stability. Other than that not much to say.
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,009
    wood over roth?

    they require sleepers for that. did you do it without sleepers hot rod?
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • Paul PolletsPaul Pollets Member Posts: 3,022

    Quality pre-engineered floors don't make a "clopping" sound. As far as refinishing, the distance between the top of the plank and the top of the tongue, is the same as conventional T&G flooring if 5/8" or 7/8" product is used. Home Cheapo flooring tends to be thinner and "Clops".
  • hot rodhot rod Member Posts: 7,062
    hardwood over Roth

    yes the wood was nailed over the Roth with long serated hardwood cleats (t headed, tapered nails, really) Roth does approve this method, see below.

    Hardwood: Nail strips may not be needed if the flooring contractor uses longer nails/staples. This should be discussed with the floor- ing contractor prior to installation of the panel. Never use an asphalt impregnated paper, or any impregnated paper that can produce odors when exposed to heat between the panel and the hardwood.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • hot rodhot rod Member Posts: 7,062
    Also with engineered wood flooring

    it is available with a super hard pre-finish. A baked on aluminum oxide, urethane, is one of the methods.

    I used a thin Anderson brand engineered hardwood on my mother in laws. It's been down 15 years, glued onto a slab.

    It has been under water a few times, briefly, and it still has not de-laminated. It is a thin 5/16 board and cannot be refinished, however.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,122

    That particular brand Kahr is a quality product. But they all can only be resanded twice the layer is only an 1/8" much less than a quality wood floor to the tongue, and I'm sure it's not an aggressive refinish.

    Floaters will clop with the right shoe, unless you use the thin foam padding, and that's a boner to a radiant floor.

    And yes anything big box is JUNK!

    Hot rod the longest cleats,ts, or staples are 2" , and all any standard floor nailer will except. At a 45* angle through the tounge that gives about only an 7/8" into the sub floor layer All though the serrated t's may bite into that aluminum.
  • hot rodhot rod Member Posts: 7,062
    the cleat

    just needs to bury into the subfloor 3/4 of an inch. No additional holding benefit to protruding out the bottom of the sub floor material.

    This job used Adventech subflooring, a very dense substrate that holds fasteners very well. The flooring was actually 3/4 walnut harvested from the owners farm in Arkansas.

    I did run this installation by Mickey Moore technical director of the National Oak flooring association. He did suggest we block the nailer to get a better angle and assure the cleat did bury into the subfloor.

    The cleat is the correct fastener, staples and ring shank nails will not allow the flooring to move without coming loose, like a cleat, according to Mickey. Cleats are square shaped and blunt ended so the don't tend to split the tounge like a nail or staple may. They are tapered and serrated and also the l-shaped head maintains a low profile for future sanding. It was designed just for this application.

    Some installers use staples due to the cost difference between cleat and wire staples.

    Here is a cleat thru a 3/4 oak and it protrudes right at 3/4" I think the 3/4" Advantech is actually a bit under 3/4" in thickness, as I recall.

    This was a large expensive job and I made sure to research the best installation and forward that to the contractor and owner so we all were on the same page. It was 8 years ago, when this job was installed, perhaps better methods are available?

    The hardwood installer is on the line if the floor squeaks or buckles, best to run any unusual application by them.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • Paul PolletsPaul Pollets Member Posts: 3,022
    The radiant installer

    is also on the line if he hasn't advised the owner or GC of the proper choices and methods of floor coverings, or the flooring cups because the heating contractor did not install proper mixing controls.

    Sanding conventional flooring introduces huge amounts of dust into the home. The stains and finishes are often very toxic and can release VOC's for months after finishing. Who really wants this in their home? I prefer the more environmental approach, but I'm sure I'm in the minority.
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,122
    Hot rod I'm


    If you have a 2"fastener . You use 3/4" through the the 3/4 flooring at a 45* angle and another 1" through the 3/4" Roth panel that leaves 1/4" into your sub floor. Not much I know it does not have to protrude but....1/4" is not much ill bet the aluminum is holding more than what's in the sub floor.
  • hot rodhot rod Member Posts: 7,062
    you're correct

    the numbers don't add. The Roth is 1.9cm, just under 3/4". 3/4 thru the flooring, 3/4 thru the Roth only leaves 1/2" into the subfloor.

    I'll dig out some install pics tomorrow to see how it was installed.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • NolanGraysonNolanGrayson Member Posts: 1
    The definite answer

    The definite answer rests solely on the individuals that are paying for the project, but many people are finding great success with using pre-engineered flooring for this type of project. The heat will easily radiate out of any wood flooring, but using engineered flooring allows moisture to be used around the flooring without the warping and damage that is standard to most types of natural hardwood floors. This site explains it in much better terminology than I can:
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