My house, in Northern Virginia, was built in the late 1940s. It is
heated, on both levels, by in-floor radiant heat. It's a pretty early
version of the technology, and original to the house. It consists of
a network of 1" steel pipes embedded in concrete (or perhaps mortar--
I'm not sure), fed by a gas fired boiler.
Originally, it had oak parquet flooring glued down (each tile being
made up of five small strips). Early on in the life of the house, the
floor more or less disintegrated. The individual strips came apart,
and the tiles themselves separated from the floor.
Subsequently, a second floor-- this time oak parquet single piece
tiles-- was glued down *on top of the old floor*
. So, we now have a
forty year old, fairly unattractive, crunches-when-you-walk-on-it
floor. I could have it refinished, which would make it a moderately
better looking, crunches-when-you-walk-on-it floor.
Aside from the aesthetics (and for that matter, the acoustics), my
major concern is the efficiency of it all. In order for the main
level to achieve a comfortable temperature, the boiler really has to
crank it up. The bathrooms and kitchen floors, which are tile over
the subfloor (no layers of wood) become quite warm. Hot, even. Now,
the cat loves it. And I appreciate it when coming out of the shower,
but otherwise it makes for more cold spots elsewhere than we would
I'd like to strip off both layers of wood floor and replace them with
a single layer of...something. But what? Of course, tile, slate,
terra cotta, terrazzo, etc. would work beautifully; but would be a
pretty bold fashion statement for a post-war "colonial." Not to
mention pretty pricey for anything worthy of LR, DR, Den, etc..
Is anyone aware of a wood product that can be laid down like tile
(i.e. in a mortar bed)? What about a floating floor? Would the heat
transfer be better than the current situation? Would an engineered
product hold up to the heat?
Incidentally, the second level is carpeted over the slab. The heat in
this zone is much more uniform. I just do not want to carpet the main
And finally, if you are wondering: yes, the house is built like a
bomb shelter in order to support all of the weight. The construction
is block and brick, with almost all first level interior walls being
load bearing (and block), and any large open areas are spanned by
It's difficult to find contractors locally who have any experience
with this system, so finding any sort of solution has been
problematic. Your thoughts and suggestions would be very much
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