Rugs To Avoid Using On Your Heated Floors

Although having heated floors can feel great on a cold morning, you need to know a few things before you buy radiant floor heating. You may already know that tile and stone are the best materials to use with this system. You also may know that you can use carpeting with radiant floor heating – when you take a few key preparation steps. However, what if you prefer to use rugs with your hardwood or tile flooring? Can you use rugs with this radiant heating system and still receive the benefits? Just like with carpeting, you can, but they need to be of a certain type and thickness to allow the warmth to rise upward and give you the benefits you want. The primary types of rugs you should avoid using with this heating system are those with plastic backing, those that are exceptionally thick, or those that consistently trap the warmth.

Additionally, the material of the rug plays a role in the amount of warmth passing through it. As a general rule, avoid using rugs that consist of synthetics, such as nylon or polyester. Such materials do not allow the warmth from the system to pass through them easily. Additionally, they could end up melting or showing damage with exposure to the heat. Instead, stick with natural fibers, such as wool, jute, or bamboo. Natural materials are better able to transfer warmth to the person sitting or lying on top.

Which rug thicknesses should you avoid with a heated flooring system?

You should pay attention to both the thickness of the rug that you want to place on top of the heated floor, as well as its tog rating. The tog refers to the ability of a material, such as carpeting or a rug, to insulate and retain heat. Tog also takes into account any backing material or underlay attached, making it a highly relevant measurement for rugs. 

The majority of tog ratings fall between 0.7 and 3.0, with lower numbers referring to lower insulative properties and an inability to retain heat. This means a lower tog rating is good for a rug that you're going to use with an in-floor heating system. Avoid selecting one with a tog rating of 2.5 or higher, as this product will block the warmth too much, making the system inefficient.

As far as the actual thickness of the rug, avoid selecting thicker materials and tall pile heights. If you have a pile height greater than 0.6 inches, you may start to experience problems with the transfer of the heat from the flooring system through the rug to the person sitting on it. If the overall thickness, including all of the layers, is 1 inch or greater, you may affect the performance of the in-floor heating system.

The wrong rugs could cause damage with your in-floor heating system

Ultimately, selecting the wrong types of rugs to use with the in-floor heating system could leave you with damage to the system or the flooring material underneath. If you pick a rug that really holds the heat in, it could cause damage to certain types of flooring materials. Engineered wood is one of the most susceptible materials to excess heat, so avoid using thicker rugs over engineered hardwood with an in-floor heating system. Some types of wood may swell or warp when constantly exposed to excess heat as well.

To avoid this type of damage from your radiant heating system, in addition to the tog rating and material used in the rug, pay attention to the type of backing material. Although natural felt, jute (or hessian), and rubber backings are always safe to use because they will not degrade when exposed to heat, some other backing materials can create a problem. If you make use of backings that have plastic in them, for example, they could cause some discoloration on the original flooring material as they deteriorate under the constant application of heat from the system. Finally, even if you select a rug with safe materials and a safe design, you could have problems based on where you place it. If it has sunlight streaming through windows shining on it for much of the day, for example, it will warm up quickly, potentially causing issues.