STEP Warmfloor Flooring Options

Step Warmfloor

Flooring Options

STEP Warmfloor Flooring Options

STEP Warmfloor’s thin and flexible heating elements are certified for use under all floor types. STEP Warmfloor is the trusted radiant heat choice not only for heating tile and stone but also carpet and hardwood floors. Our self-regulating heating technology is guaranteed to never overheat making it safe under carpet, and will always remain below the approved temperatures for underfloor heating beneath hardwood floors.

For more detailed information on flooring options and subfloor profiles, please download the Flooring Options Guide.

Feel free to contact the Green Wave Distribution Team directly with any questions.


WOOD FLOORS HARDWOOD, ENGINEERED & LAMINATE FLOORING

STEP Warmfloor under hardwoodWe often get asked, Can you install hardwood floors over radiant heat? The answer is yes, STEP Warmfloor heating elements are certified for use directly under wood floors; including hardwoods, engineered floors and laminates. Our heating elements can be placed safely closer to the finished floor than any other radiant heat system and they can be nailed through to get installed in direct contact with the floor. The self-regulating properties of the elements guarantee that they will never overheat and will always stay below the specified temperature set forth by the National Hardwood Flooring Association.

Plank style finished floors come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Traditional hardwood products along with the newer laminate and engineered products fit into this category. The luxuriant look and feel of these floor products combined with a STEP Warmfloor system creates a finished floor installation that greatly enhances the comfort and value of your home.

Design Notes & Benefits

Plank style floors are installed using either a floating, nail down or glue down method. Which method is used is dependent upon the finished floor and subfloor types. For glue-down installations, cover the elements with floor leveler or underlayment boards or used approved adhesives.

Due to the unique properties of the STEP Warmfloor system, the nails used in the plank floor can penetrate directly through the center section of the heating element. The only place that nails should not penetrate is along the edges of the element where the bus wires are located.

Element Spacing & Orientation

The natural and man-made materials commonly found in plank style floor systems offer good thermal mass performance, allowing up to a maximum 5-inch spacing between STEP Warmfloor heating elements. An element spacing that is larger than 5-inches will have a cold strip down the center of that spacing. This will result in undesirable performance for the customer. A spacing tighter than 5-inches, even down to 1-inch, is used to provide a very even floor surface temperature and to increase the floor response time to temperature changes in the room.

To ensure that the finished floor has a smooth and even surface, the heating elements strips should not be installed parallel with the direction of the planks. The optimum installation should have the elements running perpendicular to the plank direction. This provides for even support of the planks across the back of the heating elements, eliminating the potential for dips and sags at the plank joints.


TILE & STONE

STEP Warmfloor under tile and stoneOur thin (1.2 mm) STEP Warmfloor heating elements provide more comfort and versatile installation options than any other radiant heat system. The slim profile, combined with the ability to be placed directly under the tile floor allows you to design without the hassle of additional buildups. Our heating elements can be placed directly in a mortar bed or underneath cement board and won't be damaged by construction traffic, trowels or heavy tiles dropped.

Tile and natural stone provide the coldest sensation out of any of the common finished floor materials. By incorporating a radiant heat system under the tile, a luxuriously warm finished floor that will greatly enhance the comfort and value of your home.

Design Notes & Benefits

The most common tile installation methods used with STEP Warmfloor are with cement backer boards, self-leveling compounds or placing the STEP heating elements in double mortar beds.

STEP Warmfloor under tile allows for unmatched versatility compared to any other radiant heat. STEP Heating elements can be installed directly on top of the subfloor underneath the finished floor or with cement backer board. When using a cement backer board, the STEP Heating elements can be placed either above or below, to best accommodate your conditions or requirements.

Element Spacing & Orientation

Due to the high thermal conductivity of tile, the STEP Warmfloor heating elements should be installed with a maximum 3-inch spacing between the elements. Tile conducts the heat vertically from the elements so fast that the heat does not transfer very far laterally within the floor. An element spacing that is larger than 3-inches will have a cold stripe down the center of that spacing. A spacing tighter than 3-inches, even down to 1-inch, is used to provide a very even floor surface temperature and to increase the floor response time to temperature changes in the room.

Whether you use a backer board or install the elements directly between the subfloor and the tile, their orientation does not matter. When installing the elements underneath the backer board, make sure to mark the location of the bus braids and the extension wires with a chalk line, in order to be able to see where you can screw.


CARPET

STEP Warmfloor under carpetWe’re also often asked if you can install carpet floors over radiant heat. Again the answer is yes, STEP Warmfloor heating elements are safe for use under carpet, which is a flooring type not often associated with radiant heat. Our 1.2 mm thick heating elements can be placed directly under the carpet pad and will not be affected by heavy furniture being placed on them. The self-regulating properties guarantee that they will never overheat, making them completely safe.

Out of all the commonly used finished floor materials, carpet provides the warmest sensation on the floor. Even though that is the case, many carpet installations can benefit from the use of a radiant heat system, especially if the floor is over an unheated space.

Design Notes & Benefits

For a STEP Warmfloor system installed under the carpet, the selection of the carpet cushion is critical to ensure even heat distribution and satisfaction with the system performance. The carpet cushion must have a sufficient density rating, thickness and cellular structure to assist with transferring heat laterally within the finished floor. The cushion should be a commercial rated product to assist with achieving the desired physical characteristics.

The STEP Warmfloor system should not be in direct contact with many aggressive solvents and construction adhesives. With glue down installations, a protective layer must be installed over the heating elements to prevent direct contact with the carpet glue. Examples of protective layer options include self-leveling compound and plywood covering.

Element Spacing & Orientation

While carpet has one of the highest insulating values out of the commonly used finished floor materials, the STEP Warmfloor heating elements can be placed upwards of 6 to 8 inches apart and may still provide even heat across the floor. Care must be taken in the proper sizing of the system, the proper selection of thermal insulation, and most importantly, the proper selection of the carpet cushion to ensure that the system will provide even heat distribution. An element spacing larger than 6 to 8 inches will have a cold stripe down the center of that spacing, resulting in undesirable performance. A spacing tighter than 6 inches, even down to 1 inch, is used to increase the floor response time to temperature changes in the room.


CONCRETE SLAB

STEP Warmfloor under concreteRadiant heating is the favored solution to address notoriously cold and uncomfortable concrete slabs in occupied spaces. STEP Warmfloor heating elements are thin and flexible, yet rugged and durable. Their material construction provides the greatest versatility for slab heating allowing for a tailor made system design that best fit your specific comfort, wellness, and operating needs - and it is easy to install.

STEP Warmfloor heating elements can be placed under the slab, in the slab (topper slab), or on top of the slab underneath the finished floor. Whether your slab is below grade, on grade, above grade or a high rise floor slab, STEP Warmfloor heating elements are appropriate for all applications.

Given this flexibility in use and application, it is always best to consult with the Green Wave Distribution design team to collaboratively select the ideal system design. It is also critical to review and address area  moisture levels, existing slab condition and insulation requirements to assure optimal system performance. You may also refer to the STEP Flooring Options manual for more specific details.

Design Notes & Benefits

Element Location and Direction

Where the heating elements are located in relation to the slab and finished flooring affects the performance of the system with regard to response time, consumption, and operating duration. When a faster response time is desired, it is ideal to place the heating elements above the slab and on top of  insulation. If consumption efficiency is the primary goal, or having the ability for stored heat in the event of a power failure event, placing the heating elements under the slab on top of insulation is best. This allows the concrete mass to act like a stored heat "thermal bed" that is slowly released into the space as heat losses occur until the stored heat is exhausted

When installing the heating elements under, or in the slab, the element direction is typically based on where the transformers will be located to optimize wire quantity, run lengths and install time.

Element Protection

The heating elements should not be in direct contact with many aggressive solvents, construction adhesives and foil faced insulations. This also includes plasticizers and other concrete additives used to help the concrete flow smoothly during installation, or for curing time purposes. For pouring applications, a 6-8 mil plastic sheet should cover the entire surface area on top of the heating elements.

Slab Reinforcement

There are different techniques used to reinforce slabs to improve tensile strength. When using rebar, or wire mesh, it is best to choose plastic "chair stands" to support the mesh above the heating elements and plastic liner so that rebar never comes in direct contact with the heating elements.

Chair stands also protect the heating elements from potential damage from "fishing hooking" the rebar techniques used to position the rebar to the correct height from the bottom of the slab if laid on top of the plastic sheet covering on top of the heating elements.

Element Spacing & Orientation

  • Above the Slab On Top of Insulation
  • Based upon your finished flooring choice, you may refer to the appropriate flooring category above for additional information.
  • Under Slab (Thermal Bed Design)
  • There is more spacing flexibility when heating the slab from underneath as the horizontal heat distribution will even out over time  Generally, it is best not to exceed 6-8 inches to prevent a temperature gap .
  • Between the Structural Slab and Finished "Topper" Slab

 

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