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Installing engineered wood flooring with baseboard radiators?

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I’m looking at installing floating 3/8" or 5/16" engineered wood floors in an 90 year old house that has perimeter hot-water base-board radiators around almost every exterior wall. These are the units aobut 6" high with a flanged radiant core housed in an overhanging metal housing with an adjustable "roof" over the core. The rooms are large and the existing floors are sound and fairly level old 3" wide pine boards (NOT tongue and groove.) Normally you’d pull up the quarter-round and wooden base-board and put 10 mm spacers at the wall (which is what we’ll do at the interior walls with no radiators.) Pulling out and extending the height of all the radiators would be prohibitively costly (that’s why we are not doing 3/4" solid wood). If we just run the boards to just under the edge of the radiators will it be fine? Anyone out there dealt with this situation and how did you handle it?

Baseboard radiators work by convection, meaning they take in air through the bottom, which passes over the heating core and then the warmer, lighter air rises out the top. This creates a circuit of cool air entering at the floor and warm air rising along the wall. Therefore, you need to have the bottom open for the heaters to work correctly. I’m guessing from your description that you would be reducing the size of the opening at the bottom. Any amount you reduce it won’t help, but as long as you still have at least an inch and a half or so, you should be OK.

I would just do it, and if the room seems colder when you’re done, then maybe you might need to raise the heaters. I would think you can do that after the floors are installed without much problem (other than the pesky cost problem).

The metal housing is usually separate and snaps on to the fin-tube and pipe inside. Maybe you can raise the cover (you might have to modify them a bit, cut off the snap on flanges or create new attachment points where they screw into the wall) to maintain the current opening at the bottom without moving the pipes…

2 Responses to “Installing engineered wood flooring with baseboard radiators?”

  1. Bilbo Says:

    If there is a movement joint below your radiators it should be fine – engineered boards are more stable than the solid stuff. As long as you give yourself an expansion joint on the other wall it should be OK. The sub floor shouldn’t make a lot of difference – especially if you are including an underlayer.
    References :

  2. jonlp68 Says:

    Baseboard radiators work by convection, meaning they take in air through the bottom, which passes over the heating core and then the warmer, lighter air rises out the top. This creates a circuit of cool air entering at the floor and warm air rising along the wall. Therefore, you need to have the bottom open for the heaters to work correctly. I’m guessing from your description that you would be reducing the size of the opening at the bottom. Any amount you reduce it won’t help, but as long as you still have at least an inch and a half or so, you should be OK.

    I would just do it, and if the room seems colder when you’re done, then maybe you might need to raise the heaters. I would think you can do that after the floors are installed without much problem (other than the pesky cost problem).

    The metal housing is usually separate and snaps on to the fin-tube and pipe inside. Maybe you can raise the cover (you might have to modify them a bit, cut off the snap on flanges or create new attachment points where they screw into the wall) to maintain the current opening at the bottom without moving the pipes…
    References :

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