University Tests: Heating Under Solid Timber Floors

University Tests: Heating Under Solid Timber Floors


During this year (2008), The Timber Research Unit headed by Ross Farrell at the University of Tasmania has been studying the effects of underfloor heating on Australian Solid Timber Floors.

In general, moisture content is generally much higher in Australian Native Timbers, compared to Timbers imported from Europe. Our "Spotted Gum" for example tends to carry higher levels.

The timbers used in the tests were Black Butt and Tasmanian Oak which were reported to be satisfactory in stability under controlled heating application. With statistics showing Australia to have the second highest occurrence of allergy sufferance in the western world and increasing, it is understandable, that carpets are giving way to natural timber floor finishes and tiles.

Many timber retailers are negative toward the idea of heating solid wooden floors due to lack of information concerning this issue. The University are gathering "Case Study" feedback to confirm their reports in due course.

Before installation, a common practice in Europe is to cross stack the timbers over the floor with the heating turned on for a 3-4 week duration allowing "acclimatisation", where a form of curing evolves. The fact is, the thicker the wood used, the more stable it will be, therefore 19 to 22mm is the preferred board selection.

The other choice is: Quarter Sawn or Back Sawn. Quarter Sawn solid timber is more stable when it comes to flooring as this is less likely to cup or warp. The Back Sawn timber on the other hand is more suitable for load bearing beams due to greater strength.

A detailed public report is due for posting shortly.