Q. Instead of tile, my clients want to install a wood-finish floor over the insulated concrete slab of a planned passive solar addition. They've also asked us to install tubing in the slab to give them the option of radiantly heating the space. But won't wood flooring have a significant insulating effect that will diminish both solar heat gain and radiant heat transfer?

A. John Siegenthaler, a consulting engineer who specializes in hydronic-heating-system design in Holland Patent, N.Y., responds: For an in-floor radiant heating system, engineered-wood flooring can be a reasonable alternative to harder stone and tile, offering better dimensional stability and lower thermal resistance than solid-sawn lumber...

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