Colin and Justin: Get on the floor

Colin and Justin: Get on the floor


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Current tastes, certainly, favour wood as the flooring most likely to endure the rough and tumble of life

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As designers, we navigate a different path with each set of clients. On one project we’ll be engaged to look at a ‘ground up’ build, or perhaps hired to work across kitchens or bathrooms to proffer a freshened aesthetic. The scope of works, we suppose, is all in a day’s work.

One area, however, that presents a recurring chunk of business is flooring. From carpets, ceramic tile and porcelain, to stone slab, polished concrete and engineered lumber, we receive countless weekly communiqués pertaining to that which lies (literally) beneath.

So which type works best for you? Current tastes, certainly, favour wood as the flooring most likely to endure the rough and tumble of life, whilst remaining steadfastly ‘on trend’ and kind to the environment.

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Which brings us to a growing obsession: under floor heating. Sure, heated floors have existed for decades, but the industry witnessed a significant uptick as the pandemic gripped, and the home sector solidified.

Certain types lay ‘dry’ (or in an adhesive bed) as a grid work of intersecting wires, whilst older options (some fuelled by hot water – or oil – but most, to be fair, electrically powered) were set into concrete screeds that posed a problem if they failed, requiring veritable warfare, to access cables.

Thank heavens, then, for industry improvements that make choosing a heated membrane (and the subsequent flooring above) a simpler proposition.

Typically arranged below stone, ceramic or porcelain, these options are straightforward (even on a DIY basis), many rolling onto an adhesive bed to connect to a power source, thereafter.

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Being ‘radiant’, there’s no forced air (unlike furnaces and some pellet and wood stoves) and therefore no dust, pet dander and micro particles propelled through the home.

We’re always careful to marry quality heating membranes with quality flooring to negate problems before they arise. Conversely, we’ve read of many schemes that went wrong – post install – due to ‘delamination’ of inferior product from the engineered ‘substructure’, with the top wood layer literally parting company.

As much as we opened with a discussion pertaining to heating membranes, the thrust of today’s column actually pertains to flooring, and, more specifically, engineered flooring.

It’s fair to suggest you get what you pay for: on multiple occasions we’ve stepped in to ‘correct’ projects where inferior flooring types have buckled, degraded and failed, especially when teamed with under floor heating.

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But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Recent, better quality engineered floors consist of a plywood sub structure, tightly applied to a layer of solid lumber: dimensionally more stable than solid wood, they’re a stellar choice for projects that see large traffic, not least the worry of moisture ingress due to waterside location.

During a recent scheme, we specified Twelve Oaks engineered flooring (the Canadian company merchant an especially good range: visit for info) a product that can be installed over in-floor radiant heating systems provided the subfloor surface doesn’t exceed 85ºF (or 29ºC) at any point.

Initial floor temperatures shouldn’t exceed 70ºF (or 21ºC) for 24 hours prior to, and 48 hours post, installation. Thereafter, ambient temperature should be gradually increased by no more than 5ºF (or 2.8ºC) per day to the desired level, never exceeding 85ºF or (29ºC).

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Twelve Oaks warrant against delamination, warping, buckling, and twisting when installed and maintained according to instruction. With a 35 year limited residential warranty, and an impressive 5 year light commercial warranty, future wear and tear is assured. .

For us, it comes down to compatibility with under floor heating, membranes that steadfastly protect against Mother Nature’s chillier arsenal. We’ve watched as demand for this type of product increases, yet market availabilities have struggled to keep pace due to deficiencies in technical specifications and compatibility with heating systems.

Being that heat rises, air circulates from your room’s lowest levels, to its higher reaches, to ensure your space remains wildly cozy at all times.

And so, when the mercury slides, can’t you just imagine that warmth radiating? Hey, it might well be summer, but fall and winter await. And if your beautiful new floor – and its heating membranes – are up to speed, then things will be pretty much perfect. From the ground up…

Watch for Colin and Justin on Cabin Pressure and Great Canadian Cottages (Cottage Life TV) and on Cityline(CityTV). Find the Colin and Justin Collection in stores across Canada. Visit


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