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will a barrier keep slate floor from being cold?

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Joined: Jun 28 2003

Hello Fellow Eichler Neighbors,

I am in the process of remodeling my kitchen and I would like to replace the flooring throughout the main area.  I have 1954 cork in the LR and DR and linoleum tile in the kitchen.  I love the cork because I can walk on it bare feet 365 days area.  My radiant doesn't work. 

I am debating whether to stick with cork, wood or slate.  During the winter, the concrete slab radiates cold.  But the cork keeps the cold in check.  If I were to use a barrier between the slab and say either wood or slate, would my floor be freezing during the winter? 

Maybe linoleum.  Would linoleum with some barrier keep the floor from getting cold? 

I appreciate your help. 

Many thanks,


Joined: Nov 22 2013

It depends on the type of barrier that you use. I live in the Buffalo, NY area. Currently 19 degrees outside. Here, our basement floors probably are in the temperature range for your poured concrete slab for nights in winter.  Basement floors here are usually 5 feet below grade and generally around 40 to 45 degrees year round.

A simple plastic barrier or even Tyvek won't stop the cold to any extent. I've used a reflective wrap on top of r-38 insulation in my attic (crawl attic) but you are dealing with conductive--not radiant or convection heat loss.  Anything that creates air-spaces (as in foam insulation or other insulation media) and reflects heat into the living area will improve the "foot feel" over placing tile/wood/etc on top of a slab.

There is a Home Remodeler in the Toronto area who rehabs/fixes a lot of basement family rooms (Holmes on Holmes, HGTV, DIY networks on TV). He uses a very thin but highly insulating panel under the floors. I think it's shown on his website.

You can also use PEX in a thinset to restore hydronic radiant heat.  We used a grooved very thin plastic-line frame for running PEX loops when we put stone tile on our kitchen floor using thinset. You could even use cork (on plywood) or hardwood over it as well.

Good luck.


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