What's the best flooring for converting a garage into mother-in-law suite with wheelchair and dog traffic?

Asked by L. Lord
Rocklin, CA

Home located on north shore of Long Island. Can radiant heat be used?


Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

June 24, 2013

Your best material option will likely be large format porcelain tiles (18"+) because of their:

  • rollability,
  • durability and
  • low maintenance attributes, provided you also incorporate radiant heat.

In this situation you will want to go with an electric radiant heat as the cost of hydronic for the space intended would be prohibitive.

  • You will need to create a thermal barrier between the heat elements and the slab to avoid the heat being sent down into the slab.
  • This can be done in a variety of ways whereby a "sandwich" of products (depending on factors such as the the location of the frost line in your area, the level of the water table, thickness of the slab, ceiling height of the room, etc.) are used together to direct the heat up. 

Best to consult with a local tile mason and/or tile supply house that also sells heated flooring products.

The condition of the original slab will have to be closely examined before selecting the tile. If there are lots cracks then large format tiles may be problematic. However, a crack suppression membrane can address small cracks.

Good luck!

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