How to Create Seamless Floor Transitions How to Create Seamless Floor Transitions

Transitions can make a floor appear seamless throughout different rooms of a home. If the transition is good enough, you will barely notice where one material begins and another ends — even when they might otherwise clash. If the transitions in your home have seen better days or you are thinking about a remodeling project, here is a quick guide on making the perfect transition between flooring types.

Hard Surface Transitions

T-shaped strips are ideal for transitioning between two surfaces that are hard, such as wood, stone, ceramic, and laminate. The key to using t-strips, however, is that both surfaces must be equal in height. The strip fits snuggly between the two surfaces while the upper portion rests on top. T-shaped strips sit lower than most transition strips and typically come in an aluminum finish. Because the options are limited, t-shaped strips only work with certain types of flooring colors.

Multi-Purpose Strips

Multi-purpose transition strips, also called 4-in-1 strips, come with several parts that work on a variety of surfaces. These strips are perfect if you need to transition to uneven or even levels. All you have to do is swap out the appropriate piece to match the desired surface. The downside to these strips is that you are wasting a lot of material and paying more for the strips. But if you need something that works on different types of surfaces, then these strips are the way to go.

Ceramic to Carpet

A ceramic to carpet floor transition.

Transitioning from ceramic tile to carpet is difficult because the materials are almost always uneven. In order to make the transition appear level, you need a t-strip that comes with an aluminum plate. The aluminum piece is installed under the carpet to give it some lift, gripping the material with tiny spikes. The vinyl or laminate piece is placed on top of the aluminum strip, concealing the metal and completing the transition. These strips come in a variety of finishes, so finding one that is perfect for your floor should not be difficult.

Vinyl to Tile

Tile flooring rests significantly higher than vinyl and needs a special strip to seamlessly transition between the two materials. These strips often feature a slope that goes from the higher surface to the lower, providing a secure and aesthetically pleasing transition. Vinyl to tile strips are very similar to tile to laminate ones, the only difference being the downward slope is more dramatic.

Wood Transitions

Wood transition strips are also referred to as seam binders. These strips run around 5 inches in width and are flat in appearance. You can use these transitions to go from two wood surfaces that are the same height. All you have to do is screw in the board with the provided hardware and allow some space for expansion. If you do not allow a gap for expansion, then you run the risk of ruining the floor. The great part about these strips is that they can be stained or painted to match existing colors.

Grippers

Aluminum gripper strips are mainly used to transition between carpet and surfaces that are lower. These strips are installed under the carpet and feature teeth that dig into the material, keeping everything in place. The face of the gripper transition slopes downward towards the lower material. The downside to these transitions is that they look more industrial and aluminum does not go with all types of decor.

Laminate to Tile

A laminate to tile floor transition.

Going from laminate to tile is another example of transitioning between uneven surfaces. Ceramic is usually higher than laminate because it features a layer of thin-set mortar that raises it up. But because the ceramic is only slightly higher than the laminate, the transition is accomplished with a single strip attached to a base track. Once the track has been put in place, you simply click in the visible part of the strip and the transition is complete.

Installation Tips

Transition strips should never be connected to the subfloor or floating floor. These floors are meant to expand over time and can lead to warpage in the transition piece. Instead, follow the manufacturers instructions when installing transition pieces and secure wherever they recommend. Another common mistake is installing the transition strip too tight against the materials, especially wood surfaces. You should always include a gap to account for natural expansion of the wood.

Adhesion Issues

Using the right kind of adhesive is an important step in properly installing transition strips. Just because the adhesive is compatible with the strip does not mean it will work on every surface. You need to ensure that it will also work with the existing surface, which could be concrete or wood sub-flooring. You should also make sure the surface is clean of debris and other contaminants before using glue to install transition pieces.

Molding

A wood staircase molding transition.

Molding pieces are often used to transition between the flooring material and the wall or baseboard. These molding trims come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including quarter round, base molding, and t-molding. You can also find special molding, referred to as stair nose molding, for transitioning between wood stairs. These pieces make staircases more aesthetically pleasing and also add a layer of safety to sharp edges.

Floating Floor Transitions

Floating floors often require special kinds of transition strips. The most common type of transition for this purpose are over-lap strips, which provide seamless transition while giving the materials plenty of room to contract and expand. These strips are best used on wood surfaces and can be installed even if the flooring has been secured to treads.

Other Types of Transitions

You can find other types of transition strips for smaller areas of the home, such as the fireplace and thresholds. Reducer strips are often used between doorways and fireplaces, and are great for connecting wood surfaces with lower flooring materials. Threshold molding, meanwhile, is used to transition between carpet and wood and is secured in place with adhesive and nails.

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