Almost no home interior has the same flooring all the way through, which means it's going to be necessary to transition from one type of floor to the next. Merging vinyl plank flooring and ceramic tiles can be one of the more difficult floor transitions but you do have some options to get a clean, good-looking finished result.
Merging vinyl plank flooring and ceramic tile is a DIY challenge but it's one that you can definitely meet. As long as you have a few basic tools, you have several options for how to bring these two different flooring types together beautifully.
The Problem With Vinyl
Using vinyl plank flooring can present you with many potential benefits. It is softer underfoot than many other floors and it is resistant to water and moisture problems.
Vinyl plank flooring is a very popular home decor choice. The planks look like hardwood but they take a fraction of the work to install and maintain, as compared to real hardwood.
These floors are highly scratch-resistant and easy to clean and maintain, something that can't always be said of real wood floors. There are different options in vinyl flooring but they are made from similar materials.
These planks are waterproof and highly durable, which makes them a good option even for high-traffic areas of the home. Because vinyl planks are so versatile and because they can be made to look any color, they can be used throughout the home.
However, one issue that many people run into with it is trying to figure out what to do when vinyl planks meet another type of flooring. Vinyl floors do not have standard transitions as a wood or laminate floor would.
Working With Ceramic Tile
Ceramics are really a catchall term that can mean anything which is made from clay. It's actually an ancient technique, dating back thousands of years of human creation.
Ceramics are used to make all sorts of things, from sophisticated medical equipment to floor tiles. Ceramic tile is affordable, waterproof, and durable, which makes it a popular choice in home design.
Because ceramic tile can also be cut to any shape and stained or painted to look like anything, it's a highly versatile choice. The problem is that tile is a hard material that does not soften or flatten in time, like carpeting does.
Ceramic sticks up off the floor, something you can see when that floor ends and the edge of the tile is visible. You don't want to see the tile edge, you want to see a nice, smooth finish.
Transitioning from a ceramic floor to another type of floor is pretty natural in home design. It only looks bad when you skip the essential step of a transition piece.
Get the right transition piece and you will get a smooth, finished look everywhere that tile ends and a new floor begins.
Merging Vinyl Plank and Ceramic Tile Flooring
The transition to a ceramic tile from a vinyl floor is a tricky one, but you do have some options.
First, you need to measure the height transition. What's the difference between the height at which the tile ends and the plank flooring begin?
Take the measurement as accurately as possible and record it precisely. Check it and measure it again because a lot depends on this number.
You have lots of options for choosing something that makes it easy to get from one type of floor to another. The one you choose really depends on the look you want and what you want to work with the most.
- Quarter round: Often used down low, quarter round has a long, curving edge.
- Reducer: The reducer was made to connect floors of different heights together, which makes it a perfect choice for transitioning from vinyl flooring to ceramic tile.
- Slim Trim: The slim trim design creates a flat, smooth transition between flooring types. It is used to bring floors of two different heights together smoothly.
- T molding: This is a good option when you need to transition from vinyl plank floor to ceramic tile that have a similar thickness. This is a flat piece that is usually used to join two types of flooring that are close to the same height.
- 4-in-1 Transition: When you're working with flooring of different heights and other transition strips won't fit properly, a 4-in-1 transition is the solution. This transition strip has a channel that runs down the middle.
This channel is used to mount the strip to a T-molding, which fits in that center channel. The 4-in-1 is a good way to transition between floors of different heights.
- T-Strip: If you are transitioning between floors of the same height, the T-strip is a good option for two hard floors. You will use sealant in the gap and press the T-strip down inside of it.
The top of the strip will fit very snugly and flat against both floors. However, this transition strip only works if both floors are the same height, which is not often the case when you're going from vinyl to ceramic tile.
- Tile to Laminate: It is so difficult to find a strip to transition from tile to laminate flooring that one has been designed for just this purpose. This strip can work with the transition from ceramic tile to vinyl flooring, too, though laminate and vinyl are two different flooring types.
The tile-to-laminate transition is unfinished so it can be stained to match any floor and it's designed to accommodate for the taller height of ceramic tiles. The grooves are offset to match the floor thickness.
You will mount this strip on a metal channel, which has expandable anchors.
- Vinyl to Tile: Transition strips that are specifically designed for a vinyl to tile transition are available. This strip is specifically designed to account for the different heights of the two floors and is usually made out of wood, which you can stain to look the way you want.
This transition strip has anchors and it snaps into place on top of both floors in a firm, secure fit.
Other Types of Transitions
When you go looking for the right transition strip between your planks and your tiles, you will actually see many other options.
There are many types of transition strips that are designed for carpeting. These often look like thin metal or wood strips, which are held in place with tacks.
Carpeting transitions will not work for a vinyl to tile transition, even if you like the way these look.
Reducers and transition strips typically come in a standard size of 36 inches, the width of most doorways, but you can get them in up to 20-foot lengths for larger doorways.
It's not the length of the reducer that matters so much, as you can cut this down to size as needed. The underside is what matters.
It's the underside of the reducer that needs to match the height measurements you took for your floors. Look for a reducer or transition strip that matches the height measurements as closely as possible.
Cut the reducer down to size. A small handsaw can get this job done.
Use a work table and a clamp if you're going to work with a saw and always wear eye protection and exercise extreme safety measures.
Put the reducer in place without any adhesive fit to check the fit. This is called dry fitting.
If the reducer doesn't quite fit, shave the ends down with a file to get it sized just right.
Because it can be so difficult to find a transition strip that is just the right size, some companies do offer samples of strips that you can try to make sure you're going to get the right fit before you spend a bunch of money.
Other retailers have generous return policies on transition strips, so you can get your money back if you end up with a strip that doesn't quite fit the way you thought it would. Mae sure you have the right fit on height before you make any cuts to your strip.
You may wish to paint or stain your transition piece at this time, whether you're using standard wall paint or spray paint. Some transition pieces do come with finishes on them already, so you may choose one that requires no extra finish work but some pieces may need to be customized to suit your home decor.
Paint or stain the piece now if necessary and allow it to dry completely before installing it.
If you’re using a simple transition piece without a mounting channel, you can use a little glue to secure it. To do so, spread adhesive on the underside of the reducer and on the edge of each floor where the reducer will be placed.
Working from one side and moving across, put the reducer in place with care. Move slowly and precisely and firmly press the reducer into place as you go.
Other transition strips require a bit more work. Some are designed to be pressed down into the gap between floors and anchored into place.
When you’re working with a strip like this, you should still apply glue to the underside of the strip before placing it.
Let the glue dry completely before you walk on the reducer and move around it normally. Wait at least six hours to ensure that everything is good and dry.
When the transition between floors isn't smooth and well done, it stands out instantly. It becomes an eyesore and it gets noticed in a bad way.
Any transition option you choose will look nice and create a clean, finished look as long as you install it properly. Take the time to get the right measurements and pick out the right transition piece and you will end up with a very nice flooring merge.
The transition from vinyl planks to ceramic tile is a difficult one but this is a relatively simple DIY that you can complete alone. The hardest part will be choosing exactly what kind of transition you want and finding one that fits the exact right way.
Vinyl Plank Flooring and Ceramic Tile FAQ
How do you transition vinyl plank flooring to ceramic tile?
Many different types of transition strips can be placed at the junction where ceramic tiles and vinyl plank flooring meet. These two types of floors look very different and even have different heights, but you can find transitions that will match the varying heights to create a smooth, easy blend from one floor to the other.
The most difficult part of the project is picking out the right transition strip. After that, it's a simple matter of trimming and gluing the strip into place.
Is it better to remove tile before installing vinyl plank flooring?
Ceramic tile is durable and vinyl plank flooring is pretty forgiving. You can install vinyl plank flooring right on top of ceramic tile, so long as the tile is not loose or damaged.
However, it's always better to remove the existing floor before you put down a new floor.
How do you transition between flooring types?
It's jarring when one type of floor runs right into a second type of floor. A single little strip between the two can visually bridge this gap and create a smooth transition.
These transition strips come in a variety of styles and finishes, so you can choose one that will match your personal taste and home decor.
Do you use grout with vinyl plank flooring?
Though grout is used with ceramic tile, you don't need grout for your vinyl plank flooring. Placing a line of grout between vinyl plank flooring and ceramic tile will not create the smooth transition between flooring types that you want.
Is T molding necessary between rooms for vinyl plank flooring?
T molding is called transition molding and it refers to any type of transition strip that is placed between flooring types to join the two together smoothly. When vinyl plank floor transitions to a new type of floor, such as ceramic tile, you want to use T molding (a transition strip) to join the two together nicely.
How Long Does Ceramic Tile Floor Grout Take to Dry?
How to Prevent Uneven Floors
How to Tile a Bathroom Floor
Installing Ceramic Tile 101