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Hot to Transition Flooring

If the flooring in every room of your home could flow together perfectly, you could pick one flooring type, have it installed and enjoy a cohesive look. While this sounds ideal, it’s not realistic for many homes. The rooms in your home have different uses, which necessitate different flooring needs. Living rooms call for cozy and soft flooring for relaxation, whereas bathrooms and kitchens require increased water resistance.

At some point, the different flooring types in your home meet. Whether bathroom tile reaches hallway carpet or kitchen vinyl meets dining room laminate, you’re bound to have some transition concerns. You’ll need to consider the types of flooring transition you may want to implement to allow all of these flooring types to coexist.

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Importance of Transitioning Flooring

When you’re selecting new flooring, you’re focused on the styles that accentuate your home. An equally important element is how your new flooring will transition into other flooring types in your home.

These flooring transitions serve three essential purposes:

  • Aesthetics: Flooring transitions help mitigate visual appearance where jarring colors and textures meet. A neutral floor transition can go a long way to help blend different flooring styles and designs. Also, transitions between flooring can cover up unsightly gaps to make your flooring appear seamless.
  • Safety: Height difference is a big concern where flooring types meet. If thick tile meets a low pile carpet, you may have a small — but potentially dangerous — height gap. Even minor height differences could become tripping hazards, especially for small children. In these scenarios, flooring transitions act as mini ramps to create a safe gradient from a high to low floor type.
  • Durability: Additionally, transitions protect the edges of your flooring from wear, tear and fraying. Floating flooring such as laminate needs room to expand and contract as the temperature changes, especially if you install it near a doorway. Otherwise, the floor could crack or warp when it comes into contact with the edge of another flooring material.

As you address aesthetic, safety and durability concerns, the type of transitions you use will depend on the flooring types you’re transitioning.

Aesthetics in Floor Transitions

Transitions Between Similar Floors

When it comes to transition, similar floors could refer to the same flooring material or different flooring materials with similar thicknesses. Though height differences may not be as much of an issue between similar flooring, transitions can help reconcile aesthetic concerns. Depending on your flooring, there are two options you can pursue.

Option 1: Meet Without Transition Strip

In a few cases, you may be able to transition flooring without using a transition strip. Your flooring may qualify for this option if:

  • The flooring types have the same thicknesses.
  • The flooring colors and designs mesh well.
  • The flooring edges don’t require protection.

This option isn’t standard, but it may work for transitions from tile to tile flooring. Before you pursue this option, talk to your flooring professional to ensure it’s a safe and beneficial course of action in your situation.

Option 2: Meet With Transition Strip

In most cases, it’s wise to use a transition strip between similar flooring. Floors with similar thicknesses benefit from a transition type known as a T-molding. This transition strip doesn’t adjust for height, but it provides a smooth shift from one flooring to the next.

If you’re transitioning from one hardwood to another, you could also opt for a seam binder instead of a transition strip. Seam binders are like regular wood floor planks that run along the edge of your flooring.

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Your installation crew should be able to take flooring materials and transition best practices into account. For example, if you’re transitioning between two hardwood floors where expansion and contraction are a concern, be sure the T-molding or seam binder isn’t attached to the flooring.

Types of Transition Moldings

Most flooring materials have different heights and thicknesses that can affect the transition from one room to the other. You might be able to install padding and underlayment when you first lay down the floors to make them more consistent. But you may have to use a threshold or transition strip to create an even flow. As we’ve discussed, different types of flooring require specialized transition molding or strips. Here are some common molding types and their various uses:

  • T-molding: T-molding has a long vertical piece attached to the center of a shorter horizontal piece. This shape creates equal-sized gaps on each side of the molding, which allows it to transition between similarly-sized floors. When transitioning flooring of different heights, you can use caulking or padding to make the lower floor the same as the taller floor. In that case, you’ll want to place the side of the T-strip on the part with the lower finish height.
  • Ramp: With a significant height difference, such as a concrete slab with tile or hardwood floors, flooring specialists use a ramp to transition. You could also find smaller ramps for installing tile, which go around the tile’s edge and taper the material next to it.
  • Reducers: Reducer transitions use a rounded effect to form a curve from tall flooring to shorter flooring. For minor height differences, the reducer may have an even arc shape. For more pronounced height differences, a reducer may have a ramp shape with a flat top that curves down toward the shorter flooring. A reducer strip is different from a ramp in that it locks into place instead of bolting into the subfloor.
  • End bar or cap: End bar moldings are shaped like reducers but have a wider range of applications. You can use these transition strips at doorways, around fireplaces, for different flooring transitions and more.
  • Multi-function: The shape of a multi-function molding depends on the specific brand you purchase. These transitions perform as more than one type of transition molding, depending on the type of flooring you have in your home. Using multi-function molding allows you to have uniform transitions throughout your home, even with multiple flooring types.

In addition to their function, transition moldings have a variety of material options. You can typically find transition strips in metal, vinyl or wood varieties. The material you pick will depend on your preferences, what matches your flooring and your durability needs.

Types of Transition Moldings


Transitions Between Different Flooring Types

Transitions between different flooring types require more precise strips tailored to the specific floor materials. For most of these transitions, balancing out flooring heights is a primary concern.

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Carpet to Tile Floor Transition Tips

Carpet transitions to thick flooring like tile present a significant height difference. Carpet texture varies from that of tile, and a transition strip can help them combine well. It also protects the carpet edge from fraying. Reducer transition strips work the best to achieve an even surface between carpet and tile flooring.

Be sure to use a reducer with a metal strip and carpet tacks to ensure the carpeting remains stretched and in place. This transition strip covers the edges and results in a clean look and a safe transition between the carpet and the tile.

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Carpet to Hardwood Floor Transition Tips

Like tile flooring, the transition from wood to carpet features a change in height. Flooring specialists use a carpet edge gripper to transition flooring that’s lower than the carpet. This aluminum strip tacks to the subfloor, and the specialist forces the carpet into the toothed side of the strip.

You could also use T-molding for hardwood to carpet transition. This transition strip goes in the small gap between the floors and has two pieces that sit on both sides. Most installers use a T-molding assembly with a metal track nailed or screwed to the floor.

Vinyl to Tile Floor Transition Tips

Sheet vinyl is a relatively thin flooring type, whereas tiles can be quite thick. Without transition molding, exposed tile edges may serve as a tripping hazard and could chip from exposure. Much like a carpet to hard flooring transition, vinyl to tile transitions require a reducer strip.

Flooring specialists usually screw a metal piece to the subfloor and then snap the top strip into the channel to cover the floor seams. You’ll want to make sure the reducer’s curved end leads down to the vinyl for a smooth transition. Since this transition piece comes unfinished, you can paint or stain it according to your vinyl or tile’s color.

Hardwood or Laminate Floor Transition Tips

In areas where hardwood or laminate meet a door threshold, step or other flooring types, you may need a different kind of transition strip. The goal in these areas is to match the existing flooring, compensate for height gaps and create a smooth transition. End cap or end bar transitions may work best for a hardwood or laminate transition.

You could also use a T-shaped aluminum transition strip if the two different flooring materials are the same height. You’ll have to find one that matches the color or finish of both flooring types.

3 Creative Ways to Transition Between Different Floors

Homeowners can think outside the box when bridging the gap between two flooring styles. Consider these transition types to gradually move between spaces in an open floor plan:

1. Create an Irregular Edge Floor Transition

Homeowners can create unique transitions between living spaces by cutting or positioning flooring materials at an angle or curve. Irregular transitions for flooring bring sections of your home together in an eye-catching way.

For example, you might merge two spaces through natural wood and tile. Rather than having the natural wood meet the tile with a transition strip, installers can create diagonal lines and patterns to make the change visually appealing.

2. Design an Accent Border

You could have an installer place decorative flooring borders to split up rooms. Homeowners might design a thin border with accent tiles or wood between doorways. This type of flooring transition may consist of the same materials as the floors, or the accent border could be different, depending on how noticeable you’d like it to be.

3. Make a Buffer Zone

A buffer zone is a type of floor transition that prevents two flooring materials from meeting. Instead, you can create a buffer zone by placing a group of accent tiles between the two flooring materials. This approach is helpful for easing a transition between flooring materials that differ in color.

3 Design Tips for Smooth Flooring Transitions

You can make a few home design choices to help flooring transitions feel natural. Regardless of the types of flooring you use, we suggest the following tricks for your project:

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1. Place Rugs Between Transitions

A throw rug is an economical way to connect flooring materials. You might position a throw rug in a hallway where natural wood shades are lighter or darker than the ones installed in a nearby bedroom. You have the flexibility to change out the rugs you use based on the decor you place throughout your home.

2. Paint Rooms Different Colors

Changing wall paint colors can add to your flooring transition. Whether you want to stick with natural wood materials throughout your residential space or place carpeting on some floors, you can make spaces stand out by choosing paint shades that complement the flooring you install.

3. Follow Natural Start and Stop Points

You can figure out where to place flooring transitions by following your home’s natural flow. Specifically, it makes sense to change flooring materials, colors and patterns where spaces start and end. Pay attention to doorways, countertops and furniture when deciding where to place a flooring transition.

Anticipating Transitions for Different Room Types

When planning a flooring project, it’s vital to think ahead. It can be beneficial to replace the flooring across multiple rooms at once so that you can anticipate the best type of transition for your needs. You’ll want to think about how you use specific rooms in your house to decide on an effective transition and flooring installation for your routine.

Kitchen to Living Room Transitions

Kitchens are prone to frequent spills and foot traffic. You may find yourself moving back and forth from your kitchen to the living room frequently, especially when you’re entertaining. Consider the multiple floor types available and opt for a material that lets you move from point A to point B efficiently with few tripping hazards.

Some families enjoy soft carpeting in the living room, but you might be better off with a low-maintenance material like laminate or vinyl that is easy to clean and sits at the same height as nearby flooring materials like natural wood and tile.

A design step as simple as placing a flooring transition at the start of a kitchen peninsula or countertop will make it simple for you to create designated spaces for cooking versus spending time with family.

Bedroom to Hallway Transitions

Think about which direction you’d like your flooring materials to face when moving from bedrooms to hallways. If you plan to use natural woods or look-alike materials such as vinyl or laminates, consider whether you want the flooring planks to run vertically or horizontally. Knowing the answer to these questions will save your installer time and help you select the best transition options for your space.

Craft Seamless Transitions With 50 Floor Planning and Installation

Transitions are an essential finishing touch for your flooring purchase, but they may be overlooked during the selection and installation process. When you work with the experienced professionals at 50 Floor, we care about these important details.

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To find flooring you love, start with our free in-home consultation. Browse a variety of samples in the comfort of your home, and compare your favorite styles to your current flooring. Our experts will share their knowledge and help you think about both your selection and your transition needs. Once you’ve found the perfect flooring, enjoy hassle-free installation from one of our vetted professionals. Our installers are happy to move furniture, clear out old floors, examine subfloors, put new flooring in place and ensure it transitions seamlessly.

For unparalleled customer service and helpful advice at every step, schedule your free appointment with 50 Floor today!

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