In an ideal world, flooring would seamlessly flow from one space to the next. However, in reality, that may not always be possible as different rooms have distinct flooring needs. For example, the solid wood in a living room is not suitable for a bathroom where tile is more appropriate for this high-moisture area.
In such a case, how does an installer transition from one floor to the next to ensure a seamless look throughout?
There are several flooring accessories, called transition strips, that are used to achieve this.
Before diving into the various types of transition strips, let’s look at how transitioning between similar floor products differs from that of disparate materials.
Although a transition strip may not be needed between materials of the same thickness, an installer may still want to consider using one. There are two reasons for this. Seams are incorporated between rooms of similar materials to account for expansion and contraction; the transition strip will cover that gap between rooms. Also, unless the two different products blend together in a pleasing way, a transition strip will improve the aesthetics.
A transition strip is almost always necessary when different materials butt up against each other because they need some kind of finish along the edge. As well, the flooring materials may not have the same thickness, which creates a change in floor heights and underfoot characteristics.
Luckily, transition strips have come a long way from the aluminum ones found in grandma’s house. Installers can now choose from real hardwood, engineered wood and vinyl.
Carpet to Tile Transition
A carpet to tile transition strip is designed for low pile carpet and ceramic tile floor. The aluminum strip is tucked under the edge of the carpet, which grips to protruding spikes. Ceramic tile butts against the strip but does not attach to it. Finally, to bridge the two floors and cover both edges, a vinyl strip is snapped into the track of the aluminum strip. This is typically referred to as track and cap.
Four-in-One Transition Strip
A four-in-one transition strip has interchangeable/adjustable parts that allows it to be used for different flooring types. Typically, it has a metal channel for mounting and a T-moulding to fit into the channel. The T-moulding allows it to be modified to fit different profiles, as needed.
A carpet strip is used to transition from carpet to another material, a hard surface reducer is used to transition from a thicker hard surface to a thinner one and an end moulding is used to create a final finished edge on one material rather than transitioning to another.
T-Strip for Hard Surfaces
A T-strip is used to link any two hard surface flooring materials of the same height and uses a special sealant. The vertical portion of the T-strip is forced into the gap and bonded with the sealant/adhesive. This top portion of the T-strip fits snug against the surface of both flooring materials.
Tile to Laminate Transition
Tile floor is usually higher than laminate flooring, so this transition strip features a moulding with offset edges to accommodate the different heights. The strips can be made from unfinished hardwood and stained any colour to match laminate floors. Alternatively, a standard size can be purchased from the laminate supplier to coordinate with the flooring. There are also a variety of Schluter tile edges that may be used to create the transition to a different height.
Wood to Wood Seam Binder
A seam binder is a flat strip of hardwood with bevelled edges that is used to bridge floors of equal heights. It is installed over the seam and is attached to the subfloor with screws. Because it’s not screwed into either floor, the floor can contract and expand without cracking the transition strip. This transition strip is available in different widths (generally five-inches) and comes unfinished, so it can be stained to match the flooring.
Vinyl to Tile Transition
Made from hardwood, this strip is used to create a smooth transition from a vinyl floor to a thicker tile floor. If a vinyl reducer is used, a metal channel is anchored to the subfloor. The top strip is then snapped into the channel to cover the floor seams. A hardwood strip can be used and stained or painted to match the floors. Alternatively, a Schluter tile edge can be installed with the tile to create the transition down to the vinyl flooring.
Carpet Edge Gripper
A carpet edge gripper is an aluminum strip that holds the edge of the carpet with metal teeth. It is used to join carpet with any flooring surface that is thinner than the carpet. The carpet edge gripper is tacked to the subfloor and the carpet is forced into the toothed side of the strip. This is commonly known as naplock and is available in several colour options.
Brooks Hewko is a social media/administrative assistant with Canada Nufloors Group Inc., a 100 per cent member-owned Canadian cooperative of Nufloors flooring stores. Currently, there are 24 locations across Canada. Brooks can be reached at [email protected].