Transition strips are a great way to integrate one floor into another seamlessly. Even if your floors are mismatched in textures, color, or materials, transition strips make it easy to hide any flaws in your flooring and improve safety. However, many transition strips wear away over time. Some homes might not even have transition strips, leading to unsightly flooring in the home. Fortunately, transition strips are fairly easy to install on your own.
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To install a transition strip in your doorway, choose a strip that is the length of the doorway that is made of a hard material, such as wood or vinyl. Glue it or nail it onto a metal strip in between the two pieces of floor. Choose between a wood, metal, vinyl, or aluminum strip that seamlessly conjoins your two floorings, regardless of height or flooring materials.
What is a Transition Strip?
A transition strip is a piece of flat material that lays over the flooring inside of a doorway. The transition strip is usually placed in the smallest part of the doorway for hard surface floors, and flush with the door for joining carpet to other materials with different heights. It conjoins two floors together to improve safety, such as preventing people from tripping over them and allowing people using wheelchairs and rollers easier access.
Choosing the Right Material
Transition strips are as unique as the floors in a home. Therefore, there's no standard material to choose from, so it's best to take your time in deciding which type of transition strip material suits the flooring of your home. Transition strips can be made from a variety of materials including:
- Wood, such as natural wood or even stained wood that matches the flooring and is a great way to seamlessly connect two wood floors together.
- Vinyl, which is a great water proof and stylish option and can be excellent for environments with lots of exposure to foot traffic.
- Metal transition pieces such as those found on Amazon here, which can be used for transitioning to and from your garage or other outdoor areas and high-traffic areas that receive a lot of visitors. They are also good for office settings.
- Rubber, which is great for commercial areas that have high foot traffic.
Choosing the Right Shape
There are various shapes that you will choose from for your transition strip. These shapes work to conjoin different types of flooring, and include t-molding and reducers.
As seen on the right, the reducer has a shape that allows it to join two pieces of flooring that vary in height This is useful for transitions such as:
- Carpet to tile
- Carpet to laminate
- Laminate to tile
- Carpet to wood
These types of transition strips are usually place on the carpeted side, so the molding is facing the tile or wood, creating the illusion of carpet tucked under the transition strip.
T-molding transition strips are used to join together two hard surfaces that are equal in height, such as tile to tile, wood to wood, or vinyl to vinyl.
Other transition strips include:
- 4-in-1 transition strips that combine different materials and heights and use interchangeable parts
- Square shaped strips to combine carpet to other materials
- Quarter round edges to give a nice finish to carpet
How to Install Your Transition Strip (Step by Step)
Installing a transition strip is fairly easy, especially if done on vinyl or wood floorboards. It's best to install a transition strip on subboards connecting wood or vinyl floorboards, but it can also be done on concrete using the right tools.
Tools you will need include:
- Nail gun
- Utility knife
- Saw (to cut metal tracks or brackets)
- Transition strip and metal rail
- Drill bit (for concrete floors)
- Wood staining and paint (optional)
1. Prepare your floor for the strip by removing any material in between the two floors, and leaving a one inch gap in between the two floors. This one inch gap of subflooring will be used to install your transition piece. For carpet, you might also need to remove the tack strip that once held the nails securing that carpet, remove those nails, and then reinstall the tack strip.
You can use a utility knife to cut the strips of flooring or remove an old transition piece (if one is already present). You can also use a carpet cutter to remove old damaged carpeting, such as this one here.
2. Measure the length of the doorway or other area for the transition strip. As mentioned before, the best place to put a transition strip is in the smallest part of your doorframe, or an area where the door does not open directly over it, if you are placing it between two hard floors of equal heights. To find the best spot for your transition strip, close the door and line up the strip so it can be flush against the door as it is closed. Then, measure from door jamb to door jamb, keeping in mind that the standard doorway is approximately 36 inches in width.
If you're joining two flooring materials that are separate heights, then measure for the transition strip as seen here, in between the door jambs that stop the door from swinging all the way out. This area will fall under the door itself, so make sure to place your transition strip ahead of time and ensure there is enough room for the door to swing open and closed.
3. Using your measurements, cut your transition strip using a saw, or using a utility knife designed for the specific material you're using, such as this knife for cutting vinyl on Amazon. These knives are easier to use if you need to get a specific shape cut into your strip before installing it.
4. After cutting your transition strip using a saw or knife, cut the metal rail that accompanies the transition strip. Keep in mind some transition strips, such as this strip here, comes with a plastic track that conveniently snaps into place, so there is no need to nail down a metal rail. Others might also only need glue to be placed onto the subfloor. However, most transition strips on the market need a metal rail to support the track.
5. Using a nail gun, nail the transition strip metal bracket into the subfloor between the doorway. If you're placing a transition strip into concrete floor, use a drill bit such as this one seen here to drill holes in the concrete first. Then, place the u-bracket, lining up the nails over the drilled holes and securing it in place.
6. Place the transition strip directly over the bracket. That's it! If you're using a transition strip that only requires glue, place a heavy item over the transition strip for at least 24 hours. This ensures the glue and the transition strip stay in place.
Other tips and tricks:
- If you purchase a transition strip that has an unfinished wood material, you can paint it or add a stain to it. You should do this before placing it onto the bracket.
- If you're placing the transition strip to join carpet to another material, use a carpet stretcher when trimming away excess material so your carpet stays nice and even at the site of your doorway. You can find a carpet stretcher here.
- Feel free to place some sealant under your transition strip. This isn't necessary, but it can help capture leaks and protect your floor against water.
Installing a transition strip in your doorway is fairly easy when using the right tools. Do your research and find the best transition strip that fits your floor heights and materials, and take your time to prepare your subfloor before installation.