Many times, your home is likely to have two different kinds of flooring. Unless you have an open floor plan throughout the place, you’ll probably need a transition strip between different rooms. But installing a transition strip can get a little tricky. We have carefully researched how much space to leave for your floor transition strips.
A transition strip usually has a base that measures around half an inch, which means you need to give it at least one inch of space. Some transition strips might have a base up to three-quarters of an inch wide. Leaving one inch of room for the base of the transition strip will make sure it is snug enough but can still breathe properly.
Using a transition strip is pretty common where two floors meet. It hides and protects the edges of your floors. But a transition strip can also sometimes be a little challenging to install. Keep reading to learn how to properly secure your transition strip, where to place it, and if you really need one.
Do you need transition strips between rooms?
Before you begin installing anything, you should feel certain that you actually need transition strips. This means you should clearly understand what they are, as well as the pros and cons for various floor types.
Transition strips are also known as T-molding. That’s because they are literally shaped like a “T.” This is an ideal shape to fill the gap between two different floor types. You won’t have to worry about tripping when you cross between rooms.
And it will help seal the edges down, making sure that any loose edges don’t get pulled upwards. The T-molding will also hide the edges of your floors, which could otherwise look very awkward too.
A transition strip is useful in many different situations, but it isn’t always necessary. Keep in mind that different rooms are likely to have various floor types. Some may or may not need a T-molding.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
Different rooms will often require unique flooring. This is particularly true for the kitchens and bathrooms because they are subjected to unique conditions. Most noticeably, any kitchen or bathroom is more vulnerable to water damage.
That’s why most floor plans aren’t open between kitchens and dining rooms. Instead, special floor tiles are used in kitchens that will resist water and heat. They also won’t show their damage as much as typical hardwood.
Unfortunately, floor tiles can look quite different from wood or carpeting, even though they’re available in so many materials. Yes, it’s possible to find carpet tiles. But this won’t have the correct durability for the kitchen or bathroom. Most floor tiles are some kind of vinyl or natural stone. This can often cause serious conflict next to traditional flooring.
In other words, transition strips are absolutely perfect where the floor tiles of kitchens and bathrooms have to meet the rest of the home. Just remember that any raised piece on the floor might result in a trip or two.
Living and Dining Rooms
Typically, both living and dining rooms will share the same kind of flooring. For example, many homes will use hardwood floors throughout the area. However, it is often advised that you style your home with more than one type of wood.
So even though both rooms can have hardwood floors, the wood tones will usually change from one to the next. Two wooden floors may not necessarily agree if you want your living room to feel brighter or darker than your dining room. That means you might need transition strips to help create a bridge from one wood tone to the next. The T-molding can even cover your hardwood's expansion gap. That's the necessary gap between two hardwood floors, which allows them to expand and contract during changing temperatures.
Another popular floor type is carpeting, which is often used for nearly every room in the home. It is soft compared to hardwood or engineered wood flooring. This is generally considered to be more comfortable to walk on. Carpets are also more insulated for warmth and sound, even more than hardwood with an underlay.
But you will certainly need transition strips at the edges of carpeting. Carpets have a bad tendency to tear away at their edges. No matter what pile the fibers are, they are easily weakened by age and filth. In fact, baseboards and trimming are also installed after carpeting in order to help keep the edges from peeling up.
Also, carpets look completely different from most other floors. A transition strip can help soften the impact your carpet has on the connecting rooms. This will even make it easier to tell when the carpet is approaching a wooden floor, where you might have otherwise tripped.
Open Floor Plans
However, bear in mind that some homes use an open floor plan. That means that your rooms won’t be separated by anything and will each use the same kind of flooring. If the floor does not change, then no transition strip is needed.
The point of an open floor plan is to create a smooth flow throughout the home. Only the kitchen and bathrooms would be likely to have different flooring here. You can read "How to Create an Entryway in an Open Floor Plan" for tips to really accentuate the space.
Your garage is probably connected to the home, which can be problematic. The garage is unique because the primary material for its flooring is cement. That’s because cement is the most durable option, which can survive routine traffic from an actual vehicle.
You might want to consider using a transition strip between the strange cement of the garage and the doorway to your home. Cement is a cold, unappealing floor type that naturally crumbles and creates its own dirt. A transition strip can potentially protect the coarse cement from damaging the flooring beyond your garage doorway.
Where do you put the transition strip in a doorway?
When two floors meet in a large floor plan, you might have some wiggle room for the transition strip. But it won’t look natural in a doorway unless you install the transition strip directly in the center. In other words, the center of the transition strip should always line up with the center of the door itself. Doorways will always make any uneven lines very clear.
How do you secure transition strips?
Typically, the transition strip will come with its own method of installment. For example, a transition strip that has been designed to segue from a carpet will include a metal track. This is meant to imitate a carpet tack strip, which is what carpeting uses to be secured onto the floor. You can read "How Far Should a Carpet Tack Strip Be From The Wall" for more on installing these transitions.
However, you wouldn’t necessarily want to nail into prized hardwood flooring. It may not even work on some natural stone tiles if you need the transition strip for that floor type. In that case, you may need to resort to some kind of commercial adhesive.
Liquid Nails is a reliable brand of construction adhesives. But it’s also sold with a variety of base ingredients, such as latex, polyurethane, or epoxy. You’ll need to choose the one that’s right for you.
Generally speaking, epoxy is the most powerful adhesive for most jobs. Epoxy is a two-part adhesive, where one half is a resin, and the other half triggers a chemical reaction. Epoxy can even be used to glue things to cement.
Just bear in mind that Liquid Nails and other construction adhesives can potentially damage the wood you’re trying to glue together. Consider if you might want to install new flooring in the future. At that time, you’ll likely end up having to replace the transition strip, as well as the flooring it was attached to. However, you can feel certain the transition strips are totally secured throughout their lifespan.
Transition strips, also known as T-moldings, are unique but useful features in any home. Most of the time, your floors will not match in every single room. It’s important to learn what transition strips are, how to properly install them, and what relationship they have with certain rooms. Now that you have, you can create better flow throughout your entire home.