If you have a tile floor, you need one. Guaranteed.
Tile floor transitions are necessary in almost every project. In most cases, your newly-installed tile floor will be higher than adjoining flooring.
Whether porcelain or ceramic, marble, granite, or other materials, tile flooring requires a number of substrate layers for installation, and these layers are not dimensionally analogous to the layers found in non-tile applications. Tile flooring requires a mortar bed, which is no standard thickness. A good, professional tiler might be able to maintain a nearly-uniform thickness, but it's difficult for DIY tilers to do so.
So, you need a tile floor transition. But what kinds function the best under foot traffic, while not appearing to be an aesthetic imposition?
Surface Tile TransitionsYou're probably familiar with surface tile transitions. Typically made of light-weight aluminum, these tile transition strips are silver- or brass-colored and can easily be cut to width with a hacksaw.
Be sure to get the right type of surface tile transition strip. They are not interchangeable.
- Full Saddle Transition: This transition strip is for bridging between two similar levels.
- Half Saddle Transition: This transition is for going from a lower level to a higher level.
Inexpensive, surface transition strips require little more than a hammer, nails, and hacksaw to install.
Surface transition strips have one huge downfall. No matter how well-installed, the "lip" on surface transition strips will eventually catch on something (a shoe, a toy, etc.) and begun to gradually loosen. Also, these metal strips create a quite noticeable "clack" when walked on.
One important installation note: beware of accidentally striking any part of the transition strip other than the nail. These aluminum strips dent easily, and these dents will distort the strips and thus prevent them from laying seamlessly on the floor. The only solution to a distorted transition strip is to buy a new one.
Flush Tile TransitionsBetter-functioning and more attractive, but more difficult to install, are flush tile transition strips. Unlike the surface strips, flush-mount strips take many different forms and even lend to improvisation.
Keep in mind that flush transitions can only be installed when both flooring surfaces have straight, parallel edges. By contrast, surface tile transitions are more forgiving, because they can cover up irregular, ragged edges.
Two popular types of flush tile transitions:
- Hardwood Transition Strips: A single transition strip that acts as a "ramp" from the lower hardwood floor to the higher tile floor. This strip can either meet the tile floor directly or can have a lip-over style, as shown in the accompanying image.
- Marble + Hardwood Trim Strips: A marble or granite strip that abuts to the tile floor. This strip then adjoins to the lower floor with a hardwood trim piece.