What Do You Put Where Tile Meets Carpeting?

By Shane Grey

The aptly named transition strip bridges the gap between tiled surfaces and carpeted surfaces. Transition strips, or trim strips, are manufactured from a variety of materials and available in colors and styles that create a smooth visual and physical transition between differing floor materials. Tile to carpet transition strips either tilt and adjust to compensate for the difference in height between the flooring materials or span between a set of two static heights. Transition strips fasten to subfloor materials with nails or screws, and installing transitions requires only common tools and novice construction skills.

Rigid Transition Strips

The relative height difference between the carpet and tile floor surfaces determines the right type of rigid transition for a threshold. Although rigid transition strips' ending position is sometimes adjustable, the profile of rigid transition strips suits only a certain circumstance, such as a transition between carpet and tile of equal height, a transition between high carpet and a low tile or a transition between low carpet and a higher floor. Properly installed, the opposite edges of a rigid transition strip rest flush on the tile and carpet.

Adjustable Transition Strips

Installed with a special track and tilting fasteners, adjustable transition strips are multipurpose threshold covers. Adjustable transition strips' tilting fasteners lock into a track and adjust in height to accommodate nearly any height difference between carpet and an adjacent floor. Thus, installing adjustable transition strips requires less planning and measuring than installing rigid transition strips. However, because of its tilted position, an adjustable transition strip rarely rests flush against both floor surfaces.

Common Transition Strip Materials

Commonly available in wood, metal and plastic, manufacturers style transition strips to match floor materials and colors. Whereas wooden transitions are available unfinished and readily accept both paint and stain, metal and plastic materials are typically offered in a finished state. In addition to appearance, homeowners should consider strength and longevity when choosing transitions. While metal and wood transition strips tend to withstand heavy use, plastic transitions often wear or break under consistent stress.

Installation Tools

Most transition strips install with a set of common hand tools and power tools. They can easily be cut to fit with a rotary tool and an abrasive cutting wheel. Although custom wood transitions sometimes fasten with nails, most wood, metal and plastic transitions connect to floor sheathing via screws. Therefore, power drills and screwdrivers apply to most transition installation projects. To anchor fasteners to a concrete surface, builders use a standard power drill or hammer drill equipped with a masonry drill bit. Additionally, layout and leveling tools, such as a level and carpenter's squares, ensure that transitions properly align with floor surfaces and walls.

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