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Preparing the Threshold: How to Transition from Hardwood to Tile

It's the first Floor Tip Thursday of 2019, and what better way to transition into the new year than to talk about transitioning from one floor to another? Adding beautiful tile and natural stone floors is an ever-growing trend among homeowners, but often the people who fall in love with these materials don't think about how jarring the transition from tile to hardwood, vinyl, or even carpet can be. More often than not, the tile flooring ends up sitting much higher than these other types of flooring, especially with all the layers necessary to properly install it. This can leave you with a significant difference in levels between the two floors which is both unpleasant to look at and a tripping hazard. To fix the problem you need to install what is known as a threshold floor reducer. Here's how you can get started:

1. Find Your Measurements

Put your measuring tape to work right away! You don't want to go out and buy a bunch of materials that won't fit your project. There are three measurements you will need:

  • The height of your tile from the underlayment up

  • The height of the neighboring floor

  • The width of the doorway

You may also need to measure the distance between the track crevice and your reducer if you are installing a threshold reducer that requires a track.

2. Purchase Carefully Selected Materials

Once you have your measurements written down you can head over to your favorite hardware store to get everything you'll need. Be sure you purchase a threshold reducer that will match both heights. When thinking about the width of your reducer, have it cut to match your doorway measurement.

3. Glue It Down

Apply a premiere construction adhesive (not liquid nails) to the exposed edge of the tile and subfloor using a zigzag pattern. Carefully place your threshold reducer into the groove. You can place some weight on it, such as small sandbags, to hold it in place. This is particularly affective if you're using a wooden threshold reducer as these can have some natural warping.

Pro tip: Don't try to apply glue to a hardwood floor if that's the type of floor you're transitioning to. Hardwood floors expand and shrink as the humidity in the air changes, so you need to leave them room to move.

4. Let It Dry

Allow your adhesive to dry overnight. Keep the weights on the threshold reducer for this process.

5. Make That Transition Smooth

To avoid any unsightly gaps that could later cause damage to your floor, you will have to put grout in between your tile and the threshold reducer. Be sure the grout you use matches the grout you already have between tiles and sand it down once it's dry so that the transition is smooth and effortless.

Happy Flooring!

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