Wood-to-tile areas need something to help bridge the gap.

Joining a Floating Floor With Tile

by Tim Anderson

Whether you are working with a laminate floor or a hardwood floor, the floating format is one of the easiest DIY types of floors you can install, because it doesn’t nail down to the subfloor beneath. Instead, it is installed in a “floating” format above the subfloor, allowing for quick and easy installation. When the floor butts up against a tile installation, there are a variety of ways to transition between the two materials for a seamless flow.

1. Doorway Transition

A doorway transition where two different floor materials meet up between two rooms is one of the easiest areas to join two floors together. Thresholds are sold in a variety of formats, ranging from hardwood material to marble threshold strips, as well as screw-down metal plate thresholds. The choice is entirely yours as to which type you use. Get creative and make your own threshold strips out of scrap tile, scrap wood, river rocks, cork board or any other type of flooring material. The only real key is that it’s firmly mounted to the floor with a slight space (1/8 inch) between each material and the threshold to allow for an expansion joint, which is filled with caulk after installation.

2. Open Area Transition

Long, open areas of transition, such as where an open dining room and kitchen connect with a living room, leave a highly visible transition mark between the two materials. The most common way to join the two materials in these situations is with T-molding, which is a special strip of material sold that looks exactly like the letter. The vertical part is slotted down into the joint between the two materials and glued/caulked into place, while the horizontal section of the T strip rests on the top of the two floors, covering the transition gap.

3. Reducer Strips

Reducer transition strips are another way to go from tile to wood, or from wood to tile. They come in a variety of formats, such as wood, metal, laminate and rubber, but the general rule is that they transition from one height to another, allowing for a slight ramp that is useful for avoiding stubbed toes or for providing wheelchair access. They are also commonly used in tile and carpet transitions, or carpet to wood. Some strips are installed underneath the edge of one of the materials, while others are bolted down to the floor and cover the top edge of the two materials. Always follow manufacturer guidelines for exact installation instructions.

4. Considerations

As a general rule, floating hardwood and laminate floors are going to be slightly thicker than a tile installation, if you are using traditional ceramic or porcelain tiles that are around 1/4 inch in thickness. When combined with 1/4-inch underlayment and the mortar underneath, count on a roughly 1/2-inch thickness for man-made tile installations, against wood which is generally 3/4-inch thick. Make up this thickness by using a 1/2-inch-thick underlayment for your tile, or use a transition/reducer strip between the two materials. Do not use a T-strip unless the two floors are roughly the same height.

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