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What are thresholds and transitions?

Often, it’s the little things in a flooring project that really get the job done, and that’s where thresholds and transitions come in! These little ones are the gap between one floor and another, or they can fill in the edge of your tile to give it the professional look you want. So what is the difference between threshold and transition? Good question.

Thresholds are the spaces between one story and another, usually about 4 to 6 inches wide. Transitions can be made from many different materials including but not limited to marble, granite, and stone. There are many ways to install a transition in the sense that there is no right or wrong direction or style. What you are doing is separating one floor from another, usually from one room to another.

A good example of this would be a tile floor in a hallway, to another tile floor in a kitchen. I would place the threshold 4-6 inches at the entrance, allowing you to start laying the tiles in the next room in any direction or type you like. So if you had ceramic tile in the hallway, but wanted porcelain tile in the kitchen, a threshold would allow you to do this while still looking professional. Even if you just wanted to use the same tile in each room, but would like a different pattern, adding a threshold will work great.

Transitions are almost the same, as they also separate one type of floor from another, although normally these floors are very different from each other. Transitions come in both plastic and metal forms, with metal being the most expensive professional option. There are many different types of transitions, depending on your particular application.

Are you making the transition from tile to carpet? There’s a transition piece for that. From hardwood to tile? There is also a transition piece for that. Even if you are going from tile to tile, you can use a transition piece instead of a threshold piece, depending on the final look you want.

Make sure you know the height of the floor you will be using or transitioning to when deciding what is best for your floor. If you have flooring that is very thick like hardwood and you want to step down to your existing vinyl flooring, choose the piece that has a downward slope that allows your feet to slide easily up or down.

In the end, it’s up to you and your particular application and taste. There is no right or wrong decision for this. That said, do not place a transition piece intended for carpet when laying tile, or use a ¾” thick stone as a threshold next to a ½” ceramic tile. It is also important to use common sense.

Have fun deciding what look you want, and if you can, take a look at other people’s houses to see what you like or dislike. Either that or buy a book or magazine on the floor and see what looks good there. You’d be surprised what’s out there.