You’ll need to think about flooring transitions should you choose different flooring types between rooms. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building a new home or expanding a current one. Wood flooring transitions, in particular, have certain aesthetic and functional requirements.
When transitioning wood flooring between rooms, transition strips make the area neater, sturdier, and safer to tread. Keep in mind that your choice of wood flooring and flooring placement will affect the overall appearance and effectiveness of the transition.
In this article, I’ll explain why you need transition strips and cover the various types to choose from. I’ll also talk about changing wood flooring direction between rooms, various wood flooring patterns, and how to harmonize wood floors through contrast or coordination.
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Is It OK to Change the Direction of Wood Flooring Between Rooms?
It is OK to change the direction of wood flooring between rooms when installed on a concrete slab base. Otherwise, wood floors must be installed perpendicular to the joists. Joists cannot properly support wood flooring installed parallel to them as the flooring will simply fall through.
Direction is more restrictive for wood floors supported by joists since it’s installed perpendicular to the joists by design. Installing wood floors parallel to the joists is folly. Wood planks not supported by joists aren’t structurally sound. These planks can’t support much weight and will likely fail with normal foot traffic, if not on their own.
While flooring materials such as vinyl, tile, and laminate are commonly installed on slabs, wood flooring installations aren’t unheard of. Hardwood flooring is a good candidate. However, it does take more effort to do so. The slab must be properly prepared before installing wood flooring, as the wood won’t adhere well to a dirty, uneven surface.
Additionally, you’ll need to add a subfloor onto the slab before the actual wood flooring. The subfloor helps protect the flooring from any moisture the concrete slab may have. Still, if you don’t mind the task of installing wood flooring on a concrete slab, you’re free to change the flooring direction between rooms as you please.
Besides changing wood flooring directions, you can use parquetry to create interesting floor patterns. Parquet floors are a type of wood flooring that comes in small pieces that fit together like a puzzle.
There are plenty of different parquet patterns you can choose from. Common patterns include:
- Herringbone Parquet: A herringbone is a type of wood flooring made from small pieces of wood installed in a zigzag pattern.
- Chevron Parquet: Chevrons are similar to herringbone, but the individual wood pieces are parallelograms instead of rectangles.
- Basket Weave Parquet: Basketweave patterns are installed in a regular alternating horizontal and vertical pattern resembling a weave.
Keep in mind, parquet installation is more challenging than regular wood flooring. It’s best to leave this to the professionals unless you’re confident in your DIY skills.
Benefits of Using Transition Strips
Transition Strips Provide a More Gradual Height Change Between Floors
You should install transition strips between rooms when floors are of differing heights. Transition strips provide a more gradual height change, making it safer for people to walk through. Without them, you run the risk of people tripping over the divide.
Aside from protecting you from the aforementioned trip hazard, transition strips protect thinner wood floorings that can peel off at the transition point due to heavy foot traffic. Simply adding a transition strip over the area prevents this from happening over the course of regular use.
Wood floors not only look different, but they also behave differently. Specifically, wood types respond to temperature and humidity changes at different rates.
If your rooms have vastly different wood flooring types, they may damage each other while naturally expanding and contracting. Placing the proper transition strip between the floors will give them the breathing room to grow or shrink freely with the temperature.
Aesthetically, transition strips can be a nice way to blend the different colors and materials of your wood flooring. Abrupt changes in flooring can be an eyesore, but a well-chosen transition strip helps the visual flow from one space to another without distraction.
When transitioning two wood floors, the floors are usually similar enough that you can use simpler transition strips such as t-moldings, reducers, and thresholds.
Other transition strips like carpet grippers exist, but they specialize in transitioning different flooring materials outside this article’s scope.
T-moldings transition floorings of similar height. In the case of two wood floors, the t-molding will sit in the space between the two floors and cover the expansion gap.
They’re available in different widths to accommodate different-sized expansion gaps.
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If the floors you’ve chosen for transitioning are of different heights, you’ll want to use a reducer strip. Reducers create a smooth transition between the two floors and are available in different sizes to accommodate various height differences.
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Thresholds are similar to reducers in that they transition floors of different heights. The main difference is that thresholds taper on both sides while reducers only taper on one.
Thresholds are typically used at cased openings, doorways, and other entryways.
While transition strips make the flooring connections safer and neater, the choice of wood flooring between rooms plays a big aesthetic role. The two floors can play on each other either through contrast or coordination.
Or you can throw away the flooring transition idea altogether and just stick with one wood flooring type across both rooms.
If flooring transitions don’t appeal to you, or if you just want to make the most of your wood flooring, matching the floors in different rooms is a great option.
Having the same wood flooring throughout your rooms creates visual flow and makes your home feel more spacious. Floor matching works well with an open-concept floor plan where different rooms blend.
In spaces with the same wood flooring between rooms, you distinguish the rooms through other means, such as through the furniture, appliances, wallpaper, and decorations you choose.
Using different types of wood flooring between rooms can create a dramatic and appealing look. You can achieve this flooring style by mixing and matching different colors, species, and plank sizes.
For example, if you’re using a light maple floor in one room and a dark walnut floor in another, look for furniture or decorations that feature both light and dark wood tones to help connect the spaces.
Contrasting works best for clearly divided spaces but can also be used in more open floor designs to help define different zones.
If you want to use different types of wood flooring between rooms but don’t want a stark contrast, try coordinating the floors instead. To do this, find two types of flooring that share a common element, such as color or wood grain.
For example, you could use maple flooring in one room and cherry flooring in another. Both kinds of wood are lightly colored, working well together. If you want a little more contrast, try using oak floors in one room and walnut floors in another. Both wood types are dark, but the walnut will have a richer color.
You can also achieve coordination by using the same type of wood flooring in different rooms but with different plank sizes. For example, you might use wide-plank flooring in your living room and thinner strips in your kitchen. The common wood element helps connect the two spaces, while the different plank sizes add some variety.
Coordinating is also a great way to use leftover flooring from other projects. If you have some planks from your last flooring installation, you can use them to start your new project and save on costs.
Well-executed wood flooring transitions can add interest and flair to your home. You can use them to make a bold statement or create a more unified space. Ultimately, the best transition for your home will depend on your taste and the overall design of your house.
Be sure to hire experienced professionals to install your wood flooring and help you achieve the best results. They can advise you on different types of flooring and provide a seamless transition that looks beautiful and lasts for years.
See also: Hardwood vs. Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring