What is a Transition?
A transition, also referred to as trim or molding, is a finishing piece used to conceal the exposed edges between two different, adjoining floors. This creates a clean, aesthetically pleasing “transition” from one floor to the next, as well as a safe walking path.
When you purchase coordinating transitions with your floor, they are typically made from the same material as the floor you have chosen (hardwood, vinyl, or laminate). They are also made to match the color of the floor.
Which Type of Transition Should You Use?
“Transition” is a broad term; there are many different types of transitions, each designed to perform a specific task. Choosing the right transition depends on what types of surfaces you’re working with and what you need to accomplish.
1. Transitioning Between Two Level, Hard Surfaces
If you are transitioning between two level, hard surfaces such as hardwood, laminate, stone, or tile, you will want to use a t-mold. As the name suggests, this trim is shaped like a T and is inserted into the seam between the two floors.
2. Transitioning Between Two Uneven, Hard Surfaces
To transition between two hard surfaces that are uneven, such as from hardwood to tile, you will need to use a reducer. This trim is shaped with a gentle decline that either overlaps or fits flush with the higher level floor and slopes down to meet the lower level floor, hiding the seam where the two floors meet.
3. Transitioning Between a Hard Surface and Carpet
When transitioning between a hard surface and carpet, you will need to use an endcap. Often, you will see an endcap also called a threshold, baby threshold, or square nose. Despite the different names, these trims still perform the same function. The endcap is shaped to overlap the hard surface and fit into the seam between the two floors to butt up against the carpet.
Endcap (Threshold/Square Nose)
4. Transitioning to An Exterior Door
Besides transitioning to carpet, an endcap (or threshold, baby threshold, or square nose) is also used as a transition to an exterior door such as a sliding glass door.
5. Transitioning Around a Fireplace
You do not need to use transitions around a fireplace, but you may choose to do so for aesthetic purposes. The trim most often used to conceal the raw edges around a fireplace is an endcap (also called threshold, baby threshold, or square nose). When used for this purpose, the end of each endcap will be cut at a 45 degree angle so that the pieces meet together cleanly without exposed edges to form a 90 degree angle. This type of cut is also called a miter joint.
6. Transitioning to the Front Edge of a Step
If the floor you are installing meets a landing or step down in your home, you will need to use a stair nose (also called stair nosing or bull nose) to conceal the edge of the top step. If you are continuing the floor down an entire staircase, you will need a stair nose to cover the edge of each step. A stair nose is shaped with a rounded front edge and can either overlap the floor or butt up flush against it.
Flush Stair Nose
7. Multipurpose Transitions
Some flooring manufacturers offer multipurpose transitions with their floors. A multipurpose transition combines several trims into one. Its designed with interchangeable parts that can be added or removed depending on how the transition will be used. Usually, a multipurpose transition can be used as a stair nose, t-mold, reducer, and endcap.
Keep in Mind
Transition moldings are designed to complement a floor, not to match the floor exactly. Before installing the floor, open the box of moldings and several boxes of flooring. Choose a few planks of flooring to match each molding and set them aside together for later use at installation. This will help ensure the best transition blending. This is especially important for floors with high color variance that are particularly popular with current trends.