What Are Thresholds and Transitions?

It’s often the little things in a flooring project that really finish the job, and that’s where thresholds and transitions come in! These little guys are the separation between one floor and another, or they can top up your tile edge to give it that professional look you want. So, what’s the difference between the threshold and the transition? Good question.

Thresholds are the spaces between one floor to another, normally around 4-6 inches in width. Transitions can be made of 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’s 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. You would place the 4-6 inch threshold in the doorway, allowing you to start the tile in the next room in any direction or type you wish. 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 wanted a different pattern, adding a threshold will work very well.

Transitions are close to the same thing, as they also separate one type of floor from another, though normally these floors are far different from each other. Transitions come in plastic and metal forms, metal being the more expensive, professional choice. There are many different types of transitions, depending on your particular application.

Are you transitioning from tile to carpet? There’s a transition piece for that. From hardwood to tile? There’s a transition piece for that as well. Even if you’re going from tile to tile, you can just use a transition piece instead of a threshold piece, depending on the final look you want.

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

In the end, it’s dependant on you and your particular application and taste. There is no right and wrong decision for this. That being said, don’t put a transition piece down that’s meant for a carpet, when you’re going to tile, or use a ¾” thick stone to threshold beside a ½” ceramic tile. Common sense is important to use as well.

Have fun deciding what look you want, and if you can, check out other people’s homes to see what you like or don’t like. Either that, or purchase a book or magazine on flooring and see what looks good there. You’d be surprised at what’s out there.