Installing uniform wood flooring throughout your home is often the easiest way to create a sense of decorative unity in your house. However, there are many circumstances that lead homeowners to choose a mix-and-match approach, with different types of wood in different rooms. Learning how to transition between two different types of wood flooring can give your home a unique and sharp appearance.
The trick to making this work is to install a transition that is attractive and sensible for your home. Fortunately, you have options! There are many ways that you can make a transition from one wood floor to another look natural and even beautiful. Some transitions are very utilitarian, while others are almost a small work of art on their own.
Know When to Mix and Match When Transitioning Between Two Different Wood Floors
There are many circumstances that lead homeowners to choose different types of wood for the rooms in their home. Here are a few of the most common:
A portion of your wood floor was recently ruined. A roof leak, leaking hot water heater or even a mischievous pet can ruin a part of your wood floor, leaving the rest of your home in good condition. If you're on a budget, replacing the floor in one or two rooms is much cheaper than replacing it throughout.
Different needs for different parts of the house. Maybe you want dark wood in bright, sunny rooms, and lighter wood in darker rooms. Or perhaps you just can't choose between one wood type or the other . . . you love them both. Either way, some homeowners intentionally choose different types of wood for their home because they like the look.
The floor spans different levels of the home. A staircase going up or down creates a natural place for a transition from one flooring to another. This creates an opportunity to choose different types of flooring for different levels of the house.
Whatever your reasons, before purchasing all of those tongue-in-groove planks, it's important to have a plan on how to transition between the two different wood floors.
Be sure you know how you're going to make the transition in advance of committing to multiple types of flooring.
Some methods of transitioning between different wood floors only makes sense in certain circumstances. It's important to explore all of the options before making a final decision.
Most important of all is to ensure that the transition from one type of wood flooring to another looks intentional. If the flooring is similar between one room and the next, you may give the impression that you've made a mistake and purchased the wrong floor boards for a part of your house.
You can make the transition from one floor type to another by purchasing flooring that's a distinctly different color. It's even helpful (and recommended) to lay flooring in a different pattern. Horizontal boards in one room and vertical boards in the next make it very clear that you didn't install different flooring by error.
There are 3 basic methods to transition between different wood floors.
Transition Method 1: Install a Transition Strip
Transition strips are used when transitioning between floors that are separated by a doorway. the options include:
T-Molding - T-molding made from wood and shaped like a T is positioned so the vertical leg is inserted between the two floors, while the horizontal span of the T stretches over the top and joins the floors together. T-molding is a sturdy but slightly raised transition that can close the gap between the floor and the bottom of the door. One of the main advantages of using T-molding is that it will help muffle the sound between rooms when the door is closed. Learn more about T-molding here.
Seam Binder - A seam binder is like a T-molding without the vertical leg. It stretches the span between the two wood floor types and hides any uneven edges. Seam binders look like T-moldings, but they're not as sturdy because they're not embedded in the flooring. You may have to make a repair if your seam binding is kicked out of place. Learn more about seam binders here.
Stone Transition Piece - A stone transition piece is a classy transition piece that rests in between the two floors and creates an obvious division between the two. You can use any type of stone you'd like for this transition. Some popular choices are marble, granite, and soapstone.
Metal Transition - A metal transition is a simple strip of metal that fits in the vertical space between the two floors. This transition should be no higher than the wood itself, so the division is seamless. Metal transitions have a very clean, somewhat utilitarian appearance. Metal adds just the slightest hint of decoration, making it more tasteful than attractive.
Creative Transitions - If you've got a creative streak and want to add some personality to your home, you can make up a transition with materials that you feel comfortable working with. A small tile strip placed in a doorway, for example, adds flair and beauty while making it very clear that you're joining two types of flooring.
Watch the Video
Watch the video to learn more about transition strips when transitioning between two different wood floors.
Transition Method 2: Install a Contrasting Border or Perimeter Made of Wood
This method can work if you're trying to create a transition between two floors that meet in a wide, doorless entryway.
If you choose this method, select flooring in a contrasting color that will stand out.
Watch the Video
Here's a video of some examples of wood floor borders that makes transitioning between two different wood floors look classy and natural.
Transition Method 3: Install Stair Nose Molding for Transitions Between Different Levels
If you're joining two spaces that are on slightly different levels, you may have limited choices for getting the look you want.
Stair nose molding are the strips that fit over the edges of wooden stairs. These pieces cap the level and make the transition to the next level look clean and intentional. Learn more about stair nose molding here.
Watch the Video
This video shows how to install a stair nose molding piece.
Maybe you're replacing a part of your floor that was damaged, and you're undecided about whether you should install an obviously different type of flooring in your home. You might be considering purchasing floorboards that look very similar to the old flooring, so you can pass them off as the same.
This can be done, but it's risky. Matching flooring is tough, and if you choose the wrong product, the differences could be very obvious once the work is finished.
Remember that lighter stains can turn yellow with time, and old stain will be more yellow than new stain. This can leave your existing flooring yellow while your new stain isn't. In fact, over time, the differences between the two stains could become even more obvious.
Watch the Video
This video shows how to replace a section of a hardwood floor.
In parts of your house where there isn't much natural light, like hallways, it's harder to detect differences between flooring. It's important to take into consideration where you're installing your new floor before making your final decision.
Here's a few tips:
- Bring a sample of the floorboards to your home and hold them up against the existing flooring.
- Apply stain to the sample boards before comparing them to the old flooring.
- Match the species of wood and the width of the floor boards. Many years ago, floorboards were not as wide as they are today. If your old flooring is very thin, you'll need to search around for antique boards. They're available, but harder to find.
- You may need to refinish the old part of your flooring to make it match the new flooring. This is typically cheaper than installing all new flooring, but can be a very big project.
Here are a few pro tricks to help you transition between two different wood floors:
Using different woods that provide contrast can give an elegant look to your home, but be careful not to over do it. Using two different wood types is generally the best way to go.
- Lighter woods are a good choice for hallways.
- Lighter woods are also great for rooms leading into a darker wood floored room.
- Dark wooden floors can be a great choice for south facing rooms.
- Dark woods work great in larger rooms.
- Dark woods are perfect for stairways, plus they provide a stunning look.
Consider the Size of the Room
When considering the wood flooring shades, the size of the room is an important consideration.
- Light woods are a good choice for smaller rooms. Consider hickory, ash, or other light shades.
- Dark woods work great in larger rooms. Beech, brazilian walnut, and redwood are all solid choices.
Direction of Planks
How you lay the floor planks will largely depend on the location of the wood transition. Here's a simple rule of thumb:
- Same Direction - Lay the floor boards in the same direction if you have an open plan and are transitioning two different wood floors. However, this isn't a great strategy for large rooms transitioning into small spaces such as hallways, as it will tend to give the illusion that the space is narrower than the actual dimensions.
- Opposite Direction - Lay the floor boards in opposite direction if there's a door separating the rooms. It even works if there isn't a door, but a passage into the room.
Making the transition between two different wood floors is tough, but when it's done right, it can give a stunning look to your home. Take your time when considering your options, and remember, that whatever you choose, you'll want something that'll make you happy for many years to come.
The best way to ensure that you'll be pleased with your work is to get samples when possible, consult with other members of your household for advice and view the flooring in different types of light to get a sense for how it looks in all conditions. By following these tips you should be on your way to achieving a sleek and attractive transition.