Handling Curved Transitions With Hardwood Floors
Creating odd or curved shaped transitions where hardwood floors meet tile or carpet can present a unique look, but the question has always been, how to go about it? For the most part the biggest difficulty is finding a solution with an existing tile floor that was previously connected to carpet.
Installers have several ways of approaching this, but depends heavily on the thickness of the new wood floor and tile. With most tiled floors ending up at 3/8 to ½ inch vertical height including the mastic used to adhere the tile, choosing the right thickness of hardwood should be considered.
Transition Without Moldings
While some have a distaste for moldings in open areas, two options can be considered for an existing tile floor. One, reduce the curve and shape it into angles. This would require trimming the existing tile with a hand held grinder equipped with a diamond cutting blade that is capable of cutting clean straight lines. The emphasis on straight will have a profound effect on installing the hardwood against the tile without a transition. By creating a jig so the saw can glide along a straight line is suggested. This could be as simple as using a straight 1"x4” anchored at both ends. If the tile radius is something you want to keep without using transitions skip to butting to tile without moldings at one of our page links below.
Transition With Moldings
Three options exist in this example with a curved radius; one being less expensive than the others. First, refer to the previous section that eliminates the radius. Once the area is cut to manageable angles, common trim pieces can be used with the most common being a t-molding for prefinished floors.
Another option is having a custom threshold molding made up through a local milling shop with folks that build custom stuff being the preferred choice. Depending on who is doing the work, size of the transition, and how much you want to pay, two methods are used.
For a molding that doesn’t look pieced together, the final product will be laminated where many thin layers of wood are fused together by gluing. This is very similar to the method in which curved stair railings are made. A less costly procedure can be several solid pieces glued and splined end to end, then cut to the desired pattern.
First Class Site Work - Solid Piece
Still another option is finding a first class hardwood floor professional that can handle all aspects of the business. You will not find many that actually go to the lengths of creating a curved transition strictly by themselves. The example above shows Avi Hadad, contractor in the San Francisco Bay area where a ten foot section of red oak was custom milled on site to accompany a curved step up to a thinner 5/16” site finished floor.
You can view a two part series on the subject written by Avi, who incidentally is also an instructor for the National Wood Flooring Association. The first part of the story talks about a curved riser that was used in conjunction of the same curved stair nosing.
One of the newest forms of handling curved radius trim moldings are manufacturers that offer flexible moldings. One in particular is Flexitions.com (shown above). These are not your common flex moldings used primarily for paint grade application in the likes of quarter round or baseboard. The company has developed moldings that offer textured and actual wood grains that can be stained to match floor colors.