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We've just installed some large format tile in our home which required a good chunk of mortar and thinset due to its weight, and as a result we now have a large height difference in this door frame transition between the new tile and our existing wood floors. There was already a difference in height between the previous tile and the hardwood, but now it's about an inch higher.

Rather than add 4th step to the existing "steps", we would like to have one large step (or some kind of transition piece) between the tile and the hardwood floor (removing the existing steps in the process). However, the height difference is about 3" from tile to the base hardwood floor, and I can't seem to find any reducers or "ramps" that are tall enough to do the job.

Any ideas on how best to handle this? The picture below shows the threshold with the height differences labeled.

EDIT: The "schematic" isn't clear, but it's the 'vertical offset', between the upper "step" and the new tile (~1"), and then the actual wooden floors and the new tile (~3").

Floor Transition

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  • Your words and picture are somewhat confusing. Is the 3 inch dimension the actual vertical offset between the two floor levels or is it the horizontal width of the transition zone? – Michael Karas Feb 28 '20 at 12:46
  • Yeah, I know, terrible schematic. It's the actual vertical offset. – Overhed Feb 28 '20 at 13:35
  • A 3 inch step between rooms seems like a huge trip and safety hazard. – Michael Karas Feb 28 '20 at 13:37
  • Indeed. Unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it apart from creating a visible transition. – Overhed Feb 28 '20 at 14:19
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That's a difficult one, and probably should have been thought through before installing the tile, not after.

I like using stone thresholds (commonly marble or granite) to terminate tile, but even a 6" wide would be sitting at a steep angle to make 3" vertical offset, and still be a stumbling hazard, at least. I'd probably take out that last/first tile and chew downwards until I could set it as a ramp of more reasonable slope.

If you are just going to have a 3" step and hope not to fall on it, you could make one from wood, or you might be able to set a 2" stone threshold on edge and a 4 or 6" one flat on top of it, filled with mortar to make the step; Or, remove wood in the threshold area until you can fit a solid 3" thick stone in there flat.

Alternatively, build up a ramp on the wooden floor side.

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You say "adding a 4th step", so I presume that this new floor is at the top of a flight of 3 existing steps.

Since you've already laid down the tile, I'd suggest rebuilding the stairs to make each riser 1" taller. This will distribute the new height evenly over the steps so it will seem quite natural and unnoticed.

According to this site:

Stair riser heights The riser height shall be measured vertically between the leading edges of adjacent treads.

  • Maximum stair step riser height (<= 7.75") or in some codes <=8"
  • Minimum stair step riser height: >= 4"
  • Step riser height uniformity <= 3/8" variation between successive step surfaces, or in some codes <= 3/16" / 4.8 mm.

So long as your total height is less than 23 1/4" (or 24" if you're in an 8" jurisdiction) you'll be good to go!

Of course, this isn't as easy as it may have been to have lowered the floor before tiling, but, this is where you are now. Of course, lowering the floor in a whole room may have been much more difficult than rebuilding a 3-step stair.

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