I'm preparing to install Bruce 3/4" pre-finished nail down Hickory hardwood flooring in my dining, and living rooms. Currently there is a wood transition piece between the dining room and kitchen, and another similar transition between the living room and the hall. I'd really like to keep these transitions, but to do so I'd have to not have an expansion gap where the flooring meets the transition.

enter image description here
Click for larger view

Once the flooring is installed, the transition will be about level with the flooring. I can't raise the transition up, because it would be a tripping hazard going from the kitchen into the dining room.

Is there a way to do this, or am I out of luck?

Extra Info:

  • The transition pictured is a solid piece of wood 37 1/4" x 4 1/4" x 3/4"
  • The tile butts up against this piece of wood, there is a grout line between the last tile and the transition piece.
  • The top of the transition is ~3/8" above the top of the tile floor.

enter image description here
Click for larger view

  • With the screws, it is an easy removal? My answer will give good color all the way through. I done this a few times....
    – Jack
    Jan 29, 2014 at 17:28
  • Excellent description and view of your concern. Simple solution: butt your new board up to the existing transition as shown in view above. Then remove the grout at the tile side of the transition and replace with caulk. The caulk's flexibility will provide the necessary expansion capability.
    – getterdun
    Jan 30, 2014 at 4:10

3 Answers 3


Yes you need to keep expansion room at the walls for the flooring to move. Particularly at the walls that meet the long sides of the flooring, this is where the movement really occurs. In your picture you have the end grain of a piece meeting your transition strip. That will be no concern for movement there, although I would still get a small gap, minimally an 1/8", most certainly not tight, since the wood does move albeit slightly, in its length. That mainly depends on how much "grain runoff" is in any one piece of flooring, an 1/8" should cover it though. This gap at the wood floor/tile junction is caulked with a flexible caulk, something like, but I am not stuck on the Dap 230 in a compatible color of the grout in the tile floor. You are not done yet. Before ANY caulk is done, the joint area is carefully taped off so nothing gets on the adjacent finished surfaces. The caulk is set in place and wiped down to a clean WET joint. while it is wet have the grout on hand that was used to grout the joints in your tile floor and lightly dust the wet caulk so it dries into the caulk. This will give the caulk that varied natural look of grout, instead of the monocolor that caulk alone can't do. Peel the tape immediately after dusting and let dry, then vacuum the excess dust, the rest will remain.

You may decide to use a ready made color matched sanded caulk, that may work, but I have removed this type of caulk before and it is not as flexible as the "230" I mentioned before. No I am not an affiliate of DAP, I just know what works....enter image description here

  • I typically glue the you-know-what out the transition too with polyurethane construction adhesive. If yours is glued in well, you could leave it too.
    – Jack
    Jan 29, 2014 at 17:30
  • I'm not concerned with the tile side of the transition, since it's already in place. Or are you suggesting that I should remove the grout, and use caulk instead?
    – Tester101
    Jan 29, 2014 at 17:35
  • In the picture, even the magnified view, the joint between the tile and wood appears tight with no grout at all, if it does, yes that could be removed. Set the new one back a little (1/8"), caulk and dust with dry grout. It blends nicely. With the glue and a few well set nails holding it until the glue sets, would eliminate the screws that show.
    – Jack
    Jan 29, 2014 at 22:24

By the picture I am assuming that your floor is perpendicular to the transition. These are harder to set up to look nice since your cuts have to meet within 1/64th of an inch to look really good.

My (used a few times and very happy with results) solution for this is to hide the wood under transition.

So route out transition bottom corner where transition meets hardwood. You need to keep the top large enough so it doesn't break - but it will sit on hardwood.

Hardwood goes under. Now the part you route out should be about 3/8 to 1/2 inch deep. And hardwood would be under by about 1/4 inch. Now you may have to route out the 1/4 inch of your hardwood for it to slide under if the height of transition is comparable.

  • removing material at the bottom of the transition to create a shelf (which the flooring would go under), was my first thought. However, since the flooring and the transition are the same height, that's not an option. Also, the cut pieces will be at the other side of the room.
    – Tester101
    Jan 29, 2014 at 17:33
  • Shaving the hardwood just at 1/4 inch is pretty easy. Even fitting uncut wood is a precise thing with an exact expansion gap.
    – DMoore
    Jan 29, 2014 at 17:56
  • And the wood can fit from anywhere to really snug to a little loose and it all looks the same. And if you give yourself a little play in the transition routing then you also don't have to be ultra precise in shaving 1/4 inch - it can be 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch (and you could cut off whatever extra is shaved). Knowing that I hardly ever do this stuff perfect the first time I like having multiple ways out.
    – DMoore
    Jan 29, 2014 at 18:04
  • Also didn't ask what type of flooring but if it is not floated some manufacturers don't require and expansion gap over a certain range.
    – DMoore
    Jan 29, 2014 at 19:09

I ended up butting the hardwood right up against the transition, and over two years later have had no problems.

  • Thanks for adding this followup. Glad to know your installation is working for you.
    – Dalbergia
    May 16, 2016 at 20:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.