How Do I Transition Between Vinyl Flooring and Carpet?

One of the most significant trends in the flooring world over the past few decades has been the introduction of luxury vinyl flooring. It’s an affordable alternative to hardwoods and stone, and one of the easier types of flooring to install. Unless you intend to install vinyl from one end of your home to the other, you’ll need to deal with one or more transition strips, however.

These inexpensive accessories are vital in some types of flooring installations, and something that can cause homeowners headaches when transitioning from carpet to vinyl. In this guide, we’re going to explain how to successfully do that and discuss the different types of transition strips available for homeowners today.

Transition Strips Explained

A transition strip or transition piece is a thin piece of material that’s designed to bridge the gap between two types of flooring. Certain types of flooring expand and contract throughout the year, which means there will be a small gap. Transition strips are designed to fill these unsightly spaces and can be made from wood, metal, or synthetic materials like PVC.

There are ways around using transition strips with some hard flooring surfaces, but the benefits they provide should not be overlooked. They can keep the edges of the flooring itself safe and alert homeowners to changes in surface texture when transitioning from something slick like tile to a carpet that is not the same height.

Do I need a transition strip for carpet and vinyl?

If you were debating whether you have to use a transition strip when going from carpet to vinyl, the answer is a bit complicated. While you can forgo it on certain types of vinyl, it’s important to remember there are a half dozen styles of vinyl flooring sold on the market today.

Thinner types of vinyl include VCT, which are vinyl composition tiles and peel and stick vinyl flooring. While you won’t find these in too many living rooms, they are often in the rooms outside carpeted areas. Sheet vinyl is slightly thicker, but may still require a transition piece unless you choose to use the “turn and tuck” method.

One of the main issues with the edge of the carpet is the fact that the edges are cut compared to the tidy edges of an area rug. A transition strip takes care of them, but you can also pull the carpet tight and wrap it beneath to hide the unsightly cut edge. You can do this with almost any type of carpet, although thinner material will provide a cleaner look.

As you can see in the video below, the carpet is pulled tight to the edge of the vinyl then tacked firmly in place. It’s not as clean or tidy as the look of a transition strip and your measurements have to be exact or you may end up with a larger hump than necessary.

Types of Transition Strips

If you head to your local home improvement store, you could be overwhelmed with the number of transition strips sitting on the shelves. The online selection is even more impressive, but only if you understand the different types of strips so that you can choose the right one.

Carpet Gripper Transitions

The cheapest and arguably the best type of transition strip or carpet to vinyl flooring is called a carpet gripper transition. These are simple metal strips that have an edge and a series of sharp teeth. While they work in the same fashion as tack strips around the perimeter of a room, these are designed to provide a clean edge.

This type of transition has a cost of around $10 to $30 and is usually installed with a handful of screws or nails. While simple and effective, the style options are limited with this type of transition to brass and aluminum.

T-Molding Transitions

T-molding strips are the most popular type of transition and one that gets their name from the design. This flat piece of transition strip is shaped like a “T” with a small section that slips between each section of flooring. They are best suited for floors that are around the same height but have been successfully used with carpet as well.

This transition strip may need a bit of carpet padding or caulking depending on the height of the transition. It’s available in a wide variety of styles, however, including exact matches for certain brands of luxury vinyl tiles and planks. T-molding transition prices vary depending on the material, but range from $8 to $30 or more.

4-in-1 Transition Strips

As the name implies, these transition strips are unique. While they can go under different names like universal or 3-in-1 transition strips, they all serve the same purpose. They are designed to bridge the gap between two types of flooring, but their design allows them to be far more versatile than T-molding or gripper strips.

These transition strips can work with carpet and vinyl flooring, but can also be used in a variety of ways on other hard surfaces as well. They are more expensive than a regular transition strip and are mainly produced from wood and metal with a high-quality finish.

How to install transition strips between vinyl and carpet?

Installing a transition strip is something any homeowner can do, but generally, something handled during the initial flooring installation unless it is a repair or partial remodel. While the method can vary depending on the type of strip you buy, our best advice is to gather a few tools and check out this video below to get an idea of what to expect beforehand.

Final Thoughts

While not always necessary, these useful strips are the best way to transition from one type of flooring to another regardless of height or style. A transition strip designed for carpet may be a little different than hardwood transition strips, but both are easy to install and are there for more than just an aesthetic purpose. 

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