How to Transition Between Two Different Wood Floors

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Looking to install hardwood flooring in two rooms that sit side-by-side without diminishing your home’s visual aesthetics?

Here’s a guide on how to properly transition between two different hardwood surfaces.

Can you mix two different hardwood floors side by side?

Yes, you can mix two different wood floors side by side. However, whenever homeowners have two different hardwood floors adjoining each other, they often try to match the colors for continuity in visual aesthetics.

But this doesn’t always give the desired results, as even with the same color of wood flooring installed side-by-side, close mismatches in the tone of the wood graining will still be visible.

Establishing Contrast

A better alternative- therefore- is usually to create intentional contrast by not trying to match the shades of your hardwood floors and instead of installing two different shades of hardwood in adjoining rooms. For instance, a darker hardwood floor (such as mahogany) would most certainly look great next to a lighter hardwood (such as white oak or maple).

Separating Rooms

Homes with open floor plans usually combine the kitchen, dining room, living room, and entryway area into one large space for a better flow of natural light and traffic. Let’s say you bought a home with an open floor plan and would still love to enjoy these advantages, but with a bit more visual separation between the different spaces.

You can create this separation by using different hardwoods within the various spaces- and then arranging them in contrasting patterns- say, from straight to parquet. Meanwhile, for hardwood flows with different graining in rooms that lie side-by-side, you can create a transition using wood-to-wood seam binders or T-moldings, both of which we shall discuss later.

Laying the Floor

When two hardwood floors laid side-by-side don’t have a door separating them, it’s important that the planks are laid facing in the same direction for a unified aesthetic. However, if there’s a door between the two rooms, you can lay the two wooden surfaces in opposite directions for added visual intrigue.

Considering the Room Size

Say you have hardwood flooring in a room that’s relatively small, and you’re looking to install hardwood in the adjacent room which is larger. In such instances- it’s best to install hardwood flooring with warmer hues- such as redwood and beech. These give off a sense of spaciousness and coziness as natural light bounces off the surface that boasts red and orange undertones.

Conversely, when looking to mix hardwood flooring by installing it in a smaller, adjacent room, a lighter shade of wood (such as hickory) is recommended.

How to Transition Between Two Hardwood Floors

In this section, we’ll go through some of the ideas for transitioning two types of wood floors.

Using T-molding

A Transition-molding (T-molding) can be used to create a visually appealing transition between two hardwood surfaces, without closing up the expansion gap between the two floors. The narrower part of this T-shaped molding fits into the gap between the two adjoining floors, while the upper part closes up the gap. To fasten a T-molding, you can either use the glue-down method or the screw-down method. Both of these methods involve the use of a metal track that comes included inside the T-molding kit:

  1. Glue-Down Method- in this approach, construction adhesive is uniformly spread along the expansion gap, before the T-molding (with the metal track snapped to the bottom) is placed in position and pressed down.
  2. Screw-down method- in this method, you’ll use the pre-drilled holes inside the metal track to guide screw placement. You’ll then attach the T-molding into the metal track.

Using a seam binder

The most aesthetically pleasing way to transition between two hardwood surfaces is by using a transition strip meant for hardwood surfaces- such as a seam binder. Wood-to-wood seam binders typically have a width of about five inches, are flat-shaped, and are beveled at the edges. This kind of transition strip is best for use between two hardwood surfaces with similar heights.

To install a seam binder, simply place it above the seam and fasten it to the subfloor. This should be easy as seam binders typically come with pilot holes already drilled through them. Since the seam binder is attached to the subfloor and not the adjoining hardwood floors, it won’t be affected by the swelling and shrinking of the hardwood floors.

While five-inch wide wood-to-wood seam binders are the most common, they’re available in varying widths. You can also finish your seam binder to better match the color and tone of your hardwood floors. This shouldn’t be difficult as they’re often sold without any layer of finish/stain. Remember- however- that allowing your seam binder to be clearly visible as a transition between the two wood floors can also provide great visual aesthetics. So- whether to finish or not is simply a matter of personal preference.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

3 thoughts on “How to Transition Between Two Different Wood Floors”

  1. we had plank flooring put in which butts up to a inlaid brick floor-foyer- how do i finish that off- they tried a transition piece but our walkers cant go over it


  2. We have a tongue and groove hard wood flooring and decided to remove the tile in our kitchen and continue on with the hard wood. Rather than an ugly wood transistion piece, could we use the seam binder. The colors are the same of the wood, it’s just the guy that did the first half apparently, started from the back of the house. So, the person laying the new area has to go about it backwards?? There would be only one transistion and I he recommended that if I didn’t want it to look like that with one transistion with the t moulding that I could tear up all the wood and start over. That is too costly and I see no need to remove wood that is nice and only a year old.

  3. Thank you for this. We are planning to remodel our kitchen (remove a wall between the kitchen and living room) and I really don’t want to install all new flooring in the rest of my main floor. I thought about doing tile in my kitchen but am intrigued by doing a lighter laminate/hardwood laid in a herringbone pattern instead.


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