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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Even Up Flooring for a Smooth Transition

January 29, 1994|From Associated Press

When a portion of wall separating two rooms is removed or when an opening is made to create a passageway, sometimes the levels of the finished flooring on the two sides of the wall are different.

This occurs most frequently when the finished flooring of one room is different from the other, or when a floor has been refinished during a previous remodeling project.

For the sake of appearance and safety, it is desirable to create a uniform level or to provide an appropriate transition between the two levels.

The slightest mismatches in floor levels can create tricky steps that cause people to trip, perhaps because of the unconscious habit of lifting one's feet only a certain amount while walking. It is necessary to create a distinct visual transition between the two floor surfaces.

For example, a slight mismatch could exist when one part of a floor surface is finished with ceramic tile and the remainder with wood strips.

Ordinarily, the tile floor could be anywhere from one-quarter inch to seven-eighths inch higher than the wood floor, attributable to the thickness of the subflooring beneath the tile plus the tile thickness. There are three simple treatments.

One is to install a saddle to cover the gap by the wall that has been removed. The best way to do this would be to fill the gap with wood blocks or strips level with the wood floor. The saddle, a stock molding available in several widths at any lumber yard, would then be nailed in place over the filler blocks. The top of the saddle should be level with or slightly higher than the higher of the two surfaces.

An alternative is to nail a quarter-round molding to the subflooring's edge. This would provide the appropriate visual transition and also would protect the tile edge from cracking.

A third solution is to fill the gap left where the wall was removed with a floor-filling compound finished with a slope. The entire floor surface could then be covered with carpeting.

Where you want to create a uniform floor level, it may be necessary to build up the existing floor to create a flat, uniform plane. Building-up methods involve compensating for the height differential between two levels with new subflooring and/or sleepers, which are strips of material installed below the subflooring where they act as spacers.

Plywood, particleboard, tempered hardboard and fiberboard are generally used for subflooring. Pine, plywood and hardboard strips may be used for sleepers.

Ceramic and resilient tile and laminated wood flooring units require a fairly rigid subfloor to prevent them from flexing underfoot, which will ultimately loosen the adhesive and may result in cracking.

For these applications, minimum thicknesses of one-half inch plywood or five-eighths inch particleboard are recommended. If these materials are to be supported by sleepers, the spacing between them should be no greater than 16 inches.

Tempered hardboard should be used as subflooring for tile units only if it is laid directly over an existing floor without sleepers.

Solid wood strip flooring, which is generally one-inch thick, can be nailed directly to an existing strip floor, or any existing sturdy subfloor, or perpendicular to sleepers spaced 16 inches apart.

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