DIY Network

How to Install a Tile Floor Transition

Any DIYer with moderate skills can install a wood molding transition between tile and hardwood floors, giving a stylish finish between the two materials.

More in Floors

  • Time

    Two Days

  • Price Range

    $500 - $1,000

  • Difficulty

    Moderate

Highlights:

Step 1: Remove the Old Tiles

Remove the old tile as necessary. Often tile at the edge of a transition between flooring have cracked and when removing cabinetry or non-structural walls an unfinished edge to the tile floor will be exposed. For the area of tiles to be removed, use a grinder to cut out the grout to allow for easier removal of the tile. Scrape the area clean of all debris and residue where new tiles will be installed.

a grinder cuts out grout for easy tile removal

Step 2: Cut the Tile to Fit

Have the tile measured, cut and ready to install before applying mortar.

Step 3: Apply the Mortar

Mix the mortar to the consistency of cake frosting. This will help the mortar "hold" the ridges left by the notched trowel. Apply a thick layer of mortar and spread with a notched trowel.

apply a thick layer of mortar with notched trowel

Step 4: Set the Tile

Lay full and cut tiles while watching for straight grout lines. In this case, the handmade saltillo tiles are uneven and spacers are unnecessary. However, to keep grout lines straight when using more uniform tiles, use spacers between each tile. Push the first tile into the combed mortar bed with a twisting motion. Using a protective scrap piece of lumber, tap the tile with a mallet to set it. For the first tile only, pull it back up to make sure the combed mortar is think enough to cover the entire bottom of the tile. Spread more mortar in a thicker layer if the bottom of the tile is not covered completely when pulled up. If the mortar coverage is sufficient spread mortar in small sections and set tiles. Allow mortar to set well before applying grout.

Step 5: Apply the Grout

Use the grout float to apply grout and push it into the grout lines. Allow the grout to set up but not dry completely. Use a damp sponge to clean off the excess grout from the face of the tiles. Rinse the sponge in fresh water often and take care not to remove grout from between the tiles. Continue sponging with fresh water to clean, and concentrate on the edge of each grout line to make the edges as clean and straight as possible.

use sponge float to apply grout into grout lines

Step 6: Wait For the Grout to Dry

Grout may require more than a day to dry or cure. Follow the grout manufacturer's instructions on curing the grout. After the grout is dry, seal it with a grout sealer. Depending on the style of tiles, they may need to be sealed as well. Consult with the store where the tile was purchased.

Step 7: Install the Wood Trim

Miter cut wood molding to fit the length between corners along the transition between the different types of flooring. Drill pilot holes in the molding for the finish nails. Nail the molding to the floor to provide an attractive transition from the tile to the hardwood floor. Set the nail heads slightly below the surface of the molding and fill it with wood filler.

wood trim is attractive transition between floors

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