Transition strips bridge the gap between two floors while helping to prevent potential trips and falls. They can also help minimize noise between rooms when installed in a doorway. Installing transition strips on concrete or concrete subfloor requires a few additional steps compared to other floor types, but it's a fairly straightforward DIY project that most people can complete during a free afternoon. This guide is here to help with the installation steps.
Preparing to Install Transition Strips on Concrete
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Before beginning, make sure you're using the appropriate transition strip for your floor types. If you're installing a strip on two floors of equal heights—like two concrete floors or a concrete and wood floor—then you'll use seam binders or T-molding. If you're connecting a concrete floor to a taller floor type, like carpet, you'll want to opt for reducer molding transition strips. These strips feature a slight slope that helps bridge the height difference between your floors.
Additionally, make sure you have at least an inch-long seam between the two floors. The seam should show your subfloor, which is what you'll attach the transition strip to. Finally, make sure your transition strip is wide enough to extend at least 1/4-inch over each floor type.
4 Steps to Install Transition Strips on Concrete
Once you have the right transition strips in hand, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get started.
Measure the Area
Use a tape measure to measure the length of the area where you'll install the transition strip. If it's in a doorway, measure the distance between the two door jambs. If you're connecting two rooms without a doorway, then you'll measure the entire length of the seam between the two floors, usually extending from wall to wall.
Cut the Metal Rail
Your transition strip might be a standalone metal rail, or it might have a vinyl or hardwood covering that's attached using a metal rail beneath it. Either way, you should cut the metal rail to fit your measurements from step one. Use a marker to mark off the precise measurements on the rail, then use a hand saw to cut the rail to size.
Glue or Screw the Rail to the Concrete Subfloor
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You can use construction glue or screws to attach the metal rail to your subfloor. Using screws will make the transition strip more secure, which is better for high-traffic areas. A benefit of using construction glue is that it offers a more streamlined appearance since your transition strip will be free of holes and screws. Construction glue installations are also simpler.
If you're gluing your rail to the subfloor, then all you have to do is apply the glue to the back of the rail and push the rail into place over the seam. Use some pressure to hold it down for about 30 seconds.
If you're screwing down the rail, lay the rail over the seam and use a marker to mark where the rail's holes line up on the floor. Then insert a masonry drill bit into your power drill—the right size bit depends on your transition strip. Drill pilot holes through the marks you just made, then insert anchors into the holes. Finally, lay your transition strip on top and drive the screws through the designated holes on the strip and into the anchors.
Cut the Transition Strip
You can skip this step if you have a standalone metal transition strip without a vinyl or hardwood covering. But if you have a cover for it, use a hacksaw to cut it to the right length—this will be the same length you measured during step one. Then lay the cover on top of your metal rail and snap it into place.
Installing Transition Strips on Concrete Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro
Installing floor transitions on concrete is a fairly simple project that many people can complete themselves without any construction experience under their belt. Transition strips range from $1 to $30 per square foot, but taking on this project yourself can save you money.
If you hire a handyperson to complete the project, then you'll have to pay for labor in addition to the cost of the transition strip and installation materials. Typically, a handyperson charges around $60 to $125 per hour for flooring projects like this, and it typically takes one to two hours to complete.