A new hardwood floor can dramatically increase the value of your home, but connecting an existing floor with a new one may pose problems. Thickness, color and layout variations disrupt what should be a uniform appearance between two rooms. Measures taken before, during or after installation of the new floor help minimize the differences and help create a more seamless appearance.
The thickness of hardwood flooring boards is known as the profile, and profiles vary. If the subfloor is the same in both rooms, connecting the two rooms with an even floor shouldn’t be difficult. Matching the new materials to the profile of the old flooring boards isn’t necessary; the new boards should be slightly thicker. After the new floor is installed, the profile is reduced by sanding to match the plane of the old floor. Pre-finished hardwood is an exception. It is not sanded after installation, so the materials should match the profile of the old flooring.
Transition strips, sometimes called T-moldings, are narrow pieces of wood that bridge the flooring seam between two rooms. They are most often used across average-sized doorways. Some transition strips for wood floors are nearly flat, creating a less pronounced seam. Reducer transition strips are thinner along one edge and thicker along the opposite edge. This style creates a gradual slope between two floors of slightly different thicknesses. Installation methods vary depending on which style is used. Some transition strips feature a metal or plastic track that is fastened to the floor. The top of the strip pops into place on the track. Some transition strips are a solid piece of wood that is nailed into place, and others fit the tongues of the flooring boards.
Finishing and Refinishing
The color of a new floor is not likely to match an existing floor, even if the wood species and finishing materials are identical. Most wood darkens with age and exposure to sunlight, but some types can lighten. Stripping the existing floor and finishing both rooms at the same time is the best way to visually connect the two. If stripping the existing floor is not an option, you can stain the new floor to match the old or finish it with the same materials as the old and wait for the new floor to age naturally. A stained floor could age with different tones to an older floor that isn’t stained.
If the doorway or opening between the two rooms is too wide for a transition strip, the straight, finished edge of the existing floor that runs toward the doorway must be altered to allow the new floor to continue seamlessly into the next room. This is accomplished by cutting the seams between floorboards and prying out each board that stops at the doorway. Replace the boards with longer boards of varying lengths from the new flooring. This method, called weaving in the new boards, results in a natural continuation of the staggered pattern or layout into the next room. If the direction of the old floor runs across the doorway, the new floor can simply continue into the next room without removing any boards.