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Installing Hardwood Floor Moldings

Knowing what types of moldings you will need ahead of any project will make it that much easier when the actual installation time rolls around. You'll be prepared with the proper tools, know how, and especially how the floor should be installed in some cases.

The information below refers to more common thinner engineered floors.

T Molding

T-Moldings are usually installed to separate ceramic tile and wood floors. If you're dealing with concreteT Molding subfloors they cannot be fastened to the concrete and will have to be glued. Most professionals generally use PL400 adhesive or similar when handling this project. For wood subfloors they can be nailed, but the preference is always avoiding top nailing that will require the nail to be set and holes filled with a matching putty.

USA Made hardwood floors

Like many moldings, the purpose is to allow either a suitable transition from one floor covering to another, or areas that need expansion space. In the case of floating floors, T moldings can be extremely important in breaking up areas involving large layouts. Floating floors expand and contract as a whole instead of each individual board would in a nail down installation for example.

Moldings such as these can look unsightly across the center of a room or in doorways T Molding at tile area that lead to other rooms of the home. An effective way of avoiding would be allowing as much expansion area as possible. This would include installing baseboards and base trim (quarter round or shoe molding) together after the floor has been installed. If this doesn't fancy your desires, another method is undercutting all drywall so the flooring has additional room to expand underneath. Only baseboard would be required. All efforts are meaningless if the floating floor gets snagged or butted against the framing members of the wall. One possible solution is adding strips of open celled foam laid under the drywall. This can work to prevent the floating floor from butting to an extent.


The reducer is used in several situations with the most common being a sloped One sided reducertransition from a higher vertical wood floor height to vinyl flooring, terrazzo, or concrete. This products has several name variations depending on the manufacturer. Two more would include a one sided reducer or a flush reducer. One sided meaning it has one sloped side and flush meaning it sits flush with the wood floor it transitions from.

These types of reducers cannot be used effectively with floating floors for several reasons. They will flop up and down for lack of a better term, and cannot be attached to the subfloor with floating systems because of the need room for expansion. Doing so would create a butted fit. Reducers can also be used to transition from a wood floor to a low pile carpet.

Overlap Reducer

The overlap reducer was designed primarily for floating floors providing an expansionOverlap reducer area under the overlap seen on the right. The overlap can be used for vinyl, terrazzo, or carpet transitioning. Considering the difficulty in keeping a floating floor from moving during the installation, the overlap is widely used. There will not be the need to make exact cuts that end in a doorway, as the overlap will cover the irregular cuts.

Thicker upgraded types of underlayment can create problems installing the overlap properly. Many are only designed to allow the thickness of the flooring to slide under the overlap portion. Some situations may actually call for adding a thin piece of material under the area that sits on the vinyl floor in the photo example.

Threshold (Baby Threshold)

This threshold is one of the most versatile trim pieces one can obtain. Used for the most part at sliding door areas to allow proper floor expansion, it can also be Baby thresholdretrofitted easily with a table saw. For instance; some hardwood floors may be higher than a final finished ceramic tile height. In its manufactured form, the bottom tab of the threshold generally measures 1/2 inch to the overlap or the meeting of the inverted L seen on the right.

With a tiled floor that may be 1/4 inch lower than a finished hardwood floor, careful re-milling on a table saw can create a profile specifically for this use. In this example, one would rip cut 1/4 of one inch from the bottom. Once installed, the underside will sit vertically flush with each floor covering; wood on one side, tile on the other. Use of a T mold in this area would eventually crack as there is no snug support under it.

End Cap (Square Nose)

I never saw the sense in these things because there is very little area above theSquare nose reducer overlap to provide enough expansion area and they're typically too narrow. Now if they re-milled it like I often do where the black line is shown (photo) you'll have enough area under the overlap to serve its purpose. Not all manufacturers offer the square nose reducer because the threshold above serves the same purpose.

It may look reasonable against a fireplace hearth but there are other options instead of using this thing. See my link below on installing around fireplaces. A cool power tool eliminates the need for unsightly trim.

Good & Poor Comparison - The Door Casings

Door casings should be trimmed with the use of a jamb saw, often called an undercut saw.

Door casing cut too high
Door casing trimmed nicely
Poor example
Good example
Quarter Round Trim
Cut off quarter round
Quarter round molding return
Poor example (no end cap)
Good example (with end cap)
Trim At Tiled Areas - Poor Examples
Pieced trim moldings
Gapped t-molding
Pieced T-Molding
Gapped T-Molding
Trim At Tiled Areas - Good Examples
Mitered T Molding
Mitered T Molding between tile and hardwood floor
Larger view. Mitered
Other Trim Moldings
T Molding at bath
Shoe molding pine
T Molding at bath entry
Shoe molding before paint
Wide T Molding
T Molding scribed
Wide T Molding at tile
T Molding scribed to fit
Overlap reducer at carpet
Header board at carpet
Overlap reducer at carpet
Header board at carpet
Header board at tile
Header board at tile
Header board at tile
Header board at tile