Using A Reducer On Hardwood Floors To Border A Tiled Area



I have a house with slab floor (I just bought the slab floor install guide) and I’d like to put in a solid unfinished floor over plywood. I’d rather not have a glue down put in because almost every one I have seen has extensive gapping/quality problems and I’d also like to do a feature strip and border. Also, site finished floors are unbeatable in terms of quality, look, etc IMO. I have done 2 floating floors so I have some experience.

The problem with this of course is the floor height. I will be bordering some tiled areas and I cannot raise the tile bed. So there will be approximately a 1″ rise of the hardwood floor over the tile. I don’t see this as a major problem since the current carpet is almost 1″ over the tile. I can spread out the rise over a 4 or 5″ wide piece.

Here are my questions:

There are no reducers which drop more than the thickness of the strip (3/4″). I would have to drop about 1″ assuming a butt joint with the tile (using colored caulk joint of course). I could probably make a custom reducer using a thicker (1.5″) piece of stock. I would like the reducer to be flush with the hardwood (so I would groove it) and either butt the tile or overlap it. I checked the tile edges and it’s not perfectly straight so I’m not sure how a butt joint would look. There is also the issue regarding color match of the floor (Maple) with the reducer. What would you do in a situation like this or am I crazy for attempting a nail down?

Also, this should probably be a seperate question but I’m sure I’ll have others later on so here goes – I researched finishes and it appears that Glitsa has one of the best finshes available. I’m aware of the hazards of a conversion finish and assuming one took all necessary precautions and perhaps even made a practice run on some extra stock could a DIY’er handle this finish?

PS. Thanks for being honest about DIY sanding. I won’t be sanding the floor myself!



Dear Alex

I hope you’ve had a good read of the wood on concrete article, and now you are more aware of your choices. Oh, and there is another (but really pricey) glue down laminated wood floor that’s available though Kentucky Wood Floor. Great company, and they claim to have a wear layer of almost 1/4″ in this material. Installers say that it “fit’s like a glove”, no gaps. We hope to do a product review on it this winter. Check it out before you do that double layer plywood subfloor method for strip floor. You should be able to order this material unfinished.

But anyway here’s another solution to your 1″ reducer problem. First use a flooring board to reduce down the 3/4″ and stay about a 1/2″ away from the tile. Bevel only the top half of the floor board so that the edge is square. You can use a plane for this as you are installing it, but expect to smooth it off during the sanding. Then install another 3/8″ reducer strip that is about 1″ wide to bridge the gap between the tile and the hardwood. The irregular edge of the tile will be covered completely and you will also have a neat expansion gap between the two floors if the wood is edge wise to the tile. If the wood is running the other way simply install a header piece in the floor (which will have the bevel). I’m sending a picture to illustrate this where the wood was about an inch above the tile in the fireplace hearth. No problem.

x Now as to the Glitsa finish, most amateurs have a tough time with this alcohol based finish. It dried so quickly that it’s easy to leave large and ugly lap marks in the middle of the floor. We used it on our white stained floors for that truly clear look. Not only was it highly flammable, the odors just about went through our gas masks.

I didn’t find out until recently that this stuff emits urea formaldehyde gas for up to 90 days after application. So I don’t use if anymore, when the catalyzed water based finishes (they have their own skin toxicity problems) look fine on a white stained floor. Anyway since 1994 I have only used OMU (oil modified polyurethane) on all my stained and blonde finished floors. I’m sitting over a 22 year old OMU finish. It was applied to a fine grained quarter sawn oak strip, and now has a nice warm amber tone, that puts those pale blue-white water based finishes to shame.

I’m not just trying to toot my own horn when I say my methods for applying OMU make this a great looking and durable finish. Cannot be beat, and I’ve tried them all, at any price.