Carpet to Vinyl Transitions

DIY flooring projects should always address the transition between adjoining floor materials.

Transition Strips

If your newly installed carpet butts against a vinyl floor, you could have a drop in flooring surface of a quarter inch or more. Constant traffic across this drop can cause someone to trip and fall and will eventually fray the carpet and tear and scuff the vinyl. A transition strip is an ideal way to manage carpet to vinyl transitions.

Transition strips are manufactured by many different companies and are sold at home remodeling, construction supply and hardware stores. Carpet installers and carpet stores may also sell them. The strips used for carpet to vinyl transitions are molded from metal or hard plastic and are placed between the two floor surfaces at the point where the surfaces meet. The transition strip covers the existing gap and disparity in height.

Transition Systems

Products that use a trim track require the track to be attached to the floor surface between the two flooring materials. The track is designed to hold a transition trim or strip in place and prevent it from moving around. The transition strip is a band of shaped metal or plastic that snaps into the trim track. This type of transition strip is referred to as “snap down” trim.

Other transition trims are glued or nailed directly into the floor between or under the flooring materials. Trims that slip under floor materials do so on the carpet side of the profile and attach to the floor under the carpet, while extending over the vinyl floor on the other. A variety of trim styles are available to choose from. However, two stand out as perfect choices for carpet to vinyl transitions: reducers and joiners.


Reducer trim is angled and overlaps each floor material a quarter of an inch or more. Reducer trim profiles have an overall width of one inch to one and a quarter inches. Reducers are slightly angled in one direction to bridge the connection between a carpet and a vinyl tile. For example, the angled reducer might connect vinyl tile on one side at one-eighth inch and angle up to meet the carpet at one-quarter inch.


Joiners are dome-shaped transition strips that can be purchased in widths up to an inch and a half. The joiner is a symmetrical-shaped transition piece that resembles an umbrella. The joiner snaps into the trim track and sits on top of both flooring surfaces at the same height. Joiners can be purchased in varying widths and heights and are ideal where the carpet to vinyl transition is slight.

Transition Tips

Planning floor transitions at the time you choose your floor materials allows you to find the perfect transition strip for your needs. Waiting until the floor materials are installed to choose a transition strip could provide fewer choices and result in alternatives that are undesirable. Choosing a transition strip color that matches one or the other of the surface materials is advisable. Introducing a third color at a transition strip draws attention to it.

Cleaning the transition trim on a regular basis keeps debris and dirt from building up and soiling the area around the trim. A damp cloth is all that is needed to remove dirt and debris that collect on the trim. Before cleaning with a chemical product, verify what the manufacturer recommends on the surrounding floor surfaces. Some cleaners may have bleaching agents or other chemicals that can damage or weaken carpet and vinyl flooring.

About the Author

Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.