Years ago, “to transition or not to transition” was the million-dollar question when trying to sell a Laminate floor. This single question could make or break a sale at any moment. Majority of flooring customers did not prefer a transition piece in the doorway as the flooring was extending into another room. However, now I see more floating products using T-moldings. T-moldings are becoming required with floating products when a room reaches a certain size or when installing flooring through a doorway.
The first floating product that comes to mind is the floating Locking Strand Woven Bamboo flooring. When first introduced, Locking Strand Woven Bamboo flooring could go in any size room with no transitions. However, now the room size has been reduced and most times T-molding is required when going through a doorway or irregularly shaped spaces. On Mohawk’s Locking Strand Woven Bamboo flooring website page, they state, “WARRANTIES DO NOT COVER NATURAL EXPANSION AND CONTRACTION WHICH RESULTS IN SEPARATION BETWEEN PLANKS, OR DAMAGE CAUSED BY EXCESSIVELY LOW OR HIGH HUMIDITY.” The correct conditions are 60-80° F room temperature with relative humidity between 35-55%. If these conditions are not met, then this product is going to move drastically. This movement is generally categorized as shrinkage, which usually results in plank separation.
In terms of other floating products, Armstrong and Bruce Floating Hardwood flooring states, “If your room exceeds a maximum room width of 30′ or a maximum room length of 30′ additional expansion space is required.” T-Moldings may be used at doorways or intersections to increase the expansion space. But always remember that the air relative humidity must be maintained between 35-55%.
Another product that I am seeing changes to transitions is Luxury Vinyl Tile. More and more LVT manufacturers are recommending using T-moldings when exceeding maximum room size limit and when transitioning through doorways. Metroflor Engage has just changed its instructions for use of T-moldings if the maximum room size is above 40’ x 40’. So, if you increase the expansion to ½”, then you can go 60’ x 60’. They also state that T-moldings are required in all doorways and passageways under 4’. This is because a locking LVT does not have the seam holding strength that a tape system LVT has, which could result in it unlocking itself if it becomes pinched or hung up.
Within my research, I really did some digging into Laminate flooring. Many people think that Laminate flooring does not need to be acclimated or T-moldings are not required. However, I found this to be the total opposite. I spent time researching eight manufacturers and six of them had stated that acclimation and T-moldings are required in certain size rooms and doorways. The other two manufacturers have such vague installation requirements that they don’t even list an expansion space. Another thing that really stuck out was that all eight of the manufacturers have a required air relative humidity requirement. Majority of the manufacturers say that the air relative humidity must be maintained between 35% and 55%, but some even go as high as 50-60% and 30-90% RH. It is extremely important for this information to be known by your customers to make sure the proper flooring maintenance will take place.
In the flooring industry, 97-98% of all complaints are flooring installation, subfloor, or flooring maintenance related. Substrate preparation products, flooring products, adhesives, and installation techniques are all changing at a rapid pace because of today’s technology, so it is the responsibility of the installer to assure that the products are installed in a strict adherence to the manufacturer’s recommendations. But, it is also your responsibility to keep up with the change. I am confident that every product sold in your store has a website page with installation instructions, and that every carton of material sold in your store comes with installation instructions. Make sure to check it out yourself or keep up to date with your sales rep on if there are any changes to your flooring products.