In this guide to flooring transitions, Tim Hayes points out it’s vital to fit robust transition profiles to minimise the risk of hazards developing.
A FLOORING transition is a profile that joins two floorcoverings together. The type of transition used will depend on the situation. For example, a simple flat transition made of PVC or metal can be used to link floorcoverings of similar thickness.
For a junction between floorcoverings of different height, a slightly ramped transition may be needed. This is just one of many considerations when selecting a flooring transition for a particular project.
Transitions are installed between floorcoverings to protect the flooring material edges and reduce the risk of a junction becoming a trip hazard. The correct selection of flooring transition is critical in reducing the risk of injury in the built environment.
According to RIDDOR (reporting of injuries, diseases, and dangerous occurrences regulations), ‘slips, trips and falls make up more than half all reported major injuries (in the built environment), causing suffering and financial loss to individuals, companies and society at large’.
According to the UK Slip Resistance Group, every five minutes there’s a slip, trip or fall in a non-domestic building. This leads to in excess of 300,000 hospital visits per year. Therefore, it’s critical to remove potential hazards which can lead to accidents related to fitted flooring. This makes it vital to fit robust transition profiles, to minimise the risk of hazards developing.
There are two building regulations that cover flooring transitions. The first is Part K: protection from falling, collision and impact. The second is Part M: access to and use of buildings. This outlines provisions for entrances and general access, which includes the gradient of ramped access.
BS8300-2:2018 is also important, as it regards the design of an accessible and inclusive built environment. Building regulations and British standards state the need for flooring to be safe for all users, and that unnecessary ramps and hazards should be avoided.
So, what are the key considerations you need to think about when selecting a flooring transition?
- Heights: What are the heights (or thicknesses) of the two floorcoverings you’re going to transition? If there is a big difference, do you have enough room to use a gentle ramped profile?
- Traffic: How many people are accessing the area where the transition will be fitted? The more people who walk over the transition on a daily basis, the more robust the transition will need to be.
- Environment: There are two key points here. First, is the area at risk of being wet or is it continually dry? If the area has a risk of being wet, does the transition you’re fitting have a visible surface? If so, you should use a transition which can offer slip-resistant properties when wet, with a pendulum test value (PTV) above 36. Second, will there be heavy items such as trolleys running over the transition? If this is the case, it’s important to select a product that can deal with the weight and repeated impact without failing.
- Colours: In schools, bright and bold transition colours are often used to make a learning environment more exciting. However, for projects such as healthcare environments, dementia-friendly transitions may be necessary. In these instances, the colour of the flooring transition should match that of the floorcoverings as closely as possible. The difference in colours between the transition and the floorcovering on each side should not exceed 10 degrees of light reflectance values (LRV). It’s also important shiny metals or patterned transitions shouldn’t be used, as they can cause confusion.
- Shape: There are two options here, straight edges or curves. This is a design choice – if there are curves in the design between floorcoverings, it goes without saying you need to use a transition that’s easy to curve onsite. For this, the transition needs to be flexible enough to allow you to curve to the tightest radii of the floorcovering specification.
Quantum Flooring Solutions has a range of flooring transitions. The most basic of these are flexible PVC diminishing strips and ramp trims. These are used to protect floorcovering edges and are fitted to thicker floorcoverings to transition down to a base level floorcovering. They can be curved onsite to suit different types of installations, and they reduce the risk of trips at floorcovering junctions.
There are also cover joints, which are positioned between vinyl edges to cover the joints in a subfloor, reducing the risk of the main floorcoverings cracking or splitting. PVC floor trims are secured to the residual floor, with the adjoining floorcoverings fixed in place up to either side of the profile.
LVT transitions are metal, and can be fitted either LVT to LVT, or carpet to LVT. A strip of the LVT can be fitted in the channel of the transition. Dementia friendly transitions are similar in design to LVT transitions, but the base is made from uPVC. This allows it to have a similar LRV to the floorcoverings in healthcare environments.
When adjacent floorcoverings have a large gap between them, or the height difference is pronounced, more resilient and adaptable transitions may be necessary. For Quantum Flooring, this is TopClip.
There are two aluminium bases in the range, along with four uPVC bases which can be curved up to a 750mm radius. The four transition tops can also be curved, and will cover the heights between most floorcovering junctions with a slip resistant material, which is available in 24 colours.
Flooring transition profiles are only a small part of a flooring project, and they are often overlooked and left until the last minute. Nevertheless, correct selection is critical as they can help to greatly improve the safety and longevity of a floorcovering.
These profiles are vital in allowing people to safely move between different flooring areas and floorcoverings. This can apply not just to the type of transition used, but also the colour of the profile. As Charles Eames once said: ‘The details are not the details; they make the design.’
Tim Hayes is specification & marketing manager, Quantum Systems