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Protecting Carpet Edges with Metal or Wood Transitions/Thresholds Q&A

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Dear NH, 

I live in Mobile, Alabama, reported to receive the most rainfall in the United States. That tells a lot about our climate here! It stays humid, but can get pretty hot most of the time. Last winter we didn't really even have a freeze!

O.K. here goes.....my angel of a son (Ha!) burned out a good patch of my carpet with my travel iron about 1 1/2 feet from the front door. I have carpet throughout my front entrance and living room area and have wanted for some time to put down tile of some kind in front of the entrance. The carpet has been worn quite heavily in that area. My question is once I cut out the portion of carpet, which will be 5'x3', what do I do with the new edges of carpet (that will be flush with the tiles once they are put down) to keep it from being pulled or torn and does this procedure need to be done before laying the tiles? I do hope this is not terribly confusing! Thank you!

ML from Mobile, Alabama

Roll the carpet back to expose the subfloor. If you want, you can cut the carpet before installing the floor, but you must leave at least a few inches of overlap beyond where you anticipate the edge of the tile will be. Once the tile is installed, you can cut the carpet more precisely to meet the edge of the tile or to accommodate the type of threshold you purchase.

There are various types of thresholds, also called transitions, that can be used to both protect the edge of the carpet from wear and cover the edge of the tile, too. Since they vary from store to store, I suggest you take a trip to your local home or hardware store... even a carpet store might have some... and look at the types available.

Another option is to simply have the carpet meet the tile without a transition. The edge of the tile has to be very precisely cut so that it is attractive. Tackless strips...long, narrow wooden strips embedded with rows of short nails... are installed within about 1/4 inch of the edge of the tile. The carpet is pulled onto them, and then pressed into the gap between the tackless and the tile, making a smooth, "string" free edge.

Though you didn't ask for info about installing the tiles, I have one suggestion. Ceramic tile can show a lot of wear in a frequently used entryway. The toughest material you can install is slate tiles. If you like the appearance, they will give you the most durability and easy maintenance. You can even coat them with a sealer to get a semi-gloss appearance and longer grout life.

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