One of the most important elements in a successful flooring installation is often the most under estimated, in terms of its impact and the complexity of associated installation factors. The ‘trim’ or transitional profile exists to reduce trip hazards and the risk of accidents, while providing a safe joint between different floorcoverings.

(Images courtesy of C.A.T Ltd, specialist flooring profiles and accessories.)

However, compared to the flooring itself, trims are often not given as much due care and attention at the specification stage, which can lead to major headaches. Architects and clients may have their own favourites – but a trim that may have worked well for one project, will not necessarily work for the next project and the incorrect allocation of trims can cause undesirable delays, extra cost and unnecessary waste of materials.

With a huge and quite frankly, bewildering choice of trim types, materials and colours available from a multitude of manufacturers, covering a vast range of circumstances and budgets, where do you begin when selecting a trim?

1. Substrate

This is key – what is your floor being laid on? Is it screed, timber, raised access floor or a concrete slab for example? Some trims need to be mechanically fixed and some are bonded, so the base they are being fixed to and method of fixing, matters.

2. Flooring type

Whether it is modular carpet tile, broadloom, luxury vinyl, timber or resilient flooring, the thickness of the product will affect the size and type of profile that can be specified. This is especially true when using a trim to transition between different types of flooring, say a 15mm thick carpet tile to a 2mm vinyl or a 28mm timber plank. And then of course, there are the levels on which these differing floor types are laid.

3. Levels

A vital element in the trim equation, is the level of the substrate. The levels on both sides need to be even, once the flooring is laid and the trim taken into account, in order to avoid creating a trip hazard.

Joining different product types creates further complexity due to the variance in thickness, so levels on either side may need to be raised (perhaps for a Luxury Vinyl Tile) or dropped (for hardwood flooring). This can be achieved more easily during the build phase if the flooring has been specified early enough, or retrospectively in the case of a refit. Ply and various latex levelling compounds may need to be employed to create the desired base level and eliminate variations or ramp effects, and we can advise on the correct sub-floor preparation for the products being specified.

4. Environment

It is important to consider the type of setting that the trim will be used in, both from an appearance and a performance point of view. Should it blend in or stand out? Luxury residential may require high end finishes or unusual colours to match the interior décor or make a feature of the trim.

Public and retail spaces need to withstand high footfall, will there be wheeled machinery or heavy rolling stock traffic, like loaded trolleys for example?

5. Location

As well as the setting, the specific location within that setting is important. Is it in the middle of an expanse of flooring or positioned in a doorway? When specifying doorway trims, it is also essential to know whether the door features a drop seal. If so, the trim must be located centrally, directly beneath it, because if the size of the trim or the placing of the trim is out by even 1mm, it will prevent the door from closing.

6. Curved or straight

Not all flooring installations are based on linear designs and some transitional trims may be required on curved edges. In this instance ‘formable’ trims will be required that can be formed to a radius. Depending on the design and the rest of the factors in the equation, these may need to be pre-fabricated offsite – or where possible, an off the shelf product that can be curved in situ, may suffice.

7. Budget and lead times

The trims themselves can vary considerably in cost depending on the material and finish (PVC, brass, bronze, chrome, brushed stainless steel, satin nickel, aluminium) and whether they are bespoke or standard, off the shelf. Some trims come in two parts and have a base that is compatible with various clip tops, while others will only work with one type, so it is essential to be aware of all the pertinent details to avoid unnecessary waste and cost.

What’s more, having to go back and correct or adjust the substrate for installation will add further cost and time to a project.

Given the sheer number of different types and thicknesses, manufacturers will not have everything in stock at any given time and the more unusual colours or types – particularly formable trims, will be made to order. If you require 500 linear metres of formable, aquamarine PVC for example, you don’t expect it to be just sitting there waiting! Therefore allowing bespoke manufacturing time into the installation programme and ordering well in advance, is a must.
When all of the above has been taken into consideration, you can see how important it is to think about allocating trims at an early stage. When specified as an afterthought, they can cause all manner of unwanted cost and delays to a project.

The key thing to remember is to talk to the experts as early as possible to get advice on a trim that is fit for purpose and suits your budget. This will help avoid the potential downfalls of incorrectly specified trims and ensure a smooth and successful installation.

Talk to Loughton Contracts – we know flooring!