Tile and laminate joint – liquid cork or sill: comparison and installation instructions

Recommendation points

Quite often, with functional zoning, you have to dock different floor coverings. Using special design solutions or universal plastic joint filler for this is not just a matter of taste and personal preference. Today we will talk about the scope and specifics of work with liquid cork and classic sills.

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

Levels, edge quality and materials – what we are dealing with

The solution to the question of the most correct way of joining different floor coverings begins with a comprehensive assessment of the work front. Of primary importance are the quality of the flooring in different areas, as well as its type, level difference and operating conditions. But first things first.

The fundamental difference between plastic joint fillers (cork, silicone) and rigid linings (sills, click systems) is the property of the latter to provide protection to ends susceptible to moisture, dust and fine debris.

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

Difficulties are also added by the circumstance when one of the abutting coatings is arranged according to the floating floor system and does not have a rigid attachment to the rough surface. Most synthetic materials like linoleum and PVC gait do not show pronounced shrinkage and expansion, but with MDF laminate, difficulties can arise. In this case, the joint should have a compensatory purpose, that is, its width should be at least 0.5–1.5 mm for each meter of coverage. How a 15–20 mm gap will look like, sealed with a liquid cork – try to imagine yourself.

We have smoothly come to the basic rule of choosing between seam design options. If you want the most inconspicuous seam filled with a plastic compound, take the trouble to bring both coatings to the same level in advance and exclude any differences of more than 0.5 mm. Also keep in mind that the use of plastic aggregate is not always possible, especially in spacious rooms where the floor is finished with wood or materials that have a similar behavior with changes in humidity and temperature..

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

To summarize, if you are serious about using any plastic aggregate, be prepared for careful processing and precise trimming of the edges of the mating surfaces. It is important to understand that if the finished floor in both zones has already been laid, then most likely the moment has been missed, which means that it will no longer be possible to fill the seam with a liquid cork correctly and aesthetically..

Silicone and cork fillers

It is most reasonable to use plastic silicone fillers to mask forced transitions, for example, between linoleum in a room and tiles laid in the corridor. The deliberate use of a liquid cork for zoning overflowing spaces is the least beneficial, although customers and contractors have different points of view on this issue.

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

The optimum joint width for filling with liquid cork is from 5–7 to 15 mm. The smaller size will not allow high-quality filling of the joint groove, because the liquid nut includes a fairly large cork crumb, moreover, its consistency makes the filling of thin cracks an extremely tedious process.

Hence, we can conclude that for the junction of tiles and laminates, this transition method is quite applicable only when the laminate extends no more than 10 meters from the joint to the opposite wall, taking into account the 10 mm seam under the skirting board on the back side. We will look at a small exception to this rule a little later..

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

As for the structure of the coatings to be joined, the liquid cork is definitely not suitable for joining carpet with any other coating, as well as for filling joints between two linoleum sheets, if the thickness of the latter is less than 3 mm.

Technique for sealing joints with plastic filler

For a qualitative reduction of two levels of dissimilar coatings flush, a certain base point of reference is required. Usually, it is taken as a covering, rigidly fixed to the subfloor: tiles, porcelain stoneware, ordinary or modular parquet. This part of the floor is to be laid first and carefully leveled to obtain as even a surface as possible..

The laid cover forms an open end. When laying, close attention should be paid to the accuracy of trimming, however, even the most zealous attitude to this process does not guarantee that the edge will be brought under the general line. Therefore, the open end is machined after laying using a conventional abrasive stone or a circle if the edge has a radius shape. You have already understood that the maximum trimming accuracy in the first stage reduces the complexity of processing at all subsequent.

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

Next, the second part of the coating (it is usually floating) is brought to a common level with the first zone. For this, either substrates of different thicknesses are used, as in the case of a laminate, or, if the level difference exceeds all permissible values, the preparatory screed is poured with a self-leveling mixture.

Here it should be borne in mind that for a high-quality sealing of the seam, it is important to absolutely match the levels on the adjacent 50 cm of the coating; further along the floor, slight differences are allowed. Therefore, when leveling the mixture, use home-made thicknessing strips, or bring the dried screed to the desired level by grinding or rubbing with tile glue.

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

As for the seam filling technique, it is extremely simple. First, all dust and debris is swept out of the gap, then, if recommended by the manufacturer, the joint is opened with a special primer. You just need to fill the gap with the composition, while it is advisable to squeeze the mixture out of the tube into a more convenient container in advance. You need to crush the cork end-to-end as carefully as possible. After filling one to one and a half meters of the seam length, the excess cork is removed with a spatula, and the resulting stains – with a wet rag.

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

Sometimes it is allowed to fill seams with a plastic nut, the thickness of which exceeds 20 or even 30 mm. Such a transition is performed using a strip of solid cork expansion joint, which is immersed in the joint after filling it with a plastic compound. The protruding excess is easily cut off with a knife after drying.

Shelves and onlays

All kinds of “hard” sills are installed where plastic sealing is not relevant in principle. Level differences of more than 1 mm, torn edges, pronounced linear expansion of the coating are just some of the indications for their use..

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

The material of the flooring is also of decisive importance. For connecting linoleum, a flat docking pad is almost the only reliable transition, not counting the connection by soldering. Solid wood floors also require the use of appropriate fittings (also wood) for reasons of uniformity and solidity.

In general, hard transitions can be divided into three basic types, which have a fundamental difference during the installation process..

1. Direct flush-mounted sills are installed when both parts of the flooring are completed. Installation is carried out on ordinary dowels, the heads of the nails of which are pre-mounted in a hidden installation groove.

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

2. Aluminum sills are installed along the installation of the finished floor of both zones. Their wide shelves in the lower part prevent pulling out, but it is practically impossible to bring them under the covering after laying. Such sills cannot be replaced..

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

3. Straight and flexible click systems can be installed both during the installation of the flooring and after it has been completely finished. These sills can be replaced over time if their front part becomes frayed or unusable..

Tile and laminate joint - liquid cork or sill

The latter, by the way, is the benefit of rigid butt transitions: they are more resistant to destruction even in areas with high traffic. At the same time, the plastic core can be replaced relatively painlessly for the rest of the floor..

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