GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Bedroom to Bathroom Height Transition and Thresholds

Monte_Main | Posted in General Questions on

Bathroom remodels often have some height transition.  Our previous bathroom remodel required a 1/2″ step up which is barely noticeable (we used a small tapered transition strip) an nobody has had a problem with it. The flooring in the rest of the house is 3/4″ oak.

However, we discovered that the small bathroom we are remodeling (5′ 8″ long) (zone 5A) has significant floor issues.  The bathroom floor drops off almost 7/8″.  

The bathroom will be tiled in 12×24″ tiles and the contractor is not comfortable that the final result will look good because the slope is not even  and it will be difficult to make a slope that won’t telegraph through the 12×24″ tiles. 

So contractor is recommending using self-leveler, which will result in a 1 3/8″ height transition from the bedroom to the bathroom.

I’m thinking of a threshold that fits within the jamb (under the stop, but against the jamb) and is the full depth of the jamb (4 3/4″).  It could be either tapered or a block at the height of the bathroom floor. 

I was thinking of either stained Oak to match the flooring, but I could have a custom marble threshold as well.

So here are the questions

(1) Any opinions on whether a tapered or step transition is better? Some have thought that the taper might be a tripping hazard with 1 3/8″ height transition.

(2) Regardless of the profile of the threshold (taper or block), would having it match the bathroom floor reduce the possibility of tripping? It seems to me if I use oak and match the wood floors, the step (or taper) might not be noticeable. Is 1 3/8″ enough to trip someone?

(3) Should I be putting the threshold under the jamb as well?

(4) What have others done to handle height transitions of 1″ or greater

Thanks in advance!

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. freyr_design | | #1

    I would lower your subfloor the same way you would for a curb less shower, attach 2x members along sides of floor joist and install new subfloor between joist so your new subfloor is joist height. You could level at the same time and dial in your height transition so that there is no height difference floor to floor. If you need to gain height after this you can either use self leveler or simple use hardie or plywood to get it to the correct height.

    It shouldn’t take your contractor much more time than self leveler and self leveler isn’t cheap.

  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #2

    +1 on the above suggestion. Check your joist size and span, if your josts are oversized sometimes you can even shave the top of the joists a bit for extra room.

    1 3/8" is too much of a step.

    The other option is to use smaller tile where you can cheat a bit on slope without noticing it too much.

  3. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #3

    I second freyer_design's advice. (Edit: third.) I try to keep floors flush, but on renovations I'm ok with up to 3/4". On a couple of occasions I've had 2" steps and they are serious trip hazards, with or without a ramp. In those cases I had the same debate and settled on a rounded-over square edge wood to match the flooring, but would have been ok with stone if the clients strongly preferred it. I extended the nosing beyond the face of the trim outside the bathroom with an apron below to match the door casing.

    You'll get used to it quickly but guests will not. Even when you're used to it, at some point you will trip, and falling onto tile is not fun. I would do what is necessary to make the floor flush. In fact I'm gearing up to do so on my own bathroom, which has the same issue.

    1. Monte_Main | | #4

      We used 23/32" underlayment. So another option is to rip up and replace with 1/4" plywood plus self leveler. That gets us down to a 3/4" transition. Self-leveler is quite strong, so the 23/32 was really not necessary. I've reached out to MAPEI to see if they are okay on a 1/4" plywood underlayment.

    2. Monte_Main | | #5

      What is the height transition in your own bathroom?

      1. Expert Member
        Michael Maines | | #6

        I've used plenty of self-leveler on projects. It's not really made for that depth and will cost a lot, at least the kind I'm familiar with. Maybe it will work but I would check with the manufacturer. It's strong in that it probably won't crack, but it doesn't provide any of its own structural integrity. 1/4" plywood doesn't add any strength either, unless it's REALLY well bonded to the layer below.

        How stout is your framing? Mine is undersized (house built in 1830), slopes roughly 1" down toward the bathroom door and I'm also going to build a barrier-free shower, so I'm tearing out the floor framing anyway. But before committing to that I considered other options, and I've designed and/or built recessed floor sheathing several times for clients.

        1. Monte_Main | | #7

          MAPEI said fine about 1/4" over 3/4", but I have my doubts. One corner dips by 7/8", but the average depth of self leveler will be .41" inch, so about 1.7 bags. Two bags of MAPEI Ultraplan 1 is $56 plus tax. We used it to level the shower before putting in the Kerdi, and it went in quickly. Still a lot cheaper and faster than tearing out the farm boards and lowering the bathroom floor. We still may go with a step threshold. I read some OSHA and FHA (Federal Highway Administration) documents. Even 1/4" of an inch causes trips. The recommendation is to make the step visually clear so we'll make it same height as the bathroom floor and the same color, so the transition is visually cued. (The oak floors are dark).

          1. Expert Member
            Deleted | | #8


Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |