A saddle strip sits on top of the structurally essential doorsill, taking the wear and tear of foot traffic and keeping dirt and moisture off the floor. Saddles provide a decorative and functional bridge between indoors and outdoors, and between floors of different textures and heights.
The major components of a door frame are the side pieces, or jambs; the top crosspiece, or lintel; and the bottom crosspiece, or sill. Secure alignment of these pieces is essential to a square, safe doorway. A saddle may be narrower, wider or the same width as the bottom sill. Like the saddle on a horse, its edges frequently are tapered for a smooth fit, with a thicker mid-portion designed to absorb shock. Placing a saddle on top of a doorsill can help keep drafts and dirt from blowing under a door and can prevent moisture flowing from one floor to another.
Hardwood such as oak is a durable choice, especially if interior floors are hardwood. Tiled floors in a kitchen or bathroom can be finished with marble saddles or saddle of stone compounds used for tiling. More contemporary settings accommodate saddles of aluminum and other metals such as brass or bronze -- with or without wood ornamentation. Metal saddles can make a transition between highly disparate flooring such as wall-to-wall carpet in a bedroom and the tile paving on the adjoining terrace floor.
Wood and Metal Saddle Choices
A standard interior wood or metal saddle strip should be 2 inches wide by 36 inches long, and 1/2- or 3/4-inch thick. Strips usually are beveled to a depth of approximately 1/2 inch on one side or both. If floors are an even height on both sides of the strip, beveling on both sides makes it easiest to walk through the doorway without tripping. An overall 2-inch width matches the dimensions of the side jambs, and the 1/2- to 3/4-inch rise in the middle of the saddle strip is adequate to contain most spilled liquid. Wood saddles may be obtained in greater lengths and widths for more expansive doorways. Bevels vary, and wide saddles can be tailored to floors of differing heights. Wider saddles also function as an excellent transition between two floors that do not meet in tight alignment, as might be the case between the floor of the family room and that of an indoor greenhouse or solarium. For indoor-outdoor transitions, look for saddles with rubber insulation.
Stone and Marble Saddle Options
Although stone and marble saddles are available in 2-inch widths, increased interest in elegant bathroom decor and concerns about accessibility have combined to change standards. Homeowners can find a wide range of stone and marble choices in 4- and 6-inch "hotel" widths with standard bevel edges or a beveling sometimes called "Hollywood" style, which those in a wheelchair may more easily navigate.
Installing Door Saddles
A saddle strip can be installed two ways depending on material. Cut off just enough of the bottom of the side jamb strips against which the door closes to permit sliding a metal or marble saddle into place on top of the sill. Metal saddles customarily are held in place with screws while most marble or stone saddles rely on weight. Wood saddles can be installed via the same method but the customary and more elegant fit is obtained by making notched cuts called "rabbets" to match the contours of the sides of the door frame. The saddle can be secured with flat screws or with countersunk screws.
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