How to Install RV Flooring
Are you beginning a camper renovation and not sure what flooring to go with? If you’ve done hours of research like me, you’ll find out that there is no right answer. Some go with laminate, vinyl, tile, or even hardwood. So let me tell you what I decided to go with and why.
I chose TrafficMASTER Luxury Vinyl Gripstrip Planks for these reasons.
- It’s 100% Waterproof. In my opinion, you need something 100% waterproof because having water come inside your camper is inevitable. Even if it’s just a slight mist that blows through the screen door during a summer rainstorm.
- It’s lightweight. Out of all the vinyl plank flooring on the market, this brand is the most lightweight you can find. In a camper renovation, you should always be aware of the weight and be sure to stay under the G.A.W.R (Gross Axle Weight Rating) for safety reasons.
- It’s durable. I have vinyl plank in my home with two dogs and after 5 years, the floor still looks brand new; even when they get the “zoomies“ and run as fast as they can, but just slip on the floor with their nails.
- It can be glued. With the flex of a camper while being towed, as well as temperature fluctuations, the flooring should really be glued down to prevent buckling, separating, and cracking. The glue will give it a secure hold. Plus it helps alleviate the hollow sound as you walk on it.
- It can be found at Home Depot. Let’s face it, everyone has a Home Depot relatively close. You can’t beat the convenience of just running to Home Depot and picking up the flooring, or having it shipped right to your home. Most custom flooring stores will take 3-4 weeks to have the product ordered and ready for pickup.
Those are all the reasons for my flooring choice, but let me shed some light why I did not go with the other options.
- Click-Lock Luxury Vinyl Planks: Most options are pretty thick and heavy. Plus if you winterized your camper, the cold weather makes the click-lock seams brittle and you could risk them breaking.
- Laminate: It’s not waterproof. Any water exposure will cause it to swell.
- Tile: With the flex of the camper while towing it’s susceptible to cracking
- Hardwood: It’s heavy, prone to scratches, and not waterproof.
- Vinyl Sheet: This is actually a great option to consider. The only reason I swayed from it was that it’s harder to install as an individual DIY’er, takes 3-4 weeks to be ordered, and I fear the slideout tearing it since it’s not as durable as the vinyl planks.
In the end, I hope this was valuable information and helps you chose the best flooring option for your camper. I have provided easy step-by-step instructions for the flooring installation below.
Also, follow along with my camper renovation on instagram @thehappyglamperco
How do you get the flooring underneath the slide?
To run the flooring underneath a slideout you can do it one of two ways.
Option 1: Extend the slide fully. Remove any gaskets that run along the bottom of the slide opening. Next, with bottle jacks and a couple of 2×4’s, jack up the slide box a few inches to give you space to slide the new flooring in. Finally, install the new flooring, lower the jacks, and put the gasket back on. If your camper has/needs additional wear bars, I recommend this one: https://store.lci1.com/wear-bar-10ft-117478.html Be sure to install the wear bars on the tops of the new flooring.
Option 2: Use a crowbar or hammer to pry up the edge of the subfloor enough that you can slide a block of wood underneath. This way, you have enough room to slide the flooring under the slide subfloor. Go as far back with the flooring as you can without pushing past the exterior seal/wiper.
Important: When jacking the slide box up or prying on the subfloor, be mindful of the top as there are only a few inches of space between the top and camper opening.
HOW DID YOU TRIM THE FRONT EDGE OF THE SLIDE?
Since my slideout was angled, I cut strips of the flooring and glued/screwed them to the front edge with 1/4″ screws. Then, I used caulk to fill the gap between the main slideout flooring and the front strip.
Another method would be to rip a 1″x3″ board at a 12.5-degree angle, then attach it to the angled edge with wood glue and 1/2″ finish nails. This will make the edge square, and then you can add stair nose trim to give you the finished look.
HOW DO YOU KEEP THE SLIDEOUT FROM SCRATCHING THE FLOORING?
My model only had two 12″ wear bars on each end of the slideout, so I ran an additional 10′ wear bar underneath the entire slideout for an extra lift when retracting in. Also, I definitely recommend getting a set or two of Slide-Out Slickers for the corners and center of the slideout. The corners typically cause the most wear so that the slickers will prevent any contact with your flooring.
Make sure the subfloor is fully prepped. All staples removed or hammered in, any water damage repaired, and uneven seams sanded down. If your subfloors are flaking, have glue remnants, or has various cracks and gaps – I recommend applying a coat of Behr DeckOver Paint to unify the surface.
Start in the left-hand corner of your camper that has a slideout or the longest run without obstacles. Apply a thin layer of flooring adhesive with a 1/16″ notched trowel. Be sure to hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle. You can spread the flooring adhesive as you go for a more permanent hold or apply sections and let it dry for a removable hold.
Lay your first plank of flooring and keep a 1/4” gap between the wall and flooring. When applying each plank thereafter, hold at a 45-degree angle, place the left corner in first and adhere the plank.
Use a flooring roller to ensure proper adhesion.
Repeat this process until complete. Then finish off by adding PVC molding at the base of the wall and flooring. Attached with the 1 1/4″ brad nails and caulk the holes.