Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you’ve been following our RV Interior Design and Decor blog series with the renovation process. We’ve taken you through the planning process onto our newly painted ceiling and colorful walls and then to our instructional cool new galley backsplash. But wait, we’re not done yet!
Though we’ve not taken our two year old luxury fifth wheel down to bare bones (ie. removing cabinets, major reconstruction), we have made modifications and improvements; one of which was removing all of the carpet and replacing it with new solid surface flooring.
After extensive research and interviewing others who reconfigured their own RV flooring, we decided to remove the carpet throughout and replace the with something fancier but functional.
We needed a product that’s been tested for strength and flexibility; one that would stand up to temperature fluctuations and be stellar in wearability. Let’s look at what flooring options are out there.
- Good Quality Carpet – Carpet is nice and plushy however, in the environments we travel, it’s not a good choice for us. We have two longer haired Maine Coon cats and we are not good at remembering to take our shoes off at the door. Carpet holds dirt, dust and allergens; all of which we were trying to mitigate, if not eliminate completely.
- Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles – These are wonderful for houses however a big no-no for RV towables because of their weight and their lack of flexibility. They are prone to buckling, cracking and breaking during towing. Additionally, they are just too heavy for the frame as well as the extra weight impedes gas mileage.
- Hardwood – Though it looks amazingly beautiful, wood is prone to contraction and expansion due to humidity and coach movement. Hardwood is subject to buckling, shifting, cracking and may warp. Like ceramic tile, it’s heavy which adds to the weight of the coach.
- Tongue and Groove Manufactured Laminate – These are great for houses however, they are not conducive for RV’s because they are heavy with very little flex. Additionally, they are not really great for the places RVs go; dirt, sand, and water. Though they look great and are quite durable, they are thicker which hinders proper slide operation. Like hardwood, laminate can damage easily due to environmental conditions such as humidity. Let’s also mention that water is not its friend. A leak from a water pipe may seep under the surface and cause bloating damage. This option has much of the same characteristics of the hardwood option.
- Sheet Vinyl – we’ve read other RVer who have applied a whole sheet of vinyl with glue and others who have installed plank flooring also with glue only to have it split or gouge the first time they roll the slides in or out.
- Peel ‘n Stick Tiles or Vinyl Planks – we’ve learned from others who installed these types which had poor results. They separated at the seams leaving unsightly gaps or came unstuck. None of these were going to work for our situation.
- Self-Overlap Vinyl Planks – This low profile flooring is durable, lightweight and easy to install. As well, this type is intended to ‘float’ which means it’s not secured to the floor with adhesive, screws or nails. They are easy to install if you’re a DIY’er and very few tools are needed.
WHAT WE CHOSE AND WHY:
After researching all of our flooring options, we ruled out those that were heavy and impeded slide operation which left us with the three latter options in our listing above.
Then, a full-time RV friend, who incidentally has the same manufacturer and brand as our Landmark 5th wheel, told us about a product they used that fit the bill on all counts; affordability, flexibility, and wearability. They self-installed theirs and it’s held up well and stood the test of time, wear, environmental changes and it didn’t break their bank account. Their recommendation was the Self-Overlap Vinyl Planks made by Allure.
We started to research which kinds were best in our coach and our needs. The Allure GripStick Resilient Plank Flooring seemed like the best choice for our RV remodel. We chose White Maple #97011 that looks like white washed planks.
The reason we chose a lighter color because it would lighten the inside of our coach. Since it’s just us two with no dogs traipsing in and out of our RV with muddy paws, it just seemed like the best option for us.
Besides the versatility of the flooring we chose, the DIY self-installation process sold us on this product. It was easier and desirable because there were no glues, nailing, screwing or other messy installs.
WHERE WE PURCHASED IT:
We purchased our flooring and installation supplies at The Home Depot. Because our particular selection was not a stock item, we had to order our specified quantity from the flooring department. It took approximately three weeks for delivery, so we had to plan accordingly of where and how long we parked.
Our flooring installation required the following tools:
- Sharp scissors
- Sharp razor knife with extra blades
- Cutting surface (healing mat or cutting board)
- Four foot level
- Small carpenters square
- Small hand roller
- Metal 24 inch ruler
- Tape measure
- Marker or Wax Pencil
While waiting for the flooring to come in, Grunt Man removed the carpet and all staples, lumps and bumps that may cause the flooring to bubble or leave a bump. However, he did not remove the pre-existing linoleum in the kitchen area. It would have been a lot of unnecessary work. There wasn’t really enough profile height to worry about transition. He also inspected every inch of the subfloor for any water damage, mold or mildew.
Now, there was a little controversy of whether or not we should install an underlayment before installing our Allure GripStick planks. We’ve read on the Home Depot community forum:
“In Allure’s case, an underlayment is simply not needed since the product is flexible enough underfoot and acts as its own cushioning. That is why vinyl floors are considered resilient flooring systems: they essentially go back to the original shape after pressure (foot traffic) has been applied.
Underlayment is still a different matter versus making sure the underside of the Allure is moisture-free. This issue can come up in below grade and in concrete subfloors, a great example of this is a basement floor. At the end of the day, the top surface of the Allure will be waterproof but not water-resistant. In other words, you’ll need to make sure you have a clean and dry subfloor first before installing this product. “
All of that said, WE chose to install Floor Comfort Advanced Underlayment for two reasons. First being, it offers a layer of extra insulation and two, it creates a water-resistant barrier. Are we saying the it’s needed? No, we are not flooring specialists so we can’t say that. This is just what WE did to make our coach a little more comfortable for us.
We purchased underlayment recommended by the flooring manufacturer at Lowe’s. It came in an accordion-like package instead of a roll which made installation much easier. As well, the surface was printed with gridlines to make measuring and cutting a breeze.
Grunt Man used the manufacturer-recommended seam tape to join the ends of the underlayment together. He DID NOT adhere anything to the subfloor because this was going to be a true ‘floating floor’.
By the way, the underlayment took care of the slight transition from where the linoleum and the carpet once met perfectly.
Lastly, we received an email when the flooring arrived at the store. We picked it up and put it inside our coach to ‘come to temperature’ as per manufacturer instructions.
Two days later, my Grunt Man started the actual installment by laying 2 mm underlayment as per product recommendation. The underlayment came in an accordian style sheet instead of a roll which made it easier to measure and lay down. All underlayment seams were taped with the manufacturer’s recommended tape. It had grid lines to make measuring and cutting a breeze. The underlayment was not adhered to the RV’s floor in any way.
The planks were easy to cut with a simple sharp razor knife and metal flat ruler and easy to install. The floor plan of the RV required cutting around a center island in the kitchen and several floor registers. The glue edges of the floor planks are very sticky, so be sure you have the planks joined where you want them before final adhesion. A 1/4″ gap was left around the floor perimeter allowing it to “float”.
We filled any gaps with soft silicone caulk that matched the flooring for a finished look. There was no need to install any mouldings. He rolled all of the seams firmly and thoroughly to ensure proper adhesion. Oh and knee pads are a must! Buy them…or lots of Advil and earplugs (for you).
An important note…
This is a floating floor which means, there is no adhesion to the subfloor. This enables the floor to contract or expand with temperature variances. As well, it will subtly flex with the the existing subfloor as the coach moves down the road.
Grunt Man installed the rooms separately to give his knees and back a break between each install. Since we lived in our fifth wheel at the same time as installation, we decided it would be less chaotic doing one room at a time.
Here are our installation time calculations:
- Bedroom: 6 hours – removing carpet; installing underlayment and flooring
- Bathroom & Hallway: 4 hours – removing toilet, installing underlayment and flooring, replacing toilet.
- Steps: 2 hours – removing carpet, installing underlayment, flooring and stair nose moulding.
- Living area and Galley: 13 hours – removing carpet, installing underlayment and flooring.
TOTAL HOURS OF PREP and INSTALLATION – 25 hours
We put together our shopping list with costs associated with our flooring installation to give an idea of what we spent on our 41′ 5th wheel. Realize, we recovered every square foot of flooring inside our coach with the exception of the dining room slide.
- Underlayment: 3 packs, each pack covers 100 square feet. $36 per pack for $108 total.
- Underlayment seam tape: 4 rolls, $6 each for $24 total.
- Allure GripStick Resilient Flooring: 12 cases, each case covers 24 square feet. $46 per case for $552 total.
- Tools: 1 pack of razor blades, contains 100 blades. $8 total.
- Small hand roller: $15
- The carpenters square, four foot level, razor knife, and metal ruler we already owned.
- Grog – Grunt Man’s payment and reward $35
TOTAL OF SUPPLIES and PRODUCT: $742 and some blood sweat and tears, with a side order of sore muscles.