Though our luxury fifth wheel didn’t need a major RV renovation taking it down to bare bones such as removing cabinets, major reconstruction, we did make some incredible cosmetic modifications and improvements. One of which was replacing our carpet and sheet vinyl with new solid surface plank flooring.
After extensive research and interviewing other who have done their own RV flooring upgrade, we decided to throw ourselves to the wolves and put forth this extensive D.I.Y. RV renovation that would help increase the value of our fifth wheel.
Before we even looking at a single flooring sample, we researched many flooring options that are suitable for RVs. We needed a product that’s been tested for strength and flexibility; one that would stand up to temperature fluctuations, flexibility and be stellar in wearability. We also wanted something stylish and lighter to brighten up the dark interior of our Landmark fifth wheel.
This blog article contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission at no extra cost to you so we can continue to create more helpful free content. Thank you, we appreciate your support!
RV Decor: FLOORING UPGRADE for RV or Camper
What you’ll learn in this blog:
Carpet is nice and plushy however, in the environments we travel, it’s simply not a good choice for us. In fact, we often wonder why RV manufacturers install carpet in the first place. Do they not understand that camping involved dirt and mud? And do they not appreciate that most RVers have either kids, pets or both?
Carpet holds dirt, dust and allergens. It’s a pain to clean and if you’ve noticed after cleaning your carpets in your sticks and bricks, once a carpet is cleaned (even professionally), it is subject to attracting more dirt. Look, when we go camping or RVing, the last thing we want to be thinking about is cleaning it.
Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles
We had installed porcelain and ceramic tiles in our sticks and bricks house. The results were amazing and added stability and class. However, houses don’t jerk around over potholes, run over objects in the road or flex like RVs.
Porcelain and ceramic tiles are a big no-no for RV towables because of their weight and their lack of flexibility. These tiles and the grout are prone to buckling, cracking and breaking during towing.
And let’s not forget that they are just too heavy for fifth wheels and towable campers. A single 12″ x 12″ porcelain or ceramic tile weighs about 4.5 lbs. Multiply that by the measurements you need to install, add the grout and water needed to make it, underlayment, etc., and you’ll find out quickly that is going to make you exceed your RV’s GVWR.
That said, for motorhomes that are built on much heavier chassis, you’ll see they can endure this type of tile flooring. But, for the towable RV market, we need to move on and skip these stone-like tiles.
Genuine hardwood flooring is amazingly beautiful and could increase the value of your RV greatly. However, wood flooring is prone to contraction and expansion due to humidity and coach movement. Hardwood flooring is also subject to buckling, shifting, cracking and warping. Like ceramic tile, hardwood flooring is heavy which adds to the weight of the coach. Again, tempting fate when it comes to keeping within your RV’s weight restrictions.
Tongue and Groove Manufactured Laminate
This flooring option is great for sticks and bricks homes! However, it’s not conducive for RV’s because these too, are heavy and offer very little flex. Like hardwood flooring, they may separate and create cracks between the planks which will cause buckling.
Additionally, they are not really great for the places RVs go; dirt, sand, and water. While manufactured flooring looks great and is practically care-free, these planks are thicker which will hinder proper slide operation.
And like hardwood flooring, laminate can damage easily due to environmental conditions such as humidity and water. An unsuspecting leak from a water pipe may seep under the surface and cause bloating damage, dangerous mold and mildew.
Practically every towable RV comes with sheet vinyl. And, while RV manufacturer interior designers may think they’re doing us a favor by selecting darker tint flooring, it just adds to the cave-like darkness RV owners are trying to get away from.
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.
And lastly, depending on where you may store your towable camper, extreme temperatures can cause damage such as glue separation, vinyl splitting and curling.
Peel ‘n Stick Vinyl Tile
These tiles are one of the cheapest options out there. But trust me, they simply don’t last and hold up to the traffic wear and tear. Sure, if you’re looking for a quick RV renovation fix for a camper that is barely used or just sits on your property used as a guest room, I guess you could go with this option.
However, if you are a full-time RVer or serious RV camper, peel ‘n stick vinyl tiles or planks, I promise you’ll be replacing them in 6 months. The tiles come unstuck, shift during movement, buckle leaving unsightly gaps and lifted corners.
Self-Adhesive Overlap Vinyl Plank
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 provide a warm, comfortable aura of real wood to your interior space.
This highly durable, water-resistant flooring is great for use in kitchens, bathrooms and high-traffic areas of a sticks and bricks home. The floating floor installs over most existing vinyl surfaces with no floor preparation or adhesives required. They are easy to install if you’re a DIY’er and very few tools are needed.
That said, we noticed on the packaging that it’s not recommended for RVs but then again, all of the flooring options listed above with the exception of the sheet vinyl are not appropriate for the towable RVs.
After researching all of the above 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, another full-time RVing couple, who incidentally also had a Landmark fifth wheel, told us about a product they used that fit our requirements; affordability, flexibility, and durability. Their assessment after two years of wear and tear, they were quite happy with the results. It holds up well and stands the test of time, wear, environmental changes. And, it didn’t break their bank account.
Their recommendation? They opted for our last flooring option listed above; the self-adhesive overlap vinyl planks.
So, we went right to work with researching which would be best in our fifth wheel. The Allure GripStick Resilient Plank Flooring seemed to be the best choice for our Landmark.
We love the warm, comfortable aura of real wood to our RV flooring. Each vinyl plank is 3.8 mm thickness x 6″ width x 36″ length and weighs a little over 2 pounds each.
We chose the white-washed planks for a weathered carefree appearance that offered a lighter color to help bounce the light to make the inside of our RV brighter. And, since it’s just us two with no rambunctious kids or dogs traipsing in and out of our RV with muddy paws and shoes, this flooring option seemed like the best for us and our Landmark.
While the versatility of the flooring is listed as exceptional, the D.I.Y. self-installation process is what sold us on our choosing. It’s deemed easier and most desirable do-it-yourself install because there are no fuming glues, nailing, screwing or other messy applications.
We measured ten times and finally ordered our flooring and installation supplies.
Our flooring installation required the following tools:
- Underlayment: 3 packs, each pack covers 100 square feet
- Underlayment seam tape: 4 rolls
- Allure GripStick Resilient Flooring: 12 cases, each case covers 24 sq ft
- Tape Measure
- Black Wax Pencil
- Good Scissors
- Self-Healing Cutting Mat
- Small hand roller
- Carpenters square
- 4′ level
- Razor knife
- Razor knife blades– 100 blades
- 24″ metal ruler
- Soft Silicone Caulk – 2 tubes
While waiting for our flooring shipment to arrive, Dan removed all of the carpet, padding and all staples. He also skimmed off all lumps and bumps that may cause the flooring to bubble or leave a bump. He also inspected every inch of the subfloor for any water damage, mold or mildew.
However, after researching, he decided not to remove the pre-existing sheet linoleum vinyl in our RV kitchen. It would have been a lot of unnecessary work. There wasn’t really enough profile height to worry about the transition.
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 did choose to install 2mm gridded underlayment for several reasons.
This particular underlayment is folded in an accordion style to speed up the installation process by lying flat and not curling or re-rolling. It has a printed grid on top, which makes laying and trimming to fit a room easier. The cross-linked foam provides superior protection from both moisture and sound sources. And the extra thick pad provides good thermal insulation properties making it especially suited for subfloors with a rougher than normal finish. Which in our fifth wheel was a rough particle board.
Anyways, Dan used the manufacturer-recommended seam tape to join the ends of the underlayment together. He DID NOT apply any glue or other adhesive to the subfloor or the underlayment backing because this was going to be a true ‘floating floor’.
By the way, the underlayment took care of the slight transition we talked about earlier. It smoothed out the edge perfectly.
Finally, our flooring shipment arrived. According to manufacturer’s direction, we had to acclimate the flooring planks for at least 24 hours. We laid the boxes in the aft of our fifth wheel until installation day.
Two days later, Dan started the actual installment by laying the underlayment as per product recommendation. Again, the underlayment came in an accordion sheet instead of a roll which made it easier to measure and lay down. He taped all of the underlayment seams with the manufacturer’s recommended tape. The grid lines mad\e measuring and cutting a breeze. And remember, the underlayment was not adhered to the RV’s floor in any way.
After all of the underlayment was laid and taped, it’s time to start installing the vinyl planks. 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.
Be aware, the glue edges of each floor plank is very sticky, so you have to be sure you have the planks joined exactly where you want them before final adhesion. He left a 1/4″ gap around the floor perimeter to allow the entire floor to “float”.
He rolled all of the seams firmly and thoroughly to ensure proper adhesion. Oh and trust him when he told me that knee pads are a must! And Advil. Because your knees and back will be a little tender for a day or two after.
Once he was finished installing the planks, he filled any gaps with soft silicone caulk that matched the flooring to give a finished look. In our fifth wheel, there’s no need to install any mouldings.
About the FLOATING FLOOR
A floating floor 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.
Dan installed the rooms on different days 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 anyways.
Here’s our fifth wheel’s flooring installation time calculation breakdown:
- 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 provide an estimate of what we spent on our 41′ fifth wheel’s flooring and supplies. Do realize that we recovered every square foot of flooring inside our coach with the exception of the door-side super slide where the dinette and recliners sat. We decided to keep the carpet for insulation because it was the bottom of the slide that’s exposed to temperatures.
Be aware also, these are 2018 prices:
- Underlayment: 3 packs, each pack covers 100 square feet. $43 per pack = $129
- Underlayment seam tape: 4 rolls, $10 each = $40
- Allure GripStick Resilient Flooring: 12 cases, each case covers 24 square feet. $50 per case = $600
- Small hand roller = $10
- Carpenters square – $10
- 4′ level – $13
- Razor knife – $10
- Razor knife blades– 100 blades = $14
- Good Scissors – $15
- Black Wax Pencil – $6
- Tape Measure – $25
- 24″ metal ruler – $10
- Soft Silicone Caulk – 2 tubes $4 each = $8
- Grog – Kentucky’s Best Woodford Reserve Bourbon – $40
- Advil – Dan’s OTC pain reliever – $6
TOTAL OF SUPPLIES and PRODUCT: $936 and blood sweat and tears (free with my tolerance), with a side order of sore muscles.
Two years later…
Our assessment of the products we used have proven their worth. The flooring was incredibly durable and beautiful. It showed no cracking, splitting or shifting.
However, if we are to do repeat this project, we would leave out the underlayment if installing in RVs with slide outs. While the underlayment offered incredible insulation value to the floor, we noticed that the slide rollers left indentations in the plank flooring. Had we left the underlayment out of the installation process, we believe those indentations would have never appeared.
If you enjoyed this blog and would like to learn more about our RV renovation projects: