Last Updated on May 13, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Whether you have a brand new or an older RV, you might be dissatisfied with the flooring situation and wondering how to install laminate flooring in an RV.
Dissatisfaction is especially common for those of us who live in RVs full-time. If you’re not happy with your floors, it’s hard to fall in love with your home on wheels, and the only way around that obstacle is to install new floors.
To install laminate flooring in your RV with slide-outs, you’ll need patience, perseverance, and the right tools. While your flooring area is small, there will be some tricky corners and gaps that need extra attention. You should start by formulating a plan, removing any old flooring, and then proceed to the actual flooring.
Laminate flooring is one of the most popular options in both houses and RVs alike. It’s very affordable, easy to install, and durable as long as you take care of it. If you’re thinking about installing laminate flooring in your RV, even with slide-outs, you’ve come to the right place.
Advantages of Installing Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is one of the most popular flooring options in the country, not just in RVs. It’s also a popular choice for new houses and remodels because of how easy it is to work with and numerous other reasons.
While laminate isn’t as durable as hardwood or bamboo, it’s more durable than vinyl, tile, and other types of flooring. You can drop things on laminate flooring, and it won’t chip or break the boards, whereas tile is prone to shattering. Laminate also scratches much less easily than vinyl or hardwood floors.
Easy to Install
Once you have the right tools, laminate is one of the easiest floors to install aside from vinyl. Most laminate floors are either glued down or have a tongue and groove system that’s easy to learn. Regardless of how you install your laminate flooring, it’s easier to work with than hardwood or tile.
Laminate is also an excellent option if you’re on a budget. There are plenty of expensive laminate floors if you want to go that route, but there’s also an abundance of highly affordable options.
If you’re a full-time RVer, then having waterproof floors is a big deal. You’re bound to drag mud and water in or have spills and leaks inside your rig from time to time. It’s crucial to have a floor that doesn’t soak up excess liquid, causing it to warp or deteriorate.
Easy to Maintain
One of the best things about laminate flooring is that your work is pretty much done once it’s in. There’s no need to refinish or resand it as with hardwood floors or to have deep cleanings as with a carpet. You can simply use a vacuum or broom to clean the surface and then mop it using soap and warm water.
How to Install Laminate Flooring on an RV With Slide-Outs
If you have an RV and your heart is set on installing laminate flooring in place of what’s currently there, here’s a step-by-step process.
Start With a Plan
As with all home improvement projects, the first thing you should do is start with a plan. The installation process won’t be overly difficult as long as you proceed correctly and have the right tools. The only way to proceed is to formulate a plan, especially if your RV has slide-outs.
Gather Your Supplies
A big part of the planning process is determining how much flooring you need and which tools you need. The best way to calculate your flooring needs is to use a square footage calculator, or you can do the job yourself. Start by measuring the length and width of each room that you plan to re-floor. So, if your kitchen area is 10 feet by 10 feet, the square footage is 100 feet, which is how much flooring you’ll need.
Each box of flooring you purchase should specify how many square feet it will cover. Aside from flooring, here are a few other things you’ll need.
- Measuring tape
- Pencil or marker
- Chop saw
- Utility knife
- Soft mallet or hammer
- Special pull bar and tapping block for laminate floors
Remove the Old Flooring
Once your supplies are gathered together, it’s time to get to work. The first thing you’ll have to do is remove the old flooring. If it’s carpet, start at the ends and pull the carpet up, careful not to damage the subfloor below. For vinyl or old laminate flooring, follow the same procedure, making sure not to damage the subfloor.
The toughest thing about removing carpets in RVs is that they’re installed with staples. You must remove every staple from the subfloor, or your laminate flooring won’t install properly. Use your crowbar or needle-nose pliers wherever necessary for extra stubborn staples.
Clean the Subfloor and Make a Second Plan
Once all the old flooring is removed, you’ll have to thoroughly clean the subfloor before proceeding. Use a shop vac to sweep up any large pieces of debris, then proceed to mop the floor clean. While you’re waiting for the flooring to dry, you should formulate a second plan now that you know what the bare project looks like.
If the subfloor looks like it’s in good shape, you can proceed to the next section. If the subfloor isn’t level or is chipped in places, it might be worth your while to replace it before laying the permanent floor on top of it. It might also be necessary to install a vapor barrier between the subfloor and laminate floor if there isn’t one there.
Lay the Laminate Flooring Starting at the Longest Wall
When your subfloor is clean, dry, and clear, you’re finally ready to start laying your laminate flooring down! To save time and money, it’s wise to choose laminate flooring planks with an underlayment already installed. Otherwise, your laminate planks will slide back and forth and won’t stay in place.
Once you have the right tiles and you’re ready to roll, start the floor-laying process along the longest wall in your RV. This isn’t necessarily a requirement, but starting at the longest wall will make your life easier as you proceed. Each piece of flooring has a tongue on one side and a groove on the other. To lock the planks into place, align the tongue of one piece with the groove on the other piece.
Use your mallet and tapping block to gently knock each piece into place. Some pieces will install extremely easily, while others will require a little more force. You should also remember to keep around a ¼ to ½ inch gap between your outside laminate piece and the exterior wall. Laminate will expand and contract with weather changes, and it needs room to do its work.
Once you get to the end of a wall, measure the final piece, cut it, and lay it in place so that you maintain the ¼ to ½ inch gap. A good rule of thumb is to take two short pieces of your flooring, tape or glue them together, and use them as a template to put between the outside flooring pieces and the wall.
Another helpful tip with laminate flooring is to start each new row with a plank of a different length. This way, the seams of the floor will be staggered rather than running in a straight line, which will look quite strange.
Move on to the Slide-Out Floors
The slide-out floors will be the most difficult part of the installation. It isn’t difficult because of any tricky twists, turns, or obstacles, but because how it’s slightly higher than the rest of the floor. This portion of the job is also tricky because you have to make sure to choose a laminate floor that’s thin enough so that the slide-out doesn’t catch on it when you move it in or out.
It’s also tricky because when you remove the carpet that’s currently in your slide-out, you’ll notice a gap between the slide floor and the main floor. Finding a way to cover this gap while having it look good and not catch on the main floor when the slide moves in and out are difficult. Here’s what to do.
- Place the first piece of flooring on top of the gap between the main floor and slide floor.
- Glue this piece to the ground so that it can’t move. Give the slide a test run in and out to make sure the board doesn’t catch before you glue it down.
- Tweak the board as necessary so that the tongue portion isn’t sticking out awkwardly.
- Once the first board is laid, the rest of the floor can get installed after it.
Install Base Board or Trim
Because you’re leaving gaps around the exterior walls, interior walls, and any kitchen islands, counters, and appliances, you’ll have to bridge the gap with baseboard or trim. Make sure to choose a trim option that will cover the unwanted gaps in your floor and look good in the process. You’ll also want to use trim around kitchen islands, counters, and anything else that’s a permanent fixture in your RV.
Laminate Flooring in RVs Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about laminate flooring in RVs.
Is it a good idea to install laminate flooring in an RV?
Yes. Laminate flooring can make your RV looking like a totally different RV.
Is it expensive to install laminate flooring in an RV?
No. Since there isn’t too much floor to cover, it doesn’t cost that much.
RV Laminate Flooring Installation Conclusion
While anyone with some DIY skills and knowledge can install their own laminate floors, there are a few tricks to the trade. Making sure to leave gaps for your flooring to expand and contract will prevent unwanted cracking and chipping. You should also make sure to choose the right type of flooring, preferably one with built-in underlayment.
The toughest part, however, will be navigating your slide-out and filling the gap between the slide floor and the main floor. There’s no one perfect way to do this, and it may take a few tries and some experimenting on your part. However, with a little perseverance and ingenuity, you’ll quickly fall in love with your brand-new laminate flooring.
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