How to Install Laminate Flooring in a RV with Slide Outs
Laminate flooring is a popular choice for many homeowners because they’re low maintenance and versatile. Recreational vehicles may also benefit from installing this kind of floating floor in their mobile home because it provides the same classic feel as hardwood flooring without the hassle of maintaining it.
But how are laminate floorings installed in an RV with slide outs? Like any other DIY project, it’s important to carefully plan out the installation first. Remove the existing flooring and repair the subfloor before placing the laminate floors. Different RVs have different sliding mechanisms, so it’s crucial to custom install the flooring material based on the vehicle’s slideout floor.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Laminate Floors in the RV
Living full-time in an RV is a lifestyle for around one million Americans in the country. Their main reason for this is to cut down the huge housing expenses that come with traditional homes. This number is still expected to rise in the coming years as more people are becoming interested in living in tiny movable houses.
RVs are made to bring the comforts of a regular home in a towable vehicle. RV flooring is one of the most complicated yet important parts of the vehicle. Since the RV is always traveling to its next destination, the constant movement makes it difficult for the traditional nail or glue-down flooring to stay in place. Floating floors like laminate don’t require adhesives, which allows them to shift easily along with the RV.
Another reason why laminate floors are a popular option for RV owners is that it comes in different appearances like ceramic tile or wood flooring. But the best thing about this type of plank flooring is that it’s durable even without the special care and maintenance that hardwood flooring or carpets need.
1. Plan the Installation
Changing into another flooring option is a difficult task for owners with RV slide outs. They need to consider the areas of the slide floor, as well as how it transitions to the main floor. Sliding mechanisms typically vary depending on the specific type of RV you own, which is why getting the dimensions right is a crucial part of the pre-installation process.
Start the RV floor renovation plan by drawing out the blueprint and marking certain areas where the laminate planks should be installed. Some owners prefer leaving the original RV carpet below the bed, but it’s also fine to remove everything altogether. Deciding on the exact square foot and measurement of the work area allows owners to gather the right amount of flooring material.
2. Remove the Old Flooring
Most RV floors come with carpets that are difficult to remove because of the staples. Owners should be prepared for this task, especially if the staples are located in enclosed areas of the RV or beneath the pre-installed furniture like the bed.
One effective trick is to pull the staples along with the entire carpet. However, this might only work for thick carpets since their weight and size are enough to pluck the staples off the subfloor.
The linoleum installed on the floors might also be tricky to remove if the RV manufacturer glued it down with lots of adhesives. Use a utility knife to slowly remove the linoleum and access the subfloor. Pry bars are also helpful to finish the job more quickly.
Since the removal of old floors is such a difficult task, it’s fine to leave some of the old floorings in hard-to-reach parts of the RV. Just make sure that it won’t affect how the laminate floor is installed during the process.
3. Repair the Subfloor and Install the Underlayment
After removing both the old carpet and linoleum on the majority of the RV floor, the next step is to check the subfloor and see if it needs any repairs. Owners also need to put an underlayment above the subfloor, so that the floating flooring like a laminate floor or vinyl tile becomes stable.
Water damage is a common problem for the subfloors in RVs, especially if there has been a leakage problem before. Start inspecting the subfloor by sweeping it first and removing the debris lying around. If there’s damage on the surface, fill it up or fix it using a store-bought repair kit.
After preparing the subfloor, it’s time to install the underlayment. This extra layer acts as the new floor protector to avoid moisture and heat damage to the material. It also keeps the flooring more stable. Make sure to take exact measurements of the underlayment sizes needed before running to the hardware store, so that you’ll have an idea of how it should be cut during installation.
4. Place the Laminate Floors
There isn’t a universal rule on how to start the installation, but most owners begin at the longest side of the RV. It’s also important to let the flooring material acclimate to the RV’s environment first before securing them in place. This process usually takes at least two days.
Wood flooring like laminate also expands and contracts as a response to the humidity and temperature, which is why they should be installed with a bit of space from the RV walls. Always make sure to check specific instructions by the flooring manufacturer to avoid mishaps during installation.
Here are other helpful tips for replacement flooring installation:
- Start by laying the first row of laminate boards from end to end.
- At the end of the row, measure the required plank size and cut it accordingly. Make sure to leave a few inches of space between the wood floor and the wall to avoid peaking.
- Ensure that the planks are locked firmly in place. Press the adhesive strips well or tap them with a rubber mallet.
5. Work on the Slides
When it comes to installing the new flooring, the slide room is one of the most difficult RV parts to work in. Removing the slide out carpet causes gaps to form between the slide floor and main floor once it’s extended.
Most RVs have 2 inches of plywood that cover the gap between the main floors and slides, but they’re usually removed when the RV’s carpet is detached. It depends on the owners how to fill this gap, but most of them place a piece of sturdy plank for a smooth transition.
When installing the laminate on the slide out, put a laminate board in the area to cover the gap. The board should be lengthwise to bridge the gap properly without putting too much weight on the sliding mechanism. Tweak the material as needed so that the tongue won’t stick out.
Glue down the first plank into the slide floor so that the edge won’t budge despite the constant movement of the slide out. After securing the first edge, start placing the remaining planks until the slide floor is completely covered.
6. Install the Floors on the Odd-Shaped Areas
During the installation, owners often find that there are odd-shaped areas in their vehicle like the kitchen islands, cupboards, and cabinets. These parts make it difficult for owners to install the new flooring since they require specially cut planks to accommodate the shapes and contours. There’s only little room for error here so make sure to get the right measurements for each area before cutting and installing the planks.
7. Put a Baseboard to Complete the Look
Newly installed laminate floors might look incomplete, which is why RV owners install baseboards. Aside from completing the floor’s look, this molding or trim piece also helps fill the expansion gap.
Install the baseboards in high-traffic areas where there are high chances of the planks’ tongues and edges sticking out and causing injuries. The baseboard’s color is entirely up to you, but it’s better to get one that matches the stain and grain of the laminate floor to complete the look of the RV interior.
Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which is Better for DIY Floor Replacement in an RV Slide Out?
Aside from laminate floors, a vinyl floor is also another popular option for many RV owners. They can be bought as sheet vinyl, vinyl plank, or vinyl tile. Vinyl plank flooring is the best type for RVs, but they should be glued directly to the subfloor without a cushioning. This makes the material more vulnerable to damages due to the RV’s constant movement.
Laminate floors similar to vinyl, but they’re a lot more durable because they’re installed in an underlayment. They’re also low maintenance and easy-to-clean for people who are always on the road. Another advantage that laminate floors have over vinyl flooring is that owners may add insulation below the planks for added comfort.
Explore Different Laminate Flooring Options at Zothex Flooring
Looking for a trusted flooring provider near Rocklin or Sacramento? Zothex Flooring is a trusted family-owned flooring business that offers high-quality laminate flooring options. Our highly trained staff believe that flooring is an art form, which is why we’ve been continuously improving our craft since 2004.
Talk to one of our artists today to share your RV renovation vision. Our friendly staff is always ready to assist you through the process of choosing the right flooring option that suits your needs and lifestyle. Call us at (916) 925 – 1958 to schedule an appointment.
Learn more: How To Paint Laminate Flooring