How to Replace RV Flooring: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Ever thought about replacing your RV’s flooring before being discouraged by an overwhelming price tag? Consider learning how to replace RV flooring yourself! It’s a cost-effective, do-it-yourself project that can breathe new life into your mobile abode. By replacing worn-out, stained, or simply outdated carpet, tile, laminate, or hardwood floors or other floor materials, you can give your vehicle a fresh, modern look without having to buy a new RV.

But before we dive into the DIY world, remember that every great project begins with thorough preparation and a well-thought-out plan. Let’s get started!

What we’ll cover

  • How to assess damage

  • Needed tools and materials

  • Making a plan to remove, repair or replace

  • Installing your chosen material

  • Proper maintenance

Preparing for Replacement

You wouldn’t start a road trip without checking your gas level or tire pressure. Likewise, before you begin your flooring project (or any DIY project), you need to prepare adequately. Specifically, you need to assess the damage, gather the necessary tools and materials, and formulate a plan.

Checking for Damage

Your RV, motorhome, camper or trailer has been your trusted companion on countless adventures, but it also carries the scars of its journeys. These might be in the form of water damage, rot, or general wear and tear on the RV floor. Assessing the extent of this damage is the first step toward your destination of a beautifully remodeled vehicle.

Check for water damage and be on the lookout for any soft spots or discoloration. The presence of mold or mildew is another telltale sign of water damage. Remember, catching these issues early is like detecting a minor problem during a routine vehicle inspection. It allows you to address the problem before it escalates into a major repair. Take the time to inspect your current setup to, for example, know if you need to replace rotted wood flooring.

Gathering Tools and Materials

Armed with the knowledge of what lies ahead, it’s time to gather your allies—the tools and materials you’ll need for this expedition. Achieving your vision of a stunning RV floor requires not just the right flooring material, but also a few tools to assist you along the way. Depending on your RV’s current flooring, you might need:

  • A utility knife

  • Pliers

  • A pry bar or crowbar

  • Adhesive

  • A square

  • A level

  • Damp cloth

As for the flooring material, vinyl is often the top choice for RV flooring replacement, thanks to its durability. However, other materials have their advantages – let’s dive into them.

Choosing the Right Flooring Material

Choose your new floor replacement material is a critical decision since it will affect the look, feel, and maintenance requirements of your trailer. Like choosing the right tires, each option has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice depends on your specific needs and preferences.

There’s a variety of materials available for RVs, including laminate, vinyl tile or plank, and hardwood flooring. Each of these options has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider factors like weight (an important consideration to avoid damage to the rig), durability (important if you have children or pets), and maintenance requirements when making your choice.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use underlayment with any of these options as you can simply use a floating floor or adhere directly to the plywood.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is like the all-terrain vehicle of the flooring world—it’s versatile, cost-effective, and easy to install. It’s a popular choice among RV owners thanks to its lightweight nature and the fact that it mimics the look of hardwood flooring.

However, despite its sturdy appearance, laminate flooring is susceptible to water damage, which can cause swelling, warping, and mold growth. Therefore, if you’re considering this option, you’ll need to protect it from water damage, particularly if you have pets or children.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

If you’re looking for a flooring option that’s durable, water-resistant, and easy to clean, vinyl plank flooring might be your best bet. This is a well-rounded, versatile option since it stands up to the elements and is built to last.

Vinyl plank flooring is available in a range of wood frame faux-wood and -tile designs, which means you can get the look of hardwood or tile without the extra weight or maintenance. However, it doesn’t offer much cushioning and doesn’t provide the same sound-dampening qualities as carpet, which can make it feel colder and harder underfoot.

Hardwood Flooring

For those who want to bring a touch of luxury to their RV, hardwood flooring is an excellent choice. It’s like the gourmet meal of the flooring world—it’s a bit more expensive and requires a bit more care, but the end result is undeniably impressive.

Hardwood flooring:

  • is durable, attractive, and easy to clean

  • is heavier than other options

  • is vulnerable to moisture damage

  • expands and contracts with changes in temperature, which can cause gaps or buckling

Therefore, if you’re considering hardwood flooring, be prepared for a bit more maintenance to keep it looking its best.

Removing the Old RV Flooring

With your tools, materials and plan in place, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the meat of this project: removing the old RV flooring.

This process can vary depending on the type of flooring you’re dealing with. Vinyl flooring, carpet, and wood flooring each require a different approach.

Removing Vinyl Flooring

If your RV’s floor is covered in vinyl, you’re in luck. Vinyl flooring is relatively easy to remove, making it a less daunting task for DIY enthusiasts.

To remove a vinyl floor:

  1. Using a crowbar or scraper to lift and peel away the vinyl

  2. Removing any stubborn bits of flooring with a razor knife

  3. Softening the adhesive with a heat gun for easier removal

  4. Using a damp cloth to clean up any remaining adhesive

This last step of cleaning and clearing the resulting surface is important for the new flooring to adhere to it properly.

Removing Carpet

If your RV is carpeted, be prepared for a little more work – carpet can be a bit more challenging to remove than vinyl.

To remove the old carpet, follow these steps:

  1. Cut the carpet into manageable sections using a utility knife. If your new flooring install needs underlayment, you can reuse this.

  2. Use pliers or a carpet puller to pull up the carpeted sections (be patient, as this process can be time-consuming due to the number of staples used to secure the carpet)

  3. Once all the carpet is removed, use a staple lifter or oscillating multi-tool to remove any remaining staples

Removing Wood Flooring

Removing wood flooring is a bit more complex, but it’s nothing an intrepid DIYer can’t handle. The removal of rotted wood is also important to prevent future damage.

To remove the wood flooring:

  1. Cut out the wood sections using a circular saw or jigsaw

  2. Pry up the sections using a crowbar

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Repairing or Replacing the Sub-floor

With the old flooring gone, it’s time to turn your attention to the sub-floor. This part of your RV is like the bedrock underneath a road’s surface—it provides the necessary support and structure for the flooring underneath it. As such, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s in good condition before installing the new flooring.

Inspection

What does it mean to inspect the sub-floor? Look for any signs of damage that could affect the floor’s integrity, such as rot, mold, or water damage.

If you discover any signs of water damage, such as discoloration, warping, or mold, you’ll need to address these issues before proceeding with the flooring installation. Don’t ignore this important step – it might not cause problems immediately, but it can lead to serious issues down the road.

Repairing Minor Damage

If your sub-floor inspection reveals minor damage, don’t panic. With the right tools and a bit of elbow grease, you can get it back in tip-top shape and ready to support your new flooring.

To repair a minorly-damaged sub-floor, you’ll need to cut out the affected sections, ensure the wood framing is dry, and replace the damaged parts with new plywood or wood framing. This can take time and may not work with all trailers, but it is a cost-effective solution.

If your sub-floor has significant damage, repairing

Replacing the Entire Sub-floor

Sometimes, the damage to the sub-floor is so extensive that repairing just the damaged sections isn’t enough. In these cases, you’ll need to replace the entire sub-floor. If this is the case, it can be a much bigger burden and time commitment. While it may be possible to fix yourself, we recommend seeing your local RV repair shop to determine next steps to ensure the integrity of your floor.

Installing the New RV Flooring

Next, it’s time to install your new RV flooring. This is where your planning and preparation pay off, and you start to see your vision become reality. It’s like reaching the scenic overlook on your road trip—the view is worth every mile you’ve driven.

To install the floor, you’ll need to prepare the surface, lay the new material, and add the finishing touches. Each of these steps is crucial to ensuring a successful installation and preventing issues in the future.

Preparing the Surface

Before you can lay your new flooring, you need to ensure that the surface is ready. This means making sure it’s clean, dry, and level.

To clean the surface:

  1. Use a vacuum to remove any dirt and debris

  2. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the surface and remove any remaining dirt

  3. Use a level to check for any dips or bumps in the surface

  4. If there are any dips, use a self-leveling compound to fill them in

  5. If there are any bumps, use sandpaper to smooth them out

By following these steps, you can ensure that your new flooring will lay flat and stay in place.

Laying the Flooring

With your existing flooring surface prepared, it’s time to lay your new flooring.

  1. Measure the area to be re-floored

  2. Cut your replacement flooring to size

  3. Install the flooring according to the manufacturer’s instructions

  4. Use a locking system to secure the flooring in place

  5. Ensure that the flooring is properly aligned and spaced to prevent any issues down the line

Finishing Touches

You’ve done the hard work of preparing the surface and laying the floor. Now it’s time for the finishing touches.

This final step usually involves installing trim or molding to conceal any exposed edges and give your new floor a polished look. You might also need to install transition strips where different types of flooring meet. It’s these little details that can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your RV, motorhome, camper, or trailer.

Maintaining Your New RV Flooring

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed your new RV flooring. But your journey isn’t over yet. Just like other aspects of RV maintenance, keeping the flooring in your RV in top shape requires regular care and attention.

This includes regular cleaning, preventing water damage, and protecting high-traffic areas. This ensures that your floor stays beautiful and functional for years to come. After all, the journey is more enjoyable when you take care of your vehicle—and that includes its floors.

Regular Cleaning

Just like you’d clean the outside of your RV after a long trip, you need to clean your new flooring regularly. This not only keeps it looking its best, but also helps prevent damage and extend its lifespan.

For vinyl and laminate flooring, a mild soap and water solution applied with a damp mop should do the trick. Remember, it’s important to avoid pouring water on RV floors, as this can seep beneath the surface and cause damage.

Preventing Water Damage

Regularly inspect appliances, drains, or other water sources to detect any leaks or spills. If found, quickly address them.

It’s also important to ensure adequate ventilation in your vehicle to prevent condensation buildup which can lead to mold and mildew. It’s all about being proactive and staying ahead of potential issues.

Protecting High-Traffic Areas

Your RV is your home on the road, and like any home, it has high-traffic areas that see more use than others. These areas, like the kitchen, bathroom, and living room, are more prone to wear and tear on your floors and need extra protection to keep looking its best.

One way to protect these areas is by using rugs or mats. These not only add a touch of comfort and style, but also act as a barrier between your flooring and the dirt and debris that get tracked in.

Summary

Replacing your RV flooring might have seemed like a daunting task at first, but with careful planning, the right tools and materials, and a bit of hard work, you’ll successfully complete this next step in your RVer journey. Your RV now sports a beautiful new floor, you’ve learned how to maintain it going forward, and you’ve gained the knowledge and confidence to take on even more DIY projects in the future!

Here’s to many more miles of happy RVing on your new floor! Keep exploring, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the RV lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you replace flooring in an RV?

Yes, you can replace flooring in an RV with vinyl, hardwood or laminate. Vinyl floors are popular because they are durable, water-resistant, and easy to install and clean.

Can you replace carpet in an RV?

Yes, you can replace an RV’s old carpet. Replacing it often provides a more durable and cleaner looking option and is relatively inexpensive.

How do I choose the best flooring material for my RV?

When choosing the best flooring material for your RV, consider weight, durability, and maintenance requirements. Popular flooring options include laminate, vinyl plank, and hardwood.

How do I prevent water damage to my new RV floor?

Regularly inspect for leaks and spills, address them promptly, and ensure adequate ventilation to prevent condensation buildup to protect your new RV floor.

How can I protect high-traffic areas on my new floor?

Protect high-traffic areas with rugs, mats, or other protective coverings to minimize wear and tear. Doing this will help keep your new floor looking great for longer.

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