Maybe you are in search of a new RV, or perhaps you are updating your current model. Either way, you will need to equip your rig with flooring. Just as when you are selecting flooring for your permanent home, there are plenty of choices. Some have big advantages for RV’ers while others have certain drawbacks.
The best flooring for an RV is one that is durable, lightweight, and affordable. Of course, there are a few different types that fit the bill. In addition to the considerations listed above, you will likely want to choose a flooring type that is comfortable and appealing.
The consensus is that vinyl flooring is best for RV’s. There are many patterns and colors to choose from and vinyl is waterproof. A high-grade vinyl can also be very durable and easy to clean. Pair this with the ability to add vinyl planks that look like wood and affordable pricing and you have the perfect flooring for you RV.
In this article, we will discuss the different flooring options available, including their pros and cons. Replacing the flooring in your RV isn’t exactly cheap, so you will want to make sure you are completely satisfied with your choice before you install it.
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Qualities of Great Flooring
When you set out with your motorhome, chances are good that you are going to visit a campground. Staying at a campground can be a dirty business, and as a result, inflict a lot of wear and tear on your RV flooring.
The floors of your RV must be durable enough to withstand dirt, moisture, and a lot of foot traffic. As with a brick and mortar home, the floors are also susceptible to pet accidents and people spills.
Because of the rather harsh conditions, all types of flooring will experience wear and there isn’t really one ideal type. The bottom line is you don’t want your flooring to unravel easily, retain moisture, crack and fade, or be extremely heavy.
The optimal floor covering will be durable, lightweight, and easy to maintain. Some flooring may need to be replaced every five to ten years depending on how often you use your RV, so choose wisely.
RV manufacturers may not always be forthcoming with the full scope of care and maintenance required for certain flooring types. They may try to appeal to you with aesthetically pleasing options that certainly do look beautiful on floors. However, you don’t want just cheap but pretty flooring, so make sure you delve into the care requirements and ease of use.
Types of Flooring
Most RVs will have a combination of flooring. Soft flooring, namely carpet, is popular in the living areas while hard flooring, of various types, is reserved for the bathrooms and kitchen area. Let’s look at a few types.
- Vinyl Flooring
There are a few different types of vinyl flooring. They include plank, sheet, or tiles. In general, though, all vinyl flooring is water-resistant, odor-resistant, simple to clean, and take care of, durable, lightweight, and typically affordable.
But vinyl does have drawbacks. It can be hard to install and remove when it comes time to replace your flooring. This type of flooring is also very particular about where it can be installed. Vinyl can only be used over a smooth subflooring, the area must be completely flat. Furthermore, because the flooring is lightweight and thin, it doesn’t muffle noises well and may result in your RV having a hollow sound.
Some types of vinyl flooring have their own set of disadvantages. Planks and some tile brands are beautiful and can resemble natural would. But while they make a very appealing floor, they are not well suited to an RV.
These separate piece types of flooring, particularly those that float, are susceptible to expansion and contraction depending on the temperature. Even if you try to acclimate the flooring to the climate pre-installation, you will still probably not achieve a perfect fit.
The lack of insulation in RVs coupled with the ever-changing outdoor temperature and road vibrations as you travel can lead to gaps or buckling in your flooring. Planks and tiles can also have gaps or buckling if they are not installed over a flat, smooth surface. Sometimes, it can be impossible to install this type of floor covering in the front of the motorhomes in which the engine causes a small hump.
While sheet vinyl is suitable for many RVs, planks or tiles are not advised.
- Laminate Flooring
Just like vinyl planks, laminate planks are very striking. Sadly, they are prone to temperature changes and do not tolerate water well. This makes them a poor choice for motorhome flooring.
- Linoleum Flooring
Linoleum flooring is available in sheets or tiles. The stick-on tiles are a pain to remove and their seams don’t withstand water and foot traffic very well. Sheet linoleum is a better option. However, you should choose a high grade that is durable and thick to help muffle sounds and withstand wear and tear.
- Wood Flooring
Wood flooring is sometimes used in RV kitchens or bathrooms. Like plank flooring, you run into the same expansion and contraction issues. Some wood doesn’t handle water well either.
In addition, wood is expensive both to purchase and maintain and is quite heavy. So, while it is an option, it may not be ideal.
- Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile is easy to clean and maintain, as well as being beautiful, but it is also very inflexible. This makes it hard to install and very unforgiving when it comes to wear and tear. The tiles may crack easily and if you need to replace one and regrout, doing so can be a pain. Tiles like wood are heavy. All these factors make tile flooring a luxury and not very practical.
- Rubber Flooring
While not the most beautiful of flooring options, rubber floor coverings like RecPro Trailer Coin or Diamond Plate are perhaps the toughest. They are quite heavy duty and their patterns often make them non-slip. The rubber is excellent as a water and sound barrier while being effortless to clean.
Easy to install and even easier to care for, rubber flooring is a great option.
Finally, the most popular RV flooring option is carpet. Carpet is inexpensive, easy to maintain, lightweight, and muffles sound. If you select the right type it can be water repellent and durable. However, because it is a fabric it will require regular care to remove odors, protect against dampness, and clean up dirt and debris.
Unfortunately, no matter how much maintenance you put into your carpets they will probably need to be replaced regularly. Bare spots are common and some stains are impossible to remove. Additionally, the pad underneath the carpet inevitably will begin to crumble with age and use.
If you do decide on carpet avoid plush and residential types, instead look for commercial grade options. The most forgiving type of carpet can be indoor/outdoor marine-grade carpet. The marine-grade often means it has a rubber backing that allows it to better resist moisture. The low pile height, tight weave, and durable fibers will last longer than other kinds of carpet.
Many RV owners who do use carpet don’t put it everywhere though. It is usually confined only to the living areas such as the bedrooms and living room. Hardwood flooring will be used in the bathrooms and kitchens in place of carpet.
Carpets can be an affordable option upfront and provide you with a suitable water and debris barrier if you choose the correct type. However, you should be prepared for the regular maintenance it requires and the need to replace it somewhat frequently.
Cost of Replacement For RV Flooring
RV flooring won’t last forever, it’s just a fact of life. The type of flooring you choose will strongly influence the price. Another major factor in cost is how much flooring is required for your particular RV.
Ultimately, you could be looking at spending anywhere between 600 and 6000 dollars. Vinyl is often the cheapest and hardwood is typically the most expensive, with carpet, laminate, and tile falling somewhere in between. The high cost of replacing your floors is just another reason why you may want to find the most durable option.
The Perfect Floor Covering
As mentioned, there is no perfect option. RV floors lead a rough life and will have to be replaced sooner or later. While some types of flooring look gorgeous and have many options when it comes to colors and patterns, they can be hard to install, clean, and susceptible to climate issues.
Other floorings while extremely durable, aren’t that aesthetically appealing. It may not muffle sound as well as other types and can be thin.
If you aren’t concerned with how it looks visually, rubber flooring is without a doubt the most practical and tough. It is non-slip, water and odor-resistant, easy to clean and install, and muffles sound.
If you are seeking an in-between option that is both pleasing to look at and hardy, vinyl sheet or carpet fits the bill. These flooring types are comfortable and beautiful, yet stand up to water, and wear and tear with proper cleaning and care. They are also the best at muffling sounds.
The ideal floor covering for you will be one that fits your budget, personal taste, and lifestyle.
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