Mod #54: Laminate Flooring

Mod #54: Laminate Flooring

Submitted on: 08/05/08

     Category: interior
Mod Rating: 12345

(66 ratings)

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Mod Description:

Laminate flooring is a great option for RVs because you can have the beautiful look of a hardwood floor without all the maintenance and installation challenges. Hardwood is not practical to install in an RV because of anchoring and flexing issues. Laminate flooring (commonly referred to as “Pergo”), on the other hand is straightforward to install because it requires no anchoring per se. The laminate “floats” on the sub-flooring surface, allowing the flex and small movement necessary in an RV environment.

Mod Difficulty:

To effectively install laminate flooring in your RV requires some planning and a bit of patience. It is somewhat of a challenge to get the professional look the manufacturers can with a factory install, but if you have the right tools and handyman know-how, this mod is a snap, literally.

You first need to determine where you want the flooring. This may seem obvious but in an RV, you may have to deal with slide-outs, furniture, and odd angles. And if you have a class A or C, consider how you will work around the captains chairs, foot wells, and stairs. Once you have decided where you want the flooring, it’s time to figure out how much flooring you actually need.

This is where the fun begins. One way to closely determine the amount of flooring is to make a cardboard template of the area(s) where you want the laminate. You may have to do this using several pieces of cardboard if the area is large. Cut the cardboard to size. You don’t have to be exact, but get as close to the shape of the areas as practical. Remember, 12 inches by 12 inches equals 1 square foot. You will need to determine the total square footage of all the cardboard areas. Once you know the total, you can go buy the laminate. Add about 10% to the total to be sure you buy enough.

So what is this stuff made of? Laminate flooring consists of planks made from a durable laminate surface, a wood based core and a balancing backing. The planks are clicked together to form a long lasting, easy-to-maintain surface. Like almost all materials in your RV, laminate flooring expands and contracts due to changes in temperature and humidity.

Before installing laminate flooring, you will need to acclimate the planks to the environment they will be installed in. This means that for 48-96 hours PRIOR to installation, you will need to put the planks, while still in their boxes, in to your RV. Set the temperature to a minimum of 65°F and ensure relative humidity is in the range of 30% to 90%.

While your planks are acclimating, you can prepare the floor. If your floor has linoleum, is in good shape , is smooth with no tears, then you can lay the laminate over the top of it as the lino adds very little thickness to the overall flooring height. If you are replacing carpet, you must remove both the carpet and the padding. Ensure that the sub-floor is is good condition and free of bumps, protruding screws or nails, and has no moisture damage. Make any repairs necessary before proceeding.

Next, lay down the foam underlayment. This step may not be necessary if the laminate you buy already has the foam attached to each plank. If it does, this can be a real time saver. If not, cut the underlayment to fit, leaving a little extra around the edges. You will trim this after laying the planks.

After the acclimation period, open the boxes of laminate, put your cardboard template(s) on the lawn or driveway, and lay out the laminate on the cardboard. This will give you a feel for how the laminate will look. You can experiment with different layouts like angling the laminate, and validate you have enough for the job.

Now it’s time to start laying down the laminate. This involves a lot of measuring, cutting, re-cutting, re-measuring, etc. In other words, it’s not an exact science. A mistake or two is common and entirely appropriate if you are not a professional installer. You don’t have to be perfect. The quarter rounds you will use to trim out the edges of the flooring will hide most gaps or rough cuts.

Start by determining where the first plank will go. A good starting point is the most square edge of the floor/wall. Use a framing square to check the corner where you want to start. The idea is to work your way towards the non-square walls/cabinets. Once there, you can then measure the remaining area and cut a custom piece of laminate to fit. Some RV’s are made better than others in terms of plumb cabinetry and flooring. Once you find the right starting point, be sure you leave a 1/4″ gap between the wall or cabinet and the planks all the way around the edges. This is required so the flooring can “float”, or contact and expand as the temperature and humidity varies.

A good technique for a nice look is to stagger the planks so that no ends line up with each other. Use a full size plank to start. When you get to the next row, cut the starting plank to 2/3 its length, and then cut a plank to 1/3 size for the third row.  From this point forward, you can use full length planks. It should be noted at this point that some laminate requires the tongue and groove attachment of the planks to be glued. This is really a personal preference but does result in a more durable “one-piece” floor.

Now it’s just a matter of laying (and gluing if necessary) the planks and cutting them to fit. You can use a jigsaw with a fine blade or a small circular saw with a fine straight-toothed blade. Use a pencil to mark cutting lines. It wipes off easily and won’t mar the surface. Be sure to account for heater floor registers.

Installing laminate on stairs is done a little differently. Once you remove any carpet and padding, rubber tread, and/or flashing, you can glue laminate directly to the stair surface and stair well sides. Use a multi-surface glue that can bond differing materials. This stuff usually sets up pretty quickly so you can use the stairs a few hours after gluing.

Next up is to install the floor trim, or quarter rounds, thresholds, and/or stair well bull nose trim. We’re going to take the high road here and be conservative by sealing all the edges with a pliable sealant. Since an RV is subject to high humidity in a small place, you need to ensure that any edges where moisture can get in are sealed, especially the bathroom area. Trim the excess foam underlayment that protrudes from the edges of the laminate. Apply sealant in an 1/8″ bead along all edges, including floor registers, tub surround, toilet, etc. This is a very important step to ensuring no water can get underneath the laminate and destroy it.

For edges that run along carpet, a special carpet-to-laminate trim piece is available from the laminate manufacturer. Sealant can and should still be used here as well. Apply sealant and slide in the trim per the manufacturers instructions. This makes for a very nice transition from the carpet to the flooring and is thin enough that you won’t trip over it.

For the stairs, use bull nose or flat trim. All laminate flooring manufacturers have all sorts of trim pieces to suit almost any need, so be sure and look through the maker’s catalog to see what’s available. Most any home improvement store will have samples on display as well. This will give the entry way a nice clean look while still being durable to foot traffic.

Now you just need to put the RV interior back together and enjoy your beautiful new floor!

TipIf you put down laminate under a chair or other piece of furniture that is bolted to the sub-floor, drill holes 1/8″ larger than the bolt diameter. Use a thin felt pad between the furniture and the laminate so that when the furniture is bolted down, there is less friction in between  the flooring and the anchor points, providing easier movement of the floor as it expands and contracts.

TipOn glued floors, you may notice swelling along the joints of your floor during the first 6 to 8 weeks after installation. THIS IS NORMAL. In fact, it is a good sign that an adequate amount of glue has been used. It is caused by the absorption of glue in the core material and will disappear as the glue fully cures.

ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:

Laminate Flooring
Best quality laminate flooring at discount prices: Free samples! Balta, Rustic Elegance, Old Homestead Floors
DuPont - Flooring through the miracle of science
There’s only one Pergo

Flooring Sealant
Quick-step laminate flooring sealant kit

Installation Tools
Laminate Flooring Tools

General Reference
How to install Pergo Flooring

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38 Comments For This Mod

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  1. babblescriber

    Thanks you for this article! 5 stars!

    I’ve been looking at doing this to my 5th wheel for a while now and haven’t found a really good write up until this one. I’m not too handy but it looks like it’s easy enough to tackle for me. I won’t be replacing all the carpet in the 5th wheel, just in the kitchen so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Thanks again!

  2. big rig guy

    Nice job, I did the same on my last two fifth wheels, I have carpeting on the unit I have now, but sooner or later its coming out and this is going down.
    Looks like a nice clean installation. I did mine and removed everything that I could, ie sofa dinette, did the bathroom and bedroom removed all the carpeting, did not cost alot of money but did require some hours to complete. Overall a worth improvement.

  3. RV Camping World

    Thanks for the article ! What about ceramic or tile as other options - can they float as weel ?

  4. ModMyRV

    Tile would require a very solid sub-floor because of flex. You should consider using dura-rock as an underlayment. Also use a more flexible thinset in the grout mix to avoid cracking. These materials can be found at any home improvement store.

    Also consider the added weight which is considerably more than laminate, especially if you are covering a large area. If you have an RV with a lot of CCC, then this won’t but much of an issue. Motorhomes are considerabley stiffer in the chassis area than towables so keep that in mind as well.

  5. Alpenliter

    I used a product called Trafficmaster Allure, sold at Home Depot. It, too is a floating floor but is actually a thick vinyl plank that adheres to each other. Available in over 20 patterns and wood grains with knots and very realistic. Most people that see it, think it is wood. Easier to work with than laminate and waterproof to boot!

  6. Desperado

    I see 4 photos of the flooriing I put in my 5th wheel, thanks for sharing the photos, here is a link to the rest of the photos, all 39 of them. http://rides.webshots.com/album/559780770KbqdLy?vhost=rides

  7. ModMyRV

    Hey thanks for the link to the rest of the photos. You did an excellent job on your install and that’s why we featured the pictures on ModMyRV.com! Do you have any other mods you would like to share? We would love to see them in all their glory. ;)

  8. Chris

    What do you do about the slide outs? How do you ensure that there is enough space for the slide out to continue sliding on the laminate where the previous linoleum was? Are there specific trim pieces to trim the slide out where it transitions to the floor?

    Great article I am just looking for a little more info before I start.

  9. Desperado

    I laid the Dupont Real Touch Elite laminate flooring (in an oak finish), right over a perfect linoleum floor, I feel it looks a lot better then the linoleum floor that I covered up, you should be able to go to Home Depot and get some samples to match you interior, that is the what I did.

    Now on to the install,

    I started the install in the kitchen at the kick board, using templates and a lot of measurements makes this easer, I had to rip the first board so the register would end up being cut out of two pieces of the laminate, when I got to the register I cut the first board so that ¾ of the heat register would fit on it, on the second one I cut the last ¼ of the heat register out, this way I was able to drill and run the screws through the first board, and it is easer to cut it out of two boards then it would be to cut it all out of one, leave about ¼ inch around the out side edges so it can expand and contract, I also used ¼ round around the kick board and transition molding at the carpet, I did not use any glue to hold it in place, just the moldings, the laminate is the same height as the carpet so the slide out clears it with ease, my slide out dose not go that far over the laminate. I also put sealant at the kick board, I did not seal the whole kitchen, I figured I would know that I made a spill and could get it cleaned up before it made it through the small cracks, but I didn’t want it to run to the ¼ round and get underneath, and not be able to get that cleaned up.

    The entry way was a breezy after doing the kitchen, so no details on that.

    In the bathroom, this was the hardest part of the job, I started at the toilet and worked my way to the door and to the wall on the back side, I also made a template for this, so I could go around the toilet, instead of pulling the toilet, I used two boards, I cut half of the toilet out of one board for the front, on the back, I cut the other half, keeping that board just a bit longer, I then cut it in half, so I had a total of three pieces to go around the toilet, measure twice, cut once, and test fit (a lot). I put sealant in the bathroom to stop water from going under the laminate.

    By the way this stuff doesn’t cut like pine, it cuts more like concrete, you need very sharp blades.

    I got the laminate at a Habitat store, so that cut my cost to around 1/2 of what it would have cost me at Home Depot, my total cost was $200.00 and about 8 hours of my time, and most of that time was driving form storage to home to make the cuts and back.
    This is a floating floor, with the exception of the moldings, I hope this helps, if you have any more question please let me know I will tell you what I can.

    Wes~Desperado

  10. Sandy Pilant

    What do you do about the slide outs? How do you ensure that there is enough space for the slide out to continue sliding on the laminate where the previous linoleum was? Are there specific trim pieces to trim the slide out where it transitions to the floor?

  11. george

    i just replace the back floor with insulation, 3/4 inch plywood , foamed and added this laminate also then was surfing and found this site, i would like to add that it doesnt need glued if tightly locked in and the foam in place (duck taped at the edges of the foam) the foam acts as extra insulation and deters the laminate from sliding. Also be prepared to cut a quarter inch off the bottom of some things. (ie when i placed the back bed back in it was to high so i cut the bottom enough to level it also any doors near the floor would hurt to raise or shorten so they dont drag. So in answer to the slide out i would find a piece of plywood, lay it down on the floor and try it before doing it. Happy remodifying.

  12. Scott

    I am about to embark on replacing the white carpet (can’t keep it clean) and peel and stick tile (moving and peeling up from the heat) in my 2004 Winn Journey. I too am concerned that I will have the clearance under my slideout. I put a 1/4 inch piece of masonite on the floor ON TOP of my carpeting and when I operate the slide it pushs the masonite and doesn’t clear it. I can put my fingers between the bottom of the slide and the carpeting. So I guess I am just looking for some reassurance from someone who has done this that the clearance when the carpeting and padding is removed will yield enough space for the slideout to clear the laminate. I did notice that when the slider was out I could gently pull the rubber gasket at the bottom of the slider away enough to see under the slider. On the end which is the kitchen where the tile is I can see daylight and a good clearance. I also can see about a 4 inch wide rubber roller which appears to contact the tile as the slider rolls in. I can not see any roller(s) at the end which comes in over the carpeting. Although I could again push my fingers in between carpet and the bottom base of the slideout. I also noticed that my slider when it goes out sort of leans out (e.g. the top loosens up first) so the base of the slier appears to kind of lift in the front. Then when it reaches full extension the top seals first and then the bottom seals next and the slider straightens up. Looks like this is by design and would facilitate the slider kind of tilting back to climb over the carpet of laminate as it starts in. Does any one know if these sliders all have rollers and will that be a problem? Are the slideouts designed so all the weight is carried by the guide bars and hydraulics under the motorhome floor? This one is a 13 footer with the kitchen cabinets stove top and sink at one end and an electric fold down flexsteel queen size bed at the other. Thanks in advance for any experience you might be able to share. Great article.

  13. ModMyRV

    Some link love to a really cool blog about Airstream RVs:

    http://blog.airstream.com/

  14. Betty Peragine

    I think this is great , already I saw something I was looking to fix. Magnets on screen door. thanks

  15. Denise in Ark

    Oh thank you thank you thank you for this article. We are about to purchase my in-law’s 5th wheel and I want the carpet GONE. We are messy and live with 2 cats and a sponge-footed dog. Carpet is disgustingly nasty even when clean folks live on it!

    DH is trying to tell me you can’t take out the carpet because of some kind of problem with the slide if you do. I can prove to him that he’s mistaken. Is there anything else you could have me tell him to reassure him that it will be fine?

    We have replaced our master bed and bath floors in the house with allure flooring from Home Depot and love love love it. I KNOW this would be a fabulous floor in the RV!

  16. david thompson

    How do I transitation from my slide to the floor, my carpet hangs over about 4 inches. Will I need to allow the laminate to hang over? Thanks, David

  17. samtorres43

    Is there an adjustment for the slide out that could be made to bring it higher from the floor, my slide out is scrapping the floor. I was planning to put a laminate floor.
    sam

  18. bob

    My Rexhall has a up down adjustment in the HWH rail, not much but a little. dont know about others. bob

  19. Bob Rose

    I’ve been searching the web for the best way to instaqll “Pergo” type flooring on my Motorhome. One of the articles say the best way to do it is to not use any backing and glue the floor down as well as the joints. Whats the best way, anyone know? I’ve been thinking of using the stuff with the foam already attached and glueing just the tongue and glue areas. What do you guys think. Thanks

  20. Jim M

    Hi, I have a 43′ Monaco Camelot with tile on most of the floor (except the bedroom). We can not keep the grout in and many of the tiles are either loose or cracked. I am thinking of taking up the tile and replacing it with a flooting wood floor. Has anyone done this and if I would appreciate if I could talke to you. Sincerely, Jim M (jwm4007@msn.com)

  21. Fran Hauck

    I am considering laminate flooring in my American Dream. My main concern is the slideout. (getting under it)

  22. Diane

    We just attempted to install 8mm Costco laminate in our 2001 Itasca Spirit 32′ RV with one slide out. It took a 2 days of work to rip out the old carpet and linoleum, level the plywood under-flooring, and cut the laminate to fit, starting from the kitchen cabinets in towards the slide out. Very meticulous measuring and cutting.

    Then when we only had a few boards left to lay, before installing any molding, I tried pulling in the slide out. The laminate is much thinner than the carpet and padding, so it did not seem that there would be an issue. Boy were we wrong! When the slide came halfway in, the floor moved!

    I felt under the kitchen table area and felt a large metal bracket hitting the floor 6″ in from the inside edge. And that is before installing molding to hold the laminate down at the edge of the carpet, which sticks up another 1/8″.

    Now we have to figure out if the slide can be adjusted a bit higher without messing up the tracking of the slide. If it doesn’t work, we will be forced to install linoleum or carpet over that section, and move the molding to the edge of the laminate where the slide doesn’t hit (at least a foot in from the edge of the table-area. Not cool at all!

    Be warned - lay the laminate on the floor and test the slide out before spending 20 hours cutting and measuring and installing laminate in any RV with a slide out!

  23. Gina

    Hi. I’m going to be doing this to my 29′ 1990 Coachmen Catalina in about a month with laminate left over from my home install. I do have one question though: after sealing the perimeter with flexible sealant, how is the floor trim attached to the wall? Any help would be appreciated. I’m very excited, the end result looks fantastic! And so much better than 20 year old carpet, especially with pets.

  24. Frank

    Most of the laminated flooring manufacturers indicate that you can either use finishing nails or adhesive like liquid nails. I am just starting this process myself. I have about 2/3 of the carpet ripped out of my 2001 Tiffin Allegro Bus. I sent an email to Tiffin regarding the carpeting under the slide outs and am awaiting their response.

  25. Gina

    Thanks for the response! I’m hoping the carpet removal isn’t a nightmare - though if that’s the worst of it everything should turn out just fine. I don’t have slide outs to contend with thankfully.

    Famous last words: how hard could it be??? Hahaha

    Good luck with yours!

  26. Frank

    Received a reply from Tiffin. The response indicates that I should replace metal rollers under the slide with rubber rollers, and that I need to raise up the bottom of the slide out by using a pry bar and block to get to the rollers. I’m a little skeptical about doing this. I may just leave carpet under where the slide out moves in and out, and put the laminate everywhere else. Not sure whether this means that I will have to glue the laminate down. Guess I will find out when I try it.

  27. Gina

    Well, the carpet and padding is OUT! And I’ve been sneezing ever since!! I’m trying to not think about what was in that 21 year old carpet… Today I will cut and put down the underlayment and hopefully get started with cutting and laying. Nervous! But anything is better than the biohazard that carpet was. I will have to make sure the undersink water filtration system I installed yesterday too is definitely not leaking before moving beyond the oven. I do wonder how to go about laying lino in the bathroom but we will tackle that later. : )

  28. Frank

    I finally finished my job today. Cutting out the old carpet was by far the hardest part of the job, followed by custom fitting the laminate in some rather small areas. But it sure looks nice. I ended up leaving the carpet under the slideout. I just extended the slideout, then cut the carpet back about 1/2″ more so that no trace of the old carpet is visible. And if for some reason the slideout ever has to come out, it will be easy to remove the remainder of the carpet and finish the laminate. I’d attach pictures, but do not see a means to do so.

    Regards,
    Frank

  29. Glenn

    Is there a certain type of saw that is best for cutting Pergo planks cleanly? I’m about ready to start my own installation, and am concerned about chipping the laminate whenever I make a cut.

  30. Dennis Smith

    We just did this in our 22 foot fun finder. I have a good table and miter saw so it made it go very easy. remember its a flooting floor and you leave 1/4 inch gap around it. then the quarter molding covers the gap. took a while to get started and figure out what to rip but it was easy. Bought wood trip for the bathroom door and metal for the exit door. Take your time and it looks great.

  31. Ray

    great site very helpfull info.will attempt to remove carpet today in rexhall motorhome will replace with vynil laminate planks,hoping everything goes smoothly.

  32. bejohnson99

    Just finished this mod using a bamboo finish flexible laminate, Trackmaster Allure from Home Depot. Only $200 for five boxes to replace the vinyl in my Keystone Cougar 304BHS. Love it! I have added a link to a couple of photos of the finished job.

  33. Kevin Sherred

    Installing Trafficmaster Allure from Home Depot in my Glendale 28′ Class C on the weekend. 24 square feet cost me $47. Will post pictures when finished.

    http://www6.homedepot.com/tv/hdtv_player.html?videoID=000166

  34. Brian B

    We did this mod on our 32 ft. motorhome. It really made a huge difference in the appearence. It made the living area look larger and cleaner. We did the mod for $150 with supplies from Lowes. It was fairly easy and only took about 15 hours of work.

  35. Dan

    (Quote) Ray (April 15th, 2012 at 8:12 am)

    great site very helpfull info.will attempt to remove carpet today in rexhall motorhome will replace with vynil laminate planks,hoping everything goes smoothly (Unquote)

    Hey Ray, I too have a Rexhall and want to replace the carpet with laminate planks. How did the job go? Any photos? How did you deal with the slides?

  36. Mike

    My wife was reading the directions to the pergo flooring I purchased and it said not to install it where temperatures will fluctuate below 65 and above 85. The camper I want to put it in will sit out in temps above and below these. Will that cause problems of buckling, warping or other?

  37. fcw

    Anyone have any info on dealing with the slides on a Rexhall. I am planning on putting laminate on the floors. Will the slides clear the laminate when installed?

  38. Damon

    We own a 2000 Damon Ultrasport Class A diesel pusher and I replaced all the flooring except the bathroom with laminate. It is a tricky job and does take a lot of trial and error. I left the vinyl in the bathroom as most of these laminates are press board and will expand when wet - not a good thing to have near the shower. As for the slide, ours is about 16 ft long (kitchen and coach) on the drivers side and operates on three rollers. I purposely started on that side and worked across to the square wall. I found that if I moved the slide out 6 ” I could reach under and removed the gasket exposing the carpet. I was able to remove the carpet underneath and then started the flooring but fitting a full run along the outer wall on the floor. After trying it several times with the rollers, I put the first run down and glued it in place and used the slide rollers to hold it down by rolling out the slide. Once it was dry, I moved the slide all the way out and ran the remaining boards from that one towards the passenger side, cutting around the cabinets, etc. I too removed everything I could - dinette, seats, captain chairs. It was much easier and gave a better fit than cutting around them. For the stairs, I tried using laminate and quarter round, but the finish was not clean and the quarter round broke when stepping on the stairs. I replaced that with oak stair treads - commonly found at the Home Depot or Lowe’s for the top tread and laminate for the stair back and sides. This really came out nice. I’m new to this forum and when I can figure out how to load pictures I will do so.

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