Many folks and a few manufacturers are coming around to the practicality of hard surface flooring throughout their RVs. Inevitably, the carpeting in most trailers end up soiled, stained, or matted to the point that no amount of vacuuming or shampooing will bring it back to its original condition. The best you can do in this circumstance is have it professionally cleaned, but that can be expensive, if you can find someone to deal with the smaller confines of an RV. Hard surface flooring can be the answer for active RVers, or those who feel carpet is just not practical in the woods. While there are many solid woods, laminates and stick down tiles out there, I have found a product sold by Home Depot that is relatively inexpensive (about $1.70 a sq. ft) easy to work with, looks good, and wears very well. The product is called “Allure” by TrafficMaster and is now available in over 20 styles, from barnwood to bamboo, oak to cork, and many, many others. When I installed mine, there were only 3 choices, Oak, Hickory and Dark Cherry. The success of the product is evident by the wide varieties now available. I’ve had the product down in our 5th wheel living room now for about two years and find it is easy to maintain, and has survived temperatures from 18f to 98f with no ill effects. Another benefit is that it is virtually waterproof. And we all know that plumbing issues can be a part of RVing!
The product itself comes in 6″x36″ “strips” that have a glue strip along the long edge. One on top of the strip and another on the bottom. You lay your first course by cutting off the bottom glue strip and putting the remaining piece against the wall. Then, stagger the next course by laying the bottom of the glue strip over top of the glue strip on the first course. This process sounds complicated until you open a box of the material and see how it is manufactured.Â Cutting the material requires a sharp utility knife. To cut , just score it, and snap it. Cuts along the length of a strip are a little more time consuming, but there are few of those type cuts.
The benefits of this product are, easy clean up, easy installation, and it is a “floating” floor. As the pieces are glued to each other, there is no need for adhesives and spreaders. The product itself is about an eighth of an inch thick, so it is very forgiving with regard to the subfloor. On my install, I had to remove a small section of oak parkay in the kitchen area. As I pulled it up, I inadvertently pulled up some of the subfloor. I patched it with Fix-It-All and after 2 years, there is no sign of the subfloor repair bleeding through.
I was concerned about my furniture sliding around, so we bought some area rugs to place under the chairs and our kitchen table, but everything else seems to ride fine. One of the best investments I made was a “VacPan” (http://builtinvacuum.com/inlets/vacpan.html) that is basically a little trap door that you install on a kickplate that sucks floor sweepings into your central vac system. If you don’t have a central vac system, you can make a “poormans system” like I did for about $60. That’s a column for the future!
Some hints for a good installation:
- Floor Prep:
- Allure is remarkably forgiving unlike traditional sheet vinyl that reguires ardous floor prep. In fact if you can’t remove the pad staples, just beat them down flush and the strips will hide it. No subfloor joint patching is necessary.
- Acclimating the product:
- Make sure you have the product open and in the RV for at least 48 hours prior to installing it.
- Installation temperature:
- Try not to install it in excessively cold or hot room temperatures. I did mine at about 65 degrees and have found no expansion problems. I have heard from others that installed it in very hot and cold temps and had the seams separate.
- Roll the seams:
- Once you put the glued edges together, they really stick!! So get it right and get it tight the first time. But do yourself a favor and rent a linoleum roller for the job. It won’t cost much and the seams will stay put!
- Room for expansion:
- Leave at least an eighth to a quarter of an inch around the perimeter to allow for expansion. Quarter round on the perimeter will hide the gaps.
- In heavy wet areas:
- Run a bead of silicone around the perimeter to prevent excessive moisture from getting under the strips.
I’ve had several guests mistake Allure for Pergo or real wood and have found that it has an advantage over these products in that it is lighter (less weight to haul around) and will not swell if exposed to moisture. If your carpet is getting grungy and it’s time to upgrade, consider vinyl planking. We did and have not regretted it!
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