It seems every year there is something new and exciting being added to RVs that we just have to have. It started a long time ago with the addition of solid surface countertops, tile, and wood flooring, LED lights, then slide rooms! More and more RVs are continuing to become more like residential homes and the older models become somewhat obsolete.
However, there are several features that we as owners can add to or modify without throwing out the old for the new. While adding a slide room may be a little overwhelming, smaller renovations can be accomplished by a typical DIY handyman with some minor tools.
One question that keeps coming up on the RV Repair Club site is, how can I replace that dingy worn-out carpet in my rig? Changing carpet is typically not a terribly difficult job, however, there are some factors you need to be aware of in the different flooring options and they type of floorplan you have.
If you are just replacing old worn out carpet with new carpet, it’s a fairly simple task however, you may find difficult installation issues when tearing up the old carpet. For example, is it stapled in various areas or glued? How is it installed under a slide room? And how do I get the carpet that’s glued to the engine cover and driver/passenger compartment to come off? For this, they tend to use some of the strongest glue I have ever seen. I have had to scrape and tear and eventually had to use a thin underlayment as there were too many carpet fibers, glue clumps and such that the surface was too uneven.
Keep in mind, carpet is very forgiving, it is usually tucked behind a tack strip at the edges or stapled tight up against the wall. Once the carpet is “fluffed” it hides all the seams and edges. Same thing with 90-degree corners such as the entrance steps where two pieces of carpet meet. Simply fluff the carpet and you do not see the seam!
When replacing with new carpet, it’s best to use an “action back” or synthetic backing rather than a jute back or the spongy kind called “kanga back” as these will absorb moisture and stretch. It’s best to go with a medium weight or fiber ounce per yard such as 25-30 as this will be durable and plush without being too thick to work with or clean.
Wood & Tile
If you are looking to replace the existing carpet with a wood product or tile, keep in mind the chassis of your rig will twist with road and campground conditions and this will make the floor twist as well. Carpet will flex where wood and tile will not. These materials typically sit in a residential installation with a consistent comfortable temperature of around 70 degrees. Your RV will sit in storage when not being used and could dip below zero winter or above 100 degrees in the blistering summer. If you are thinking about using a wood flooring product, do some research on the different types of wood and keep in mind the extreme conditions that your RV may experience.
The thickness should be at least 7 mil and have a heavy-duty top finish that can withstand the force of a slide room mechanism (if needed) as it is extended and retracted. Check to see what type of rollers or glide shoe your room has and how it will rub on the floor. You will also want to find a product that interlocks and creates a one-piece floating floor that is less likely to buckle with the chassis issues. This also means you will need plenty of trim pieces to hide the gap and edges at the floor to wall seam, transition area from the driver compartment, and any other gaps from cabinetry and furniture. Quarter round wood pieces works well as well as an L-shaped stair trim made of wood, metal, or rubber which we have used before.
If you are considering tile, make sure the grout is a flexible type and the unit you are installing has a solid foundation and very little flex! Even the large diesel pushers with a heavy-duty chassis and airbags have a problem with tile cracking and popping. Typically tile is not a great option for units that will be stored in below-freezing temperatures. There are several simulated tile products such as Nafco that are interlocking squares and create a floating floor that holds up very well. These have been used by RV manufacturers for several years.
Once again, it’s not impossible, but it’s wise to take some time to identify the challenging areas like the slide room, transition areas, stairs, and working around furniture.
Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
RV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair, and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.