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How to Install Laminate Flooring in an RV With Slide-Outs

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Laminate flooring is versatile and can be installed in various areas, including the kitchen, living room, bedroom, offices, and even in homes on wheels. Installing laminate flooring in an RV will not only enhance its beauty, but it’ll also give you unlimited convenience, especially since it is easy to maintain.

To install laminate flooring in an RV with slide-outs, you’ll first need to develop a blueprint of the project. Next, you’ll remove the carpet or existing floors in preparation for installation. For the slide-outs, it’s advisable to custom install the laminate based on your RV’s sliding mechanism.

Curious to learn more about installing laminate in an RV, especially one with slide-outs? If so, then you couldn’t be in a better place. Read on and Learn our step by step guide.

How to Install Laminate Flooring in an RV With Slide-Outs

How to install laminate flooring in your RV with slide outs?

When looking to install laminate flooring in your RV, you’ll first need to have a plan to act as a guide. Remember, an RV doesn’t have as many straight spaces as a bedroom or living room floor area would in a normal home. As a result, you’ll need to factor in several considerations. The top of the list being the floor dimensions.

Step 1: Plan your installation

For an RV with slide-outs, it’s crucial to consider the dimensions of the slide areas and how the RV transitions from the slide to the main floor. And since the sliding mechanism usually varies depending on RV type, you’ll need to be extra careful to get the dimensions right, especially before installing your laminate on the slide.

Draw out the plan and mark out the designated areas for installation.

TIP: Some people prefer leaving carpet below the beds while others elect to remove all carpet and install a completely new flooring. 

Whichever option you prefer, knowing the measurements of the work area will allow you to determine the total laminate planks required.

Step 2: Remove the RV Carpet

Although it might appear straightforward, removing an RV carpet can prove a nightmare, especially due to the staples. Be prepared to remove staples, more so in enclosed spaces or carpeted areas beneath the pre-installed furniture.

The trick is to try and pull the staples with the carpet. That is, capitalize on the size and weight of the carpet to pluck out the staples.

You’ll need a multi-tool in order to remove carpet padding or a set of pliers to pull out the staples.

Removing the linoleum can also prove problematic, especially if the RV manufacturer put a generous amount of glue on the RV floor. If you’re lucky, a utility knife should be enough to remove it and give you access to the subfloor. Having pry bars on standby can also help.

NOTE: Removing carpet or linoleum from beneath the slides is not a walk in the park. You might have to leave some inches of old flooring in the hard to reach areas, provided it doesn't interfere with your laminate installation project.

Step 3: Clean and Examine the Subfloor

Once you’re satisfied with the carpet and linoleum removal job, it’s time to clean up the subfloor and check for any defects.

It’s not uncommon to spot water-damaged subfloors, especially if you’ve been dealing with leakage problems. Therefore, to prepare for inspection, sweep the subfloor, and remove dirt and carpet debris lying on the surface.

If you spot a damaged part, don’t hesitate to fix it or fill it up before installing laminate. A Bondo Body Repair Kitshould help you to level up the damaged parts of the subfloor.

NOTE: All existing defects in the subfloor should be repaired before any flooring is installed.

Step 4: Start Installing your Laminate floors

While there is no rule governing where to start the installation process, it’s usually advisable to start working on the longest wall (side). Remember to keep the basics of laminate installation in mind. That is, allow the laminate planks to acclimate to the RV environment for a minimum of two days before installation.

You’ll also need to leave a bit of space from the walls to allow the laminate to expand and contract as it responds to changes in temperature and humidity. But to be on the safe side, reading the user manual is highly recommended. So don’t hesitate to check the instructions on the box for specific installation instructions.

Few tips:

  • Attach the laminate boards from end to end, laying the first row with as many complete pieces as you can.
  • Once you get to the end of the row, measure the plank size required and cut it from a complete piece. However, as you’re working on the planks adjacent to the wall, remember to leave a 1.5-2 inch spacing to prevent peaking.
  • Be extra careful when installing the laminate planks as they’ll need to lock firmly to remain in position amidst the heavy foot traffic. You might need to tap the laminate planks using a rubber mallet or press the overlapping adhesive strips hard enough to ensure there’s a good attachment.   

Step 5: Work on the Slide Flooring

For most RVers, the hardest part about re-flooring an RV is working on the slide-out floors. Replacing slide out carpet with other flooring types is difficult due to the gaps that form between the main floor and the slide floor when it’s fully extended.

Before installing the laminate on the slides, it’s vital to check on the slide mechanism. Some RV lifestyle enthusiasts prefer leaving the slide carpet in place to prevent glides or rollers from scratching the new flooring. But if you opt to remove the carpet and place laminate flooring on the side, you should think about how the slide will transition to the main floor.

When installing laminate on an RV, it is highly advisable to use the type that comes with a pre-installed underlayment. Using laminate with an underlayment will save you tons of work, especially when looking to level the floors.

But if you prefer purchasing and installing the underlayment separately, you should take measurements. Work on setting up the underlayment in all the target areas before installing the laminate.

NOTE: In most RVs, you'll find about 2-inches of space between the slide and the main floor. While it's important to fill this space with a sturdy enough material, it's crucial to check on the overall weight the material would add to the floating floor.

You’ll notice that the carpet’s lip extends to the main floor to cover the plastic ramp in most RVs with slide-outs. Such RVs usually use 1-2 inch plywood to bridge the gap between the slide and main floors.

How you opt to fill the gap that results after removing the carpet and its supportive base is up to your personal preferences. However, for most DIY RVers, placing a sturdy plank on top of the gap allows for a smooth transition from the slide floor to the main floor, especially when the slide outs are pulled back during travel.

Therefore, when installing laminate on the flush slide out, placing a large laminate board to cover the 1-2 inch gap is recommended. The laminate board should run lengthwise and cover the entire gap without adding too much weight to the slide. You should also tweak the board measurements to ensure that the laminate plank’s tongue doesn’t stick out too much when the slide-out is pulled back.

Since you’re dealing with a floating floor, gluing down the first laminate piece into the slide floor is highly recommended to ensure the edge remains static despite the slide out’s motion. So once you’re done working on the first edge, proceed to lay down other laminate planks until the entire slide floor is fully covered.

Step 6: Work on the Odd-Shaped Areas

Kitchen cabinets, islands, and cupboards are some of the hard- to-install areas due to their odd shapes and sizes. Due to this, setting some time aside to work on the difficult areas is highly recommended. Of course, if you want to install laminate uniformly across the floor, then you’ll need to cut some of the planks to suit the floor design of your floor.

A jigsaw can suffice for this stage, especially when looking to make those odd-shaped cuts and trims, but make sure to check out our saw guide. Once you’ve taken the correct measurements, start installing the laminate pieces carefully until they cover all the floor areas. 

NOTE: cutting out the laminate pieces into fitting sizes can prove problematic, especially since there's usually little room for error. Therefore, try your best to cut to measure. And while you're cutting the odd-shaped laminate planks, remember to leave around a 1.5-inch expansion gap.

Step 7: Install the Baseboard

The last thing you want is to leave your laminate floors looking incomplete. Therefore, you’ll need to set up a base shoe molding or so called Baseboard that resembles your laminate flooring color. The molding will help to fill the expansion gap, leaving your floor looking neat and complete.

Set up the mold in all the areas you can, especially the high traffic areas where sticking tongues and edges can lead to injury. While you can use a baseboard of any color, it’s usually advisable to pick a color that matches your floor’s grain and stain. 

If you’re using wood-look laminate on your RV floor, then the best baseboar should have that wood grain and stain to give your flooring a uniform look.

An overlap reduceror moldings like the M-D 36-Inch Stair Edging can help to finish and secure the edges of your RV slide-out. However, as you look to purchase moldings for your overlapping slide-out floor, be sure to choose one that matches the flooring to achieve a smooth transition.  

Important Tips to Consider When Installing Laminate in RVs

When installing laminate in an RV, it’s crucial to follow a plan. A plan will help you know areas that need special cuts and the right tools for the job. Below are some important tips to keep in mind as you prepare to change your RV’s flooring. 

Remove the Carpet With Staples in Mind

Installing laminate flooring in an RV isn’t as complicated as removing the carpet and the resulting staples. Therefore, as you prepare to install new floors, be prepared to spend hours dealing with the carpet.

The best idea is to use as much force as possible to pluck out the staples together with the carpet. But a set of pliers and a pry bar can make your life a lot easier if used correctly. So don’t hold back any energy when removing the carpet as the force used might be the difference between easy staple removal or spending hours working on removing the staples.

Have an Idea to Guide You

Installing laminate isn’t just about placing new laminate planks in place of your RV’s carpet. It’s more about planning for every inch of the laminate and where it will be placed.

First, you’ll need to determine whether to remove the slide-out carpet or leave it to stand while you work on the main floor. Not too many RVers fancy leaving carpet on slide outs as it results in nonuniform floors, which beats the logic of a floor reinstallation project.

Therefore, if you’re going to install laminate on the slide, prepare by taking the necessary measurements and having the necessary molding in place to cover the exposed edge. A plan will guide you throughout the installation process, helping you conserve both time and resources.

Remember the Rules of Installing Laminate

Although laminate is durable and aesthetically appealing, incorrect installation can lead to undesirable outcomes. This explains why it’s always prudent to check on the manufacturer’s installation instructions before commencing a DIY project.

You should also give the laminate planks around two to three days to acclimate to your mobile home’s internal temperature. Granted, some people might argue that an RV’s internal environment is subject to change due to regular travel. However, it still won’t hurt to allow the laminate planks to lay around the RV before installation.

Another crucial tip to keep in mind when installing laminate in your RV is to leave expansion gaps where the planks meet the wall. Keep the gap to a maximum of 2 inches to be on the safe side.

Be Wary of the Slide-Out

While leaving carpet on the slide floor might ruin the aesthetics of your RV flooring, doing so might help you avoid scratching or denting the floor, especially when the slides are retracted.

Be extra careful when dealing with slide floor transitions since a simple error can damage your laminate floor in the area of contact. You might have to improvise by placing a slim plastic mat beneath the slide outs to prevent the rollers or gliders from damaging your floor.  

Maintain Laminate Flooring

How to Maintain Laminate Flooring in an RV

Installing laminate flooring in your RV is the first and hardest part. Luckily, maintaining your new laminate flooring won’t be too hard if you observe the following tips.

Sweep the Floor Regularly

Laminate floors are easy to maintain, especially if regularly swept. Although there is no specific guideline on the number of times you should sweep your laminate floors, it’s best to do so daily, especially when on the move.

The idea behind regular sweeping is to avoid the build-up of dirt and food debris, which can stain and damage the laminate planks if allowed to settle for long. When cleaning the floors, remember to use a dry microfiber cloth instead of a brush with tough bristles.

Remove Spills

Laminate and water aren’t the best of friends. Allowing water to soak on your laminate floors is a sure recipe for disaster. Therefore, you’ll need to be on the lookout for spills and issues such as pipe leaks that can lead to flooding.  

If you have pets, it’s best to place mats under their feeding bowls to prevent spills and stains. Try placing mats outside the bathroom or the kitchen area to prevent water droplets from seeping through the laminate seams and into the subfloor.

Use a Dry Mop to Clean

Dry mopping your laminate flooring is enough to keep it neat and well-maintained. Avoid using random soaps and oils to clean your laminate floors. Instead, go for products specifically meant for laminate, such as Rejuvenate Shine Polish Restorer, which are known to be gentle on sensitive floors.

Always spray the cleaners on the mop as opposed to sprinkling a generous amount directly on the floor. Spraying the dry mop allows you to clean the laminate floor without exposing it to too much moisture.

You can also check out our guide on protecting laminate floors to ensure that you’re doing everything necessary to help your floors last for years.

Try to Regulate Humidity

A dehumidifier might be necessary if you want to install laminate flooring in your home on wheels. Laminate responds to changes in humidity, meaning you must be prepared to lower moisture levels in case they become too high.

Always Check on the Subfloor Before Making Replacements

Installing new laminate planks on a subfloor before checking for underlying issues is ill-advised. As a rule of thumb, always check on the state of the subfloor whenever you have it exposed. Fix the damaged areas before installing new laminate planks. And if there was an underlying issue such as pipe leaks, you should first sort them out before laying out the new laminate.

Wrapping Things Up

Installing laminate flooring in RVs shouldn’t be too much of an uphill task if you know the steps to follow.

Start with creating a plan to act as a guide before ripping out the carpet strategically to remove staples. Once done with carpet removal, clean up the subfloor, and make any necessary repairs before starting the laminate installation process.

Remember to work on the slide outs separately and to use a long laminate plank to fill out the gap in the floor transition.

Don’t forget to leave out an expansion gap to accommodate laminate’s physical properties.