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Author Topic: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana  (Read 25901 times)

bigskytct

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Some of you may remember that I was looking for someone in the Maryland area to redo the floors in my Safari Sahara (1997 model 3506 class A Diesel Pusher). This turned out to be more of an ordeal than I anticipated. It was also a learning experience – so I though I would share it with you all.

Flooring dealers and installers in this area were more than happy to do the job and quote me a low price. None of them had ever done an RV but they were sure it would not be a problem. They had not taken out an RV toilet, were not sure about the seals, were not sure about moisture issues which might arise, sealing the edges, the bathroom,  or specific issues of floating click flooring in an RV  - but they were sure they could do it. I was not convinced.  RV dealers were not overly excited about doing it either, had a significant backlog – and I had no confidence in the quality of the outcome or that they would work with me to achieve my desired result. Preliminary cost estimates were also very expensive.

I did a little research and found out enough about “doing RV flooring right” to know that it was not a task to be taken lightly.  We wanted wood (to match our cabinets up front, (and on driver pedestal, entry stairs), slate tile “look” click flooring in the kitchen and bath, and plush carpet in the bedroom (rear) and in the slide area (under the sofa/bed). 

Doing RV flooring right means
1.   Floating the floor (maintains the warranties and prevents warping due to expansion)
2.   Insure you start with a quality material that is moisture resistant
3.   Special care to insure that no RV systems will be damaged (wiring, plumbing, tanks, etc.)
4.   Care to insure that all maintenance areas are still accessible
5.   Taking out all captains chairs, furniture & slide-out couch, etc.
6.   Excellent transitions from wood to tile to carpet
7.   Double underlayment (reduces noise transmission, stops click of shoes, helps with insulation). Use Silent Step – I
                wasn’t sure it was worth the price, but I am  very glad I did. Its density will avoid the double underlayment edge
                breaking issue
          a.        Noise was better than when we had carpet
          b.        No obnoxious noise/clicking of shoes as on most laminate floors
8.   Build-up for toilet  - new toilet seal
9.   Matching trim to cabinetry
10.   ¼ round around all flooring edges to allow for expansion and contraction
                      Trim all edges with matching quarter round
11.   Seal the flooring edges with silicone – expands yet seals laminate for moisture
12.   Special care in the bathrooms
                   Seal every edge that may come in contact with water
                   Special attention around the shower/path where water is sure to pool
                   Build new boxes over plumbing accesses
13.   Do the entry steps in the same material (sides, risers, and slide cover)
14.   Use commercial rubber material on the steps.
15.   Work around the steering and pedals
16.   Get under the slide-out area
17.   Some of the flooring ran under the walls (bathroom) – flush cut to fit
18.   Trim around the shower
19.   Commercial edging materials and finishing (corners, steps, edges, trim, etc.)
20.   Trim-in the washer/dryer and other special features under cabinets
21.   Align transitions with pocket doors
22.   Insure the patterns (tile) line up with features
23.   Insure tat the flooring  center line runs down the middle of the coach  and aligns with coach features and hallways.
24.   Carpet slide-out bay and roll-over leading edge of slideout – trim with commercial edging


We ended up communicating with a person in Indiana who had his flooring done by an Amish gentleman named Merle Smith in Napanee Indiana. Merle works at the Newmar RV factory doing their flooring and is very experienced with RV’s. He has a friend who works with him named Paul Borkholder who did the laminate flooring. They are a great pair. These are the gentlemen we picked to do our flooring when we were on the way back from the west. We couldn’t be happier about it. Not only did they do exceptional work, and were very flexible about what we wanted (we did not skimp on quality – or work). They did it graciously, and were a pleasure to work with.

We arrived on a  Wednesday night – the goal being to give them 3 days to work. To be clear: this was a partnership – I helped them by running for parts and the occasional tool. And they gave me exceptional work at a good price.  I paid about $900 for materials (picked the best I could get). And paid Merle and Paul about $1500 for their labor (about 75 labor hours of hard work over 3 days). They do not work on Sundays.  I could not be happier with the work or the experience.  As expected, during the install we ran into several RV specific issues. I was very happy to have people working on my unit who understood the implications of how the unit would be used, what it would be subject to, and how to do it properly.

While in Napanee Indiana we ran errands for Merle and Paul. We also spent about half of the time exploring the area. Tthey cannot make quick trips to Lowes, Menards, Ace, and the Elkhart Flooring Mart – carpet remnant headquarters.  I did it for them. We had Towed my wifes mini-van on a Demco SS car dolly. The van came in very handy. The only thing I had to have delivered was the carpet which was a 15’ by 15’ remnant. I had it delivered the morning after I bought it. 

We learned that every coach has unique challenges and the key to a successful installation is to be flexible. Don’t adhere to tightly to your ideals, because it is likely there will be two or three which become excessively difficult and for which there is a much better solution. 

An added benefit that I had not anticipated:
We had heard of Napanee Indiana and the Amish community there over the years and were looking forward to experiencing it first hand.  The Amish experience in Nappanee for the tourists is just that – for the tourists. It is fun to see how they lived in the past but we found most of the Amish stores and restaurants staffed by regular people from the areas and in many cases there was nothing exceptional about it.  I did not realize that working with Merle and Paul would give me a much better insight to current Amish living – than I ever could have received from tours. Meeting their families, running errands for them, our kids playing together, and seeing first hand how they lived while watching them interact with there families – was a benefit that I enjoyed more than the “amish experience” offered elsewhere. And it was real.  Merle and Pauls familys (wifes and children) were wonderful, warm and gracious.

RV & supply stores we visited
RV Surplus and Salvage – Elkhart  – broad collection of new and used parts & furniture
RV New Surplus – Elkhart – broad collection of new surplus
Goshen Floor Mart – wide collection of overstock carpet, tile & click flooring at discount prices
Nappanee ACE hardware – great selection of screws (stainless, brass, specialty), switches, Senco nails, Sawzall blades, dusters, etc.
Lowes Elkhart – bought the Pergo flooring here – it was tough to find the perfect match elsewhere and we needed all the matching trim pieces and quarter round.
Menards Goshen – the local Lowes – had some products that Lowes did not – Aluminum and brass trim pieces, blue memory foam underlayment/moisture barrier


Materials  Needed

-   Pergo with underlayment attached  –  selected Pergo Durant Beech  - Embossed
-   Flooring transition pieces & trim pieces (bull-nose, transition, etc.)
-   Slate tile look – with underlayment attached - click flooring (not sure of brand) – Merle/Paul already had it
-   Dupont Stainmaster  remnant – Ultra Plush – from Goshen Floor Mart
-   Premium Carpet Pad
-   3M Automotive Trim Adhesive spray  – used to adhere carpet to engine box (under bed)
-   3M automotive underseal  - for respraying under steps after removing sensors, lights, etc.
-   PL Construction Adhesive (for non floated areas) – bathroom shower surround, steps,  trim, etc.
-   Sound Solution – underlayment – blue, dense foam pad – excellent noise reduction
-   GE Silicone II sealant  - sealed all edges
-   Stainless screws and
-   Brass 3/8” tile edging & trim pieces for shower edge (to trim flooring material edges over plumbing covers)
-   Commercial vinyl flooring L edging – to edge top steps, etc.
-   RV Toilet seal
-   Paper towels
-   Clear drop cloth (to seal off work areas)
-   Non-slip pads for the furniture so it did not slip after the laminate installation
-   A 2x4 to frame the plumbing covers
-   White silicone caulk


Equipment I brought with me (that I was glad I did)

Bosch 18V drill driver with batteries and charger – an extra for the guys to use
Bosch Impactor 10v lithium/ion that I bought on sale on the way (very useful)
Assortment of screws  (stainless, brass, self-tapping, drywall, etc.)
Caulk and adhesives (GE silicone)
Permatex clear RTV silicone adhesive (for my sealing on the outside)
3M marine adhesive (seal bolts, etc on outside)
Flashlights (head lamps)
Lots of hand tools for doing little fix-ups during the process

Equipment I wish I had brought that would have saved them substantial time
Fein Multimaster – saw system
I had ordered it before I left (probably wouldn’t have brought it anyway)
After using it – it would have been incredibly helpful for them (removing glued down wood flooring, undercutting walls, etc.)  though they did excellent work without it


Using Merle and Paul's Services
If you intend to use Merle and Paul - It would be good to arrive at Merles with a full load of  propane and/or Diesel so you can run your generator and refrigerator for the three days it will take – for lights, tools, etc. They only have a generator to power their tools and they will need the lights, etc. in your unit and AC availability in the RV is helpful. Also empty your black tank because the toilet will be out for a while. 

We were happy with the process. It is a great way to learn a lot about your motorhome/RV and clean it out in the process. As an example, Merle and Paul told us that our Safari Sahara was very well built, they were impressed with the 2” of foam insulation between the flooring and subflooring. They were also impressed with the quality of materials used and how well put together the Safari Sahara was.  It was good to hear.

They showed me things about the motorhome that I did not know and I fixed some things and did preventive maintenance on others while they worked. They discovered and corrected a few other issues along the way simply as a matter of course.  Because Newmar has cut back on some hours – it has given them increased flexibility for these side jobs. Merle Miller can be reached at 574-773-7320 x3.  This is a party line that Merle shares. Leave him a message and he will get back with you. Communications is a little difficult and pictures, etc. will need to be sent with traditional mail (not email). We did not have a lot of communications before we arrived – just show up a day early to pick out materials, and we will handle the rest. It all came together well though.

A side note on Amish Furniture for RV’s
Carlyle Lehman of Focal Wood Products is another Amish gentleman who makes beautifully crafted yet contemporary furniture and does refitting of  motorhomes/RV’s. He is only a few block’s around the corner from Merle and definitely work a visit.  We bought a great little cherry table while we were there.

Furniture in Nappanee
Great Amish furniture can be seen at Liz’s in downtown Nappanee, many of the sets there were 50% off the Amish makers regular list prices. So save space to bring some furniture home. PS, if you need a table for 20 this is the place.

If you use Merle & Paul tell them we said hello. Enjoy  ;D

I will post a few pictures when I have a chance...

TT
« Last Edit: September 15, 2008, 10:29:43 PM by Alaskansnowbirds »

jh sechelt

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2008, 02:14:25 AM »
Great report !!

Was a pleasure to read, Sounds like you really did your homework.
congratts on a new looking Motorhome, any chance of posting some Pictures ?

J&D
2008 Revolution LE 40E
& a little Ford Ranger" The Pusher".
J&D From B.C. Canada

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2008, 03:02:50 AM »
Yes, I will post some pictures when I have a chance to take some...

Thanks

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2008, 10:07:39 AM »
Thanks for the detailed report and recommendations. Should help a lot of others who are contemplating this sort of job.
Gary
--------------
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

ArdraF

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2008, 01:46:29 PM »
BigSky, Thanks for contributing a very nicely written summary and a good list to which others can refer.

Tom, Is this something we can put into the Library?  There have been other questions on the subject of flooring so I'm sure others will find the checklist to be helpful.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Tom

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2008, 02:46:51 PM »
I plan to put it in the library Ardra, but will probably wait until we get home from the weekend and, hopefully, when photos have been posted.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

ArdraF

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2008, 02:50:51 PM »
Gee, Tom, you'd think you have something better to do this weekend.  ;)  Have a little fun.  You devote enough time to our cause.  Take your time....

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2008, 05:51:31 PM »
Here are the pictures of the new floor installation on the Safari Sahara as promised. Enjoy

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2008, 05:53:03 PM »
Some More Pictures   ;D

Tom

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2008, 06:03:45 PM »
That came out really nice, thanks for sharing.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2008, 06:04:59 PM »
Maybe you would like to see what it looked like before.  It was getting rough and the wood floor looked weathered. The carpet was heavily worn.  :'(

Tom

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2008, 06:05:50 PM »
Ardra,

It's more an issue of me not wanting to mess around with library uploads while I'm on this tenuous connection. We'll be home tomorrow (Mon) evening, and I'll have a rock solid cable connection.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

Tom

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2008, 06:06:49 PM »
What a difference between 'before' and 'after'.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2008, 06:08:07 PM »
And now you might like to see the construction process.  As mentioned the work took about 3 days.
 :o

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2008, 06:09:36 PM »
More Construction pics

Luca1369

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2008, 06:24:34 PM »
Beautiful job, you certainly got your money's worth... and well-documented!

Steve
Steve
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I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
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jh sechelt

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2008, 06:39:51 PM »
Bigsky,

Thanks for posting the Pictures....... that looks way better than new ;D

J&D
2008 Revolution LE 40E
& a little Ford Ranger" The Pusher".
J&D From B.C. Canada

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2008, 07:21:42 PM »
Received an email about the MCS box under the dash - it is a Car Computer. It runs the Silverleaf engine/trip computer diagnostic software (VMSpc - which is immensely useful).  The computer is hooked to the Silverleaf box under the dash - which is in turn connected to the engine/transmission diagnostics port.  I have a touchscreen monitor above the dash. The mouse and keyboard are bluetooth (wireless).

 ;)

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2008, 08:47:17 PM »
You're welcome   :o

Mike (ex-f-221)

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2008, 09:10:55 AM »
When they do such a great job - isn't it consequent to buy a RV from Newmar?

Edit:
OK, their work is only a part of building the RV. But the spirit of the factory seems to be ok.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2008, 09:21:26 AM by Mike (ex-f-221) »
Mike Muellner
Bremerhaven, Germany

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2008, 11:09:01 AM »
We wanted to tour the Newmar RV plant, but we could not because it was shut down for the week.  I understand that 90% of the people who work at the plan are Amish. This speaks very well for the quality of the Newmar product.

Several other RV companies are in the area as well.


ArdraF

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2008, 02:58:54 PM »
What a nice improvement.  They did a really good job and it looks great.  Now for the remainder.  What!  You didn't know the upholstery is next????   ::)

ArdraF

ArdraF
:D :D

ArdraF

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2008, 02:59:36 PM »
Tom, I was just yanking your chain.  ;)

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2008, 04:00:09 PM »
Yes, we know the upholstery is next.  It is nice to hear it confirmed from an outside source. Our friends are to nice to tell us it looks like garbage  :-X

We looked at sofas and dinettes while we were in Elkhart but did not find anything that excited us - at least in a price range that we considered suitable. A few nice sets for $3000-$4000. We would like ultraleather to match the chairs up front.  We need something with seatbelts for the kids.

ArdraF

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #24 on: September 01, 2008, 05:26:42 PM »
Quote
Our friends are to nice to tell us it looks like garbage.

Now you said that not me!  ;)  I just know from our own experience and that of several Forum framily how it goes.  It's called One Thing Leads to Another.  The floors now look so nice that the rest is looking shabby, etc. etc. etc.  Oh, and don't forget the window valences.  Tee hee!

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Ron

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2008, 06:38:28 PM »
Remember after all the inside is done it will be time to replace the tires because of age. ;D ;D
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

bigskytct

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2008, 07:43:38 AM »
Tires have been replaced.  This years projects included: Koni FSD shocks, Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer, new backup camera, Garmin 7200 GPS, replaced switches on cruise control, Car Kaddy SS, wireless tow lights,  all new fluids + Transynd, new water pump, new mattress, all new sink & shower fixtures, some new cabinet latches, slide-outs,  Silverleaf VMSpc, new TV & Sony receiver & bose acoustimass speakers, undercoating, grease/lubricants, etc.

On the list for next year. Sanicon macerator pump, paint touch up, the rest of the furniture (wish I had bought new chairs in Nappanee), a tire pressure monitor (PressurePro), a Safari mud flap, and I have one double-pane window to replace (seals have sucked in).

:)

Ron

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2008, 08:50:30 AM »
Gosh sounds like you are about ready for the trade in like some folks have been known to do after new tires and such. ;D ;D
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

Cricketdaddy

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2008, 10:08:57 AM »
As everybody else has already responded, that was an amazingly thorough report but it's also a daunting piece for those of us pondering floor work.

Our coach is only ten months old but my wife and I are already fed up with the grime and dirt that has been permanently ground into the carpeting even though we take great pains to wipe our feet, leave our shoes on the steps, etc. We wanted to have the flooring replaced and just go all tile but after reading this I'm afraid to turn the job over to anybody.

(We're a long, long way from your Amish friends.)
Dave in L.A.
1994 Lance 900

Tom

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Re: RV Flooring The Right Way - An Amish Experience - Nappanee Indiana
« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2008, 02:10:03 PM »
This is now in our library here. I'll get the pictures sized and added later. A big thanks to bigskytct for sharing the details of this project with us.
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