Carpet to a hard floor?
We decided to keep our 25 foot C another 3 years until we are debt free so we’re doing some upgrades. We are thinking of replacing the carpet with some type of hard or flat surface. We are hoping to find something that gives it the hard wood floor look and then the tile look in the bathroom. Will we increase road noise without carpet? It is a Chateau Sport with full basement and slide out. Does anyone have any advice to offer?
We at ROUTE 66 RV has specialized in carpet and flooring replacement in RVs for over 30 years, and one thing is for sure, hard surfaces are preferred over carpet in most coaches we remodel. With that being said, much has changed in both carpet and hard surface flooring options over the last few years.
For one, it used to be that if you wanted carpet, it had to be nylon. Nylon is the most versatile fiber to twist and conform into different shapes and patterns. The problem is, nylon is very prone to stains without a stain resistant additive like Stainmaster or Anso, and even with such treatments, more likely to fade under direct sunlight than other fiber options. The twist in the carpet made it desirable though, and thus, marketing machines like DuPont, who used to own Stainmaster, made nylon the top choice. Until a few years ago, you wouldn't consider anything but stain resistant nylon, but as crude oil prices went up, so too did all the products derived from it. In this case, you guessed it, nylon carpet.
As such, today's fibers from Karastan and Mohawk combine the twist capacity of many nylons with inherently stain resistant fibers. These fibers, known to consumers as SmartStrand, are known within the industry as Triexta, a whole new generation of practically stain-proof carpets. Shaw's comparable product, called Clear Touch, also warrants against everything from Food and Drink Spills to even Pet Stains, for the life of the carpet. Considering SmartStrand is derived from ethanol and Clear Touch descends from plastic bottle recycling, their price points are lower that nylon options, with better stain resistant amenities built in. Consider one of these options combined with a moisture resistant, plastic lined padding to also prevent staining from soaking into the padding.
With that being said, most new motorhomes come with pretty inadequate carpet, which offers a color that complements the decor but not much more. For most manufacturers, the emphasis is on making the coach look good enough to sell, and not the overall performance of the carpet used to fit that need. As such, an upgrade in quality would be reflected in an increased density and enhanced stain-resistant fiber selection in carpet and a stain-resistant padding as well.
As for hard surface flooring options, we would recommend Luxury Vinyl Tile (or Planks), which are composed of a vinyl base and made to look like tile or wood (just like laminate). Due to the ability to carve texture into these products, the look is much more authentic and slip resistant, and best of all, because it is vinyl, it can literally withstand a bucket of water being poured on it routinely. These floors can also generally be glued down to the sub-floor, unlike laminate, which is intended to be floated, with trim pieces holding it down around the perimeter of the area.
When it comes to laminate, this floor has been re-invented practically in the past couple years. When it was first introduced by Pergo, it spawned out of popularity amongst renters in Europe, who wanted a floor they could literally take apart and bring with them when they moved on down the road. As it made its way into America, it was improved upon, strengthened and engineered for better performance.
Laminate is actually a composition of several layers of material, bonded under extreme pressure. When American companies like Wilsonart re-created the floor, they focused on the top surface - the first line of defense and the most important ingredient in the material. They used a thick, 17 - 45 mil piece of paper (which is printed on to create the design) on every floor they made. Upon our companies' request, they even went so far as to warrant RV usage under any slideout we installed their floor under.
As the Chinese entered the market in recent years though, much has changed. They diluted the marketplace with "thick" material with razor thin (generally around 6 mil paper) top surface layers at less than half the price of most competitors. The problem is, this is your first line of defense, and for a floor designed to repel water, imagine spilling a drink on your desk. Your bills get soaked and when they dry, the edges wrinkle up. At the same time, those thick, glossy business cards that also got wet maintained their rigidity and shape as the water ran right off. Now imagine how this same top surface performs on a laminate floor - it does the same thing, warping edges, beveling boards, etc.
Today, Wilsonart is out of the flooring business and most companies still around have lowered their standards to compete with the Asian product mix. So, when it comes to laminate, buyer beware!
Lastly, as for increased noise pollution with either option - I wouldn't worry about it. The hard surface floors are denser structurally than carpet, which is comprised of fibers stitched through a felt-like backing. As such, the sound would likely be repelled back to where it originated (underneath the coach), even more so than it does with the present carpet layout.
Please feel free to send me a message if you need some additional advice.