I'm getting closer to doing something about the floor covering in our Itasca. At first, I wanted laminate, but the hinged battery cover seems like a problem area. Vinyl would work, but not sure it is what I want. A smooth outdoor carpet may be the perfect answer. That's what was in our last MH and it was relatively easy to sweep. In Oregon, water, fir needles, mud and beach sand is tracked in no matter the season. I've elminated Allure as an option due to temperature limits on that product. The 95 deg. upper limit is unreal in a vehicle and that is the temperature the glue softens (according to their website).
Has anyone ever tried carpet squares in their MH?
If I use laminate flooring, how do I get around the hinged battery cover problem?
If I decide on outdoor carpet, is there a better or best brand? Should I use a pad?
Any other suggestions?
Each RV is going to require a unique style and flooring choice that is reflexive of the trips it takes. Each of the floors you offered as options have their advantages, but there are some disadvantages too. See what each option offers below.
If you choose laminate though, there are some things to note. Laminate floors are free-floating, meaning they are clicked together without ever being secured to the subfloor with glue or nails. As such, the only thing holding them in place are trim pieces (Quarter Round, End Caps, T-Moldings, Reducers, Stair Nosing, etc.). When you bring this floor of nearly a 1/2" height up to a slideout, a reducer is needed to cap the edge of this surface. That reducer must cup the top of that floor, increasing the height of that threshold even more. As such, the height of the floor may in some cases restrict your ability to use laminate under the slideouts in your motorhome.
While there are many options out there in Laminate, there is only one manufacturer who has fully warranted their product in an RV. How do I know this - because, over the past 34 years, we at Route 66 RV and Pat's RV Carpet and Flooring have been in the trade of remodeling and refurbishing RV carpet and flooring, we have consulted each major manufacturer on the market, from Pergo to Quickstep, Mohawk to Shaw, and only the one brand in Wilsonart Flooring has fully stood behind their product in a motorhome setting.
The difference in their product is key! For years, Wilsonart manufacturered the only High Pressure Laminate available, while all other manufacturers utilize direct pressure constructions (like those made by Pergo, Quick Step, Armstrong, Fabrica, Shaw, Mohawk, etc.). The difference between the two is extraordinary in that both look and feel similar, but when isolated to their construction, they are clearly two very different products. High pressure laminate by Wilsonart starts with a 17 mil top surface layer - the first line of defense against any spill, dropped item, etc. - and is combined with 7 other layers compressed under intense heat to ultimately equate to 3-5x thicker than typical Direct Pressure or Low Pressure Laminate. The extra thickness of HPL means extra protection for the floor and, ultimately, better performance. As a result, Wilsonart Laminate is also the only product that now maintains an Impact Warranty for their product, beyond the normal Wear, Stain, Fade, and Water Damage warranty of 20 years to Lifetime, depending on the style.
While we at Route 66 RV have highly recommend High Pressure Laminate by Wilsonart for years, I am afraid Wilsonart just got tired of trying to compete with inferior products that cheapened their brand and undermined the cost of their material, and thus, they closed manufacturing plants in October 2009. We at Route 66 RV have a limited amount of stock still left of this product, but it’s in very limited quantities.
Switching to a direct pressure option is NOT recommended though. Ultimately, while direct-pressure laminate products may look similar to High Pressure Laminate and may cost you less from time to time, the amount of pressure they can sustain, either under your slideouts or by way of a spilled item, will ultimately scratch, scuff, or crack your new floor. As such, I would not recommend them. And, don't be misled! Just because someone says a warranty on one of these products is likely the same from a residence to a motorhome, they are definitely NOT one in the same, and beside Wilsonart, we have yet to find another manufacturer willing to stand behind an RV installation.
LUXURY VINYL FLOORING VS. SHEET VINYL
Unlike tile and hardwood which are extremely heavy and susceptible to all kinds of problems in a moving coach traveling from one humidity level to another, Luxury Vinyl Tile won't crack or buckle when installed properly. This hard surface material is made to expand and contract mildly by comparison to hardwood, and they are much less weight than any other hard surface option.
The styling offered in Luxury Vinyl products comes in both hardwood plank forms or stone-like tiles, and best of all, this low-profile floor gets glued directly to the subfloor. As a result, you get the look you want in a durable, "softer hard surface" composed with vinyl that is low-profile enough to be installed under any slideout. If durability is a fear - don't worry about it, as this floor is being installed now in supermarkets, malls, and other high traffic areas due to its ability to stand up to the elements. Unlike laminate though, which rests above the surface of the floors, the only complex part about luxury vinyl is the floor prep it takes to smooth out your staple-ridden and uneven subfloor before gluing this new floor in place. The biggest upside to this option is that unlike tile, hardwood, or laminate, this floor can easily be installed under your slideouts without having to alter the height of the slide.
Armstrong, Karndean, and Earthworks are popular Luxury Vinyl product lines, all offered with very durable surfaces. Outside of the mere fate of Wilsonart, these floors have dominated our customer's selections for the past couple years, and for good reason - they are a bit more cost effective, less weight, and not prone to water damage. Take a mop to this floor without fear - a prospect you wouldn't consider with laminate.
Commercial carpet is a great option for RV owners in need of a durable and more stain-resistant, soft surface option. There are a few things to note though. First, while most commercial carpets are more durable than residential options, they generally maintain a looped style. Looped carpets could be a disaster in a motorhome with often moving parts (slideouts, step covers, etc.). While looped carpets will resist foot traffic and wear, they are stitched continuously, throughout the width of the carpet. Each loop is connected to the loop to its two sides, and thus, when one loop snags, the snag can run the full length of the carpet. Next, if loops aren’t a concern, make sure you use a “solution-dyed” option. These carpets’ fibers are dyed from within, not after the carpet is produced. As a result, the colors won’t fade and will remain even more stain resistant. Lastly, while carpet will save you some money over the cost of hard surfaces, don’t skimp on quality! Tighter loops or denser piles are always going to last longer and prove to pay you back down the line.
Ultimately, there is never going to be a "perfect floor" for every RV, but the right floor for your needs is out there. Just do your homework and trust the experts.