Flooring is an essential part of any camper makeover. If you are rehabbing an old pop up camper, chances are, your old linoleum looks something like ours did. You know that old 90’s style tile print linoleum that is probably yellowed and cracking by now. We had it in both of our pop up campers. Not very pretty, right?
I get questions about camper flooring all the time. So many of you guys are really worried about taking the plunge on your flooring. I get it. It is an intimidating project–especially if you aren’t an experienced do-it-yourselfer. But why put all that time and effort (& money, amiright? 😆 ) into a pop up camper makeover if you aren’t going to complete the project? And for me, flooring really completes the project. I promise it isn’t as hard as it seems.
SELECTING OUR FLOORING
Selecting the flooring for this project was probably the hardest part. In the Coleman camper we rehabbed five years ago, we decided to go with a click-lock plank vinyl flooring. You can read a little bit about that here. It was a little bit thicker than an adhesive flooring, which we liked, but it was also flexible. It’s vital that you select a flooring that is flexible when you’re shopping for your pop up camper. Your little trailer will move around quite a bit while you are driving down the road. The floor needs to be able to flex.
We really like the flooring in the Coleman camper, but after five years, the planks are starting to separate a little bit. It isn’t awful, and many people probably wouldn’t even notice it, but I do. Plank vinyl manufacturers usually won’t warranty any flooring installed in RVs. It’s too hard to control the temperature, and the movement of the floors can cause some issues. We didn’t have a problem with the spacing in our planks until this year, when we had to move the camper from the relatively cool garage to the backyard. The heat really did a number on them. Ignore my dirty floors and awful pictures. I was trying to get a good shot of the floor while the camper was closed up in the backyard. It involved some Cirque du Soleil inspired moves. 😆
Because I was worried about the gapping in the seams of our Coleman floor, I decided to go a little bit different route on the flooring for the Rockwood. We considered adhesive plank vinyl, but every flooring guy we spoke with said Arizona summers are just too much for the adhesive–even with a primer applied to the subfloor. There were some really pretty sheet vinyl options at Home Depot, so we tallied up our square footage and found a linoleum that looked just like wood plank floors. It’s so much softer under foot than our plank vinyl, too. I really like it quite a bit.
After we had the flooring cut, though, I was shocked at the price tag. Because of the way the planks run, it cost us around $125 for this sheet of vinyl. Unfortunately, we ended up wasting quite a bit of it, too. As we were leaving the flooring department, we passed an aisle near the area rugs that stocked pre-cut sections of sheet vinyl packaged and ready to go for under $50. That definitely would have been the way to go. Live and learn, I guess.
PREPPING THE SUBFLOOR FOR INSTALLATION
Once we had our flooring selected, we knew we needed to pull up the old linoleum. It was cracked and peeling in places, and it would have prevented the new flooring from going down smoothly. So we started ripping into the linoleum and pulling it up in small patches. The plastic came up fairly easily, but that paper backing was a beast to remove. It just would not come up. We got out our trusty heat gun (we like this one), and ran it lightly over the floor for a few seconds. Then with a metal putty knife, we pried the flooring up. Once the adhesive warms up, the flooring comes right up.
At this point, you’ll want to decide how you are going to deal with the electrical wiring and plumbing. We left all the lines in place and cut holes in the flooring to feed them through the new vinyl. If you want a cleaner look, you might want to remove all the wiring completely and drill holes up through the subfloor from the bottom of the camper. Then you can reconnect all your electrical and plumbing. That is what we did with our Coleman camper. It’s a little more work, but it also looks a little nicer. 😉With the old flooring removed and all the electrical and plumbing lines taped up out of the way, we took a shop vac to the subfloor to remove any debris. Then we wiped the surface of the floor with a damp cloth, and we were ready for the new flooring.
INSTALLING THE NEW FLOOR
We started by taking an approximate measurement of the floor of the camper. We added a couple of inches onto the length and width measurements to give ourselves some wiggle room. Then we did a dry fit of the vinyl on the camper floor. We lined up the straight side of our vinyl with one side of the camper. Then we made some rough cuts (leaving ourselves a little bit of wiggle room) and started fitting the flooring around the wheel wells and door.
Once we had a rough fit, we went through and trimmed up the edges to get everything perfect. We also cut holes (and a few slits) to accommodate that wiring and plumbing. Then we laid the flooring down and gathered all the heavy objects we could find in the garage. You know we love those 40 lb bags of water softener salt. 😆 They make great weights.
When we were satisfied with the layout, we moved all the weights to one side of the camper. Then we peeled back the vinyl on the opposite side of the weights and started applying adhesive. They make a specific flooring adhesive for sheet vinyl, but it was only sold in a large, expensive tub. We knew we didn’t need that much adhesive, so we opted to use a few tubes of Liquid Nails for Paneling. Two different flooring guys at Home Depot told us this would work just as well, and it was way cheaper. We used a notched trowel to spread it on the subfloor, then laid the flooring on top of it.
We moved the weights to the opposite side of the trailer (don’t slide them!), and peeled back the vinyl on this side. We applied our paneling adhesive with a caulk gun and a notched trowel, starting where we left off on the other side and working our way toward the very end of the camper. We layed the flooring over the adhesive as we went along. Then we made any slight adjustments necessary and put weights down along this side of the floor as well.
And because I am a fan of overkill, I asked Justin to pop a few staples along the edge of the flooring to keep it in place. 😉 It probably wasn’t necessary, as we screwed the cabinets down through the flooring and into the subfloor. We’ll add trim along the edge of the cabinets, and that will cover any staples. I’ll feel a little bit better knowing our floor is really secure.
And that’s it! It was much easier than laying the plank vinyl, and it looks just as nice. Hopefully, this will help a few of you that are on the fence about flooring. Let us know what questions you might have in the comments section, as we definitely need to do a FAQ post on flooring really soon.
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