This will Floor You!

After 94,652 miles the carpet in the MotherShip is worn out. The dark section in the middle is actually in the best condition as it was covered by a runner. The sides, however, are worn, filled with dust and stained on the right side.

For months we have visited dozens of flooring companies and looked endlessly online. Matching carpet is not available. Amazingly Monaco has access to the original kitchen tile, so we could tile the entire floor. While this was our preference, Pete just didn't think he could match the quality installation of the existing floor. And we don't have the tools and it is messy. So, carpet and tile are out. How about high quality wood flooring? No! We learned from variety of sources that real wood is inadvisable in a motorhome. The twisting and bumping will separate the planks. Okay, there is LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) and laminate flooring. LVT is very nice, not too expensive and easy to install. However, we did not feel it would look good next to the ceramic kitchen tile. So the hunt began for the best complimentary laminate flooring. After visiting many stores we landed at Flooring 101 in Ventura, California. There, Gilbert took a great interest in our project and reviewed many samples with us in the Mothership. Laminates come in thickness from 7 to 12 mm, low to high gloss, beveled edge, micro-beveled edge or square edge. Our preference was the thickest, glossiest and square edged to keep the dirt out of the groves. This was not to be. We did find one in Maple, but it clashed with the tile. We finally chose Armstrong Afzelia with an oak look, 12 mm thick with micro-beveled edges.

The job began. The carpet and padding was cut into pieces and removed including eight years worth of dust. That was easy. What was difficult is the carpet was installed before the walls and it can't be removed at the edges. So we cut and hacked and pulled with pliers until we got as much as possible. Using our new Dremel Saw Max we cut off the rounded tiles and cement board underlayment. Then vacuumed up the mess and were ready to install.

Planks can shrink and expand with changes in temperature and even more so with humidity You need to acclimate your planks to your environment for 48 hours before installing. No problem it took us that long in preparation.

Surprise, surprise! The tile in the kitchen is one inch above the floorboard, but the tile in the front is only 1/2 inch! The new flooring with its underlayment is 5/8 of an inch, taller than the front and shorter than the kitchen tile. What to do? Remove all the tile; remove the front tile, give up? Too late, the carpet has been shredded. The decision was made to raise the floor with 3/8 plywood. Plywood was cut, glued down and screwed down.

Next, the slide trim molding was too low to clear the new flooring when the slides are brought in. This "hack" job took a while and wasn't pretty, but the results will be covered.

Underlayment is soft and comes in various thicknesses. We choose the thickest, 1/8 inch with a foil moisture barrier that goes on the bottom side. It installs in just a few minutes and is held in place by water-resistant tape.

Finally the fun part begins. Laying this laminate is very quick as it uses the Armstrong "Lock and Fold" method. You begin your first row by cutting a plank to fit your starting point on the left. Then lay in planks to the right and cut the final right side piece. Continue with each row being sure to randomly position the breaks in the planks.

The floor looks pretty nice now, we just need to trim it out. Caulking was used at the walls. The only tricky part was where the flooring is 1/2 inch above the front tile. Triangular trim was cut from planks on a table saw. These pieces were glued down and caulked.

And now, "be floored".

Check out the old to new comparisons.

And we just couldn't resist another look at this beautiful floor.

Material costs were:
Laminate $3.27 per square foot.
Underlayment: $50 for 100 square feet.
Plywood, glue, screws and caulking: $90 for three sheets.
Plastic runner: $20 for 20 feet.
Dremel Saw Max: $110. This saw was great for this project and many more. Except for the cutoff saw and table saw, we carry all the tools we used. It could be done without the extra saws but would have required much more care in cutting.

This project was pretty fun. Total time was about 30 hours. Laying the laminate was the shortest time. Most of that time was cutting planks on an angle or around corners or wires. All laminate brands have planks that lock lengthwise into the previous row of planks. The locking edge will look something like this.

Many laminate brands then require that you tap on the right end to push it into the plank on its left. The Armstrong laminate we used is called Grand Illusions Afzelia (L3030). It uses what they call "Lock and Fold". After you lock in to the previous row, you just fold the plank down. It couldn't be easier.

Overall an inexpensive way to cover your floors, unless you have to pay for the labor!

We are home for a month, so our travelogues will be about a variety of topics or non-existent. Enjoy a safe new year. Our prayer for you is that He blesses you and your family in 2014.

Love, Pete and Ellen

The Full Time Motorhome Living Guide

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