RV floors are usually made with three layers: the top layer, the subflooring, and the insulation. These are then stacked and fastened together to finish it off.
The two most common materials for making RV floors are vinyl and laminate, with the former being the better choice due to its durability, water resistance, and ease of maintenance.
In this article, we will tackle the RV floor construction materials you can choose from, how to install them, and the factors you need to consider before buying your building materials.
What is RV Floor Constructed of?
RV floors are typically constructed of wood and a foam board for insulation. We can divide these into three layers.
1. Top Layer
The top layer is what you see when you enter your recreational vehicle. Here are some options to choose from for installing this decorative layer:
This option adds an extra layer of insulation and gives you a softer, slip-free RV flooring. It has more traction than other options, so you’re less likely to slip when walking on carpet flooring.
However, the catch is that carpets are harder to clean and maintain. Dirt and mud can easily stain the floor, so you’ll need to vacuum it on a daily basis.
Vinyl is one of the most common types of RV flooring top layer. It’s water-resistant and is very durable. Installing and maintaining vinyl is also relatively easy, so it’s great for areas with high foot traffic.
One downside of vinyl is its tendency to warp, which can impact the look of your RV.
Like vinyl, laminate is also a durable option for your top layer. Its resemblance to hardwood flooring is also a big plus for people who love the look but want something more water-resistant.
Laminate flooring is also prone to warping. Installing it is also much harder, especially if your RV has awkward or curved corners. Plus, laminate floors are quite slippery as well.
The subfloor is the foundation of your flooring. The RV subfloor material is typically made from wood and serves as the mainframe or structure of your floor. Here are the popular types of plywood for camper floors:
The RV plywood floor is commonly ¾-inch thick plywood installed below your top layer. Thickness could vary, and it could go for an ⅝ inch-thick plywood tongue and groove. Thick plywood is rather expensive, but it can last you years.
The Oriental Strand Board (OSB) is a synthetic plywood engineered to replicate the real plywood. It’s a relatively cheaper wood for RV framing and is more lightweight, which is why it’s more popular than plywood.
However, OSB is harder to install. Moreover, it has less holding power and is less resistant to water/heat than real plywood.
The layer underneath the subflooring is called the insulation. The RV underlayment is constructed using a polystyrene foam board, which provides sound and heat insulation, aside from protecting your flooring from water-related damage.
That said, you should note that polystyrene foam can erode the coating of common electrical wiring, which can be a fire hazard. The only way to mitigate the issue is by getting a specialized wire that the foam can’t damage.
Common RV Floor Construction Methods
RV floors are installed by stacking the three layers and fastening them with adhesive or screws. The method will ultimately depend on what your choice of the top layer is:
- Carpets can be attached with an adhesive.
- Vinyl flooring may come with a sticky adhesive to it as well.
- As for laminate, you usually need to lock their joints together. In this case, you don’t really have to bolt or glue the top layer into place, as it’ll allow the material to contract or expand naturally.
That said, if you want something more permanent, you can glue or screw the top layer into the subflooring below.
The Construction Process
- Clean The Area And Prepare: If you’re replacing your old flooring, remove the existing one by unfastening the screws and panels. If it doesn’t budge, you may use a saw. Clean the area and make sure it’s free from debris. Seal all holes if there are any.
Afterward, let the RV air out for a couple of days. Then, you’ll need to apply a moisture-protecting solution onto the subfloor before leaving it to dry for a week.
- Install Your Battens: Battens are extra pieces of wood attached to your subflooring to ensure your floor stays in place. Screw these battens to their positions with some screws and adhesive.
To ensure the durability of your battens, you should choose treated wood.
- Put In The Insulation: Place the foam boards into the area, making sure they’re snug and fit along the battens to avoid the coldness from seeping through.
- Fasten The Subflooring: Place your plywood. Reinforce this with screws and plywood biscuits to make it more stable.
- Add The Top Layer: The installation of the top layer depends on the material you choose, as explained above.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an RV Floor
There’s more to picking which materials you want to use for your travel trailer floor construction. Here are some factors that you may want to consider.
1. RV Requirements
Depending on your RV’s make and model, you may have limitations regarding weight. In such cases, especially for small recreational vehicles, you should opt for thinner and more lightweight materials.
The top layer of your RV flooring is the first thing you’ll see when entering your RV. So, it’s best to choose a design that matches your vehicle’s interior is best.
3. Moisture Resistance, Maintenance, And Durability
Unlike the top layer, the materials of your RV floor framing should be well-thought-out. Consider materials that are moisture-resistant, easy to maintain, and strong enough to last years.
Installing your recreational vehicle’s floor becomes easier when you know and have the right materials for all three layers. And with the right materials, the skills, knowledge, and the willingness to finish your RV floor construction, you’ll definitely be able to pull it off like a pro!
Remember, the satisfaction of a job well done on your RV floor installation will enhance your overall travel experience. So, equip yourself for success!
“Hi, I’m Francis’ husband—Calvin. Our story began with our shared passion for traveling. I have had a career journey for over 11 years at Ford Motor Company, where I took on the role of BMS SW Process Engineer.
Together with my wife, I have dedicated countless hours to exploring every nook and corner of the world. Ten years living in an RV may seem long, but time seems to fly by when I’m doing what I love with the person I love.
That’s why I am also a member of FMCA and have been a panelist on seminars at shows like FMCA’s 103rd International Convention & RV Expo in Gillette, WY, where I can showcase my adaptability and expertise.
Like my wife, I hope to help you see the beauty of traveling off the beaten path by sharing insights into this lifestyle. In addition to my corporate roles, I also launched our website – Outdoorbits, in 2015 and continue to contribute my knowledge and skills to the present day. And I’ll be completely honest with you—no hiding the truth or sugarcoating the possible challenges.
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