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  • Writer's pictureSusan Byers

Flooring 101 - The Right Stuff

Okay, it's time to get back to the camper reno! I actually started drafting this back in November, but then the holidays, kittens and other things intervened. But the holidays are over, two kittens are gone and two are settled in, Christmas is packed up (the earliest ever!) and so, back to floors: how we chose the one we did.

We did exhaustive research on what kind of flooring to use. Most folks in the RV reno community swear by Home Depot’s Allure, which has adhesive tabs, or Allure Plus, which is a click-together. And now there's yet another one. But after reading lots and lots of reviews, I was concerned about a couple of things. First, the way our slides are constructed, there’s a piece of steel four inches wide and about 1/16th of an inch thick screwed on across the front edge of each slide, and the screws are not flush with the metal.

Under carpet and pad, that was no issue, but it wouldn’t work under vinyl plank. Those, plus other irregularities—like the glued-down vinyl tile in the kitchen and entry—would telegraph through, plus vinyl plank will expand and contract a fair amount under weather extremes (like when you’re storing the rig …) or in direct sunlight. We decided we wanted something more rigid and stable, but weren’t totally sold on laminate, although we’ve got some in our house that has stood up really well to kids and dogs for years. Then I happened across a relatively new product, Coretec.

Coretec is a luxury vinyl plank, but it’s almost as thick as laminate and it’s backed with cork. It was a fairly new product, and getting rave reviews. We really liked the samples we got, but the cost was a little steep for a camper (although I would use it in a house for sure, because it's waterproof and looks great).

After months of looking (and agonizing over cost), we found NuCore, Floor & Décor’s house version, a very similar product (okay, a knock-off, and by now, there are several). It’s not quite as thick or rigid as Coretec, but we found a color we liked—it had hints of gray, gold and rose in the brown, lots of variety and warmth. It was hard to find reviews, because, at the time, this was a fairly new product, but the color and cost finally won us over and we decided to risk it. Of course, by the time we made up our minds, the color we liked had been discontinued, but they still found enough ... Whew!

Click flooring is really pretty easy to install (even we could do it!), although until we were halfway through, I forgot about using the tapping block along each course, something I'd seen installers do. Somebody who knows what they’re doing could probably have laid the floor in a couple of hours (it took installers a day and a half to do our daughter's entire three-bedroom house). We took a very long day to get most of it in. Of course we had to start on the far wall, and because you have to go left to right, that meant we started off in the hardest part—the kitchen, with all its angles and little feet to cut around. Oh joy.

Here’s where an oscillating multitool earns its keep. I could mark and trim and tweak—even after the floor was in place—until it was right. So here’s that first corner, over the repair:

After I took this, I realized I had to trim the flooring away from the cabinets a bit with my multitool (I forgot you have to leave a quarter inch expansion gap, even though this floor is supposed to be much more stable than regular vinyl).

And here it is almost done!

On to the slide … oh wait. There’s that old stain in the corner. It feels dry but …

We just wanted to make sure, so we scooted over to the service department at Holly Acres. Once again, they came to our rescue and loaned us a moisture meter.

Uh-oh. That corner was damp. Oh badword badword badword! Until we find the leak, no more flooring goes down!

This was the beginning of an hour of checking moisture readings all over the camper and poking and prodding and digging. And saying some really bad words. Some stuff was dry ...

Some not so dry ...

Eeuww. Really wet (under the bedroom slide). Reallybadword!!!

There were clearly multiple leaks. We knew the roof wasn't the issue, as we had a new roof put on last year. After conferring with Art and Ira in the service shop (we could not do this project without Art and Ira!), we started scraping any cracked, dry caulk we could find with a plastic scraper.

Once we got most of it out, we wiped away the residue with acetone (oops, it also dissolves the paint ...let's be careful there).

Then we recaulked. Fortunately, it was a warm day in December. The only problem was, it kept sprinkling. So we'd get things wiped down and dry, and it would start to spit. We'd cover it with tape and go inside ... and it would immediately stop. Go back out, remove tape ... the sky would start spitting again. It took awhile.

We also found a few spots that were beyond what we could repair. Like the one below under the bedroom closet (which was hidden by a big blob of caulk). And the one under the bedroom slide. It was clear some fairly major repairs were in our future. Ira walked over and looked, explained what would have to be done, then covered seams with really good tape to keep things dryish until they had time to take things apart and fix them.

And that, boys and girls, is why the rig is in the shop ... or, is in line at the shop. First, there were hundreds of RVs and boats to winterize. Then, of course, winter is RV and boat show season, so the guys are gone a lot, and we're still waiting. But soon. Soon.

Meanwhile, there is more than enough to keep us busy at home, clearing out, deciding what we'll keep and what will go (and to whom), what we'll sell or donate ... clearing out 20-some years of accumulation. I would SO much rather be working on the camper!

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