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Ask Dave: Should vinyl plank flooring in RV be glued down?

Dear Dave,
We’re wishing to refloor the RV and intend to use LVP (luxury vinyl plank). The design seems to be snap planks. Is it better to glue them down, or just rely on the snap system to hold it all in place? —Tom, 2012 Phoenix Cruiser 2552

Dear Tom,
I would not recommend gluing the LVP planks to the floor as they will expand and contract with temperature changes and humidity. Most LVP planks available at home improvement stores are a combination of a vinyl top surface and fiberboard underlayment and are designed for residential applications where the inside of the house is climate controlled as well as moisture controlled. Most of these products have a disclaimer right on the box: Not recommended for RV application.

So it is important to consult with your provider to identify what product might work for your application. Nafco is a common product used by RV manufacturers and they typically use a 7-mil thickness. Since your RV is a shorter Cruiser, you won’t be covering as much surface area. And as it’s a Class C with a F-450 chassis, you won’t have as much twisting of the chassis as larger Class A units.

From what I can tell by looking through RV Trader and some YouTube videos, it looks like your rig originally came with a vinyl flooring that had a tile-like pattern. If this is true, there will be a little more work getting the old vinyl off.

Removing old vinyl flooring can be a nightmare

Typically vinyl flooring is stapled around the edges where cabinets and furniture will hide the staples and glued to the plywood floor. We replaced carpet and vinyl on a 2003 Winnebago Brave and the vinyl in the kitchen area was a nightmare!

The vinyl came up in chunks and even scraping it down left glue residue that was almost impossible to get off. We tried almost every flooring solvent available at the local home improvement store. Finally, Goo Gone did the best job.

Prepare the substructure to lay new flooring on

So, you will want to get all glue and staples out of the plywood and have a good smooth substructure to lay the new flooring on. Another option would be to cover the plywood with a thin substructure like we did for the engine compartment, as it was too rough to use as is.

In our unit, we installed a padded vinyl material from Infinity that needed to be glued as there was a slide room on the driver side that would roll over the vinyl and might push it or tear. Since you are using planking, I would not recommend gluing it as the material will expand and contract and needs to “float”. Otherwise you will get splits or heaves in the seams.

Once you find the best flooring material, make sure you leave a 1/4-inch gap around the edges for expansion and contraction. You will need to cover the gap with a trim piece on top. We used a 1/4-inch corner round white plastic strip to match the vinyl and the wall. You might want to find a piece that matches the plank color. You will also need to make sure there are no side-to-side seams that are closer than 6 inches, so stagger them accordingly.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

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Dan H.
8 days ago

Did my 2400 Ph. Cruiser 3 years ago. Removed carpet & linoleum floor covering. Gave up trying to clean up glue, just covered it with black plastic. Watch out for staples where edges of carpet or linoleum are stapled. I left carpet in cab area, no way will plank work in a B+ rig. At front edge where it steps down into the cab, I put a metal floor strip that matched flooring to hold it in place. Don’t waste your time cutting sections with a razor knife. Half way through the job, I cut a small filler plank with my radial arm saw, job went 10X faster after that. Make sure you purchase extra you will need it. I used scraps for roof on several bird feeders for two winters, other than sun fading it hasn’t showed any deterioration at all. Good luck.

Joel
9 days ago

Rather than pulling up the existing vinyl floor, first, use an embossing leveler and float over the existing vinyl if gluing down another vinyl. The LVP floor can go over the existing vinyl as long as it is still intact.

Bob
9 days ago

Regarding the makeup of LVP flooring. Only the cheap brands ‘may’ use a fiberboard substrate. Most name brands use a solid vinyl material with a decorative overlay. We just did our kitchen and dining room in our home. The planks were vinyl throughout. They were advertised as waterproof but only the planks themselves were water proof. Water can get through the seams on the planks and ruin the subfloor. Spills need to be wiped up ASAP.

Joe
9 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Exactly, vinyl, planking that is made for basements, bathrooms, and kitchens are usually made of solid vinyl and will not absorb moisture. They will still react to growth and contraction with temperature swings.

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