Thursday, September 21, 2023


Facelift your RV with new carpet or flooring

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

One of the biggest ways to make your older RV feel new is to install new floor coverings. Face it, after a fair amount of living in your RV, those “show every spot of dirt” carpets that manufacturers so thoughtfully install begin to look a bit “doggy.” Can you replace it, or will you need a professional to help? Much depends on the design of your rig.

Rigs without slideouts aren’t usually too difficult for the careful do-it-yourselfer. Slideouts can create problems, depending on how they operate. In our rig, where our slideouts drop down even with the main floor, an overlap of carpet from the slideout covers over the seam where the two floors meet. The overlap is a factory hemmed edge. If we replace the carpet, we may need to get someone to install a hem for us. Your rig may have an entirely different setup; it’s best to examine everything cautiously before undertaking a carpeting job.

If you decide to make a go of carpet replacement, here are some tips.

You’ll likely find that when your rig was built, the carpet was laid on the floor platform, then partitioning walls laid over the carpet (and kitchen vinyl, too). You’ll need to cut out the old carpet, cutting right along the edges of cabinets and walls. A specialized carpet cutting tool can help in most areas; a sharp utility knife will be needed in tight corners. If you carefully cut as close as you can, you can use the old carpet as a template to cut the new one.

In our fifth wheel, when we replaced the living room carpet, carpet tape and tack strips never entered the picture. Rather, the carpet was laid out flat and stapled along the walls. A metal termination strip was placed between the kitchen flooring and the carpet, and it’s never been a problem in several years of living. Some RVers have found that often a carpet really doesn’t need to be tied down at all. If fit properly, then “held down” with furniture, it stays in place, and then occasionally it can be lifted and dirt and sand (which invariably finds its way through the carpet fibers) vacuumed out.

Is carpet really the way to go? It’s up to your taste. We HATE the light colored carpeting in our current big trailer. It shows every spot of dirt. When replacement time comes, we may opt to install laminate flooring.

In our fifth wheel, the manufacturer had carpeted throughout the rig. Have you ever dreamed of a shag carpet in your kitchen and bathroom? We installed laminate flooring in both kitchen and bath and have never looked back. It’s wonderful stuff. True, it’s cooler on the feet than carpet, but it’s a whiz to clean up, and no more stains.

In our fiver living room we installed low-pile commercial carpet in a dark blue that appealed to us. It’s been down for years, and we’ve used an extractor to clean it. We were happy with that choice – it’s oh-so-much better than the current stuff in our “big” trailer.

Whatever choice you make, be sure when you shop to check out the “remnants” section of the floor covering retailer. Many RVs are small enough that you can often find small lots of laminate flooring or “end” portions of carpeting that will fit just fine – and save you a bundle.

Photo credit, laminate flooring replaces carpet, courtesy Larry Page on under creative commons license.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


  1. I bought a used RV in which the former owners had replaced the carpet with wood-look flooring. It looked nice, but I prefer carpet, so I covered the walkway areas with two beautiful runners that can be vacuumed, cleaned, or even replaced if need be. Even more practical would be indoor/outdoor carpet that could be easily taken outside, shaken, and hosed down.

    Another good facelift would be new upholstery, which is what I wanted but couldn’t afford. So I covered the dinette cushions with velour-textured bath towels that had the look of traditional velveteen (or whatever the fabric is) upholstery fabric. I did no sewing, but merely tucked the towels under the seat cushions and behind the back cushions. It gave a spiffy new look! I didn’t take the time to do a very good job with the front seats, but they could likewise be “covered” with the aid of safety pins or whatever. I have a small rig with no other upholstered items, so this worked well for me.

  2. In our front engine class A, we took out the old carpeting &saved it to use as a pattern. Cleaned the flooring, painted it with Kilz enamel to seal, installed Duramat a high performance vehicle sound and heat insulator (butyl). We then installed heavy duty carpet pad and commercial carpeting (it’s built to take a beating). We followed the same steps with the doghouse & custom cut triangles at the corner points to ease the carpeting to fit. Our RV is 50% quieter and immeasurably cooler. It looks gorgeous and our pale sandstone carpet vacuums like a dream, cleans in a snap with Resolve and even with two cats and two active outdoorsy adults still looks new. Best facelift we could imagine,
    Since laminate flooring is a essentially fine particle board and absorbs water, lending it to cup, we both voted it down. When we replace the (slightly cupped) laminate in our kitchen and bath, we will opt for LVP or LVT – Luxury Vinyl Plank or Tile – which is fairly bulletproof and in its tongue and groove form is easy to install.

  3. Our dilemma was what to do with the doghouse in our Class A after we pulled up the lovely shag carpet that was installed in the cockpit area. We replaced the floor area with vinyl tile we were able to get from the coach manufacturer and Durabak truck bed liner paint to the rescue for the doghouse. A year in and it is holding up perfectly!

  4. We have a newer RV but in both our older one and this one we put down carpet tile over the vinyl flooring. It helps insulate, in either warm or cold weather, and if a tile gets soiled it can be removed for thorough cleaning and put back. It doesn’t even get glued down, so it could be removed entirely when sold or traded and the floor underneath will look almost new.

  5. We put down vinyl plank flooring, also known as LVL. Waterproof, stain proof, scratch proof, and a breeze to clean. Easy to install also.


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