Flooring? Oh, my goodness, where to start. To date, we’ve tried four different types of flooring. What kind of floors are best? What is the most durable type of flooring? For flooring, it really does come down to personal preference, I cannot say one is any better than the other. Do you like the tile look, wood floor, or rubber? You also must take into consideration if you’ll have pets with you or not, for their safety. Below, I will detail what we tried, my thoughts on the installation, and our overall impression of the product.
Flooring Test #1
When we started thinking about our flooring, we only thought about the looks of the product, not how we were going to install, clean, or maintain, or the safety of our dogs. We knew we wanted a waterproof product and thin to allow the heated floors to work more efficiently. We decided on an LVP product with a little bit of embossing and color that complimented the rest of the interior.
Installation was easy, I installed it after all the components were installed and ran it from front to rear. I used an aluminum stair nose to finish off the step down to the cab and slider. It looked sharp! And that was about it. This LVP was supposed to be a harder product to resist scratching. The first small box I slid across the floor, put a long scratch right in the middle of the entry. I could not believe it, my impression of the flooring at this point became dismal.
The second issue we noticed quickly was our dogs. If we were parked on an incline or driving up a grade, the dogs had issues walking from the front to the back. Yes, they should not be moving around in the first place, but if they want a drink, that is what they do. It became an ice-skating rink for them. I mentioned above this product had some embossing on the planks, however, when installed running the length of the van, the embossing does nothing for traction for our four-legged loved ones.
Our impression – This is not a viable option for van life in my opinion. As travelers we oftentimes store things on the floor, if they happen to shift, they will probably scratch your floor. If you have pets, they will slide around and that is just not safe. Looks-wise, it is awesome, installation and cleaning are also positives for LVP. However, the positives did not out weight the negatives for this one.
Flooring Test #2
By the end of the first few months of traveling in the van, not even living in it full-time yet, we knew the LVP was not going to work for us. So, we started looking for something else. This time, with the dogs and scratching at the forefront of our minds we came up with the gym mat idea. We ordered some squares, and I started cutting them down to fit. These were super comfortable to walk on, had lots of traction for us and the dogs and scratches were no longer an issue. We thought we had found a keeper, but nope, we did not like the seams from the squares we had used, just did not look good.
Our impression – The rubber squares looked good except for the seams, cleaning it I thought was acceptable enough and the installation was a breeze. At this point, our only real issue was the seams, this led to test #3…
Flooring Test #3
Continuing with the rubber gym floor theme, we found a local supplier who sold the product in rolled sheets. They were willing to cut down the length of the roll so that we did not have to spend way more money and excess product we would not be using. The width of the roll was a perfect fit for what we needed to cover. We went with a thinner product than the squares for better heat transfer too. Again, this worked great for the dogs and there were no seams, so it looked great. But in the end, it was not a keeper.
Our impression – Also, our first issue was the seams with the squares, and the sheet form of this product got rid of them it was not enough in the end. Installation was easy, I used the previous squares and laid them out over the sheet and used it as a template, so for me cutting it down was super easy. Laying it in the van was a little trickier since it was not just a square or rectangular piece of flooring.
The cleaning of this product became an unbearable issue for me. During the winter it was not much of an issue since there is basically rain and snow, come springtime, the grass and seeds from plants were harder to keep off the floor, and even using a vacuum did not get it all. So, onto test #4, is this the final one?
Flooring Test #4
Out was the rubber flooring, again the pros did not beat the cons. I really wanted to go back to a plank product with a wood grain look, so I started investigating options out there. I found a laminate with good reviews for hardness and a more prominent embossing, so once again I went down the path of installing flooring.
This time I removed a couple of the components, easy to do when using 80/20 since I wanted to install the flooring under the bathroom and the galley. Also, different this time, I installed the planks from left to right or perpendicular to the length of the van. This was done so that the embossing of the planks would be running in the same direction and for the dogs, this was a huge plus.
Our impression – We have a winner! Looks great, it does not scratch easily (it does scratch still, but not all that bad), cleans easily and the installation is the standard click style, so it goes down quickly. My only problem now is I want to install more of it under a couple of other components and with living in it full-time having the option to just start removing components is not as easy peasy as it once was. In my opinion, this option is a winner for a lot of people due to its looks, function, and ease of installation.
I’ll admit, when it comes to some things in my life, I am a little neurotic. Once I find something annoying, it just chaps my hide (thanks grandpa for that saying) until I fix it. So that is how I ended up installing four different types of flooring in our van. Fortunately, we are not talking about a lot of material here, not many square feet of flooring in a converted van.
Now before you say, well you should have just used a rug! One might think that would solve many of our issues and to be honest, it did help a bit. But it is just one more product on the floor and in the van, and with dogs, the fabric just gets dirty. Plus, we still had to clean the areas the rugs did not cover, and the rug would move around a bit. Since our floor was not square or rectangular, there were a few areas a rug would not cover. The rugs were a nightmare of their own.
To restate as I did above, I am not saying which product would be best for you, but in my opinion, the laminate works best for us. As with many items, when it comes to converting your van, it is so personal in which products and finishes you choose. Choose one that makes you happy.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. If you are interested in following along on our journey, start at the beginning. Introducing the ‘Van’ can be read here.
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