If you’ve ever owned or even visited an RV with slide-outs (also called slide-out rooms, or just slides), you may have noticed that the floors of RV slide-out rooms are often carpeted. But why do RV slides have carpet? Is it a requirement?
Today we’re looking at the reasons why RV slides, the extendable sections of living space in some RVs, are often carpeted from the factory. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of carpeted slides. We’ll also talk about whether you can remove the carpet in your slide-out and what will happen if you do.
- 1) What Is an RV Slide?
- 2) Why Do RV Slides Have Carpet?
- 3) What Are the Disadvantages of Carpeted RV Slides?
- 4) Can I Replace the Carpet In My RV Slides?
- 5) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways
What Is an RV Slide?
RV slide-outs are cut-out areas built into an RV’s sides and/or rear. They extend outward to increase the camper’s living space while parked, then retract to bring the rig back to a more compact size and shape for travel.
So, an RV slide-out (also called a slide, slide room, tip out, or bump out) increases the square footage of the living space inside an RV.
Almost any type of camper can have at least one slide-out (other than very small rigs like pop-up campers and teardrops), and many RVs have multiple slides. (Our Mountain Aire has four.)
Fun fact: The first power RV slide-out was created in 1990 by Mahlon Miller, the founder of Newmar. For much more on RV slides, (including the pros and cons), see our complete guide to the RV slide-out.
Why Do RV Slides Have Carpet?
There are several reasons why RV slides have carpet despite the fact that it is not a requirement for RV manufacturers to meet.
Carpeting is a cost-effective flooring choice. It’s among the older flooring options available, and the materials used to manufacture carpeting tend to be more affordable. This helps manufacturers keep costs down.
Insulation & Comfort
Carpet on the floor of RV slides provides insulation and can improve comfort (especially when walking around barefoot). RV slide-out rooms are designed to be cozy and comfortable, whether they’re in a living area or bedroom.
Carpeting adds an extra layer of insulation, which helps maintain a comfortable temperature. Not only does carpet help to prevent heat loss in cooler weather, but it also can help maintain a cooler interior in warmer weather for the same reason: it’s an added layer of insulation.
The soft surface of carpeted floors is also more comfortable to walk on than hardwood or tile (again, especially in bare feet).
RVs can be noisy, particularly in inclement weather or when traveling down the road (especially on rugged terrain). The carpeted floors of slide-out rooms help reduce and absorb noise, creating a quieter, more peaceful feel inside the rig. Of course, that’s only a factor during driving in a motorhome, since no one should be riding in a towable. But it still helps reduce noise when parked.
Carpet padding can serve as a moisture barrier. Anything that reduces moisture in an RV is an advantage because of the potential for mold and mildew. Many other RV flooring options do offer moisture resistance, too. But it’s still a benefit of carpeting as well.
RV carpeting tends to give a warm, cozy vibe to a rig’s interior, and many people feel that it gives the space a more “homey” feel. The cozy ambiance provided by carpeted floors is something that many RVers appreciate in their home-on-wheels.
Carpeted floors offer good traction, so they tend to prevent slips and falls. That might make carpeting a safer choice for RV flooring. This may be more important anytime the RV isn’t perfectly level or for anyone with an unsteady gait or mobility issue.
Protection of the Floor Seal Between the Slide and the Main Floor
The integrity of the seal between the slide-out floor and the main RV floor is very important. Beneath the edge of the carpet, a strip of durable rubber weatherproofing sits between the slide-out floor and the main floor.
Also, particularly on flush-floor slideouts, the slideout drops down as it extends, so that the floor of the slide ends up at the same level as the main floor. In these cases, the carpeting hides the gap between the floor of the extended (flush-floor) slide and the main floor of the RV.
Why Do RV Slides Have Carpet? Ease of Design and Manufacture!
Despite all the above reasons for carpeting in slide-outs, the main reason you see it so often is probably because of a design and manufacturing issue: Carpeting is likely the simplest way to cover the border where the slide-out floor comes together with the RV’s main floor.
Despite the recent increasing prices of most RVs, manufacturers are keen to keep costs down. The simpler they can make the slide-out work, the more likely they are to go with that method. To that end, they likely follow the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)
What Are the Disadvantages of Carpeted RV Slides?
While carpeted RV slides do offer benefits, they’re not without their downsides. In fact, the RV industry has moved toward other types of flooring such as vinyl, wood, and tile. Yes, as much as we love carpeted RV floors, we know they’re not in vogue right now.
But… while most RV manufacturers are installing hard-surface flooring these days, many continue to use carpeting in some, or all, of their slide-outs. And there are practical reasons for that.
You’ll also find that many RV owners are replacing the carpet in their rigs with vinyl plank flooring, much of which resembles residential wood flooring. Here are the main reasons why the industry and individual RV owners are turning away from carpeted floors.
Harder to Clean
Keeping carpets clean can be a challenge, especially where dirt, dust, sand, pet hair, and other debris accumulate. And camping trips are so often in remote outdoor areas, where tracking dirt into the small space of an RV is common. Spills are also more difficult to clean from carpeted surfaces, and stains are more of an issue. For these reasons, RVers with pets or small children often prefer hard surface flooring over carpeting.
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- Leaves carpets clean, dry, and ready for use
Laminate, tile, and vinyl tend to be highly durable and tend to fare better over time than carpeting. Carpets are prone to wear and tear, particularly in high-traffic areas, and can look faded and worn in certain areas after a relatively short period of time.
Traps Allergens and Odors
Carpeted surfaces trap odors, dust, dirt, and pollen. This can be a concern for RV owners who are sensitive to allergens or bad odors. Carpeting requires routine vacuuming and occasional cleaning to maintain a healthy indoor environment.
Can I Replace the Carpet In My RV Slides?
Replacing the carpet in RV slides is often possible, and many RVers have done just that. Some replace the carpet in their RVs with vinyl or plank flooring, especially if the rig is older and the carpeting is well-worn and looking shabby.
But it’s important to remember that installing new flooring in an RV slide room that used to have carpeting requires particular attention to the fact that you’re dealing with a moving floor. There’s also that seal between the slide-out and the main RV floor.
Installing new flooring will require precise measurements and cuts and an understanding of how your particular slide-out mechanism works. If you’re watching YouTube videos to gain an understanding of the process, which we encourage, note that not all RV slides operate in the same way or have the same clearance.
Following is a video from our friends Tom & Cait Morton of Mortons on the Move removing the carpeting in and around their RV’s slide, and how they dealt with the issues installing new flooring presented. This will give you a good idea of what’s involved and how Tom & Cait dealt with the seal between their flush slide-out and the main RV floor.
The bottom line is that although RV slides have carpet for a number of good reasons, carpeting isn’t generally required in slides… or anywhere else in an RV.
While there are many benefits to carpeted slides and floors, more RVs are coming from the factory with solid flooring these days due to demand from RVers who want flooring that’s easier to clean and maintain over time. Even though we love the softness and warmth of carpeting, we sure do get that!
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