Panel 24” x 48” – 5 @ $5.01 each
Oak Parquet 12” x 12” Peel-and-Stick Vinyl Tile
– 60 for $52.20
– Glossy Finish -- $0 (already had a quart)
The ceiling was next on the to-do list, but it
was proving to be much more complicated than
expected, so I needed some more time to concoct
Blinds for the driver side window and the back
windows looked like they’d be up next, but they
are made-to-order, so they take a few weeks to
Soooo, the floor it shall be!
I had this planned out long ago.
Vinyl peel-n-sticks, one square foot
Right away, I had it narrowed down to
African Wood and Red Oak Parquet.
I really liked the dark African Wood,
but the dark-and-light streaky pattern was going
to be impossible to match up and would just end
up looking disjointed.
I wanted it to look jointed, I guess, and the
regular pattern of the parquet, in a hue that
would complement the existing stained cedar and
cognac trim, seemed really appealing.
(I have to admit there is also a bit of
a tip of the hat to the Boston Garden basketball
court as well.)
First step was to double check all my
The chart that I used to make such a
perfect fit with the rug should match up just
right, but I wanted to be sure.
You can trim a carpet with a boxcutter
if you need to make it fit.
Not so with tempered hardboard; I was
gonna have to take the power saw to those. Plus,
they are too big to fit on the 32” x 18”
workspace of the laser, so there would be no
easy way out.
Step two was to do the actual cutting and test
fit them. A
little extra trimming was necessary (of course). I used
the big workshop table at work, but, in
retrospect, I should have just used the flat
floor and open side door of the van.
That’s what I did for the tweak cuts
and I couldn’t believe how much easier it was. (Plus,
I’d skip that extensive clean-up of that table
area; I could just sweep up with a big broom if
I used the van door method.
The tempered hardboard (TH) is an “extra” step
in itself, probably.
There is already a ¾” plywood subfloor,
as you undoubtedly remember from Chapter 8 or
sufficiently flat, even at the tongue-in-groove
seams, but it’s not especially smooth and
TrafficMASTER specifies a smooth surface for
best application of their tiles.
Well, TH is smooth as you please on one side and
will screw securely onto the plywood.
I deemed it a top-notch idea and well
worth the effort it would require.
Anyway, before anything could go in, the rug had
to come out.
And before that could happen,
everything on the floor had to move off, up, or
chair, Eco Flow Delta solar generator, Alpicool
fridge, spare cooler, and the drawers on the
front side of the bed.
I left the Maxoak Bluetti solar
generator on its floor spot behind the driver
seat, resolving to do that little space another
was a hot Saturday afternoon on Memorial Day
weekend, and I definitely needed those
DC-powered fans blowin’ to get me through the
Next, remove the cheap brown rug.
It was never intended as The Answer,
but it had done an excellent job of filling the
I removed screw after screw – about 30 in all –
I found myself being impressed by the quality
installation I had done.
I was going to have to do a pretty nice
job with this tile to justify 86-ing the rug.
The floor HAS to be tile, though.
Like I’ve said before, water is Vanlife
Enemy #1, and carpets are especially vulnerable. Yeah,
they stain and get soggy underfoot, but the real
problem is when the water gets under the rug and
seeps into the plywood sub-floor.
This brown rug never got wet, but, man, you
should have seen how much dirt was under
a right good sweeping to clean it all
So, yeah. I
ran into a little stumbling block when I started
to install the TH.
The ¾” drywall screws I was re-using
(the same ones that had been holding the rug in
place) were bugle-head screws.
These are flat on the top and fluted
from the shaft to the underside of the head. Because
of the flute, the screws were not sinking in
flush with the firm surface of the hardboard. That
looked like it would be a problem under the
But my second favorite never-knew-it-existed
tool – the little countersink attachment for my
drill – saved the day.
It created tidy sloped circular holes
that the bugle-head fit into perfectly.
I used about half of the screws, mainly
concerning myself with where the panels would
meet, and the corners.
All 5 of the panels needed to be
trimmed to some degree:
the back one nearly in twain, the front
along the full length, the two middle ones
barely at all, and the one under the desk cut to
Once that was all in place, I paused to figure
out where to start tiling:
front, back, side, middle?
Some videos about this type of tile
insist that you must start in the middle of the
is a very small room, but I wondered if that
would still apply and why?
Why wouldn’t you start along a wall?
It would eliminate at least one place
where you’d have to trim the tiles to fit. Maybe
a non-straight wall would mess up your whole
One key consideration here, though, was the
location of the seams between the panels.
I wanted to be sure that the seams
between the tiles would not line up
That just seemed (haha, seemed,
get it?) to be inviting a separation problem. The
tiles needed to bridge those underlying seams.
The 24” panel at the back would match two 12”
tiles way too closely. The
front panel, being 19.75” wide would work much
Hence, I chose the front near the driver seat as
my starting point, giving myself a straight line
back to the bed, and another towards the sliding
I filled in as many whole tiles as I could: 19 in
floor space calculated out to 32.5 square feet,
so the remaining 41% was going to have be
trimmed to fit.
I didn’t dread this part.
It seemed simple enough: measure
the space, mark the tile, cut it with a
boxcutter and a straight edge, and stick the
bastid in place.
But my pace was going to slow waaaaaay
well, ‘twas what ‘twas, Buzz.
There were a few spots where my furniture
construction was not as spot-on-accurate as I
would have liked, so some slivers also had to be
cut to cover narrow gaps along the front of the
than that, it went down without a fight.
I even got ambitious and tiled the
space under the bed where the shelves are (not
shown on chart).
I gotta say that the TrafficMASTER tiles
themselves were a breeze to work with.
The backing peeled off easily, and the
adhesive stuck fast right away.
I had one mess-up where I had to pull
the tile back up; it came grudgingly, bending
but not breaking.
I am a little worried that they will dent
I saw a couple of tiny spots where I
had been sitting on my metal stool, so I’ll need
to be careful.
I like this stuff.
I doubt I’ll ever do another floor, but
if I do …
So, almost done.
A little more defense against demon
water was in order.
I had almost a full can of glossy
finish polyurethane left over from the
countertops and walls and cabinets.
Just a little bit o’ that stuff goes a
long fricking way.
a 4” sponge brush, it only took about 15 minutes
to do the first coat.
square feet of smooth floor, y’know?
I checked it about two hours later and
it was dry, so I put down a second coat.
That took about 10 minutes.
The first coat was brushed
back-to-front, so I did the second one side-to
how it works when laminating canvas prints, so
it seemed logical here.
Man, that floor freakin’ shines now. I
might do a couple more coats!
The final step was to protect the edges.
I had bought some black plastic
moulding – several 72” sections of 0.5” x 0.5” –
to use along all the edges, along the baseboards
to help prevent (or hide) any loosening edges. Everything
fits so tightly, though, and the TM tiles stick
so well, I decided to forego it.
I can add it later if things change.
The only place I did use some was on the 52”
long lip at the side door.
Before I had even finished half the
floor, I had gashed my
shin in that exposed edge. Actually,
I bought a stick of pine moulding for
The wood has a slightly rounder corner
than the plastic
ones do. I’m
sure that will help; I just know I’ll be banging
my shin on that a lot.
That lip is the one place that I regret having
to pull up the carpet.
I had that rug wrapped around tight and
snug under the plywood sub-floor:
totally professional install.
So, hmmm. What’s
I love the cedar cabinet doors, and I love the
Red Oak Parquet tiles.
Juxtaposed, though, ehhhhh, yeah, I
still like ‘em, but…
Well, I kinda get the
Never once crossed my mind until I
stood back and looked at the finished floor. I’ll
just have to get used to it.
Certainly not changing either at this