We’re Floored

Posted February 3, 2020 – Narrated by Jim
To listen to the podcast, click the play button.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

– Frank Lloyd Wright – architect of organic design

We haven’t moved in three weeks and plan to stay-put for another week. It feels like a long time to take a rest.

But don’t think I’m just sitting around staring at the floor. We’re both focused on health, eating clean and exercising in the dry, dry desert.

What a surprise to learn that there’s a place in America – that is not Mississippi – without a brewery, tap house, winery or distillery within an hour in any direction. But that makes sense because just trying to find fresh food here is a sobering experience.

Finally, after two weeks of picking through wilted, bruised and rotten produce, my hunter-gatherer instincts kicked in. So, I stalked the local market at all hours, and managed to crack the code to the delivery schedule. Nothing to pound my chest about but, twice now, I’ve beat the Snowbirds to the fresh arugula and greek-style yogurt. Yep. I sure did.

Okay, now about that floor …

Good thing it’s nice to stare at. Over the last couple of years our cork floor has enhanced our travels. It’s a time saver, comfy to walk on and has a beautiful color that reminds me of a full-bodied unfiltered red ale I tasted at a micro-brewery in Ohio.

Remodeling slowly, one step at a time, is our style. As homeowners we had the same philosophy. Since the moment we set our eyes on Beauty, we committed to giving her something new every year.

It’s about comfort and pride of ownership. This is our home.

Taking on a twenty year-old Airstream guarantees that I will always have a “Do-It-Yourself” project. I enjoy the product research and project planning, and we both dig the teamwork.

Last Christmas, in San Diego, Beauty got new upholstery, tires and a power hitch. Last summer, in Ohio, we gave her a 4″ lift with new axels, shocks, and wood valances. Back in 2018 we sprung for a new cork floor.

The old vinyl floor was okay. It was in fairly new condition when we bought the Airstream in 2015. I just didn’t care for it.

Also, the bedroom was carpeted. We hate carpet. And after two years on the road the stuff was looking rank..

My aesthetic is natural fibers and textures – not merely natural-looking.

In 1986, I bought a fixer-upper 1960 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II because I loved the wood interior.

Decorating an RV interior is tricky. Charming patterns and bright colors that are so fun for short-term camping just doesn’t hold up to the wear and tear of full-timing. And, as for color, soft earth tones in deep textures with straight lines and monochromatic appliances and surfaces are both visually pleasing and functional.

Why did we wait two years to announce our new floor?

We waited this long to spotlight the new floor because we wanted to find out if it worked. LIB is our story, but we avoid weighing readers down with product recommendations. When we like something so much that it becomes part of the story, it either ends up in Our Gear or it gets the full review.

So, after living on this new floor for almost two years, it’s time to unveil the attributes of cork.

Cork is nothing like vinyl. Vinyl is thin and heavy. Cork is thick and light. Vinyl is synthetic. Cork is natural. Vinyl is cold to the touch. Cork is warm. Cork also absorbs sound, making the Airstream quieter for recording audio, like our podcast.

Because it’s naturally insulated, we can walk barefoot even in freezing weather.

Our decision to go for cork flooring was based on recommendations by two people, Vinnie Lamica, our Airstream specialist, and our friend Susan who’s cork kitchen floor has held up great for thirty years.

How’s the “new” cork floor performing?

We love the look. It brightens the interior and feels great underfoot. Cork is softer than vinyl – kind of cushy – Not as soft as a yoga mat, but comfortable to stand on without extra padding beneath our feet while preparing meals in the kitchen.

We needed a comfortable floor because we don’t wear shoes inside the trailer. For decades we’ve been a shoes off at the door household, and after witnessing a few black-water tank accidents in campgrounds, we are even more committed to leaving our shoes outside.

Cork is also easy to clean because it’s practically dirt resistant. Dust, grease and hair don’t cling to cork like they do to vinyl.

We vacuum the floor daily and wipe it clean once a week – with warm water and a wet cloth – then follow up with a drying cloth – but no matter what we do, the floor always gleams.

Cork is also durable. Our floor is in the same condition as the day it was installed and we’ve been camping on it for two years.

Do-It-Yourself or hire a Pro?

I’m fairly handy and able to pull off most jobs alone. Installing almost 200 square feet of flooring didn’t seem all that difficult. But it would be impossible to live in the trailer during the install. Not only did I need expert advice, I needed someone to help me get it done fast and done right. This was a job for …

Vinnie Lamica at Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair.

Vinnie Lamica and Vinnie's Northbay Airstream Repair
Vinnie Lamica

We scheduled the installation for May 2018.

Meanwhile, we went shopping for cork. We chose the CaliBamboo Shoreline because it has natural elastic properties, great sound conditioning, temperature insulation, is mold and water resistant, low maintenance, and contains 43% recycled content.

It also looks like what it is… cork.

cork floor

Unfortunately, our exact cork floor choice is no longer available from CaliBamboo or US Floors.

Within three weeks the cork arrived and we loaded it into the truck.

In twenty days, we had an installation appointment in Wilton. No problem.

We followed the vineyards all the way to Vinnie’s.

About fifteen miles outside of Wilton, we rented a Cruise America RV and parked it at Vinnie’s. This was our solution for being homeless during the install and it also served as a storage container for our stuff because …

… we had to strip everything out – all of our clothing and food and supplies we keep in the under-bed storage, bench bins and lockers. Anything fastened to the floor had to be emptied. After that was done, Vinnie met with us to talk about the schedule for the next few days.

Then Vinnie hauled Beauty into his workshop.

Preparing Beauty

We followed and immediately began prepping Beauty for the new floor.

First, we took out all the furniture. We’ve done this three times in three years. The first time was when Vinnie installed our solar, the last time was Christmas for the reupholstering. Un-installing our 30′ Airstream only takes a couple of hours.

Vinnie’s shop became our temporary furniture warehouse.

Then, we ripped out the old carpeting in the bedroom

Removed the old baseboard.

The old vinyl floating floor came up easily.

Pico supervised the job …

We cleared the subfloor of nails, staples, debris and smoothed out any abnormalities.

The installation

Vinnie expertly installed the new floor.

While the floor was being installed, we cut, stained and finished new moldings and bedroom soffits.

Before re-installing the furniture, we cleaned each piece thoroughly, gave it all a good polishing and then – for even more sound-conditioning in the trailer –we covered the bottoms of the drawers and cabinets with cork drawer liner.

The Re-Install

Then, I screwed all of the furniture back into place.

Putting in new moldings took less than an hour.

The old carpet-covered bedroom soffits …

were replaced with newly-built oak soffits.

Voila. The new look.

We paid $1,400 for the cork, $1,200 for the installation, for a total cost of $2,600.

Much as we love cork flooring we can’t recommend it for all RVs. If you need a floor that’s 100% water-proof or if you have large dogs with long, thick nails, or if you transport bikes inside the trailer, then vinyl may be a better choice.

We’re pro-cork because it’s a natural, environmentally sustainable product. It’s warm, quiet, clean and, with the right care, can be incredibly durable. It’s also beautiful. In fact, I’m looking at the floor right now, and, you know, in this light, at this angle, from this distance … it reminds me of the hazy double IPA at that terrific brewery in upstate New York.

One more week.

OCTOBER 2022 UPDATE: We still love our cork flooring after all these years.

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.