After many years as a full-time van lifer (and two flooring replacements!) I’ve learned that many floors simply don’t hold up to the road. Save yourself from a moldy subfloor and many headaches by choosing water-resistant van vinyl flooring that holds up to the rattle of the road without puckering or cracking.
Here are the top considerations, brands, and installation tips for a beautiful, long-lasting, and functional van floor.
What is the Best Vinyl Flooring for a Van Conversion?
Vinyl flooring is the best option for wild backroads, drastic temperature swings, and humidity shifts. If you do outdoor activities or have pets, the water and scratch resistance are huge bonuses. Yet you still need something aesthetic to make your van interior feel like home.
From click-and-lock vinyl plank flooring to sheet vinyl to vinyl tiles, there are lots of options amenable to DIY installs. The key things to look for are:
- Durability: Vans experience constant movement that most household flooring is not designed for. The installation technique (floating vs. anchored) and produce design (sheet vs. plank vs. tile) dramatically affect the motion of the floor as you drive.
- Water Resistance: Water-resistant or waterproof vinyl flooring is crucial for protecting your van from rust or mold and maintaining the floor’s integrity in changing humidity.
- Installation: Look for vinyl flooring that is easy to install, especially if you are embarking on a DIY van conversion project.
- Sound and Insulation: A foam or cork-backed floor creates a warmer, quieter floor.
- Aesthetics: While functionality is crucial, the appearance of the flooring also plays a significant role in creating a cozy home interior. Vinyl floors can be printed to look like hardwood, cork, marble, tile, and many other designs.
- Safety: The “new floor” smell of many vinyl flooring options can be associated with high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) linked to a range of health problems. If concerned about indoor air quality, look for the Greenguard Gold Certified emblem.
Choosing the Best Van Vinyl Flooring (Buying Guide)
Build your house (van) on a solid foundation! Investing in quality flooring lays the groundwork for a successful conversion and a clean, enjoyable life on the road. Although you can replace your van floor in the future, it’s a real pain in the butt! Carefully consider these factors now so you don’t have to rip anything up in the future:
There are 3 main types of van vinyl flooring:
- Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP): Also known as “click and lock,” LVP has a realistic wood-like appearance. It is durable, water-resistant, and relatively easy to install, with ridged interconnecting planks that are easy to score with a box knife and snap to size. A jigsaw and rubber mallet are also useful.
- Sheet Vinyl: This type of vinyl comes in large rolls, making it a seamless option for van flooring. While it may not look as real as wood, the water resistance is top-tier for anyone with pets or lots of outdoor gear like bikes and surfboards.
- Vinyl Tiles: If you prefer a modular approach, vinyl tiles provide versatility in design and replacement, but they’re less common.
A thicker vinyl layer generally indicates greater durability. However, in the confined space of a van, weight and height considerations are crucial. If you are tall, keep your subfloor under ½” thick and choose a sheet vinyl or LVP around 6mm thick. The best van vinyl plank flooring has a built-in underlayment so you don’t need to purchase a separate layer.
Check for waterproof or water-resistant features to prevent damage from spills, leaks, or moisture buildup. Bathroom and kitchen-grade flooring is ideal for a van. Keep in mind that the edges where the flooring meets the walls are the most common places for moisture to seep underneath. Thoroughly seal with trim or caulk.
Look for flooring options with easy installation methods, such as click-lock systems or adhesive backing. This is especially important for DIY enthusiasts.
Aesthetic and cleanliness
Although most of your floor ends up hidden beneath cabinetry or a bed, the little walkway through a van can make a huge difference in the overall ambiance. Invest in quality flooring that matches your vibe and will keep your van feeling luxurious over time, even through wear and tear.
Textured van vinyl floors tend to be better suited for outdoor lifestyles, but they may be harder to clean. Smooth-surface vinyl is easy to wipe down but may show more blemishes if it is light in color. For example, I adore the marble-style vinyl flooring in my Sprinter conversion. However, the smooth white surface has become scratched by my dog’s nails over time. A rigged wood-like vinyl would be better for hiding pet blemishes.
Expect your van flooring project to cost $2 to $10 per square foot. Order 1 extra box to account for weird cuts, edges, and mess-ups. In my 144” wheelbase Sprinter van, I used 4 boxes of Nucore Carrara Marble Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Plank and spent around $500 for the total floor install.
Top 5 Best Van Vinyl Flooring
After meeting hundreds of van lifers and skoolie builders, these are the only brands I’ve seen withstand the test of life on the road.
Top Pick: Lonseal Marine Flooring
This luxury wood vinyl floor is designed for high-end yachts and works perfectly in a van. It’s slip-resistant, crazy durable, and easy to install with a vinyl roll and adhesive. If you’re worried about plank flooring expanding and contracting in the cracks during changes from hot to cold weather, Lonseal solves that problem!
Lonseal Marine Flooring is extremely long lasting and seamless, allowing it to age gracefully over time. It is completely impermeable to moisture, so a spill, dripping wetsuit, or puppy accident won’t damage your van. Best of all, it looks beautiful like wood yet is remarkably easy to clean! The material is DIY-friendly and easy to cut with a razor blade to match the contours of your floor.
- Seamless and fully waterproof
- Very thin for maximum interior standing height
- Beautiful color options look like wood
- Heavy duty roll vinyl
- No refinishing expenses needed
- Sound-absorbing under foot
- Phthalate-free and low-VOC for good indoor air quality
- Requires heavy duty adhesive
- Only available in 6’ wide rolls
Best Vinyl Plank Flooring: NuCore Cork Back Luxury Vinyl Plank
For the easiest click-and-lock vinyl installation that looks like wood, Nucore planks hold up phenomenally well and make your van look like a home. I’ve used NuCore in both a school bus and van conversion for full-time travel over several years and thousands of miles. I love the cork-backing that adds warmth and sound-quieting to the floor.
With proper installation (leaving gaps along the walls), the planks won’t pucker or warp in heat. Best of all, this floor is extremely water-resistant, pet friendly, and easy to clean. If one plank gets damaged, it is easy to swap it out with a new plank.
- Easy click-and-lock install
- Hundreds of texture and color options to look like wood or even marble
- Easy to score and snap
- Cork backing for added insulation and sound-deadening
- Quiet to walk on
- DIY-friendly install
- Greenguard Gold Certified for indoor air quality
- No adhesive needed
- More difficult to fit around curved contours (jigsaw needed)
- Seams between planks could cause issues if not properly “locked” together
- May expand/contract in changing climates
- “Floating” installation is best to prevent puckering or swelling
Best Carpet-Like Vinyl Option: 2Tec2 High Tech Flooring
Carpet is not usually a top-pick for van conversions, but this woven vinyl flooring is waterproof and cushiony underfoot. It is designed for outdoor adventure vans and commercial uses, with all the acoustic benefits of a soft floor. It’s extremely easy to vacuum and spot clean, plus it’s odorless.
If you still want the aesthetic of a wood-like walkway, this is a great option for underneath cabinets and in the garage area of your van.
- Reduces walking noise by up to 70%
- Recycled acoustic backing
- Seamless installation
- Antibacterial and mold-free
- Great for garage area or under cabinets
- Phthalate-free and VOC-free for clean air
- Moderately expensive
- More industrial (less homey look)
- Not completely waterproof
- Relatively few color/pattern options
Most Eco-Friendly: Marmoleum Natural Linoleum Flooring
For the most sustainable and non-toxic van flooring, Marmoleum is not technically vinyl but you install it in the same way. Sold by Forbo, Marmoleum is a completely natural linoleum made from linseed oil, wood flour, and woven jute. The roll is installed like a vinyl roll and offers similar waterproof seamless benefits.
The most health and environmentally-conscious van lifers use this floor specifically for its 97% natural composition (in contrast, vinyl is a synthetic material sourced from petroleum and various additives like chlorine or ethylene, which could be damaging to environmental or human health). In spite of its earthy makeup, Marmoleum holds up extremely well to van life and doesn’t shift or warp. It is completely waterproof and suitable for wet spaces like bathrooms, making it perfect for van adventures.
- Seamless installation with no room for leaks
- Fully waterproof
- Super thin sheets to maximize interior height
- Rolls are easy to cut to size
- Dozens of color and pattern options
- Highly durable and sanitary (used in many commercial settings)
- 97% raw natural materials
- Adhesive and heavy roller required
- Need a solid insulated subfloor
- Staining of lighter colors is a common complaint
Budget Pick: TrafficMaster Waterproof Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have a ton to spend on your van floor, TrafficMaster is widely available and fairly cheap. It may not last as long as other options, but it is very waterproof and durable. The click-and-lock install is super straightforward.
The biggest issue here is the potential harm to indoor air quality in a tiny van space. These vinyl planks can be really stinky due to off-gassing chemicals, but the smell eventually subsides. While they are cheap, they could also pose issues for people with allergies or breathing problems. Without proper installation, you may also have issues with warping over time.
- Widely accessible and affordable
- Looks like hardwood
- 100% waterproof
- Scratch, stain, and slip-resistant
- Built-in underlayment
- No adhesive needed if installed as “floating” floor
- 4mm thickness and urethane wear
- Strong chemical-smell out of the box
- Highly synthetic, not natural
- Warping, cracking at the seams, or puckering can be a problem
- Contains VOCs and other potentially harmful chemicals
Key Takeaways: The Best Van Vinyl Flooring is Lonseal Marine or NuCore Plank Flooring
The world of vinyl flooring can be overwhelming, but most options are really not suited to van life. You must consider the thickness (and interior height), durability, installation, water resistance, and resilience to changing climates.
If you want a seamless, fully waterproof, no-warp vinyl solution, Lonseal Marine products are perfectly designed for rugged and adventurous van life. It is easy to make a template, cut the sheet vinyl to size, and glue it in place without worrying about cracks or seams. The material is the most durable on the market and high-end for a yacht-like look.
If you want a cozy wood-like look, go for LVP planks like NuCore and leave a 1” gap along the edges of the van to account for warping and movement. The cork backing makes it extra insulated and quiet, and the click-and-lock installation is easy to repair. Personally, NuCore has served me well for 5 years of adventures with 2 dogs.
Whatever you choose, don’t forget to build a strong insulated subfloor to support your conversion. See you out on the road!