At long last, we have new flooring. Now let’s hope it lasts a long time.

This is a project that had many false starts.

When we bought The Toad late in 2014, it was 6 years old, and we hated the carpet immediately, but we spent the next two years focusing on mostly structural and mechanical upgrades, with a few cosmetic ones thrown in for good measure (see bottom of page for a list with links).

Early in 2017, we met new friends David and Cheryl of Landmark Adventures, and they gave us the name of the Dallas/Fort Worth area company that had replaced all their RV flooring. We tried to set something up with Dodson Professional Carpet when we were stranded just south of Dallas in March, but unfortunately our schedules were incompatible.

Then in June, we tried to hire a flooring company in Goshen, IN, to do the job, while we were in town for the Heartland North American Rally, but their estimate came in well above our budget.

And that’s when we decided we’d just do it ourselves. And those plans failed too, not once but twice, as we learned in two different states that “IN STOCK” at big box home improvement stores is sometimes followed by, “except for this one you actually want, which we’ve run out of, and it will take us two weeks to get more.” Due to other upcoming plans, we did not have that kind of lead time.

Finally, as we were nearing our departure time from our work camping gig with Amazon Camperforce in TN, we decided that since we’d be heading back to Texas anyway, we’d go back to where we started this process, and schedule a firm plan with Ed Dodson, of Dodson Professional Carpet.

And that is how the job finally got done, in mid-January of 2018, in Roanoke, TX. We wrote a check and got out of the way as Ed’s man, Ruben, replaced the smelly, stained, worn-out carpeting in the bedroom and on our slide-outs with new carpeting; and replaced the central living area carpeting, and kitchen and bathroom linoleum with luxury vinyl tile (LVT).

Actually, the LVT had to be done twice. The first round was a lower quality variety, and it shrunk and separated at the seams within a day. It was Ed’s mistake to assume we’d want to go cheap; and our mistake to choose from amongst the one brand of samples he showed us, without asking about other options and researching their suitability.

Ed then showed us some higher quality samples. He split the cost of the upgraded flooring with us, and he did not charge us for the second round of labor at all.

Thus ends the “how we did it” part of the story. We paid for it. Budget: $2,000.00. Original estimate: $2,000.00. Final cost: $2376.00.

Here are the Befores & Afters.

The old carpeting and some of its many stains
Not pictured: the feel of completely worn down padding underfoot, or the the funk of ten years worth of trapped odors.

Thankfully, we thought to make note of the location of all our furniture strap anchors before we removed them, and the new flooring then covered the existing holes.

No surprises during demolition. The subfloor was level, with only a small spot or two of minor water damage from leaks we’d long since repaired.

Out with the old, and good riddance!

Ed’s original plan did not include installing carpeting under the bed — until we offered to remove and replace the bed ourselves.
Ruben did an excellent job of piecing both padding and carpeting in and around the slide hydraulics, and now we sleep warmer at night.

LVT installation, Take I

Main living area before, and after the first round of LVT…

… and midway through the process of removing the bad (light grayish) and installing the better (dark brown).

Our hallway and stairs, before, during, and after.
Note in top left photo that after the carpeting was removed, we found linoleum under there, extending out in a single sheet from the bathroom on the left. Oh, and that you can see outside through that gap between the floor and the wall. Nice.
The thing that looks like a trap door is in fact a trap door. Beneath it is a square cubby where we toss our dirty laundry right into a basket, thus keeping it out of sight and out of smell.

Top: bathroom before and after
Bottom: Tim’s desk slide-out, midway and after

Kitchen before and after

At last, we’ve got some color cohesion in here!

Here too.

Main living area, before and after

View from bedroom steps to rear of RV, before and after

Final verdict: We are very pleased with the transformation. We can now feel the padding underneath our carpeted areas, and we love the warm, chocolaty look and easy care of the LVT.


Our other mods and upgrades: Some early ones are described on this page, and I either blogged or posted quick social media updates about

He ain’t heavy, but his new shed is: helping my brother with a build, after Hurricane Harvey

Let me start by telling you what we didn’t do.

I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea: We did not go rolling into Port Aransas like white knights on horseback to help rebuild the town — although that was kind of my original intent in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. See?

What's next for us? This screen cap of a text I sent back in August helps tell the story. In short: More hard work, but it'll be more personally meaningful. In long: It's now been just over four months since Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast. My brother's family lives in one of those coastal towns. Their house sustained minor damage. Their business, quite a bit. Their hometown of Port Aransas was devastated and faces many more months of recovery. So in lieu of a traditional Christmas celebration, we're gathering the family — including our two sons who are both skilled in construction — for a New Year's working party in Port Aransas. Our caravan of 7 departs San Antonio tomorrow, and we'll spend a week building a replacement fence and shed at my brother's house, and might be able to help some other folks out if time allows. We did not exchange traditional wrapped-in-a-box gifts this year. We chose to spend our money on this experience. And that's how we like to roll. #thebestgiftscantbewrapped #familyworkparty #bestchristmasgiftever #hurricaneharvey #harveyrelief #portaransas #portastrong #ownlessdomore

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We didn’t even rebuild anything at my brother’s house, which survived comparatively unscathed after the Category 4 hurricane came through on August 25, 2017, leaving 75-85% of the town’s homes damaged or destroyed. (Source: Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan, in this article from weather.com)

Although we thought we were going to be rebuilding his fence, which had been damaged by the hurricane, needs dictated a storage shed as top priority. While he and my sister-in-law continue to search for a new location for their shop, some of the shop’s contents are taking up a significant chunk of their garage space — space they need for supplies to rebuild the fence and fix other damage. Make sense now?

So here’s what we did do.

We cleaned and repainted some siding on the house, which looked pretty dinged up after having who-knows-what-all hurled at it during Harvey’s 110-132 mph winds.

And with the help of several construction/renovation experts in the family — including our 20-year-old son who drove down from Austin, and our 22-year-old son who flew in from Washington — we built a shed over four days, to the point that my brother and sister-in-law can handle the finishing touches themselves.

It was our family Christmas Vacation, just delayed to January because of our jobs at Amazon.

It was the first time all of us had been together in more than two years.

(And by “all” I mean the two of us, our older son and his girlfriend, our younger son, my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, my sister-in-law’s mom and her husband, and the 9 cats, 2 Great Danes, 1 bearded dragon, and handful of exotic fish that rule my brother’s house.)

And it was exactly what we wanted.

For those who’ve never heard of Port Aransas, Texas, it’s a quirky little beach town just east of Corpus Christi, on a barrier island along the Gulf coast.

Population of Port Aransas: about 3400 (before the hurricane, anyway)

RV parks in town have reopened, and seemed to be doing booming business, with what we surmised to be a combination of regular Winter Texans, temporarily displaced Port A residents, and workers who have been hired or are volunteering for rebuilding efforts.

And what do I mean by quirky?

Well, scenes like this weren’t unusual even before the hurricane.

Yes, you can drive on the beach, and also camp overnight in an RV or a tent.
But don’t just show up. An inexpensive permit is required, and there are restrictions on location and length of stay.
You can find all that information right here.

How bad was the damage from Harvey?

Here are some numbers from the Island Moon, in an issue published just over a month after the hurricane hit.

Further statistics, including a staggering amount of debris removed from the island, are in Mayor Bujan’s Facebook post dated October 2, 2017.

What’s Port A like now?

It is a town with an already strong identity, in the process of repairing itself. The sights and sounds of renovation, regrowth, and rebuilding were unmistakeable, unavoidable — and encouraging. Some of our old favorite places like the San Juan Restaurant, Gratitude, Irie’s, Stingray’s, and Winton’s Island Candy have reopened, and more businesses will reopen as repairs are completed.

But as mentioned in the graphic above, some will not return at all. We have no doubt that new friends — and just about everyone in Port A is your friend — will bring fresh ideas and establishments to take their place, and we look forward to our next visit!

Scenes like this are still common on sidewalks, although my brother assures me that this is nothing compared to the debris piles that lined the streets in September.

And if the town didn’t have an official flag before, it does now, at least temporarily: the blue tarp.
They’re festooning buildings all over town, because as you might imagine, roofers are in high demand and hard to find at the moment.

But you’ll also be greeted by scenes like this in Port A…

… and this …

… and this.

What can you do to help?

Visit, and spend money. Many hotels, RV parks, restaurants, and shops have reopened, and Port Aransas needs your business!

Or use your internet search skills to find ways to donate your time, skills, money, and/or supplies. As ever, research any charitable entity before you commit your dough, although I will help get you started by pointing you toward the Rebuild Port Aransas Facebook Page, which seems to be a locally run clearinghouse for relief efforts.

And finally, watch this 3-minute video. It shows the extent of Harvey’s destruction, and says a lot about the strength of the people who call Port Aransas home.


Author’s note: This post was unsolicited, and I was not compensated in any way by any entities mentioned above. I do not represent Rebuild Port Aransas or SandCastleMinistry.org (appears at end of video in link above), nor should my mention of them be considered endorsements. All opinions are my own.