RV 101: What are Slides?

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a RV 101 post.  Today I’m writing about slides. Let’s start with the basics.

What are slides?

A picture can illustrate what a slide is better than I can say with words.

Motorhome Slides

Slides are parts of an RV that move outwards once the RV is parked. They expand the space inside of the RV, creating additional space in the living room, kitchen, or bedroom. In our case, Trudy has 3 slides: one large one in the living room, then 2 smaller ones in the bedroom. In the picture above, the rear slide moves the bed backwards, creating more floor space in the bedroom. The living room slide contains our couch and dining room table. When that slide is in, the living room is very small. Here’s a picture of the other side of Trudy – see the other slide in the back? That moves the closet/clothes storage outwards. When both slides are pulled in, our bed has to be tilted upwards, and we can’t walk around it. So if we were to ever be in a situation where our slides wouldn’t move, we’d be unable to use our bed. Yikes. It’s definitely something to consider when looking at RV layouts!

Rear (bedroom) slide – other side

Pros / Cons to RV Slides

Slides are controlled via push-button inside the RV, so it’s very easy to move slides in and out. However, as with any mechanical part, things break. Sometimes the motors give out, sometimes they don’t extend correctly or come in correctly, and sometimes the seals around them leak. We discovered early on that we need to lubricate the slide seals, so we bought this slide lubricant from Amazon, which does the job well. Although slides allow for more living space, which is a wonderful thing, they also have their downsides and require extra maintenance. Some RV’s don’t have slides at all (Airstream, I’m looking at you). However the vast majority of RV’s we see do have them, and most large RV’s have at least 3. Some big fifth wheels have 4 or 5 slides! Most small travel trailers (20 feet or less) have no slides, or only 1 slide.

We have to be careful to protect our floors before we bring the slides in or out. We have 3 small carpets that we place on the floor where the slide comes in. We learned this lesson the hard way at first – the slide can scratch the flooring when it comes in. Thankfully the thin carpets work well to prevent this. We also have to vacuum the floors carefully around where the slides come on. We noticed that the crevice is the perfect spot for Calla’s toys, crayons, and markers to get stuck in. If we were to force the slide in while there is debris underneath, it would probably ruin the slide motor. So a thorough vacuum + put down the carpets  – just more things to do during the ‘pack up to go’ stage. You’ll see the carpets in the video below – they are blue.

Here’s a video I filmed while Tim was pressing the button to move our living room slide in. The slides have to be brought in before we can move Trudy. Before we can put the slides out, Trudy has to be level (it has leveling jacks). So when we park somewhere, we first have to get Trudy level before we can really use any of the space in the bedroom.


Slides in - motorhome
Trudy with the slides pulled in, ready to hit the road. On this side of Trudy, there is just 1 slide in the rear.

We love our slides and the space they create, but they are not without their downsides. Every time we move them in or out I expect them to break, but so far, so good *knocks on wood*. I hope you now have a better understanding of RV slides – that’s pretty much all there is to them!


  1. That video is crazy!! All of your living space disappeared lol I’m surprised they’re sturdy enough to walk on when extended. I’m sure there’s a lot that I can’t see but I would definitely be nervous the first few time while I build up some trust in the structure!

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