RV floor repair is something that MANY, if not MOST, RVs will need to face if they have any expected lifetime at all. Why? I’ll explain below.
First, check out the VIDEOS below for GREAT instructions on how to repair your RV floor.
But the question I FIRST want to address is:
Why will you face rv floor repairs in your RV?
First and foremost, RVs face more water damage problems than regular homes. Some of the reasons for these water damage differences are:
- RVs are mobile. This mobility causes your RV water system to experience vibration and the vibration makes leaks extremely likely. It just takes one leak to hit the wood in your floor to start the long process of decay.
- RVs experience turning water on and off at a much much greater interval than regular sticks-and-bricks homes – This water on-off cycling in RVs in turn causes more stress in the water system and eventually leaks.
- RVs are affected by weather changes in a greater way than sticks and bricks home. RVs have less thermal mass and therefore experience the changes more completely than a sticks and bricks home.
- RVs experience indoor condensation greater than sticks and bricks homes. When it is cold outside and warm inside, you will get condensation inside the RV – and I strongly believe substantially more in an RV. Our Open Range 399BHS experienced condensation every day all winter when we lived in it. This will eventually have an impact.
Next, the RVs construction materials used don’t help RVs to be able to withstand much water damage.
The PRIMARY reason for RVs not being particulary great to withstand water is the copious use of OSB (“oriented strand board”) lumber.
OSB lumber is great for use in areas where water isn’t a factor. It is very low cost and has many excellent properties that are superior to plywood.
However, one of the OSB lumber properties that isn’t so great is that water is VERY VERY hard on OSB.
The combination of OSB planks used on RV flooring *AND* the RVs propensity for water damage is a horrible combination.
Since you know this combination of OSB lumber and water leak propensity exists, just gird yourself for the fact that you’ll need to repair your RV floor someday.
How do I know if my RV floor needs repair or replacement?
The number one way to know if you are headed for a floor replacement is “soft spots” when you are walking on your RV floor.
Another thing to be aware of is that OSB which is weakened by water has many nooks and crannies for mold. So you need to pay attention to floor weakness.
If your floor has weak spots and you have some general malaise you could be slowly succumbing to a mold allergy or worse. A friend of RV52 has recently purchased an indoor polution monitor that seems to be working very well. Airborne contaminants are a very real hazard – maybe even more in an RV
Lets say you have now established your floor has weak spots. Because your RV floor has weak spots, more than a little, the RV floor likely has to be repaired.
I’ll outline the basic steps to replace and or repair an RV floor below.
This isn’t a step by step RV floor how-to, but rather a “quick assessment” guide to let you know what you are getting yourself into.
Basic RV Floor Repairs steps & key notes:
- KEY THOUGHT: Fixing an RV floor will be just like fixing a regular sticks and bricks floor EXCEPT everything is smaller, thinner, and lighter. You will follow the same basic steps with some limitations.
- Assess the damage. This is a smart step that falls under the rule of “measure twice and cut once”. Make sure you know the extent of what you have to do before you start. Careful probing with a flashlight, an automotive remote camera , or even your cell phone camera to see the damage will help considerably in your planning.
- Plan the job and acquire everything you need. Know what you will do, purchase the correct materials, ensure you have the correct tools. If this is beyond your capability – call an expert. Review the videos again and again that are on this page.
- Remove the bad flooring. This means removing everything: bad OSB, vinyl, insulation, everything that is unusable and better off being repaired. Since you are doing the work and have everything open this is NOT the time to cheap out and leave something that should be repaired.
- Repair/Renew any wiring, ductwork. I think this requires mentioning before getting to the put on new flooring. This is a great time to protect any ductwork and make sure wiring is very sturdy. It might even be a good time to add some extra wiring or features to add some cool things to your RV – like extra speakers.
- Focus on any possible water leak sources. Remember, water leaks that caused damage is why you are repairing your RV floor.
- I would highly consider trying to waterproof where possible.
- Put in insulation. Great chance to have new insulation.
- Measure & cut replacement flooring including any cutouts for vents, etc. I suppose you could replace the flooring with OSB… but this is something you may want to pick a very high grade plywood instead just because of the water resistance.
- Put the new flooring in place. This is something worth spending time on… If you can focus on getting a very smooth surface you’ll buy yourself more options on the types of coverings you can use.
- Put a nice decorative floor covering over the flooring. There are lots of choices here. One thing to think about is weight on your RV. So if you are considering the ceramic floor planks that look like wood, make sure you have plenty of extra weight capacity (Gross Vehicle Unloaded Weight Rating) in your RV. If you only have 500 or 600 carrying capacity, then you might pick the lightest flooring you can find.
Enjoy your new floor.
Should you fix your RV floor yourself? Is fixing the floor hard? (Reader question)
Here is the reader’s question EXACTLY as it was presented to RV52: “hi! i am looking for help with repairing/replacing a section of fthe flooring, subfloor in me jayco travel trailer. i’d like to find a video that would walk me through the process. i downloaded the shematic for the walls and flooring from jayco, but i would like more detail and step instruction. if you know of a video that fits my need, i’d appreciate hearing about it. at some point, there was a small water leak that evidently found its way through a screw or staple hole in the vinyl [by the toilet], got under the vinyl, and soaked the subfloor, and caused dryrot. so, i need to cut it out and replace/repair it. as a 68 year old disabled vet, i would appreciate any assistance you can render. thanks in advance“
I sent your question off to my friends at a local RV service center and they responded with this answer “We don’t currently have videos available on replacing flooring. While some people may want to tackle a project of that magnitude on their own, most find it easier to let experienced pros manage that type of project instead. It is easily an 8-10 hour job, and the process of cutting out sections of flooring and replacing them so that the RV is structurally safe can be a challenge if it’s not something you’ve done before. I’d recommend getting bids on the work before deciding that DIY is the way to go. “