Replace Rotten Camper Floor

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About: Retired Tool Maker ( 1980 ) Retired Mechanical Engineer ( 2009 ) Full time Tinkerer

Hi Gang:

This is our little pop up camper, a 2000 A-Liner. We bought it used and knew it would need a lot of work. From the beginning we knew it had rot in the floors that the previous owners had repaired. The second photo is of the new bamboo flooring we put in. Here is how we did it:

Step 1: What the Old Floor Looked Like.

The floor was covered with roll vinyl. The most noticeable soft spot was in the back, not a big problem since it was under the bed. The white corner under the bench seat shows you the type of rot the camper had. The sub-floor was particle board that had been wet too long.

Step 2: Out With the Old.

So I was able to pull the camper into the garage and open it up. Then I used hydraulic jacks to raise it up on jack stands. Please use proper jack stands and NEVER work under the trailer with only jacks holding it up. Once up on the stands I pulled up the old vinyl roll flooring. Underneath I found a mix of plywood and the original particle board. I had hoped some would be worth saving, but none was. The newer plywood parts were poorly installed so everything needed to go. I used a saber saw to cut up the old floor until I could pull the pieces out. I also used a vibra saw to cut up to the cabinets and into the corners. Some areas I used a disc grinder to clear out rusted nuts and bolts. Once all the rot was gone I wire brushed the metal frame and brush painted it with black Rust-oleum. 80% of the paint made it to the frame, 20% ended up on me.

Step 3: New Floor Framing

At the edges I screwed 4" wide plywood to form "tabs" that the new sub floor could fasten to. Also I planned to insulate the floor with 3" of Styrofoam. I had a big stack of 3" mahogany strips, but any solid wood should work. I screwed a wood strip to both sides of all the cross frame members and in the larger gaps added a single strip supported at the ends. I used construction adhesive behind all this added wood. And all this work was much easier with the camper up on the jack stands. Did bang up my shins stepping over the frame members all the time.

Step 4: Galvanized Under Belly

To protect the Styrofoam from the road a friend helped me cut and bend sheets of galvanized sheet metal. This is the type of metal used for heating ducts and is fairly easy to work with. Do wear gloves, the edges can cut you when you least expect it.

Step 5: Styrofoam Insulation

With all the sheet metal panels in place I cut the Styrofoam on the table saw to fit. The foam is easy to cut, but be careful, the saw blade can grab it away from you, keep your fingers safe! Can you believe it, 3" of empty space and the trailer company never thought to fill it with insulation??

Step 6: New Sub Floor

I used 6mm ( 1/4" ) plywood meant for tile under layment for the new sub floor. I used construction glue everywhere and lots of screws. Be sure to counter sink for the flat head screws so they don't stick up where the new bamboo floor needs to lay flat.

Step 7: New Bamboo Flooring

So starting on the left side of the camper I snapped a chalk line to have a straight line for reference. Then I trimmed the bamboo strips to fit against the cabinets and match the straight chalk line. I used screws to hold the flooring down. I used #2 x 3/4" stainless steel flat head wood screws and pre drilled all the holes on the drill press. The bamboo is very dense and will surely split if not drilled and counter sunk first. So using loads of glue and lots of screws I put the rest of the floor down. I used bar clamps to push the pieces up tight and so far there are no gaps forming.

Step 8: Finished Floor!

So after about 2 weeks I had the new floor down and the mess cleaned up. Our trip out West was great. The insulation kept the floor warm or cool as needed. ( How did it know which to do?? ) Also it was much easier to sweep out all the dust, sand and etc. We are very happy we replaced the old rotten floor.

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    7 Discussions

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    wsievers

    3 months ago

    Nice tutorial. I might be taking on a similar project in the near future. Why did you decide to screw the bamboo floors in place?

    2 replies
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    carl5blumwsievers

    Reply 3 months ago

    Hello W: I was afraid the nails would wiggle loose on the road. I really like screws and only use them where a bolt, washer and nut won't fit. Plus I really like the feel of a well driven screw. Thanks for looking. Carl.

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    Carl Blumwsievers

    Reply 3 months ago

    Hello: Nails wiggle loose and I don't totally trust glue in a moving vehicle. Also the 6mm plywood isn't much to nail to. Plus I really like screws, almost as much as nuts and bolts. Carl.

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    carlos66ba

    3 months ago

    Nice. Would it be better to use marine grade plywood so you do not ever get wet rot in the future? (maybe it is not cost effective)

    1 reply
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    carl5blumcarlos66ba

    Reply 3 months ago

    Hello Carlos: Yes, marine grade plywood would be better. I used the 6mm plywood because we keep our camper in a garage so it should never stay wet again. Also I had the 6mm plywood. I didn't mention that I found half the Bamboo flooring on the side of the road and only needed to buy one bundle to finish? Thanks for reading! Carl.

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    Yonatan24

    3 months ago

    Looks great!

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    Kink Jarfold

    3 months ago on Step 8

    Hi, Carl, I enjoyed taking this fix-it journey with you. I was not at all surprised the makers didn't insulate it. They kept the cost down. Nothing like doing it the right way on your own to know a job is well done. Really nice selection on the bamboo, too.

    KJ

    Nailed It!.jpglaurel-hardy-01.jpg