How to Replace Rotted Wood Flooring in a Travel Trailer

How to Replace Rotted Wood Flooring in a Travel Trailer

How to Replace Rotted Wood Flooring in a Travel Trailer

Wondering about how to replace rotted wood flooring in your RV? Read this article to learn how to save money and do it yourself. These 6 simple steps.

You can save money buying a used travel trailer, but that doesnt mean you wont run into trouble after the deal closes.

Sometimes problems only surface after you get to know your new used RV.

Thats what happened to Doug Klassen with his 1991 Jayco 220 travel trailer.

In Dougs words,

I really looked the trailer over carefully before we bought it.  Really. Id looked at enough beaters with hidden problems to know that Id best be on my toes.   Sadly, I was lulled into a bit of complacency by the otherwise very clean appearance, inside and out, of the Jayco and the fact that everything actually worked.  Not even any mildew stains on the awning!  The price was within our budget so we plunked down our cash and away we went with our new prize.

Unfortunately, the Jayco that Doug went home with had a major problem.

It was only after getting ready for his second trip with the trailer that he noticed a spot on the vinyl flooring.

After peeling back the vinyl to investigate further, he didnt like what he saw: the plywood floor was shot, though there wasnt any evidence of standing water or moisture.

This storage compartment is located under the kitchen dinette seating area:

Heres a closer view:

Doug did research on the RV.net forum  and realized that replacing rotted wood flooring in a travel trailer is a 6 step process:

  1. probe extent of damage and trace out boundary
  2. cut out badly damaged areas
  3. dry out remaining wood framing
  4. apply mold-killing product
  5. saturate it with thinned epoxy resin
  6. if needed, replace or add additional wood framing

After using an awl to probe the extent of the damage. Doug realized it was local to just the storage area under the kitchen dinette.

He removed the rotted wood and vinyl floor covering, and set to work preparing the area for epoxy sealant.

Applying Antifreeze to Kill Mold and Prevent Wood Rot

He let the wood dry for a week before moving on to the next step application of the epoxy resin.

Thinning Epoxy Resin to Seal Wood From Moisture

Epoxy resin is mixed with a hardener to produce a strong, waterproof bond.

The bonding characteristics of epoxy solidify the rotted wood and seal the area against water.

To make the epoxy cover a larger area, youll need to thin it 50% using one of several thinning agents.

CAUTION: Epoxy can produce irritating fumes and should only be mixed and used in a well-ventilated area. You should wear a respirator  and disposable gloves while doing this work.

You can buy specialty resins designed specifically for fixing rotted wood flooring. but you probably dont need it for a small area of a camper. Those resins are usually needed in boat repairs where the wood is continually exposed to extended moisture.

If youre not using Git-Rot. then youll need some standard epoxy resin, hardener, and a thinning agent.

This step might require some new materials that you may not have used before.

Depending on the epoxy and hardener you buy, youll only have a few minutes to an hour to work with it. What youll need to do is mix the epoxy resin and hardener, and stir in the thinning agent.

The three things you can use to thin the epoxy are:

Mix, Thin, and Apply the Epoxy to the Wood Framing

The purpose of the epoxy is to seal the wood from future moisture intrustion. The epoxy also discourages mold growth.

How to Replace Rotted Wood Flooring in a Travel Trailer

Doug thinned the epoxy 50% using xylene. He used a cheap sprayer to apply the thinned mixture to all surfaces of the subfloor, including the floor joists.

You only need about a quart of resin. Doug bought a gallon but that proved to be too much for this job.

Resin is not cheap so only buy what you need.

Doug mentioned to DoItYourselfRV,

If you need a whole gallon you probably need a new trailer.

The resin takes a couple of days to cure. While waiting for the wood to dry and the resin to cure, Doug added new wood to support the sub floor.

Because he had no choice but to cut out the heavily damaged sections, he added a few new cross supports. One problem he ran into was that the floor joists werent made of a standard size of lumber. Thery werent normal 24 framing.

To fix this, he ripped 2x6s down to 2x3s to make the wood dimensions match.

With some simple notching and cut outs, he was able to recreate a stable and structurally sound support for the new subfloor.

After another spray of epoxy on the new wood he let the fresh epoxy cure again.

Insulation was added after the epoxy dried. 

Doug added a new sheet of plywood to the cross members on the interior of the trailer.

More epoxy and another round of curing.

Doug made sure to seal as much exposed wood as he could. Fortunately there was no water damage coming from the roof of the storage compartment.

He thought it was odd that the floor was so badly rotted but the water hadnt come from the ceiling.

His conclusion: the previous owner stored the fresh water hose in the compartment without properly draining or drying it before hand!

Some vinyl pieces with self adhesive were used to cover the plywood sub floor.

Some vinyl tile was added to the storage compartment and gaps caulked.

Once Doug was satisfied that the wood had dried and the epoxy cured, he reinstalled the kitchen dinette. Instead of trying to match the existing vinyl flooring with a new piece, he simply added some reclaimed carpet to the under table area.

Conclusion

Repairing rotted wood flooring in your RV doesnt have to require expert help or a lot of cash. If you discover a small area that needs replacing, you can use the steps in this article to fix the problem yourself. Only simple materials and a few hours of time are needed.

Some of the materials used in this project, including epoxy resin and certain thinning agents, are toxic to humans and animals.

Its important to always use safe working practices, have good ventilation, and wear appropriate personnel protective equipment.

Make sure to wear disposable gloves and a respirator when youre working around xylene or epoxy.

Doug said that the total cost to repair this damaged floor in his RV was under $200!

Thank you to Doug at CorgiFan  for permission to use your photos and processes in this article.


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