How to Replace the Floor and Restore the Roof of an RV, Camper, or Trailer
My First RV and It's a Fixer-Upper!
Hello folks, this was my first RV floor repair job. It began with a 2002 Palomino Stampede S-17, a 17' hybrid travel trailer. The previous owner used it to attend dog shows and I believe they brought the animals in the camper. (You can imagine—once the floor is complete, I have my work cut out for me in the cleaning department.)
Here, I document the restoration process and share it with you. I am not sure how right or wrong everything is, but this is a learning experience, so I've included many photos to document the process.
What a Way to Start: A Bent Trailer Tongue Jack
When I first got the camper, I noticed that the tongue jack was bent. I figured, no problem, it has three bolts, so I can just take it off.
Wrong. The jack was bent so badly that it could not be straightened, so I tried with a Sawzall or reciprocating saw, and after three blades without even a decent cut, I gave up and used a grinder and a cut-off blade. Success! Whew!
Next: Floor and Roof Repairs
When I bought the camper, the dealer's story was that it had a roof leak and the floor had warped from the water laying on it, but all the appliances, plumbing, and electrical work. So I offered a ridiculously low price and they agreed.
So there we were with a floor to tear out and replace and a roof to patch up and seal, all to be done by me, a first-time RV owner and less than three months after a heart attack, so this project really helped keep me busy until I got back to work.
First: The Floor
At first glance this project looked pretty simple, but my first cut revealed that this floor was not your everyday floor: Styrofoam sandwiched between two layers of 1/8 luan underlayment covered with linoleum. This, in turn, was adhered to a waterproof membrane that runs under everything.
- To save time and money, I cut the floor out flush with the cabinets with a multi tool and a flush cutting blade. Then I ripped the floor out up to the cabinets and dinette seats and started framing underneath the camper (see photos), attaching 1x3 studs to the steel frame to give the subfloor something to screw into. I will remove the old sub floor framing and installing a 1/2" foam insulation sheet and 1/2" marine grade plywood for the subfloor with a stick on vinyl tile on top of that.
- A buddy and I formulated a plan to fabricate brackets to aid in supporting the door area that was sagging. We also discovered a crack in the frame that we sistered up and welded together with a piece of 3/16" x 4" flat steel. Removing the tire was unbelievably hard and I snapped off one of the studs.
- Once the steel work was complete, I installed a new tongue jack, insulation, and subfloor. Headed to Lowe's for vinyl stick-on tiles and quarter round trim moulding. I had to clean the roof real well with Dicor EPDM cleaner activator and coated all seams with Dicor EPDM rubber roof sealer.
Removal of the Subfloor
Okay, the pictures show the floor with the linoleum removed, with the subfloor removed, and how I left the weatherproof membrane intact.
I cleaned the roof according to the instructions on the Dicor EPDM rubber roofing coating system and applied the EPDM coating (two coats!). The roof looks brand new and is watertight!
The Floor: Start to FinishClick thumbnail to view full-size
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
I have a 2000 Palomino, Model Stampede-15. My whole floor has to be replaced. Do you think I can replace the floors in my RV in the same way as you described in this article?
I don't see why not. They are very similar in construction. Since it is 15', there will be less floor to replace!Helpful 6
I am a new owner of a 2001 Palomino S17 how many layers of the floor were there? Do you know what the walls are made up of?
There was a single flooring panel made of foam sandwiched between two thin pieces of plywood probably close to an inch think if memory serves me right. The walls were metal studs with fiberglass insulation. Fiberglass outer and RV paneling interior.