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How to Replace the Floor and Restore the Roof of an RV, Camper, or Trailer

Charles is an engineer at a psychiatric hospital and a lover of all things adventure. He is glad to be alive and can't wait for tomorrow!

Picking up the travel trailer from dealer: The work has just begun.

Picking up the travel trailer from dealer: The work has just begun.

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.

A grinder, a cut off wheel, and lots of time later, I finally removed it.

A grinder, a cut off wheel, and lots of time later, I finally removed it.

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!

Finally removed tongue jack.

Finally removed tongue jack.

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.

The leak that caused the damage.

The leak that caused the damage.

Leak in the area of the lap joint and possibly the area of the awning-mounting screws.

Leak in the area of the lap joint and possibly the area of the awning-mounting screws.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Looking towards the rear of camper.

Looking towards the rear of camper.

The sink and where the oven and stove top were. Note the old linoleum floor covering.

The sink and where the oven and stove top were. Note the old linoleum floor covering.

Flooring removed rear of camper. Bath is to the right. I am going to leave that floor alone as it seems pretty solid.

Flooring removed rear of camper. Bath is to the right. I am going to leave that floor alone as it seems pretty solid.

Cracked frame and bent entrance door support bracket.

Cracked frame and bent entrance door support bracket.

2002-palomino-rv-floor-repair
2002-palomino-rv-floor-repair
2002-palomino-rv-floor-repair
Removal of old lightweight bracket.

Removal of old lightweight bracket.

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.

Looking towards front of camper: What a mess. I took before pictures so I know where everything goes when finished.

Looking towards front of camper: What a mess. I took before pictures so I know where everything goes when finished.

Living / dining room floor with the linoleum removed.

Living / dining room floor with the linoleum removed.

Fresh water tank area under dinette bench seat.

Fresh water tank area under dinette bench seat.

Front view of subfloor removal in progress.

Front view of subfloor removal in progress.

Rear view of subfloor and cabinet end removed. The old framing members are going, too.

Rear view of subfloor and cabinet end removed. The old framing members are going, too.

The Roof

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!

Floor completed.

Floor completed.

Completed floor.

Completed floor.

Rear of camper complete.

Rear of camper complete.

Rear Floor

Rear Floor

Front seating area complete.

Front seating area complete.

Restoring the Roof

Restoring the Roof

Before and after.

Before and after.

Dicor EPDM rubber roofing coating system.

Dicor EPDM rubber roofing coating system.

Before and after roof treatment.

Before and after roof treatment.

Setting Up at the Campround

Setting Up at the Campround

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

Question: 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?

Answer: I don't see why not. They are very similar in construction. Since it is 15', there will be less floor to replace!

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

Comments

greg thomas on May 27, 2020:

I took out the rotten wood and styrofoam. I welded 4 supports across the bottom of the frame(industrial shelving was strongest and cheapest) to support the 3/4 inch pine plywood. It all leveled out pretty well. It was alot of work, but that floor will never fail again. isnt it amazing that some industry inspecter thought this was a good way to build this camper? really crummy design.Thanks for your help.

Charles Kikas (author) from Moorestown, NJ on February 20, 2020:

I used 3/4 ply. I think that with 1 inch, floor floor would not have been even with the base of the cabinets. For the door issue, I used a solid piece of 2x8 at the door. I had to jack up the folding steps and through bolted them through the 2x8. Then just a carpet transition strip to smooth out the little lip at the door.

greg thomas on February 17, 2020:

I am nearly done removing the foam. I am thinking about removing the wooden supports all together and replacing with 1" plywood. did you consider this? If so what were the pros and cons.

In looking at your pictures, your door sunk a few inches just like mine. how did you compensate for that in the remodel?

Appreciate the help!

greg thomas on August 14, 2019:

How did you attach the plywood to your supports? did you countersink the screws? did you use a special adhesive to the foam board?

how hard was replacing the support boards? Starting this project soon. You are an inspiration!

Greg

Charles Kikas (author) from Moorestown, NJ on April 15, 2019:

It's called an oscillating cutting tool.

greg thomas on April 13, 2019:

I am not sure what tools you used to cut out the floor as close to the wall as you did. Can you attach a picture and specs?

Charles Kikas (author) from Moorestown, NJ on December 25, 2018:

Thank You!

Nancy Finch on December 24, 2018:

Best Blog

Matthew Lesniewsk on June 27, 2018:

i see 2x4 and 2x2 frame on metal frame that needs replace .. can do that ? or not leave it add 2x4 but wood isnt good to hold metal frame outside edge the screwes were loose .. not very firmly good screw to wood frame

Matthew Lesniewsk on June 27, 2018:

hello charles thats really impressive work .. i got same problem right now its whole thing thru floor soaked wet when we bought and hooked with city water hose inside shower were running leak spill all over the floor soaked wet we found out .. question is that whole floor to replace from bottom to top half way how to hold support brace metal frame ius it under there? or can add 2x4 around frame to frame ?

Jamir harris on May 26, 2017:

I have a 2006 cherokkee lite 28Dd it has a rotten floor under the front queen bed in the cargo hold by water tank. What is the best way to replace it cause the be has no screws to come up off floor and the hatch is simply to small to fit unto to????? I need to replace before it gets worse... Help

Kevin on August 07, 2016:

Dan, That sounds exactly like what I need to do to my camper. I am pretty sure the entire floor needs to come out. Jacking up the walls and then pulling the trailer frame with the old floor in front of it would be much easier I think. This seems better than trying to do it in pieces since I need to do the whole floor and not just a couple areas. Do you have any pics of what you did? That would be a huge help. Thanks -Kevin

Dan on June 27, 2016:

I just did a 21 foot palomino. Took out all the walls refrigerator, stove all plumbing fixtures. Lowered the nose as far as it would go. Used two 6 inch lag bolts and 4x4 . Laged 4x4 to side of camper on back corner. Both sides. Took off trim on bottom of camper. I found 8 or 9 bolts that went through the floor into the wall and removed them. 4 on each side . There were smaller screws front and back in removed but not long enough to hit the walls. Then lifted the nose as high as it would go. 2 more 4x4s 1 on each side with lags. As u lift up the nose the floor will separate from the walls I had a few wires I had to cut. Once front 4x4 are in place lower the nose . The shell will stand with the 4x4s and u can pull out the trailer and the bad floor. I used 1/2 inch. plywood with 2x3 studs in the middle and along both sides. 2x6 on front and back. 1 1/2 in blue foam. I put studs 16 on center. Glue and screws everything. 1/2 in plywood on top. I used carriage bolts to hold the floor to frame. Then new linoleum floor. Now u can put the new floor and trailer back under the shell. I had to deflate the tires as the floor is thicker than the original. Once in place raise the nose and remove the front 4x4s lower the nose remove the back 4x4s. I put 12 hardened construction screws through the floor into the wall. Found them at home depot. Take lots of pictures as it will heal when u start putting all the walls and plumbing in. Take lots of measurementstuff of holes before you rip up the old floor . Make sure the floor is square and the same size as the siding has to fit over it. Good luck and happy camping.

Charles Kikas (author) from Moorestown, NJ on June 08, 2016:

Doug, I spent way less than that! If you are handy it should be no problem to do it yourself. Enjoy your project! It will definitely be an accomplishment when you finish!

Doug on June 06, 2016:

WOW! I have the same unit with the same problem. So far the cheapest quote I got for $3k! (Does that sound about right to you?)

I think after watching this I'm going to give it a try. I just have to find a buddy with a big back yard so I can work on it over a few week-ends.

Advice?

Thanks SO much for posting this!!!!

Doug. dd750@hotmail.com

brian miller on April 30, 2016:

my floor I s really bad I had to remove the closet cabinet bath room wall removed I have the camper gutted to the refrig the back of camper the board thatis in the back to one side to the other is rotted an the wall the awning is rotted to

Charles Kikas (author) from Moorestown, NJ on September 13, 2015:

Steve,

There was a tarp type material on the underside. I simply cut it out and left it off. I insulated the underside with 1/2" closed cell foam panels and sealed the seams which is waterproof and probably a better insulator than the styrofoam that was initially used from the manufacturer.

Thanks,

Charlie

steve on September 11, 2015:

was there tarp type material on the underside of the floor facing the road? if so, how did you work with it and/or replace it?

Curt on February 15, 2015:

I just bought the same model and year same problem except the front wall on mine is rotted too,I'm in the process of gutting it right now and plan on stripping the walls to see what I have to replace .

Charles Kikas (author) from Moorestown, NJ on January 10, 2015:

Thanks for the compliment Dave. Good luck with your renovation. These things are truly a labor of love! Happy Camping!

Dave Brockett on January 09, 2015:

I have a 1983 Aljo Aly (Skyline) 15ft TT with a metal underbelly I think I may have to remove. No luck finding help online so far with that project! I really enjoyed how well you documented your repair/renovation!

manny200 on July 08, 2014:

Did your trailer have the 1 step fold out step? If yes, how did you attach it to the bottom. I am in need of replacing the board that attaches the stairs to the bottom of the floor and don't know where or how to tackle that. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. (If you have any pictures, that would make it really helpful)

Jennifer Tedino on June 30, 2014:

Hi Charles. I came across your post while trying to help my husband from losing his mind. Our camper had a severely water damaged floor which he's been ripping out from underneath now hes overwelmed. Can you help us? Jat80@verizon.net

himbee on August 31, 2013:

I have a 2001 palomino 25' Im about to tear the entire floor out and replace, I will also use solid sheet goods for new flooring. I will pust pics as I start

Bob

Charles Kikas (author) from Moorestown, NJ on July 28, 2013:

WoW!!! Beautiful restoration! Bravo!

terrydrew on July 23, 2013:

Here is my Palomino make over i just finished, what a job! Took 2 months

https://vimeo.com/70656960

Noah Franks from Anderson, SC on April 02, 2013:

Nice job with your camper. I hope to never have to do anything close like that with mine, although I could use another coating of the rubber roof stuff that you referenced.

Susan Hines on August 06, 2012:

Hi, enjoyed this post. We are currently in the process of demo of a 1997 23' camper. I can't think of the type right now. Someone had replaced part of the flooring but raised that part about 1/2 inch above the rest of the floor. We tore out the bunks bed to give us more room for our three dogs that go with us. SHould be an interesting project. Husband says he can fix anything I can undo ! We bought some cheap laminate flooring for the inside. On the floor that we just exposed last night, we found a "crop" of black mold! how exciting! But good to know, we'll probably cut that out completely. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Since we bought ours for cheap, we aren't really worried into fixing it up except for our needs. We may remove the stove as well.

Ken King on March 27, 2012:

You did a great job on that camper.I did that same thing to our 01 s-17 common problem. but all in all we loved that camper. now that the kids are bigger i needed something with bunks. so we just traded up to a sprinter 291bhs 33 footer. didn't get much of a trade in. fyi put some refexit under the beds and over the tent ends and you'll have no moisture problems .plus stay darker and cooler.also warmer in the cool nights.thanks again great

write up.

Quesadare2000@yahoo.com on October 03, 2011:

Thank you, we are having that same problem. Did not know what to do, ours is a 2001 same model

Charles Kikas (author) from Moorestown, NJ on July 06, 2011:

I hope this Hub will help. If you have pictures of your project you must post them so I can see what you did. It sounds like a fascinating project. I cant wait to see it complete.

Scott Schroepfer on June 30, 2011:

So Thankful for your post, we just bought the same camper 2002 S-17 same layout and are going through the same thing now, only floor in bathroom needs replacing also. lot of work to replace. Makes you wonder how a floor like that could support all the weight with no support underneath. We also have to take the box off of the frame as it is bent and needs to be straitened, It has pulled loose and sits at an angle on the frame.