How to Replace the Floor in an RV Travel Trailer
Travel trailers and RVs are typically manufactured with flooring made of particle board. This material is made from wood chips and a water-based glue. The two components are pressed together, then quickly dried so the resulting board retains its shape. Particle board is relatively rigid, light-weight and cheap, but it is vulnerable to water damage. Broken down particle board feels soft underfoot, can't support loads safely and exposes underfloor components to accidental damage, so it must be promptly replaced.
Draw an accurate diagram of the RV’s interior, marking all dividing walls, doors, fitted cabinets and permanently installed equipment and appliances. Graph paper is good for this purpose.
Clear the unattached furniture from the RV. Remove the floor coverings throughout the RV. Nonrigid floor coverings such as carpet can often be preserved for reuse by lifting one corner, then carefully peeling it away. Rigid floor coverings -- typically linoleum and tiles in RVs -- must usually be broken off in small pieces using a pry-bar or broad-bladed screwdriver, and will need to be replaced.
Remove all cabinets and interior walls. RV manufacturers typically build interior walls by first stapling batons to the floors and ceilings, then stapling panels to the batons. Reversing the process is relatively simple, but mark each piece of paneling with a letter or number, and draw that piece -- with its letter or number -- on the graph paper plan. Reinstalling the cabinets and walls is then effectively like putting together a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. Use a screwdriver to gently pry panels away from batons, always locating the blade beside a staple, not in the center of an unattached space. Only remove material, first paneling then batons, that is fixed to the floor.
Lift the existing floor by using an electric screwdriver or an electric drill fitted with a driver bit to remove every screw in the RV floor. Lift each panel of flooring as it comes free, take it outside and draw around it onto a new panel; use a circular saw to cut out the new panels and a pilot-hole drill to transfer the locations of all the screw holes.
Work one panel at a time to install the new floor. Use flat-head screws, one size larger than those you removed, and countersink all screw holes.
Replace the batons, then the paneling, referring to your plan to ensure the pieces are put in the proper places in the correct sequence.
Reinstall or replace all the floor coverings, then the free-standing furniture.
Things You Will Need
Electric drill with driver bit (optional)
Pilot drill bit
Floor covering (optional)
Copying the exact location of the old screws avoids accidentally puncturing underfloor pipes or electrical wires. While working in the RV, take care not to bang your head accidentally on higher cabinets and shelving that has not been removed because it was not attached to the floor. If lifting the floor reveals the insulation beneath to be damp or moldy, replace it with a similar material. Using marine-grade plywood for the new floor reduces the risk the job will have to be done again soon. Panels should be the same thickness as the panels that were removed, though, to ensure doors still open and close without obstruction.
Wear adequate protective clothing when working with power tools.