Campers that are kept in areas of high humidity or atmospheric salinity are prone to the ingression of moisture. Exposure to high levels of moisture for surprisingly short periods can cause rotting, particularly of the floor if ponding has occurred and been ignored. The particle board used by camper manufacturers will also fail under conditions of high humidity by simply disintegrating, a condition that feels like rot when experienced underfoot. The repair of such damage is essential to keeping your camper serviceable.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Wide pry bar
- Permanent marker pen
- Stud locator
- Electric drill
- Cutting tool
- Tape measure
- Marine grade plywood
- Sheet insulation
- Countersink bit
- Deck screws
- Floor covering
- Carpet threshold bar
Test the floors around your camper to ensure you are aware of all the locations where rotting has occurred. Especially vulnerable places to check include bathroom and kitchen floors and under the freshwater storage tank, water heater and 12-volt water pump.
Remove the existing floor covering. Linoleum and floor tiles are typically impossible to preserve, but carpet can often be lifted at one corner and rolled backward, using a wide pry bar moved from side to side to separate glue that has been softened by the same moisture that caused the rotting.
Mark out the furthest edges of rotten or softened floor, using a permanent marker pen. Check the area carefully and lift out all metal screws and nails; they can damage your cutting tool and shatter to become dangerous projectiles.
Locate underfloor supports, using a stud locator, and use your permanent marker pen to delineate an underfloor box of supports that is outside the rotten area. Draw another line an inch outside the box you already drew; this is your cutting line.
Drill into the floor where no supports are present and measure its thickness, then adjust the cutting tool to that depth. Adjust the blade guard on a reciprocating saw, the blade shroud on a circular saw or the head depth on a jigsaw, then follow your cutting line with the cutting tool. Cut straight lines and square corners so the replacement panel will fit neatly.
Lift away the damaged area. A 1-inch lip of support will have been created around the entire space. Use a tape measure to check the thickness of the original floor so your replacement material will be the same thickness.
Cut a replacement panel of the appropriate size from marine-grade plywood. If necessary, replace the insulation beneath the damaged area, using sheet insulation that can be purchased from a home improvement warehouse. Install the new panel, resting it on the exposed 1-inch edges of the supports.
Drive a screw every six inches around each side, first drilling a pilot hole through the replacement panel a half-inch in from the edges. Countersink the pilot holes.
Lay replacement linoleum or floor tiles according to the manufacturer's instructions, or roll your original carpet back out. If necessary, install a carpet threshold bar between the new material and the floor coverings over the part of the floor you have not disturbed.
Tips and warnings
- Connect your camper to a pressurised city water supply while your hole in the floor is open. Check for leaks and repair any you find to prevent the new floor from rotting.
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