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Old 12-05-2016, 03:15 PM   #1
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Best Subfloor Consensus?

I've been reading through the forum to see if there was a consensus on what the best material to use for the subfloor and most of the discussions are several years old. I was wondering how everyone's floors are holding up and if there is a material that seems to be standing the test of time.
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Old 12-05-2016, 03:54 PM   #2
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Is the plan to have a leaky Airstream? If so, you will not use wood at all; a metal floor has been done.

Any wood product will take an occasional leak.

Airstream would likely tell the users that their trailers when properly maintained do not leak. In my view the Airstream frame, floor, and skin design has not changed based on this belief.

Perhaps your question should be how to maintain an Airstream trailer so that there are no leaks.

Perhaps not what you were looking for, but why assume the trailer are leaking?
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Old 12-05-2016, 05:30 PM   #3
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I'd go with marine grade plywood and try to keep the trailer dry. To me the problem with Airstream design is the C channel can collect water from condensation if not leaks and it can seep down through the bolt holes so eventually you lose the structural integrity of the shell to floor connection. If doing a shell off maybe address that problem by sealing the bolt holes and putting in some drains. Or just not worry about it and get a new trailer every 10 to 50 years!
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgschwend View Post
Is the plan to have a leaky Airstream? If so, you will not use wood at all; a metal floor has been done.

Any wood product will take an occasional leak.

Airstream would likely tell the users that their trailers when properly maintained do not leak. In my view the Airstream frame, floor, and skin design has not changed based on this belief.

Perhaps your question should be how to maintain an Airstream trailer so that there are no leaks.

Perhaps not what you were looking for, but why assume the trailer are leaking?
This comment left me more confused than when I started. Are you saying there is a way to have a 100%leak free trailer or that it will take an occasional leak?
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:11 PM   #5
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Plenty of old threads on this subject.
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:15 PM   #6
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If I was doing it again I'd go with a plywood with at least an A side up sealed with penetrating or regular epoxy on all edges and full top sealed as well as bottom in about 6" from edges. Then I'd tape all the edges, especially front and rear curve edges with several layers of heavy duty aluminum foil tape.

I did most of this but used a C plywood and porch paint. Doing pretty well.

Concentrate on fixing rear leak potential with some flashing. I flashed the entire rear curve and bumper areas.
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:23 PM   #7
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Coosa board. period

30-45% lighter than plywood, just as strong, if not stronger (6" wide piece of Bluewater 20 between two saw horses supported a 250lb man bouncing on it, machines like wood using woodworking machines (saws and routers), will not rot, 1.5% absorb water rate, will not promote fungus or mildew growth (no organic material so no black mold).

http://coosacomposites.com

Yes, I used it......and now I don't worry at all about leaks and water. Peace of mind is priceless.

Cheers
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:44 PM   #8
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Someone mentioned marine plywood instead of regular a/c plywood.
The only difference between the two is that there are no voids in marine plywood. They only fill the outer layers voids (knots) in A/C - all layers in marine. The glue is the same and wood is the same. They both will rot at the same rate. Composite seems to rots even faster.
I would use non-wood product as above - more upfront $, but great peace of mind over long haul.
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Old 12-05-2016, 09:13 PM   #9
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If you must cover all the floor, then something that won't rot is a good idea. If you coat the wood with urathane and allow for it to dry, then you won't have problems. If you insist on covering with vinyl then it will get wet and stay wet and rot before you know you have a problem. I put drains in the c-channel and sealed the floor. It gets wet occasionally but it dries out. Right now I am using bare floor painted with floor paint and some throw rugs. Eventually, I will cover it will carpet squares but only where you can see the floor. Getting rid of fiberglass insulation and the plate that goes under the rear of the trailer will help a lot. Even if Airstream used some sort of composite, the frame would still rot because of all the water soaked insulation.

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Old 12-06-2016, 11:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Plenty of old threads on this subject.
Yes, but much how this one is going everyone seems to have conflicting ideas. Some say Marine Grade is overkill and not necessary while others say it's the only way to go. Some say seal everything with epoxy and others say that you should leave the bottom side raw to leave any potential moisture a path to escape. I'm just wondering if anyone who has has had their floor in for a while (maybe some of those from old threads) have had success with a certain material or process.
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Old 12-06-2016, 11:33 AM   #11
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If you must cover all the floor, then something that won't rot is a good idea. If you coat the wood with urathane and allow for it to dry, then you won't have problems. If you insist on covering with vinyl then it will get wet and stay wet and rot before you know you have a problem. I put drains in the c-channel and sealed the floor. It gets wet occasionally but it dries out. Right now I am using bare floor painted with floor paint and some throw rugs. Eventually, I will cover it will carpet squares but only where you can see the floor. Getting rid of fiberglass insulation and the plate that goes under the rear of the trailer will help a lot. Even if Airstream used some sort of composite, the frame would still rot because of all the water soaked insulation.

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When you do the carpet squares check out FLOR. I used it in my kids playroom. Easy install and a huge selection of patterns and colors. www.flor.com
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Old 12-06-2016, 11:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isuzusweet View Post
Coosa board. period

30-45% lighter than plywood, just as strong, if not stronger (6" wide piece of Bluewater 20 between two saw horses supported a 250lb man bouncing on it, machines like wood using woodworking machines (saws and routers), will not rot, 1.5% absorb water rate, will not promote fungus or mildew growth (no organic material so no black mold).

http://coosacomposites.com

Yes, I used it......and now I don't worry at all about leaks and water. Peace of mind is priceless.

Cheers
Tony
Sounds great. The price tag gives me pause though. The site I found said 2 grand before shipping for the 6 sheets that I would need for my model.
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Old 12-06-2016, 01:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Hawk View Post
Someone mentioned marine plywood instead of regular a/c plywood.
The only difference between the two is that there are no voids in marine plywood. They only fill the outer layers voids (knots) in A/C - all layers in marine. The glue is the same and wood is the same. They both will rot at the same rate. Composite seems to rots even faster.
I would use non-wood product as above - more upfront $, but great peace of mind over long haul.
Silver Hawk is correct about the marine grade plywood. That's why I chose standard A/C over the marine grade. Didn't want to double my subfloor cost for no real advantage. I think sealing the plywood edges is an important step because so much of the subfloor perimeter under the C-channel was rotten in my trailer.
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Old 12-06-2016, 06:08 PM   #14
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Marine plywood is not that much better that exterior glue standard plywood. All of it will rot. I put in marine grade plywood that cost $70 a sheet and it was not all that great. With drains and sealing C-Channel protrusions, you can manage water leaks so they don't ruin the floor. A puddle in the floor is the best kind of leak. The ones you can't see kill you.

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Old 12-06-2016, 07:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OklaOverland View Post
Sounds great. The price tag gives me pause though. The site I found said 2 grand before shipping for the 6 sheets that I would need for my model.
If I recall I bought 3/4" 4x8 sheets as this is what the marina had in stock (5/8" thick Coosa is special order) for roughly $275.00 Canadian. A 5/8" 4x8 sheet of marine ply was $180.00. Yes the Coosa is more expensive but........

A) It will show any prospective future buyers that by sparing no expensive to use the very best materials in your restoration you will get it back in resale value as you can prove beyond a doubt that your subfloor is in pristine shape; (because you used Coosa and have the receipts.)

B) You will save a bit in fuel as the flooring is lighter; and lighter still if it hasn't soaked up 25lbs of moisture. An 8x8 section of my motorhomes subfoor was very wet compost under mutiple layers of foam, luan, more foam, more luan, sound deadening material and carpet.

C) You save on NOT having to epoxy anything, seal ends, or spend anymore labour on the subfloor than your cutting of the sheets.

D) What value do you place on peace of mind.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 12-06-2016, 07:42 PM   #16
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Let me try again:
You can have a 100% leak free trailer. I live in the PNW and we have plenty of wet weather. Knock on wood, my trailer does not have any leaks and I plan on keeping it that way.

Yes, a wood floor will handle a leak; the users needs to find and fix it. Other thread talk about verifying a leak free trailer or finding leaks. Two common tests are: 1) a moisture meter testing around the inside wall to floor joints, and 2) pressurized trailer with soapy water and looking for bubbles. I have an ultrasonic generator and a tuned receiver that works pretty good too.

On one of those threads a user said they use the pressure test every year or and that helps them take care of the trailer.

I guess I am convinced that testing and verifying needs to be done. I also believe in covered storage and using a roof coating to seal the roof, all the penetrations, and seams. The roof coating handles a large percentage of possible leak sites.

Just using a trailer will bring water in, also working on plumbing or winterizing will do that same. So the need to handle a wet floor is always there.

I hope this helps.
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Old 12-06-2016, 07:49 PM   #17
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Coosa is great stuff, but isn't necessarily within everyone's budget. For those who use exterior or marine plywood, consider using Cold Penetrating Epoxy Sealant (CPES). Colin Hyde uses it on his restorations, along all edges and in the first few inches towards the interior. It is claimed to breath yet prevents rot by sealing the cell walls of the cellulose.

See http://www.smithandcompany.org/CPES/ and https://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=97636 for more information.

We've had no problems in 4 years since our shell off. That said, I leak test the shell every 2 years.
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Old 12-07-2016, 12:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgschwend View Post
Let me try again:
You can have a 100% leak free trailer. I live in the PNW and we have plenty of wet weather. Knock on wood, my trailer does not have any leaks and I plan on keeping it that way.

Yes, a wood floor will handle a leak; the users needs to find and fix it. Other thread talk about verifying a leak free trailer or finding leaks. Two common tests are: 1) a moisture meter testing around the inside wall to floor joints, and 2) pressurized trailer with soapy water and looking for bubbles. I have an ultrasonic generator and a tuned receiver that works pretty good too.

On one of those threads a user said they use the pressure test every year or and that helps them take care of the trailer.

I guess I am convinced that testing and verifying needs to be done. I also believe in covered storage and using a roof coating to seal the roof, all the penetrations, and seams. The roof coating handles a large percentage of possible leak sites.

Just using a trailer will bring water in, also working on plumbing or winterizing will do that same. So the need to handle a wet floor is always there.

I hope this helps.
Okay I got ya know.
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Old 12-07-2016, 12:45 PM   #19
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Anyone using AdvanTech. It's supposed be be presealed and very cost effective. I've seen snowmobile trailers use it, but I wasn't sure if anyone had long term success with it.
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Old 12-07-2016, 01:11 PM   #20
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Had an advantech floor for 2 years now, gotten plenty wet numerous times with plumbing mishaps, etc and is good to go. I left a piece outside in the weather for over a year was good as new. I wouldn't let it sit in water forever though. It is designed to get wet though, so that is a plus over basic plywood IMO, it's heavier than ply though.
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