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Old 06-08-2014, 08:32 AM   #1
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Vinyl Floor Bulges

I got my Airstream out of storage to take our first trip and noticed the vinyl floor is bulging about a foot in front of the kitchen drawers and stove. There is also bulging under the dinette. There is no moisture indicated under the bulges when I use my moisture meter probes so I assume this is due the the 10 degree F temperatures we experienced this winter and then the spring warm up causing the vinyl to contract and expand. The vinyl extends below the cabinetry and dinette seats and can't float during the contraction/expansion.

Am I looking at replacing the vinyl as a long term fix or all you Classic owners just putting up with the problem. Will this hurt resale value?

Kelvin
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:38 AM   #2
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Kelvin, if you were looking at a used Airstream, would you be more inclined to purchase one with new vinyl flooring, or one that had the original flooring bunched up in the middle of the floor?
Try picking up on the cabinetry nearest the bulge, and see if you can coax the bulge back under the cabinet.
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Old 07-15-2014, 09:24 AM   #3
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I'm not able to pick up the dinette or the cabinetry (kitchen cabinet with stove/cooktop). I've removed the two screws holding the dinette frame onto the floor. The bulges seemed to have flattened out somewhat.

If the floor shrinks under cold weather then expands under warm weather then will these bulges get worse over time? I'm almost tempted to run a sharp blade along the kitchen cabinet to lift the vinyl and apply some spots of adhesive. I'm afraid it would probably start curling up as it does around the perimeters under the dinette.

Kelvin
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Old 07-15-2014, 09:51 AM   #4
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I think adhesive would make things worse, the vinyl expands more than the plywood subfloor. Our 2007 Airstream sat on the dealers lot two years in Minnesota (-20 to -30 F)
but I never noticed this problem. Is it common or is Kelvin's Airstream unusual?
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Old 07-15-2014, 10:10 AM   #5
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After this last cold winter, I only noticed a very small bulge alongside the bath sink vanity. Maybe 3" long and 1" wide. First time I ever saw one.
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Old 07-15-2014, 10:12 AM   #6
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After replacing the incorrect linoleum flooring on the production line with the ordered International Serenity material on 10 January 2014, we have no bulges yet. But after leaving the negative temperatures at the factory in late January 2014, it has been parked in the Phoenix, AZ area in a covered storage area with no sides. I have been gone since the end of May and will check the trailer out on my return next Tuesday.

I left three five gallon open buckets filled with water inside the trailer to help keep some humidity in the trailer as it has been over 105 degrees several times during the last month. I will report back if there are any floor issues in addition to the cabinet issues that have already started.

I have seen delimitation of the triangular overhead storage cabinet bottom and warping of that cabinets solid wood side walls. The bedroom pocket door frame is detached from the wall like the other side pocket door frame did in transit from the factory. The wood floor edging behind the toilet is now detached as well.

From what I saw during our trailer construction is that the flooring was stapled to the plywood along the outside perimeter. The largest open space is in front of the sofa to the dinette and under the dinette to the "hallway" space below the microwave. The piece goes in full length and is notched where necessary to lay flat. Then the interior cabinets and walls are fitted on top which immobilizes some areas.

And we paid how much for these trailers???????

Remember, the flooring was supplied by the lowest bidder. Ever wonder if Neil Armstrong, while standing on the moon, thought about the fact that the LEM was built by the lowest bidder??

Hopefully there are no other issues.
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:08 AM   #7
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I wonder if Thor Industries has these floor issues on their motorhomes and other trailer products. You'd think the floor material that is chosen would not be subject to expansion and contraction. I've researched some vinyl plank flooring and most state the material has to be acclimatized 48 hours at the site first before installing and the flooring has to be installed in a climate controlled environment unlike an RV. Right now my floor isn't bad enough to pull up and replace with a plank locking flooring.

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Old 07-15-2014, 11:21 AM   #8
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Kelvin, you have diagnosed the problem correctly. It seems when temps go below 0˚, the chances of this happening increase.

Airstream does not know how to install flooring. They put down the cheapest vinyl sheeting and then put the cabinets on top of it. It shrinks in the winter, probably pulling some from under the cabinets, and then when it gets hot, it expands. Over the summer, it gets more flexible, probably some, but not all, slides back underneath, but a bump is left.

Ours started doing it in the bathroom in front of the sink cabinet. The trailer was still under warranty, so they cut a thin strip out at the cabinet and nailed some quarter round against the cabinet. The floor could expand and contract under the quarter round and the problem was solved there. A year or two later, a hump appeared in front of the stove. A small rug covered it up, but later a long hump appeared in the living room and under the dinette. There was no way to solve that and eventually the hump becomes permanent.

We bought some flooring online (half the price local flooring stores wanted) and installed it. It looks far better and no humps. You have to use some trim like quarter round in places, in others the flooring will go under cabinet doors. Our trailer has a rounded cabinet for the sink, so I glued some flexible floor molding that is often used in commercial flooring installations. The flooring I used was Karndeen (I think that's how it is spelled) and it floats. It has a rubber backing to keep it in place, but the panels can separate. Just pick up one side, and move it tight. You can check underneath for leaks. The spaces between panels are pretty hard to notice unless you installed the floor and stare at it. No one but me notices. Barb gives me reassurances it doesn't matter and I've learned not to stare at it.

Airstream does not glue down the vinyl. Unless you use exterior glue that works from subzero to 100+, the glue would eventually fail anyway. I pulled up the vinyl (except in the bath where the problem was solved), sealed the subfloor with exterior spar urethane wherever I could and put down new flooring. I pulled out as much as I could under cabinets and just sealed the subfloor. I also found water spots on the subfloor coming from the lower awning bracket and took that off and sealed it underneath and all around it. The awning brackets are installed just where there's a seam making it difficult to seal it and water runs down from the awning assembly side right onto the brackets. Great design. I keep thinking about checking under the bedroom rug, but have avoided that so far.

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Old 07-15-2014, 11:33 AM   #9
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Our trailer was outside at the factory when the temperatures hit -15 degrees over night. Fortunately, the flooring was not installed. Once the flooring was installed, the unit was on the final assembly line and was basically completed (missing the sofa arm rests, the television bracket and window shades) and was put in the outside penalty box until the parts came in (winter storm interruption of just in time inventory) and then it was towed to Arizona and arrived as the great white whale with all the road salt all over it.

So in my absence, I may find that the floor has convoluted into the rolling hills of South Dakota....
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Old 07-15-2014, 05:41 PM   #10
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switz:

"So in my absence, I may find that the floor has convoluted into the rolling hills of South Dakota...."

I'm wondering if this is a problem for Airstreams subjected to very high summer temperatures. Our Airstreams have seen -30 F but never the other extreme, and we have not seen the expansion and subsequent buckling described.

I think Gene hit the mark with the flooring being installed before cabinets and partitions, which hold it tightly. There is no room for movement from extreme temperature variations. Vinyl expands much more than wood, extreme cold pulls it out from under the cabinets and cannot return with thermal expansion. So it buckles.

The cure? Who knows but I would imagine the floor must "float" the way residential flooring is often installed, with quarter round and/or baseboard to hide the gap. I see that Airstream uses a vinyl strip screwed down around the perimeter where here are no cabinets.

I wouldn't get too aggressive with cutting next to cabinets. You will create an entrance for spilled or tracked-in water and the subfloor under the vinyl can be difficult to dry out. And if the vinyl shrinks beyond your new trim edging, you will have another problem.

Yes we paid plenty for our Airstreams but I would probably have been priced out of mine if it had all the high-end materials and equipment we deserve. We have upgraded some things on our Airstream but there is also economy in wearing out the original equipment first.
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Old 07-15-2014, 06:38 PM   #11
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My vinyl flooring is buckling by the wardrobe in the bedroom and by the bathroom wall. I thought maybe it was due to movement/shifting of walls and cabinets while going down the road-


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Old 07-15-2014, 06:55 PM   #12
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Bulging Marmoleum?

Has anyone had the same issues with Marmoleum? Especially if the trailer was gutted and the cabinetry set directly on top of the Marmoleum.

We have had similar problems with products such as Allure where the temperature fluctuations have caused the flooring to contract leaving gaps in the seams.

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Old 07-16-2014, 08:40 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Roadrunner View Post
Has anyone had the same issues with Marmoleum? Especially if the trailer was gutted and the cabinetry set directly on top of the Marmoleum.

We have had similar problems with products such as Allure where the temperature fluctuations have caused the flooring to contract leaving gaps in the seams.

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You won't have this problem with Marmoleum if properly installed. It must be glued down per the manufacturers specifications. If properly installed it is a very stable and durable product.

As a side note to the problems discussed above with the factory vinyl floor. As time goes on expect the flooring to start shrinking and pulling away from the walls of the trailer. It's not uncommon to see a 2-3" gap between the edge of the vinyl and the perimeter of the trailer.
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Old 07-16-2014, 08:56 AM   #14
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So, I wonder what the factory solution is to "fix" a rolling landscape piece of linoleum in a unit under warranty?

I would imagine that they do not remove the interior cabinets and walls to lay down a new piece over the entire bare wood like the day it was built.

Or is this part of the expected wear not covered by warranty?

I just exchanged emails with another owner who is in the process of replacing their flooring with Marmoleum. $$$$

This is starting to make a boat seem a good investment.......
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