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Old 04-13-2013, 11:59 AM   #1
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Replacing Subfloor

We are in the middle of a full restoration of our 1978 Sovereign. It is our first time doing anything like this. We are new to forums and airstreams. Can the subfloor be replaced with 5/8" PVC boards? Would it be strong enough?
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:11 PM   #2
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Do you have specs for this stuff?


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Old 04-13-2013, 12:17 PM   #3
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It is cellular PVC board. It 5/8" thick. It comes in 18 ft pieces anywhere from 3/12" wide to 11 1/4" wide. It is used for exterior millwork on houses. We read an article with someone using Trex boards for an Airstream subfloor and this is similar.
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:22 PM   #4
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Every product of this sort should have detailed specs on the manufacturer website. It may be difficult to find, but it should be there. If you can't find it, call the manufacturer and ask whether it can be used for a subfloor. Something used for walls is probably not strong enough for subfloor or would be too thick for using as a subfloor. Plywood, treated to prevent water damage, is probably the best solution and relatively easy to find. Big box stores may not carry it but can probably special order it. Go to the contractor's desk and ask for a discount.

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Old 04-13-2013, 12:34 PM   #5
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I've used this stuff to make shower grates and other items. I think it is a little too flexible to handle the spans between your frame members. If you use this, I would keep spans to 16", and I would rabbet & spline or tongue & groove adjoining boards to tie them together, otherwise the floor will be really bouncy.
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Old 04-13-2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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I think I agree with you all! It probably is not strong enough. We will go with plywood, the safest route. Thanks for all the feedback!
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Old 04-13-2013, 01:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene View Post
Every product of this sort should have detailed specs on the manufacturer website. It may be difficult to find, but it should be there. If you can't find it, call the manufacturer and ask whether it can be used for a subfloor. Something used for walls is probably not strong enough for subfloor or would be too thick for using as a subfloor. Plywood, treated to prevent water damage, is probably the best solution and relatively easy to find. Big box stores may not carry it but can probably special order it. Go to the contractor's desk and ask for a discount.

Gene
What type plywood? Here in the south, we seem to only have pine plywood, which is heavier than fur. Should we get pressure treated plywood or plywood and them treat it with a sealer? I am just worried about getting something too heavy for 31' trailer.
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Old 04-13-2013, 01:41 PM   #8
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Trested wood is heavier than untreated, but I doubt the difference is significant. Specs should show weight of plywood. You can get pressure treated plywood or marine plywood. I don't know if marine plywood is pressure treated or sealed on the outside. You could seal it yourself, but it would be easier to buy already treated plywood. You'd have to seal each side, maybe more than once, and the edges especially. The labor is a time eater and messy.

People have used all sorts of sealers on subfloors. I used spar urethane on the top of the OEM subfloor when I replaced the flooring, but if I were replacing the subfloor, I'd look for something else or buy treated wood. One option is epoxy paint, but there are other sealants also.

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Old 04-13-2013, 01:49 PM   #9
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Good to know! Thanks for all the help! If I can figure out how to do pics on here, I will post some when we finish.
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Old 04-13-2013, 02:48 PM   #10
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Be careful with treated plywood. They will corrode normal fasteners that are not made to be used in contact with treated wood. Same goes for the frame and anything aluminum if you put treated plywood in direct contact with it (like the c-channel).

We used a good quality BCX plywood (exterior grade), and sealed the underside and ends with a couple of coats of oil based primer before laying the floor in the trailer. We also painted top with the same primer after we installed it.

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Old 04-13-2013, 03:10 PM   #11
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Chris is right. If you use stainless steel or some other fasteners, they cannot touch the aluminum or they may corrode it. Again, you have to check everything because of possible corrosion with differing metals. All of this gets more and more complicated as we learn more.

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Old 04-13-2013, 05:30 PM   #12
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Yes, it does get more and more complicated! Good to know about treated wood! I am still not sure what to put down. We will keep thinking. Almost everything is out. We had new tires put on and axle inspected. It looks good. More inspections to come. One baby step at a time. Here are some pics.
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Old 04-16-2013, 10:09 PM   #13
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Why are you replacing those floors? I don't see any significant damage, other htan some water stains. Are they rotting in ways or places not obvious in the photos? THey may not need replaced.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:43 AM   #14
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The biggest area for concern is the rear floor area which is the main structural attachment area for the shell. Small areas can be patched or treated with epoxy/fiberglass resin. Bleach and then some good deck and floor paint will solve smell and stain issues with the old floor.

Perry
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:06 AM   #15
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I do not think that there is a "magic" floor material for airstreams.
Exterior plywood will work fine. Treated plywood is very corrosive to both steel and aluminum. Marine plywood offers no advantages over exterior plywood for this application. One just has to stay up with the leaks and keep the floor dry. Even if you put in a floor that is unaffected by water the frame will still rust from the leaks. I think the floor provides horizontal racking strength for the trailer frame so I would not use strips or planking to replace the plywood.
Looking at your pictures I would just patch any weak spots in that floor and go forward. Most of it looks sound to me.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamespio View Post
Why are you replacing those floors? I don't see any significant damage, other htan some water stains. Are they rotting in ways or places not obvious in the photos? THey may not need replaced.
I will take and post more pictures when I can of the floor rot that is in several places. There is even holes. The floor is also very uneven. It sinks in some places and bulges in others. That is hard to show in a picture. We also maybe replacing it out of ignorance. I fully admit that. We also would like to check the frame to make sure it is in good, so thought we would need to pull up floor. We also would like to reinsulate. I really appreciate everyone thoughts, advice, and opinions. It is very helpful!.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:12 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
The biggest area for concern is the rear floor area which is the main structural attachment area for the shell. Small areas can be patched or treated with epoxy/fiberglass resin. Bleach and then some good deck and floor paint will solve smell and stain issues with the old floor.

Perry
Good Advice! Thank you!
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:17 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
I do not think that there is a "magic" floor material for airstreams.
Exterior plywood will work fine. Treated plywood is very corrosive to both steel and aluminum. Marine plywood offers no advantages over exterior plywood for this application. One just has to stay up with the leaks and keep the floor dry. Even if you put in a floor that is unaffected by water the frame will still rust from the leaks. I think the floor provides horizontal racking strength for the trailer frame so I would not use strips or planking to replace the plywood.
Looking at your pictures I would just patch any weak spots in that floor and go forward. Most of it looks sound to me.
You give me excellent advice. We were in the process of looking into Nyloboard after reading an extensive thread here on the forums. I was beginning to wonder if we were chasing rainbows and there is no "perfect" subfloor. My husband owns/manages a building supply company and plywood would definitely be the cheapest route for us to go. Thank you so much for taking a look and your advice.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:56 AM   #19
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Here are some more detailed pictures of the floor where it is damaged and where it slopes. Maybe these are better.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:58 AM   #20
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We went with exterior BCX due to cost. Marine grade is EXPENSIVE! Even though most of our floor was "sound" and just the back and couple places in front rotted, we replaced it all. It was amazing how solid the new floor felt as compared to the old. I recommend replacing. It gives me peace of mind, too.

Kay
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