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Ask Dave: My RV’s flooring is soft. Can I remove the top boards to replace?

Dear Dave,
I have a soft spot on the floor near the kitchen and entryway. I was told by a reliable repair shop that the floor is a sandwich of thin plywood and Styrofoam and that there is no structure underneath (unlike a porch) where you can remove the top boards and replace what holds those boards up. Is that true? I am of a mind to place 3/8″ plywood over the whole area to cover the soft spot since it seems like there is plenty of solid floor around the edges of the soft spot. I love this trailer—everything works in it and I do not want to go out and buy a new one. Any thoughts on why my RV’s flooring is soft and how I can replace it? —Richard, 2015 248RKS Bullet

Dear Richard,
Not sure who your “reliable repair shop” is, but most manufacturers do have a sandwich design for the floor. It starts with a thin lower luan sheet that is 1/8”, then block foam insulation that is either bead board or solid like a Dow Corning, and then a 3/8” or even 1/2” upper “deck” board. According to the brochure for your rig, Keystone used a product called PlyVeneer, which is made of wood veneer and a kraft board covering.

Also, looking at the expanded view, it shows double-welded aluminum floor joists, block foam insulation, and a third layer floor decking. Here is the list of what the numbers indicate:

Why your RV flooring is “soft”

Typically what happens is that moisture gets between the layers and the foam breaks down or softens. Most travel trailers have wood joists, so yours has a better structure. However, moisture is not your friend. I have not had a chance to research the PlyVeneer material, but if it’s a layered veneer with kraft paper, that just sounds like glorified paper to me even though it says “waterproof.” Kraft paper is the material that the old-time grocery bags were made of. I could be wrong, so I’ve sent a request for more info to both Keystone and PlyVeneer.

Identify the soft area and fix

First, you must find where your RV’s flooring is soft. What I would suggest is to identify the soft area and cut the linoleum at a fake seam, if possible. Then peel it back and see what you have underneath to work with and replace. I have replaced several soft floors that had the block foam deteriorate as well as the chipboard upper deck. We just cut out the soft material to the framework and instead of block foam, used 2x4s. This was in a heavy traffic area so the wood of the 2×4 was a superior substructure. We were not too concerned about the slight loss of insulation value of wood to block foam.

As for cutting the linoleum, even if you don’t have a fake tile-like seam, if you cut a straight line across or diagonally, when you place it back down and glue it in place, you can use a seam tape or trim tape that covers the cut. You should be able to find something that either closely matches or looks like a decorative piece. We had one that we could not match very well, so we used one that had a woodgrain finish that matched the cabinets. We put a strip every four feet so it looked factory.

Let us know how you end up fixing this, and please send photos.


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Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

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Wilf Bussey
18 days ago

I had the same problem with a Keystone trailer. Turned out the thin plywood underneath the foam had actually broken. The initial solution tried by a local dealer was to install 3/4″ plywood underneath, then weld cross members in the floor substructure to provide additional support. This was an expensive repair that fixed the original problem, but there were still problems with the top plywood layer elsewhere in the same area. Keystone, who were funding the initial repair, eventually decided to tow the trailer back to their factory repair facility and replace the whole floor at their expense. Great service by the manufacturer, but, IMO, poor engineering to start. Two thin layers of plywood with a foam core over cross members that are 4′ apart was not an adequate design. Regarding the actual question posed to Dave, I’d suggest first approaching the manufacturer before starting repairs. If you replace the top plywood layer yourself, it will have to be glued in place.

Thomas D
18 days ago

KRAFT is a paper product and when assembled with other sheets is called CARDBOARD.Wouldn’t be surprised to see that in the floor as “insulation “

volnavy007
18 days ago

I would LOVE to have these Q&As in a PDF format so I could easily print out a copy and put it in the travel trailer loose leaf notebook. Since Dave most probably types up the document on his computer first, it would be easy to “print” a PDF and include a clickable link for downloading the file. Your thoughts on this?

Scott
18 days ago
Reply to  volnavy007

there is a program called cute pdf that installs as a “printer” in windows. It will convert a document to a pdf after you hit print and select cute pdf. It is free and works great.

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Jessica Sarvis(@jessica)
18 days ago
Reply to  volnavy007

There’s a button on top of the article with a picture of a printer on it. That will convert the page to a pdf for you to print out. It’s on all of our articles!

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