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Ask Dave: My RV’s vinyl floor is loose and puffed up. How can I fix it?

Dear Dave,
The center of my RV’s solid vinyl linoleum floor is loose and puffed up. I’m thinking of using a blade to cut along the center of the puff, along the “grout” line, and injecting glue, then somehow walk it in. But I’m now afraid of imperfections in the feel. Your suggestion? —Clarence, 2014 Winnebago View

Dear Clarence,
Winnebago typically uses a very good grade vinyl flooring, so the loose or puffing situation is most likely caused by something that has happened to the substructure. This photo is what the website shows for the layout of the 24J.

The floor is a sandwich design of a lower lauan panel that is about 1/8” thick, block foam insulation with a perimeter of wood and some cross-framing wood, then another thin sheet of plywood with the vinyl on the top. All these have adhesive applied to the layers and go through a pinch roller machine. Here is a photo of the cutaway they have provided dealers.

What causes an RV’s soft vinyl floor

Two things can cause a soft floor and possibly the loose vinyl situation: moisture and/or heat. If moisture gets between the vinyl and the wood substructure, it will dissolve the adhesive and create an air pocket typically known as delamination. This can happen in the sidewall, roof, and floor. You may not see an area where moisture can penetrate at the spot you are seeing the problem.

However, water can travel a long way from the point it enters and the place where you see an issue. I have seen situations where the water has entered on the roof, traveled down the hollow tubes of the sidewall frame, and come out in a storage compartment. It took several trips to the service center to figure out and fix it. Yours could be coming from the roof, a sidewall window, or the slideout opening and migrating or wicking through the fibers of the plywood substructure.

It could be caused by heat

The second scenario I mentioned is heat, which could be a combination of the moisture getting in and the extreme temperature changes the inside of your rig encounters when it is not being used. A 90-degree outside temperature can create over 100 degrees inside, which makes materials expand and contract. If the vinyl is not secure, it will expand more than the wood substructure.

Another heat-related scenario is the heat generated from the exhaust system, which runs right down the center of your rig. Since your View is on a Mercedes diesel chassis, it has an exhaust chamber where the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is applied. Temperatures there can reach 1000 degrees or higher! Typically this does not cause an issue unless you let the vehicle idle for long periods of time. When you are driving, the air flows underneath the rig and dissipates the heat. When you idle, the heat stays in the general area and transfers up to the floor and can cause this type of damage.

How to fix an RV’s vinyl floor

I would recommend taking a metal straight edge and cutting the vinyl at the fake grout line, as you suggested, and find out what is happening underneath. If it is loose and puffing, as you say, I doubt you will be able to just “snake” some glue underneath and get it to lay down, as the vinyl has most likely stretched and will not match back in line. And since it is a 2014 model, I doubt you will be able to find matching vinyl to purchase.

However, what I have done in this situation is cut out a larger part of the damaged area and then cut a piece of the same vinyl out of the bathroom or under the dinette and used that to cover and then bought a slate-looking vinyl at a home improvement store to cover the bathroom or dinette with a transition strip at the seam.

Whatever you decide, you do need to find out what is under that puff and make sure the substructure is good and dry before going further.


 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Can my RV have soft floors even without a water leak?

Dear Dave,
Can soft spots develop on the floor of my 5th wheel trailer without being caused by water damage? We have a 2017 Primetime Crusader Lite, model 30BH. The soft spots started 2 years after we bought it new, mainly at high traffic areas. No signs of water anywhere in the rig. Had the rig checked for exterior and plumbing leaks but none found. When I removed a floor register, I noticed the actual laminated wooden part of the floor was maybe 5/16″ thick, definitely less than 3/8″. Couldn’t see how far apart the joists were. There’s about 1 1/2″ to 2″ of high-density foam underneath the flooring. Anyway, is it possible to have delamination and/or soft spots without any water damage? Thank you very much! —Tom L.

Read Dave’s answer.


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

Read more from Dave here

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Billinois
5 days ago

Our Winnebago Aspect had the same issue. During the winter of 2018-19 we had an extreme deep freeze here in the Chicago area, at one point it got down -35º and stayed there for a couple days. The vinyl floor in our RV split right down the middle from the vinyl contracting. The underlayment is fine, just the vinyl failed.
These rigs are not made to deal with that severe a temperature drop. Fortunately that was the only damage.

Snoopy
9 days ago

Hi Dave, interesting comment about the exhaust system & DEF area being right in the same area as the floor damage! I really suspect that’s the culprit. Either if its water or heat, going to be a huge repair to do it right. Wondering if there is some kind of heat shield for the exhaust that has failed or non existing!
Snoopy
Had a brain fart! Might consider getting a Laser Infrared Thermometer & checking the area where the damage is after the vehicle has run for a while, perhaps while charging your batteries, if that’s the way you have been charging your batteries!

Last edited 9 days ago by Snoopy

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