Bathroom Floor Repair

For most floors in a mobile home I think wood laminate flooring makes a lot of sense. It looks good, is reasonably easy to install, and is easy to clean. I wrote How to Install Laminate Flooring to show exactly how it can be done and how it looks in a mobile home.

Unfortunately, today’s laminates won’t stand up to all the water in a bathroom. I checked with a mobile home investor friend who renovates 10-12 mobile homes per year for his current methods. Keep in mind he is renovating older singlewides and many end up as rentals.

He puts down new plywood. Not OSB, not particle board,but exterior plywood. He makes sure the new surface is clean and dry before he puts down self sticking vinyl tiles. Sheet vinyl is nice because there are no seams but cutting and fitting it in place is much more difficult.
These tiles come in 12″ x 12″ squares so they are easy to handle. The small size also makes it easy to cut out openings for the toilet, etc. He likes to use an off-white because light colors make the room seem larger. Dark colors will make the room feel smaller.

When the tiles are down he puts molding around the edges and makes sure to run a bead of caulk along both the bottom & the top of the molding. When the happy splashing of children or grandchildren sloshes water out of the tub the caulk prevents the water from getting to the edges of the tiles and loosening them.

He keeps a few extra tiles on hand in case repair or replacement is needed. If a tile starts to come loose he loosens the remaining adhesive with a heat gun or hair dryer and replaces it.

{ 46 comments… read them below }
Trinnette Washington
I would like to replace the carpet in my mobile homes bathroom and I don’t know where to start and how to start. I like the idea of the plywood and then the self stick tile but I’m afraid that there is wood damage because my water heater busted last year and flooded the bathroom. I used a shop vac but I never pulled up the carpet to check the damage because I’m afraid of what I may find but I don’t want to fall through the floor someday. Any advice would be helpful.
Paul
If you stand on the areas that got wet and bounce up and down a little, does the floor feel solid? If it feels softer than the floor in other parts of the house you have some damage. Once the floor dried out there shouldn’t be any more damage, so if you haven’t fallen through by now I don’t think it’s a problem.
At some point you are going to have to get a razor blade cutter and cut the old carpet away from the wall to see what you have.

Tracey
I am enjoying reading through your blog here.. We live in an older mobile home from 72 I think and It’s in dire need of some tlc.. We have a 2 bedroom and 2 full baths in our home.. I don’t know where to begin I suppose I will begin with. We have a sagging counter top but it seems like the only thing that is keeping it from falling completely down is the dishwasher. The whole underneath the sink where it has been leaking for years I am guessing is there any way to repair that area without having to tear out the whole cabinet and counter top to lift up the sagging counter top so it doesn’t sink anymore for a quick fix. As we can not afford to replace the cabinets at this time.. Thank you I will be asking alot more questions but I will just start with this one first since its the most important at the time.
Paul
Can I assume you have the leaking stopped? Water leaks are the kiss of death for mobile homes.
You would have to look carefully under the counter to see if sliding some plywood under the existing supports and over a failing floor would help. You might also be able to splice in some new supports. The problem is you spend the time and money but get little to show for it.
Do you live in a place where you could keep an eye on CraigsList and perhaps pick up some cheap replacement cabinets. Some places also have a FreeCycle site where things like used cabinets are given away.

Claire
I just recently bought a 1971 Santa Anita Patrician and it has the exact same problem. It looks as if there had been a leak (or flood) in the area at one time and caused the particle board sink base cabinets to sag. I appreciate the suggestions you made to Tracey as I could attempt the same. I have priced out “all wood” sink base and cabinets to replace the damaged area at about $1000 not installed. After reading your reply to Tracey, I guess at the time I repair the kitchen cabinet, I would want to take a look at the floor during the job to see if it is damaged, too.
Thanks for your information.
I do have a question but will post it in the question area to start a new thread.

Crystal Young
My husband and I are going to replace the bathroom floor on a 1972 mobile home. Just wondering on how to do it the right way. We are replacing it because where the old owner had the washer and dryer you can see through the floor. How and where do we start and should we replace the whole bathroom floor or just the area where the washer and dryer go?
Paul
The correct answer depends on a combination of tools, skills, and looks.
I always thought it was quicker and easier to put new 3/4″ plywood down over the old floor. If there were large holes I would add plywood strips to the tops of the joists so the new floor was properly supported. This approach means there is a 3/4″ “step” at the bathroom door. I didn’t think this was a problem.
If you have a saw that can be set to a specific depth it is not really difficult to cut through just the floor and not into the joists. If you do this all the way around the room you can then use crowbars, etc. to tear up the old floor and smooth the joist surfaces. This will keep the floor level at the doorway. Although if you have carpet in the hallway and put vinyl on the bathroom floor you sort of have a “step” too. It just goes the other way
In either case the important thing is to make sure all the edges of the wood you put down are supported. That means you need to add wood between the joists. I think you will need to do more of this if you have ripped out the old floor.
You won’t be able to cover the whole floor with a single piece of plywood. Try hard to make the replacement pieces as large as possible. Make Certain the area around the toilet is as large as possible. Toilets always leak at some point and if the floor is not a solid piece the water gets into the cracks and causes problems.
My guess would be that in a home this old, where the previous owner neglected it to the point of holes in the floor, you should plan to replace the whole floor. You will be able to tell for sure when you rip up the old carpet/vinyl and can see how damaged the subfloor really is. It would not be surprising to see previous floor repairs around the toilet done with little unsupported boards.

Steve Richardson
Hi,
If you install 3/4″ flooring over the existing floor, can the toilet soil pipe be raised 3/4″ as well? Or would you just double the wax ring?
Paul
Hi Steve,
In my experience the only thing holding the pipe in place was the connection to the toilet. So, unlike in a site built house, it was easy to lift the pipe up to mate with the toilet. The 3/4″ was not a problem.
Paul

Donna D
We have been having a real bad problem with my daughter’s bathroom floor and carpet getting soak and wet in our 1995 mobile home. It will dry out occasionally, but then does it again, and we don’t know why it does it. My a/c bills have gotten really high, and I wonder if it has anything to do with it. The wet floor part runs along the front of her bathroom sink and around the corner into the hallway by the a/c. I use a shop vac to get it sucked up, but it gets bad again.
Paul
If you have the kind of A/C I think you do there is a pan inside the unit that collects condensation that drips from the cooling coils. It is supposed to empty through a tube that drains outside the home. I sounds like this is not happening. You need to get someone to check that and make sure it is draining properly.

Donna D
I checked the a/c and on the floor inside where the furnace and a/c is, there looks like water is bubbling up from underneath the trailer floor. I have no idea what could be causing this floor to get soaked like that.
Paul
Check to make sure the A/C condensate is draining properly.

Woodsy
I am doing a full gut renovation to my 1995 16×80 Peachtree Destiny mh and have run into an issue of concern with the particle board floor sagging under the bathroom/bedroom wall. Apparently that wall was not set on a joist and the particle board is sagging about an inch under the weight of the wall which I’ve probably made worse by replacing the old thin cheap wall boards with sturdier (heavier) mold resistant 1/2″ drywall.
My intention is to put down backer board and tile in the bathroom so I’m already looking at having a 3/4″ step up into the bathroom.
Someone please tell me I don’t have to tear down the wall and rip out the old particle board and replace it. The wall won’t fall through the floor, will it?
Paul
What’s to stop it from falling through? You are saying it has already proven it isn’t supported properly and has started sagging. You are also saying you added a lot of weight. Sounds to me like it is time to get some support under it.
That said I’m not sure you would need to tear out the wall. Can you cut away the particle board on both sides of the wall back to the nearest joist, get some friends to slip a long 2 x 4 under the wall from both side and lift, while you slide a piece of plywood in place. I would be trying this with narrow (12″ ?) pieces of plywood so that only a small section of wall was completely unsupported at any one time. Then repeat as many times as it takes until you feel the support is strong enough.
Woodsy
Paul, thanks for your reply.
I’d really like to lay 3/4″ plywood (Advantech in the bathroom) over the existing flooring throughout. The 16′ wall in question has already been rebuilt once from 2×3″ to 2×4″ studs to accommodate 2 pocket doors, and aside from the drywall being up, the wall is not finished. So removing the wall to lay the flooring isn’t as big a deal as I initially implied. That was just panic on my part.
My question then would be, would 3/4″ plywood be enough to support the wall? (I don’t see why not, seeing as how the particle board has supported it for the past 16 years, until now) The joists are 24″ apart and the wall falls smack in between two joists. I really would rather not have to mess with ripping out any of the particle board if I can avoid it.
What an incredible resource your site is for mh owners and rehab’ers.
Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge.
Paul
I think that should be fine. I still remember the first kitchen we did with 3/4″ ply over the old, Bondo in the seams and then sheet vinyl on top of that. There was no give whatsoever in that floor.

bran
Thank the Gods I found this site… i am new at all of this. recently buying a older mobile home because i wanted my own home very much and i couldn’t afford a regular home. I thought i was smart checking out certain obvious things but after moving in i found some serious damage to the trailor. having found you, i don’t feel as scared as i thought i would be and i would like to try to do some of the work myself .
a laminate floor to start. if i need a repair man i will know enough to be albe to tell if i am getting screwed. i am a woman and i live alone.
thanks for being there…bran
Paul
Glad you find it useful. I have a small laminate flooring website too. You might find it helpful. Good luck with your adventure.

Ashley McLain
hello we have a double wide mobile home and we had a water heater leak and the floor around the shower in the master bathroom is sagging. we have replaced the water heater and have removed the carpet in the bathroom and the floor is sagging right in front of the shower and along the wall. my question is should we just put a piece of plywood over it or replace the wood that is sagging? do i need to replace the piece under the shower or just right up to the shower? please help.
Paul
From your description my guess would be the floor under the shower is damaged too. The problem with replacing the floor right up to the shower is you leave a crack/gap in the flooring right where it is most likely to have water spilled on it. I generally thought it was quicker and easier to cover the old floor than to tear out the old. There are several discussions up thread about the pros-cons of either approach. The “right” answer comes down to a matter of tools,skills, and whether a change in floor level is a problem for you.

Susan
I bought a 76 Detroiter last August, only to discover 3-1′ size holes underneath the carpet and padding. I try not to walk on these spots. The floor underneath is particle board and getting soft. I am disabled and a senior on a fixed income. I don’t qualify for help from weatherization, cause I have a small mortgage on this place. Are there any resources out there that can help a senior out with this flooring? I know how to do flooring but the physical problems have increased. The trailer also sits low and I’m sure moisture has contributed to the problem. Any recommendations for my problem? Thanks, Susan
Paul
Is the floor wet/damp where these holes are? By “getting soft” do you mean they are a problem that seems to be getting worse?
Many of these older homes used galvanized steel water lines. They corrode over time and also lime up. If your floor is actually damp my worry would be that the water line has developed some pin-hole leaks that are spraying up against the floor. Repair will probably require replacing the entire water line(s) because the twisting/bending required to splice in a patch is almost certain to cause leaks somewhere else. Not repairing a leak will soon destroy the floor, and the insulation under it.
If the floor is dry and the problems seem to be the result of a past issue that has been taken care of, could you slide a piece of sheet metal under the carpet and over the holes? That might be enough to spread the weight of people walking on them to prevent more damage.
Susan
Not a water problem thankfully. I think prior owner had a dog who wet in this place. Its sat for months empty and all is dried out, but the particle board is just crumbling. I was told prior owner never took care of the place at all.
The sheet metal would be a quick temp. fix to the problem. Thankyou.

Rick
I have got a real mess on my hands. The bathroom floor, and sub floor, are literally rotted out from water damage. I have the tub ripped out and am wanting to install a shower insert. The sink seems to be permently attached to the vanity and I am going to have to lower the plumbing for the drains to below sub floor level.
So far this project is becoming a real nightmare. ANY help or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.
Paul
All it takes is time and money 🙂
You might see if you can find a manufactured home supply company. They should have a shower insert made for a mobile home that doesn’t require you to plumb below the floor. Compare the costs/quality and how much you value your time to see which way to go,.

Curtis Bufford
I have a 2008 18 foot wide mobile home. Mobile home was purchased new. The floors are sagging between the floor joist span. It looks like the floor joist are 24 inches apart. The flooring material is Engineered OSB flooring. Not sure of the thickness. Sag between joists is at least 1 inch. Floor will probably have to be replaced. What would be the best method to replace the floors? what type of plywood would be best to replace the existing wood? What wood thickness would you recommend? Any information would be helpful.
Paul
Something about that doesn’t sound quite right. The manufacturers have engineers on staff to make sure they meet, but do not exceed, the HUD standards. Your floor should be holding up unless something is going on. Have you had someone get under the home and inspect inside the belly (plenum) looking for leaks?
I was always partial to 3/4″ exterior grade plywood laid on top of the old floor with furring strips in places where the old floor was totally gone. There are many discussions of the pros/cons of this approach vs removing the old first, upthread. It comes down to a combination of skills, tools, and aesthetics.

Faith
Want to replace the carpet in the bathroom in our Champion modular home. The garden tub sides and steps have the same carpet as on the floor. Had planned to put vinyl tile or linoleum on the floor – not sure what to replace the tub sides and steps with – same type or linoleum? One the sides is a removal panel to gain access to the pipes. Not sure how I would clean up the edges while still allowing the panel to be removed to access pipes.
Paul
I need some reader suggestions here; it’s not something I ever dealt with.

lisa
Hi there. Single woman here trying to do some home repair on her own. I have a hole in the corner that goes under my garden tub. Going to take your advice and replace the ugly pink carpet with the laminate flooring but needing to repair the floor first. Also the toilet is sagging on one side. So thinking around that as well the floor will need replaced. Do I have to replace the whole floor or can I get away with just the 2 parts? And how will I replace under these without taking the toilet off and the bathtub out?
Paul
The first thing you need to do is fix the water leaks that caused these two problems. The hole by the tub could result from people not being careful about making sure shower/bath water doesn’t get out onto the floor. Toilets should not sag! There is a leak in the wax ring, condensation has been dripping down on the floor or something has gotten it wet.
The problem with replacing small pieces of flooring is you can’t support their edges properly. You want to use as few pieces as possible. You are going to need to pull the toilet to repair that area properly. It’s not that hard and mobile home toilets are usually not heavy, so weight won’t be a problem. You will have to decide if you are going to put new plywood over the old floor or cut out the old. If you cut out the old make certain your replacement wood is supported by the joists at the edges. If you go over the old, but still solid floor, that is not so critical.
If you are confident the hole by the tub is the result of water splashing out there you may be able to get by with sliding a piece of sheet metal over the hole and under the tub. Otherwise the tub will have to come out too. That gets be be a much bigger job.
Good luck with the project.

nancy
I have a 67 single wide mobile home named Moby..with the ancient original propane furnace in the hall wall. I’d like to replace that since the propane costs are so high here on the island. can i put a different kind of furnace in it’s place? would electric be cheaper? or should i close off the whole thing and look for a different heat source?
Paul
I think getting rid of the old furnace would be a good idea just from the standpoint of safety and energy efficiency. I can’t offer much help on calculating the best replacement choice because I have no idea of the price of propane, electricity, etc. in your area.

Terri
I have a stool that is leaning and think the floor is probably going to fall through under it as water ran for a while on the floor. How can I be sure that is the problem?
Paul
Pulling a toilet really isn’t as big a deal as you might think. Just make sure you have a replacement wax ring before you start. If the water supply line to the toilet is old and stiff/brittle you might also want to have a replacement for it too. Then pull the toilet and see what you have. If the toilet is actually leaning the floor will feel soft too, so there shouldn’t a lot of doubt about the problem.

Lori
I live in an old trailer…like from the 60′s …I have replaced most of the floors.. and now my bathroom floor is getting soft in front of the toilet/tub….I was planning on putting new sub floor on top of old but was wondering if toilet would still fit there since it would be higher up….that might be a stupid question…I don’t know also the boards closer to my tub isn’t sagging will I need to pull my tub out as well….
Any help here would be great since I don’t know what I’m doing.
Thanks and God Bless.
Paul
Hi Lori,
Thanks for commenting.
This is one of the times the mobile home plumbing is easier to work with than if you were in a site built home. In a site built home the drains under your toilet would be embedded in dirt or concrete. When I installed new flooring like this I was always able to lift the drain connection up the extra 3/4″ without any problem. If that doesn’t work for you, a mobile home supply store will have an extender to give you the height you need.
I wouldn’t touch the tub myself. Do make sure you fix whatever is leaking around the toilet.
I hope the project goes well.
Paul

Steve
I have to fix the wax ring on my toilet. does this just take a standard sized Wax ring
Paul
Yes

Steve
How is the drain connection fastened to the mobile home floor? if you can raise it how difficult is that?
Paul
In my experience, there will always be a flange placed over the pipe to hold it in place. The wax ring would down on top of that.
Paul

Katrina
I have a single wide mobile home 1995, under the garden tub in the master bathroom raccoons have removed the insulation and a section of the wood is missing allowing the raccoons to come up through the floor. I have the side panels on the garden tub so for the moment they are not trying to come into the house, however I want to stop that from ever happening. Can I place a piece of plywood down with a piece of sheet metal to insure they can not come in?
Paul
If by “down” you mean on the floor inside the home, I don’t think that will solve the problem. Someone needs to get under the home & solve the problem from the bottom. It may be that skirting could also help.
I never had to deal with raccoons, but the stories I hear are amazing.
Good luck,
Paul

Marjorie
I have a 2001 patriot Home, I put in laminate flooring 4 yrs. ago in all bed rooms. There’s a small bath between 2 small bedrooms. In each bedroom walls directly behind the bath tub have rotting wood. I think water from the bathroom is seeping on to the floors in the bedrooms. The 2 bedrooms and bathroom all have outside walls, and that’s where I see rotting. I don’t know what to do about this problem. In one bedroom I took up one laminate board, the plywood was dry but there was some rotting next to the outside wall. In the other bedroom a small section of the rot has worked it way to one laminate board and rotted it too. One neighbor told me it could be termites, but I think it from bathroom water. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Paul
Hi Marjorie,
With mobile homes the most important thing you can do is find and stop the water leaks. Easier said than done of course.
In the situation you describe I don’t see how you can avoid pulling the tub to see what is actually going on. If your budget absolutely can’t handle that, you can try caulking around the edges of the tub and making sure (as much as possible) the facuets don’t drip, etc. In the likely event caulk won’t solve the problem you will have more damage from the delay.
It might be worth having someone get under the home and see what they can find. Depending on what is going on, they might be able to make the repair from the bottom.
Finding the exact problem can be tricky because water will run along pipe until the pipe touches someplace. It will run along the floor until it comes a gap where subfloor panels come together and leak through there. So the actual leak can be several feet from where you think it is.
Good luck with it.
Paul