Replacing Mobile Home Floors

The following directions were written for a mobile home bathroom floor replacement project. Bathroom floors are the most common floor problem in mobile homes. However, the same process works just as well for floors in any room of the mobile home; it’s just lots easier because you have more room to work and don’t have to deal with the plumbing cutouts.

Materials
Buy enough A-C 3/4″ exterior grade plywood to completely cover the bathroom floor. You will also need screws long enough to go through the plywood and the existing flooring and the new vinyl or carpet you will be putting down (I really prefer vinyl). Since mobile home bathrooms are often small, you can usually find inexpensive remnants that will be as large as you need. You will need a new wax ring and possibly new flange bolts to re-install the toilet.

Vinyl, especially cheap vinyl, will quickly conform to any holes or bumps in the material it is laid on. If you don’t cover every screw head you will soon be able to see each one and tell whether it was a Phillips or straight drive. To make sure the new floor is absolutely smooth you are going to want to countersink the screws and make sure any seams in the floor wood are filled. I know two ways to do this. Floor Leveler is a concrete based product sold at home improvement centers. It is mixed with water and the mortar is troweled into the holes and voids to smooth them. It has to dry at least overnight but is cheap. I prefer to use Bondo which is plastic filler used by automotive body shops. You mix as much as you need with a catalyst and it will be hard enough to sand in 30-45 minutes. You need good ventilation and if you are only doing one job will have a lot left over.

Directions
Shut off the water to the toilet. Many homes lack a stop on the toilet supply line. This leaves you a choice: (1) turn the water to the home off and hope you finish before someone needs functional plumbing, or (2) figure out a way to cap off the line. I prefer to cap the line. It will come in handy later, and it gives you more options if you run into surprises while working. Next remove the toilet and get it out of your way. Remove old carpet if present and hammer down or pull nails etc.

Cut the plywood to fit the floor as exactly as you possibly can. You are not likely to be able to cut one piece and get it into the room. There just isn’t enough room to slide it around as much as you will need to. Make sure that the cuts you are forced to make place any seams as far away from the toilet as possible. The toilet is the place most likely to leak and it also gets the most use.

With plywood in place and the holes cut for the toilet and water supply line, use two pieces of scrap wood to make a collar for the toilet drain line. Get them against the drain line below the flange and drive screws to hold them in place. This will make sure that when you go to mount the toilet you don’t have to try and figure out how to hold the drain line up while you set the toilet on it.

Fasten the plywood in place with lots of screws. I liked to make sure I hit the floor joists if at all possible and had a screw about every 16″. Fill the seams, edges and screw holes with Bondo or floor leveler, let set and then sand flat.

Hopefully you have had the new vinyl unrolled in a warm place and it is now willing to lie flat. Cut it to fit the bathroom, spread the adhesive and smooth the vinyl into place. You may want to use a roller to get all the bubbles out from under it or may find that for such a small space any bubbles can be worked out by hand or with the help of some scrap lumber. If you salvaged the baseboard trim strips and did a really good job of fitting the plywood you may find they are enough to cover the edge of the new vinyl. More likely you will either decide it looks OK as-is or will want to put down some quarter round to cover the gap at the walls. It will also help make sure the vinyl doesn’t curl up at the edges.

Remount the toilet, reconnect the water supply line, and check for leaks. You will probably need to put down some sort of trim strip at the door(s) to make sure no one catches their foot on the edge. These come in a multitude of shapes and you should be able to find one that does what you need without making an unacceptable ridge.

{ 6 comments… read them below }

Ashley
My floor has recently been pretty damaged due to water and the floor has sunk about 2 inches. I definetly do not have the capability to fix this on my own. Would any flooring repair company be able to fix this, or would I need to find a company that works specifically with mobile homes? I would need the insulation replaced underneath and the lining replaced also.
Paul
I think you will want to try to find someone with mobile home experience for this job, especially if you have to replace the insulation.
Are you certain you have to replace the insulation? Could the existing insulation be dried, perhaps as part of the floor repair? Replacing everything is going to get really expensive.

Allison
Hi Paul,
I recently purchased my first mobile home. Its a 1987. I was told there were no leaks. Let me take that back, I was told there was one small leak that had been repaired. I moved everything in and got comfortable. I could feel some “difference” in the flooring throughout the house but thought nothing of it since I did not feel any soft spots.

About one week later I noticed the flooring around my washer/dryer area to start to sag and get soft. I panicked and called my mother. Her boyfriend is very handy and has worked on many different types of houses. He had me remove the washer/dryer to start peeling the vinyl back to see how far the water damage spread. I was at a loss for words! I ended up peeling up 75% of the kitchen area around where the washer/dryer/back door started. He came over and found the leak. It was the washer hook-ups in the wall. Apparently the leak was never fixed. The grey/black plumbing I was told was out dated and needed to be replaced. He also told me the floor had to be torn up and replaced. The next day he shows up with all his tools and we head to Lowes. A few hundred dollars later we had purchased new plumbing and wood.

We tore the whole floor up! As we did this we heard a noise from under the house. Since the floor was already torn up all we had to do was look under the kitchen wall to where the bathroom was and there we saw another leak! This one was 10 times worse. It was literally flowing from under the sink area. I almost died when I saw this. Back to the store I went with a list of more plumbing supplies to purchase. He was able to fix this leak with no problem. However now we have to tear up the bathroom floor and replace it as well. The water damage is so bad it had completely rotted out the bathroom floor. The previous owner never fixed either leak. Instead they rigged some cheap thin plywood over the original beams. Im actually surprised I didnt fall through the bathroom floor while sitting on the toilet!

Anyways, we just finished replacing the flooring in the kitchen/dining area and tomorrow he is going to tear up and replace the bathroom floor. He is doing this all the proper way so I am not concerned about his ability. My main concern is the extent of the water damage. He works 60 hour work weeks and has devoted so much time already helping me out. I have learned a lot by watching and helping him during this process. My bedroom is on the other side of the bathroom.

Is there a way I can tell how far the water damage may have spread without ripping up my bedroom flooring? After he finished replacing my bathroom floor I really do not want to bother him for at least a 3 or 4 months.

Also all of the old rotted wood we have removed so far has been caked with mold and tearing everything up has mad it smell in the house. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the moldy smell? What if there is some damage to the floor in my bedroom and I cannot replace the wood for a bit of time? Is there something I can do to the floor myself that would not require me to have to tear up another whole room and build the floor up from scratch again?

I know water damage is really bad in a manufactured home since most of the plumbing is out of date. I could kick the previous owner square in the rear for not fixing these problems! After the bathroom is finished I will be installing the new dry wall and paneling myself. I am pretty sure I can manage to do this without the help of my mothers boyfriend. I am just really worried about the after affects of this whole water ordeal. Do you think the mold issue will be harmful on myself or my pets? Why do you think it still smells so moldy?

The bathroom is smaller than the kitchen and we already removed/replaced the moldy kitchen floors. Can the mold really spread that far beyond the water damage? Oh, one more question. The water heater is located in my closet. This is on the other side of the bathroom as well. I have not felt any water damage to the flooring around the closet.

Is there a good chance the water heater might need to be replaced? Is there a rule of thumb or number of years you suggest to replace a water heater? Honestly before I bought this house I never would have imagined it to have this many issues or for the issues to be as expensive, difficult and time consuming. I would have never been able to afford to do all this work if I had to hire someone. Im sorry this was so long but this is my first house and having to deal with it only 2 weeks into moving into the house it is all a little overwhelming. Any advice or info you can shoot my way I would greatly appreciate it! Awesome site BTW, I have been reading through it for well over an hour now! Thank you!

Jim_Vierling
You definitely want to get rid of the mold. You may need to check inside your walls as well since the mold will spread up them. Sorry to have to tell you that. The mold can grow on either drywall or paneling. Drywall that has been water damaged will start to get soft around the base of the wall. If you feel that, there is a good chance that there will be some mold on the back of it since you found it in your floors.
If you have carpet in your bedroom, you can just peel back a little bit by the wall that adjoins to your bathroom. Be careful of the tack board around the edges of the carpet. It has some really sharp spikes to hold onto the carpet. You may also need to pull back some padding. Then check the floor to see if there is discoloration, swelling or any soft spots. If you have linoleum or tiles then you have to either go by feel to see if it is soft or you have to peel it away.

You can use a mild bleach water mix in a spray bottle to kill surface mold. It will get rid of some of the mold/mildew odor. It will smell like bleach, but that will go away if you leave the window open in a few hours.

Joe
Allison, I would also look on your disclosure form when you bought the house. Know a friend in the real estate business? these kind of damages are supposed to be listed in the disclosure form. Real estate is not a buyer beware operation, there are rules for sales. The original agent may not have been aware of these problems, but the owner was (ie thin cover added over floor). Also the next time you purchase have a building inspection required for the sale or have one done by yourself codt is worth it. I had my former home inspected before I listed it so it was with the disclosure form

Joe
Forgot to mention this. I have done repairs in homes and Modulars that have hot water heaters on wood floor. I use a plastic pan made for water heaters but I also put a drain in it to a safe place. If it leaks the water will go out and if the popoff valve leaks or pops it will be noticed as this pipe ends above the floor of the pan.

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