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Laying Floor in your Mobile Home

May 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Category: Remodeling Contractor



Water damage is a major problem in mobile homes, especially the ones that were built in the 1970s or earlier. In those days, manufacturers relied on particle board flooring: cheap stuff that’s little more than sawdust held together with lots of glue.

This is why any water damage – a water heater leak, a flooded toilet or a spilled water dish – can cause weak or soft spots in the floor. You’re scared to take certain paths through your home because those soft areas threaten to collapse every time you put a foot on them.

You can’t fix the particle board once it’s been damaged. It becomes moist, like a cardboard box, when it gets wet. While you can’t undo this damage, you can get rid of the problem by laying down a new floor, one that’s sturdier than the old one and certain to stand up to water and other damage.

There are two ways to do it: cutting out spongy spots or holes and replacing them with plywood, or re-doing the entire floor in that particular room.

The piece-by-piece option is time-consuming and hard to do correctly. If you leave a gap, you’ll have a hard time laying new . If you aren’t careful when you cut out the old flooring, you’ll damage the joists and find yourself in a lot of trouble. And you’ll spend half the day chipping and cutting out each piece.

It’s easiest to just lay down plywood right over the old floor. You will save hours of time, and you won’t have to come back in a few months to replace another section of the particle board if more water damage occurs.

Tools You Will Need:

•Claw hammer
•Tape measure
•Jigsaw or circular saw
•Safety glasses (catching a wood chip in the eye isn’t fun)
•A pencil for marking your cuts in the new flooring
•Straight-edge (usually a carpenter’s square or a construction level)

If you plan to cover the new floor with linoleum:
•Wood filler (to smooth out gaps or knots in your new flooring)
•Sandpaper (to smooth out the wood filler – your linoleum will look so much better than if you ignore this step)

You’ll need to get all of your furniture and items out of the room before you start. It’ll be easier than trying to work your way around a bed, the armchair or other obstacles. It’s easiest to just move your things into a room that you aren’t working in and have your friends help put everything back into place when you finish your job.

You will need to replace your present flooring if it is linoleum or tiles. This is your chance to update your home’s look, find a color or pattern that you really like, or even switch types of covering. If you’ve always wanted carpet in that living room, this is your chance to get it. The other piece of good news is that you don’t have to mess with the existing linoleum: just lay the new floor down right on top of it. It won’t hurt anything.

If you have carpet, however, you might be able to reuse it. Be cautious when you remove it so that you don’t tear or rip it, and store it in a safe place while you work. Once the carpet is out, go back to the now-bare floor and remove any tacks, staples or nails and make sure that the floor is clean. One quick pass with a broom will get the big debris out of the way.

Get your reliable tape measure and find the length and width of the room. Write the numbers down even if you have a perfect memory: few things are worse than showing up at the hardware store and accidentally transposing numbers, or forgetting them completely.

Now it’s time to make your voyage to the hardware store. You can use 3/4 inch thick plywood (preferably an outdoor grade, as it’s more durable). This plywood is usually not very costly. It’s also easy to lay down and is usually fairly smooth so that you won’t have much sanding or filling to do before you install your new linoleum or tiling. Another advantage to the plywood is that if you use linoleum on top of it, the adhesive will work very well.

While you’re at the store, pick up galvanized wood nails or wood screws. They should be long enough to penetrate both layers of your floor and go into the joists. You want enough to accommodate at least one screw or nail for every 16 inches of flooring. You should have extra on hand in case you make a mistake or just want to add a few more in certain areas.

Bring your new flooring home and cut it into the proper sizes. If you can handle an uncut sheet of plywood (and get it through your door), go for it. The less cutting you have to do, the faster the job will go.

Start at one end of the room and work your way to the opposite end. When you lay down each piece, check two things:
1.The number of knots and imperfections on the side that’s facing up. If one side is particularly knotty, you should lay it face down so that you don’t have to sand or fill as much.
2.The gap between each piece. Put the pieces as close together as you can. The house will shift as the seasons change, but it’s not a good idea to plan for this by leaving a gap. Your vinyl flooring will look horrible after it starts to settle in around these gaps.

Now start nailing (or screwing) the flooring down. Get as many nails into the joists as possible. You should put a nail in about every 16 inches so that the new floor is firmly in place when you finish.

Carpet can be easily re-installed. You don’t have to worry about sanding or filling, but you should probably replace the old carpet pad. Pads soak up odors and, if water damage was what caused the flooring problems, the pad will probably reek of mold or mildew.

If, however, you want to use linoleum, you should seal any gaps, cracks or dips in the plywood. Hardware stores carry plenty of products that will do the job nicely. Just make sure that you sand – then sweep up the mess – before you actually start putting down the linoleum.

Now you’re thinking, “But there’s a rise in the entryway now! This floor is higher than the one in the next room. I’m going to break all of my toes on this thing.” The solution: a threshold or riser. They’re easy to install; a few screws will do the job. You’ll save your toes and add a slight decorative touch to the room in one shot.

When you’re done with that, put away your tools and walk around in your new room. You deserve a break after all the hard work.


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