questions about mobile home subfloors - what a mobile home looks like under the subfloor

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  1. Thanks for the info Crystal, very helpful. I just want to add, without any scientific information, I believe the glue used on top of the floor joists formed a chemical reaction with the glue in the particle board just making this one difficult bond to break, chisel and sand.

  2. Nice job on this DIY article Crystal. I’ve done this job before in a mobile home and in a few stick frame houses due to pet damage (everywhere) and water damage in bathrooms. The process is pretty similar. A few things that can make the job go easier.

    A rented “toe kick / flush cut saw” makes it much easier to cut sub-flooring right next to walls and cabinets.
    Areas with minor pet damage can be sealed with Kilz primer to eliminate odors.
    A pneumatic “palm nailer” or small impact driver makes it much easier to install support blocking on floor joists. There isn’t much room between joists.
    Tongue and groove sub-flooring material makes much stronger joints that won’t sag.

    For anyone thinking about doing this job, it’s messy and tedious but can be accomplished with basic carpentry skills and some hard work. Start in a smaller room to perfect your technique.

  3. All of your info is very helpful, but there is no mention on how to deal with the staples and glue residue from the original sub floor. any suggestions or ideas would be helpful>

  4. Oh my goodness! I just wanted to replace my carpet with laminate flooring.. I didn’t know I had to spend money to replace the subflooring also..ugh!

  5. My husband and I bought a 2000 Champion home a year ago needed work, and we have just noticed hot water heater has been leaking for awhile. It is on the other side of wall in master bath. A week ago we decided to remove the large soaking tub (never Used), upon taking out the frame it sat on we have discovered black mold on the floor and wall the smell is strong. Do we need to have a professional come to remove the floor and walls for us to replace it? As for we are wanting to DIY our bathroom with new double shower and toilet.

    1. Hi Darlene,

      Probably not. Bleach and a mold destroyer are usually all you need. I’ve read that it’s actually fairly rare for mold to be the actual highly toxic black mold. I’m not sure if that’s true but I’ve seen bleach and mold/mildew cleaner remove some dangerous-looking stuff.

      Best of luck!

  6. Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still
    new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for rookie
    blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

    1. Hi Pete,

      I’ve been slacking on the comments lately. Apologies! I guess my best blogging advice is to just be helpful. There’s a ton of blogs and sites and readers know which ones have a soul or were created out of an interest or passion and which ones pay for their articles and use ‘tactics’ to get ahead. Be a source that they can turn to on a topic. Other than that, learn what SEO is and how to write for the search engines.
      Best of luck!

  7. Fantastic blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of
    any community forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article?

    I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals
    that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
    Many thanks!

  8. We are having vinyl planking installed, and trying to have some squeaking floors also addressed. Even though installer put in some extra screws, the squeking seems even more noticeable. What would you recommend to alliviate squeaks?

  9. I have had some water issues and the last crew I hired didn’t remove the damaged flooring first. They actually made it worse by causing a mold issue. Since then I’ve gotten another serious water issue with damage. I’m on disability and can’t afford to keep hiring someone to redo the same job. I’m in Kentucky. Is it possible there may be some agencies available who do this type of repair for disabled seniors at a discount?

  10. I have a 2010 double wide, my hot water heater leaked. The pan that was under it had a crack so the water seeped through. Now where the hot water tank sat and to the front of the closet it sat in next to my dryer is all wet. My husband has ideas how to fix it but doesn’t know if we have to replace the whole floor and how far the joiset are. Would they be 16 on center or are they farther apart. After we get this fixed I’m putting ceramic tile down..

    1. Hi Lynn,

      16″ OC or 24″ OC are the two most popular measurements. I’d love to share your project with our readers, it could help a lot of people. Please consider taking some photos of the process for me! Thanks!

  11. If I have a MH on a permanent foundation with new subfloors, what is your opinion on a decorative floor coating system that is covered in epoxy? I’m looking to replicate the terrazzo style, but was concerned if it would still crack if the home was on a permanent foundation?
    Also, is putting large 30″ stone or terrazzo tiles doable in a double wide, or are vinyl tiles my only option? Thank you.

    1. Hi Ben, I emailed you. I’m not really familiar with epoxy flooring systems but I do not recommend crossing the marriage line with any kind of tile though because of shifting possibilities. Sorry, I can’t help much.

  12. You suggested in one of your responses that laminate wood floor could even be placed over carpet, saving the expense of removing the carpet. Is this really possible.

    1. Hi Marcella,

      We installed our laminated floating floor from Lowe’s over the carpet and have had no issues at all. It’s been up for 5.5 years. Our carpet wasn’t indoor/outdoor carpet but it wasn’t the thick stuff, either. I’d call it ‘flat.’ It’s absolutely possible but every home is different due to leveling and carpet thickness so it’s hard to give a definite yes.

      1. Hi Crystal,
        When you say “flat” do you mean it was commercial grade, like what would be in an office? We have what was once pile carpet, but it’s 25 years old and it’s not completely flat, but it’s still got some cushion and a pad underneath. Can luxury vinyl planking be placed over this?

      2. Hi Kelly,

        I do mean commercial-grade, without any fluff. I’m not sure about luxury vinyl (I’ve never been able to afford it). I do know that the cheap laminate floating floor worked just fine over the older pile flooring in our single wide bedroom. That was also the warmest room in the house and I think it was from that extra layer of the carpet.

  13. Please help,I Live in Norwich, Ct and I am in need of a repair man who can fix a small portion of subflooring. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      You will likely have the best luck finding someone by calling your local mobile home supply store. They will at least know which local companies will work on manufactured housing and that’s a good start. Subflooring is a standard construction issue in both mobile homes and traditional site-built homes so perhaps going on and looking for flooring help.

      Best of luck!

  14. I’m looking into purchasing a 1984 Schult built double wide. Your video and written articles have really helped me what to look for. and I’ll be educated when looking for a repair man for help. Thank you for this great information you have given.

  15. Hello,
    Crystal Adkins
    I have a double wide mobile home in Huntington Beach, Ca. I had a friend install a new Garbage Disposal a few months ago. Well, he had an accident, he actually broke one of my small plastic pipes under the kitchen sink. Well water came pouring out. And now my kitchen floor and under the kitchen sink is sinking…. Please, help me…. I need to find a person who is reasonable in price, since I am a single mother. To put in new flooring in my kitchen. Can you tell me where I can get some estimates in Huntington Beach, Ca.?

    1. Hi Rosemary,

      Yikes! I’m so sorry that happened. I don’t know a soul in California, unfortunately. I would call your local mobile home supply store and ask them for references. Craigslist or Angie’s List may be a good place as well.

      Also, this may be a great time to install new cabinets if you haven’t already and here’s why: You can save money by demolishing all the old cabinets yourself especially if you have the standard cabinetry found in most manufactured homes they are ‘built-in.’ You can save a ton of labor and refuse costs by doing this. Then, the new floor will be laid and you can install pre-built cabinets from Lowe’s quicker than you could re-install the old cabinets back. Of course, every situation is different but make sure you calculate the project both ways to see which would be more affordable.

      Best of luck! Let me know how it goes!

  16. My husband was putting in some wood strips between the vinyl floor and the carpeting and the screws were bending rather than going in. Is there a special way or certain screw type needed? He was using screws for wood and we know the floor underneath is particle board with many staples in it. Perhaps the screws are not strong enough? Help!

    1. Hi Melody,

      You may have an old metal strip there or it could be the joists. Try drilling pilot hole a bit smaller than the threads on your screw and see if that works.

      Best of luck!

  17. Is there a way to replace the belly wrap that is on my home? 1990 double wide? I’ve replaced floors, but putting batts of insulation down on the saggy plastic doesn’t seem a good idea. There is only around 18″ between belly and ground at one end.

    1. Yes, Ma’am. You will want to go to the local mobile home supply store and buy a new one. You will install the new belly wrap after you finished with the insulation (while you’re under there make sure your duct work is tight). Stretching and stapling/nailing the wrap is a real pain but it’s easier with help. Just do the best you can to get that short end sealed. The belly wrap is important for heat retention.

      Best of luck!

  18. Hi. I live in an old (1996) mobile home. The toilet was leaking for some time and I didn’t notice until I saw that the floor looked kind of warped. Being a mother of 4 children, I don’t have extra money to hire someone to fix the floor. I really need to get it fixed because it feels like the toilet is going to fall through the floor at any time. Could you please give me a detailed description of what to do to get the wood replaced. I know that I’ll need to get a saw at home depot because I only have the basics as far as tools go. But I just can’t figure out where to start cutting the floor without ruining it or making things worse. I’ve got absolutely no experience in repairing things like this, but I’m very determined! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Hi, Karen.

      Just follow the directions in the article above. There’s a tool list as well. You’ll need to remove the floor covering, then the subflooring (without damaging or cutting anything else). Then, you will lay new subflooring down and replace the floor covering.

      Best of luck!

    2. Karen..I just read your question. I’m in the same boat..just wondered..were you able to do the work or did you end up hiring someone. My skill set is about the same as words of encouragement

  19. My wife and me recently down sized and purchased a mobile home these video
    have been tenderness in helping us with our goal.

  20. I have done a lot of DIY projects, from upgrading my truck, home improvements, & building hunting cabins. These projects usually end up leading me to searching for information. (which as many of have found out, can be quite tedious.)
    Your web site has been the most helpful site I’ve ever found.
    Thank you for creating a well researched & informative article for the DIY population.

  21. I’m searching for info on ceiling replacement. We have a trailer house that has had a water leak and damaged the ceiling in the small bath, part of the bedroom is sagging and falling in. Any ideas? Thank you

    1. Hi Leann,

      You can buy the replacement ceiling panels at your local mobile home supply store. You’ll simply rip out the old and lay in the new over the wall lip. This is a perfect time to replace the trim around the top of the room to something a bit more substantial that will help you with an easier ceiling install and make the room look a little more grounded. You can also buy a ceiling kit at Lowe’s that is in different patterns such as shiplap. We’ve used beadboard paneling in a few mobile homes too. There are a lot of options but I’ll be honest, ceilings are not easy. Just looking up all day is a pain and then dealing with the seams (building out a frame is sometimes needed) is another big pain. It’s a job but it makes the whole home look completely different.

      Best of luck! If you can take pictures while youre doing the project I would love to write out a how-to article and use your pics. Let me know how it goes!

  22. Jhinust stumbled upon you today and had to write in another section asking about screening a patio. I’m also wanting to do the floors as the carpet seems to just generate stains, and the ceramic tile in kitchen/dining/family rooms cracked due to ‘give’ in the flooring. You wrote that you bought inexpensive laminate and it’s been fine. I have googled until I’m cross-eyed and so many ‘cons’ about almost every type flooring. To do entire 1560 sq ft is an expense. I need something that can withstand my moving furniture around to clean without scratching the flooring. I’ll get it professionally installed but I can’t narrow it down. Can you help? Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Cookie,

      I’m still really impressed with the cheapest laminated floating floor that we bought at Lowe’s. It has withstood 4 dogs, 3 humans, countless furniture moves and wet winters over the last 5 years. We did the entire home (697 sq. ft.) for around $450 (.79 sq foot I believe).

      If you can splurge and get the .99 or $1.39 per square foot that will be an even higher quality. Hope that helps!

  23. Hi Crystal,

    I have a question about installing chair rail moulding around my mobile home. How would I do this over the slats that connect the panels ?

    1. Hi Lindsay,

      You will need to cut the strips or slats. You won’t want any kind of bulge so if its just the chair rail and not wainscoting you’ll just cut out the section where the rail will be installed. If you are adding wainscoting you will cut and remove the entire bottom section. Make sure to keep them just in case you decide to remove the chair rail in the future. Best of luck!

  24. We did a complete redo of the master bath. Took us almost 2 years to get thin, pre-papered wall panels and floor ripped out. EVERY piece was glued and stapled to EVERY stud and joice. We had to chisel and sand each and every one. I have not seen this on any video. We now need to do kitchen, floor has 2 soft spots in it. This is a large 2000 manufactured on a 4′ poured concrete foundation. ACK!! help!

    1. Hi Arlene,

      Some builders do things a bit differently though I can’t imagine why they felt the need to glue and staple so much. While I want to say this is a good thing because it would certainly hold up over time, it would be a pain when it comes to remodeling. You may want to check into a product that dissolves glue. I was always afraid to use paint dissolvers but after I used them the first time I was mad at myself for not trying them sooner. They didn’t hurt the wood at all.

      Best of luck!

  25. My floor in front of my door wall is damaged from water and pets. The previous owners built a porch right up to the mobile home and every time it rains or ice melts the water goes under the wall . We are trying to fix the damage before we have a new floor put in. I see where electrical lines are. Should I put plastic under our door wall to keep our floor dry? Where are the best places to find a new door wall for our 1985 mobile home?

    1. Hi Kathy,

      If you are replacing the wall and the floor anyway you may want to install a regular size door (available at Lowe’s or Home Depot) – it may be cheaper than buying the special manufactured home size doors. You’ll need to Google search your location and the words “mobile home supply” or try one of the online suppliers (look on the right side of this article for a link to our affiliates).

      You should provide a layer of plastic sheeting on the wall (over the insulation and under the siding).

      Best of luck!

  26. Hi there! I also was going to have laminate hardwood installed today in my mobile home living room and was told the subfloor is too weak. Does this mean we take out the subfloor from the living room and replace it with plywood? It sounds very scary and I’m so worried it’s not that simple.

  27. We just purchased a 1973 doublewide MH and it needs so much work. I love the layout and really want to try and save it. There was many leaks in previous years and several soft spots on the floors. There is also a composite type ceiling which I’d love to replace with drywall, as well as all the paneling throughout the entire home. I’d also like to add an addition, as well as put it on a permanent foundation, then eventually replace the roof with a metal roof. I’d also like to move a few walls and reorganize the 1/2 bath, laundry and redo the entire full bath. I would truly love your honest opinion if this would be worth it, or if I should just replace the MH/build a house. Where should I begin? I’m a novice what-to-be carpenter/builder. Thank you so much for your website and helping me have hope.

    1. Hi Christine,

      Without looking at it I can’t really give you much of a suggestion. Based on what you’ve described, I can assure you that you are looking at a LOT of work and a lot of expensive materials. It very well may be more affordable and less hassle for you to spend your money on a house that has been at least partially updated. If you are doing the work yourself you can save a lot of money but if you will have to hire it out it could get very expensive, very quickly.

      In my experience, when you start working on a home you will always find more things wrong with it than you planned (especially after removing the flooring or paneling after a leak). You’ll need to ensure that all the leaks are repaired (so, maybe a new roof needs to be first on the list) before you repair or replace anything and with soft spots on the sub-flooring you will likely need to replace some of the studs too. Black mold could be a problem and the electrical system may need to be updated to a modern breaker box and modern wires and the plumbing will likely need to be upgraded if the original pipes used were recalled (some of the grey water pipes).

      I guess my answer would really depend on just how much work is needed. You want to be sure you don’t spend more than the home could ever be worth and you are being very smart by asking the tough questions. Our 1978 single wide already had new electrical, new flooring, new roof, and new plumbing and we are still working on it 5 years after buying it (still needs the bathroom and the kitchen updated). Planning a remodel and actually doing it are two completely different things and it was a hard lesson for me to learn but I definitely learned it!

      Best of luck!

  28. Hi Crystal,

    Amazing how much knowledge you have with mobilehomes! My mother is considering the purchase of a mobilehome. The home inspector advised her of the following:

    “Sub-floor membrane a.k.a. bladder holed. Noted from the sub-area at three
    locations, especially under the master bathroom shower pan area. Corrections are
    advised at this time by a general contractor.”

    Is a handyman sufficient to make the bladder repairs or should this work be completed by a contractor? Where would we get the bladder material to make the repairs.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Martha!

      It sounds like the shower pan needs replaced and that’s typically a plumber’s area of expertise. Unfortunately, the entire shower has to be removed to get to the shower pan – it’s a waterproof membrane that acts a barrier between the sub-floor and the shower itself. If the inspector is seeing water damage in the subflooring than there is likely a leak and if it’s been neglected for a while the old wood (sub-flooring and possibly even the framing) will need to be replaced. I doubt there would be any way to go under the home and repair it correctly. This would be a good time to replace the shower alltogether!

      Thanks so much for reading MHL! If you have any other questions just let me know (Sorry it took so long to reply, I some how overlooked your comment completely – it was on a second page and I didn’t even realize I had a second page of

      Best of luck to you and your mother!

  29. Thanks so much for the detailed response. I’m thinking we’ll want to lay down a moisture barrier between the flooring and the subfloor, as well as put in real plywood.

  30. Hello Crystal, I saved this article to my favorites to return to because we bought a manufactured home last December and made some improvements throughout. We finally got to the kitchen floor that we knew had a problem and figured the only way to find out the problem was to take up the floor. As it turns out, we discovered water damage and so the entire floor needed replacing. That’s where your article was invaluable. So far, we’ve done everything right, but I was hoping to learn what you recommend for kitchen flooring. We have laminate flooring in the dining room on one side of the kitchen and in alcove on the other side that leads to the back door is our laundry room with nice vinyl tiles. Since we’re redoing the kitchen with new cabinets, too, I was thinking more “wood” appearance would be overkill. We’d like to put down something very sturdy. Anything you can recommend will be appreciated! Carla

    1. Hi Bob and Carla!

      Practically every older manufactured home (15+ years old) I’ve ever dealt with has some kind of water damage in the floor. Usually it’s the bathrooms. The smallest leak can bloat, bow, and ultimately destroy the particle board sub-flooring that is often used in manufactured homes. Since you’ve already replaced it you shouldn’t have to worry about it for a very long time.

      Also, with better sub-flooring you can use practically any product on the market as long as your kitchen doesn’t cross the marriage line. I only advise that because having to remove tile in order to have a home moved is a pain. Tile (light weight preferably), laminate, real wood, etc. are all great floor covering for a kitchen. We have the cheapest laminate flooring Lowe’s sold in our kitchen and I’ve been impressed with it for over 3 years. I haven’t had any water stains, leak issues, scratches, or discoloration and we only paid .79 square foot! We have a nice thick vinyl in our bathroom because we have a kid that doesn’t quite understand the concept of keeping water IN the tub…lol

      I really like the new vinyl on the market. It’s thick so it has a nice cushion to it that is perfect for standing while cooking. It’s practically indestructible by water too. The only downside is you most likely have to have it professionally installed. It’s not impossible to do it yourself but if you have some odd cuts you may have a tough time.

      I’d love to see photos when you get it all finished! I bet it’s gorgeous! Thanks so much for reading MHL!

  31. When installing new plumbing in an old (1979) mobile home, can it be done from underneath the trailer, or does it need to be done by removing the flooring? If it can be done either way, which is easier?

    1. Hi Faye!

      You can add it under the home and just run it through the floor at each faucet/water source. It should be directly under the home but above your plastic sheeting (or belly wrap) to help keep it from freezing. If you run it close to your vents you can also keep it from freezing.

      Thanks so much for reading MHL!

  32. Hello,
    If I wrote this before, please for give me:) My mind does not remember
    I am buying a 1983 mobile home. I am 63 and want to fix it so I can live in it for the rest of my life.
    There are holes in the floors in different room, so I know the roof would need fix. I have been reading and there is a rubber stuff you roll on and it is suppose to stop ALL leaks, is this the best way to go?
    2) the sliding looks bad and missing on back side about 4 panels, from roof to bottom., I want to try to replace it, depends on price, I am wondering, can I remove the sliding on the outside and pull all installation out and put in new (make sure no Bugs, ect: in the walls. and then put up new sliding. Is this the best way to go? I do see a lot of rotting in several areas outside at top of sliding.
    I am doing this (some of it myself) hoping to find someone to help and not charge a arm and leg. I am good at redoing the inside of a place, but know nothing about out side walls, elec, plumbing. I SO ENJOYED THE VIDEO ON REDOING THE SUBFLOORING, THANK YOU. Any more videos that can help me I would appreciated it

    1. Hi Suzan!

      You sure can remove the siding and install more insulation. You may want to consider installing a waterproof membrane over the insulation before adding the siding (some homes have it, some don’t but it’s always a good idea). You can also box it in too. You should be able to find a suitable siding at a good price, sheet metal comes in all kinds of different colors these days. You can re-roof your home at a fairly affordable price. I assume you have a flat roof so you have a few different options (rubber, metal).

      I added some links and additional information on your other comment so hopefully you get both of my replies. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact me via comments or email me directly at crystaladkins!

  33. Crystall —
    I have lived in a double-wide since 1987, and it now needs some major work. However, a few years ago I had water-damaged areas replaced in bathroom and under two windows in living room and bedroom. During the process, the fiberboard sub-flooring revealed a serious warning that makes me hesitate about any further work. In bold letters, each sheet of fiberboard warned “Resin formaldehyde Causes respiratory distress.” By the time it was revealed, it was too late to do more than tell workman to wear a respirator, and I tried to avoid the area and ventilate the house as much as possible (ventilation is awful in this house).

    I bought this place from an elderly couple when it was only about a year old, but they were not honest about anything pertaining to the structure, and violated the contract by removing window treatments and substituting appliances with Goodwill purchases. I did not try to fight them, because they had already threatened legal action when I changed my mind and told them to keep my downpayment. Three lawyers refused to help me — saying real estate was an investment that I could resell. New carpeting, vinyl and paint were added while I tried to sell it, but I finally had to move into it due to finances. It had been shut up during a long, hot summer, and I immediately became so sick that I could not walk due to the vertigo and nausea (crawled to bathroom). Now I know that I was reacting to the off-gassing of the new floor coverings, paint, formaldehyde, paneling and the entire building that was still fairly new. I was sick again after the water damage was repaired and a new carpet installed in the living room. My little dog and I suffered together, and before the year was out, he died of lung cancer.

    My question is — have you ever heard of this 1985 warning on the fiberboard — every single sheet of it! Do you know of a government agency to report it to? I am now a retired senior with various health problems, including a sensitivity to chemicals of all sorts. (Just spent several weeks being treated for sinus infection from off-gassing of new memory foam bed. Doctor verified this — had the same problem!)

    I want to enjoy the rest of my life, and hopefully do some art work and sewing that I have put off. Yet, I do not want to get sick from the things that need to be done (like new kitchen cabinets and flooring, and new bedroom flooring). At some point I was able to get the water piping replaced under a government replacement program, so I am wondering if the government knows about this resin formaldehyde issue. Or, should I just plan on moving, and hoping someone will have some cash to buy this place (on 1.5 acres) that financial institutions say cannot be financed because its age is over 10 years. Please share any info you may have. Thank you — Martha

    1. Hi Martha! So sorry to hear you are having these problems! I have researched quite a bit for you and think I can at least point you in the right direction. First, I found this website that talks about MDF and employees that have to work around it. It was pretty informative as far as health concerns go:

      It seems that HUD changed the laws about formaldehyde in 1985 and since your home was built before the law changed, it contains material that was later outlawed. Here’s a link I found that states this information:

      Here’s some information about creating a toxic-free home. From what I’ve read it seems you may be able to use a non-toxic paint or sealant over the board to stop the fumes from releasing. I know that’s a lot of work but it would be cheaper to paint or stain the material than to replace it all.

      As far as legal protection, I honestly don’t know. I do know that HUD is the government entity that oversees all manufactured housing. They have 38 state administrative agency offices (I think that’s the number) and then the national offices in DC. Here’s contact information on their website, perhaps if you can call your state office (if there is one in your state) you may be able to get some kind of help, especially if the fumes released surpass a certain number of measurement.

      State offices:

      Here’s the HUD page about submitting a complaint:

      and here’s the biggie that could be the most beneficial to you – The Manufactured Home Dispute Resolution Program. From what I understand, all manufacturers have to pay a certain amount toward this program so that people can get help. Here’s the link:

      Good luck! I know you feel cheated and alone and the sad thing about it all is that you probably have little power to get anything done. It’s not fair but it’s the truth. There is probably some kind of clause somewhere that stipulates all formaldehyde complaints have to be made within a certain amount of time (or something similar). It is stuff like this that is so frustrating when it comes to home buying (and it happens in site-built homes too). I wish you the best!