How to Replace Flooring in a Mobile Home

You will probably need to replace flooring in a mobile home eventually, especially if it’s an older home or you have encountered a leak. For many years, mobile homes were constructed with sub-flooring made of particle board which essentially acts like a sponge  – even a small amount of water can cause bowing, warping, rot, and soft spots.

Even in newer homes, where particle board wasn’t used, flooring can become warped or softened due to a small leak or routine encounters with water. Most newer homes now use a higher grade plywood or OSB because it can withstand water better. Still, if you have a soft spot or bowing in any area it’s best to replace flooring in a mobile home quickly before it causes further damage. You don’t want the joists or walls to become damaged due to contact to the flooring.

Hopefully, this article will give you enough information to replace flooring in a mobile home yourself. I’ll try my best to provide a step-by-step guide of the process and offer as many references as possible for further reading.

Of course, if you have any questions feel free to add them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help.

Is Replacing Flooring in a Mobile Home Really a DIY Project?

To replace flooring in a mobile home, you will want experience doing other DIY home improvement projects. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rank it a 7 because no specialty tools are required and the material list is short. It is a tedious job though because you are dealing with major components of your home and that’s always intimidating!

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rank replacing the subfloors in a mobile home a 7..”

Your biggest concern will be avoiding joists, pipes, and wires – especially in bathroom and kitchen project.

The most difficult parts of the job is removing the old flooring, building out the perimeter joists, and keeping everything level. We’ll deal with all of those issues in the step by step process.

Tool List

  • Circular Saw
  • Hammer
  • Pry Bar
  • Knife, Blade, Scraper


Material List

  • Plywood (3/4″ OR 5/8″)
  • 2X4 Lumber
  • Galvanized Screws
  • Liquid Nail Adhesive

 

You will need to measure your existing flooring to see if it is 3/4″ or 5/8″ thick (most are 3/4″). In addition to the screws, you will want to use a liquid nail or other construction adhesive between the joists and the new floor so it won’t squeak.A circular saw is great because you can control the depth of the cut. If you have experience with circular saws or ‘sawzalls,’ you should do just fine.

As stated above, one of the most tedious parts of replacing flooring in mobile homes is the removal of the original sub-flooring and the caution you’ll need to take so you don’t cut a joist.

This is a great time to add new insulation between the joists. Every little bit helps!

 

Step-by-Step Process to Replace Flooring in a Mobile Home

We’ve created a ‘quick and dirty’ list below of the basic steps to replace flooring in a mobile home. We’ll go over each process thoroughly.

how-to-replace-flooring-in-a-mobile-home (1)

Step 1: Remove the Trim and Floor Covering

The first step will be removing the trim and floor covering. If it’s carpet you will need to remove the strips. Vinyl will usually need to be cut around the parameter (perimeter) of the room and tile will need to be ripped up.

If a leak caused the damage, find it and repair so the same thing doesn’t happen to your new floor. With the covering removed you may be able to trace the leak better.

 

removing old subflooring and laying new in a mobile home

Step 2: Cut the Sub-Floor Out Around the Perimeter of the Room

This is one of those tedious jobs no one likes to do! If your flooring is 3/4″  set your circular saw to that and follow the perimeter along the edge of the room. You do not want to touch the joists below.

Step 3: Cut the Sub-Flooring Between the Joists

Now that you’ve cut the sub-flooring around the edges, you will need to cut them down so you can remove them. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is to get them out of your way. If you have ensured there are no pipes or wires between the joists you can simply saw between the joists and remove each piece. Remember to keep the saw set to the same thickness of the flooring to keep accidents to a minimum.

You may need to use  a Dremel tool or knife to get the sub-flooring out from underneath the walls.

replace flooring in a mobile home

Step 4: Inspect and Repair Joists

At this point, all the sub-flooring has been removed and you have a perfect opportunity to inspect the joists for any damage. If you do see damage you can reinforce it by adding an additional 2 x 4 to the original or removing and replacing. If there’s not much damage, reinforcing is probably easier.

 

Step 5: Add Insulation

This is not necessary but it should be a top priority. Spending an extra $30 can save you a lot more in energy costs in the future. Remember, wiring and piping should be above the insulation so that the heat from the home can get to it.

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

Step 6: Laying the New Sub-Flooring Down

The sub-flooring should be laid in the same direction as the original, usually opposite the direction of the joists. You will cut the plywood to the correct size to fit the necessary width of the room.

Around the perimeter of the room, you may need to attach an additional 2 x 4 to the original so that you have a shelf or lip to lay the new sub-floor down, then nail and glue.

At each seam, where one piece of plywood ends and another begins, you will need to reinforce under it. This means you will need to add a 2 x 4 between the original joists so you have a place to nail and glue down the plywood. You can see this happening in the photo above, where the small boards have been added between the long joists.

All the while, you want to make sure your floor is level. You can always add what you need to the joists or you can remove a bit if needed.

 

replaced mobile home subfloor with plywood

Step 7: Install the New Floor Covering

Your choices are endless when it comes to floor covering. If it’s in a bathroom, it’s probably best you go with vinyl or tile – something with some protection against water will help protect your floor.

Step 8: Enjoy Your New Floor

Congratulations! You did a fine job and it’s a great looking floor that will last for many years.

 

Videos and other Resources That May Help

Below are some Youtube videos that may help you understand the process a bit better.

Note: People do things differently, especially when it comes to construction projects. You’ll probably notice a few things done differently from what I just stated but don’t worry – no one is always right or wrong and what works for one person may not work for you. Take the collective knowledge and pull only what you need from each resource – don’t worry about the rest. Good luck!

Links that can help:

Ask an Expert Questions about Replacing Floors in Mobile Homes

Ask a Mobile Home Expert Questions about Mobile Home Subfloors

Tools Every New Mobile Home Owner Should Have in their Toolbox

 

 

 

 

As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!

Image Sources:

Image 1, Step-by-step images provided Phillips Place Renovation, a blog that shares a couple’s gorgeous mobile home remodel. We featured their beautiful home here.

36 Comments
  1. Tina says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  2. Arlene says

    Thank you for all the helpful information!

  3. Karen says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  4. Brian & Janice Ramon says

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

  5. Robert Haggard says

    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.

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write this comment, Robert!

  6. LeAnn says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  7. Cookie says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  8. Lindsay M says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  9. arlene says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  10. Kathy says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  11. reba says

    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.

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      HI Reba!

      Hmmm…can you send me a photo of your subflooring and maybe get a measurement of the thickness. Does your flooring bounce or have any bows or bubbles?

      I have never seen a subflooring that couldn’t handle floating flooring – unless it’s been damaged by water or fire.

      My email is crystaladkins@mobilehomeliving.org

  12. Christine says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  13. Martha Pepito says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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 comments..lol)

      Best of luck to you and your mother!

  14. Pam McClure says

    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.

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Yes ma’am. In the kitchen, mud room, and bathrooms moisture barriers are a must have!

      Good luck!

  15. Bob and Carla says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  16. Faye says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!

  17. suzan says

    Hello,
    If I wrote this before, please for give me:) My mind does not remember well..lol
    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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!mobilehomeliving.org.

  18. Martha Corkrin says

    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. Crystal Adkins says

      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: http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/faq-mdf.htm

      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: http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/faq-mdf.htm

      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. http://www.care.com/housekeeping-creating-a-toxin-free-home-p1017-q14637.html

      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: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states

      Here’s the HUD page about submitting a complaint: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/rmra/mhs/csp

      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: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/rmra/mhs/mhdrp

      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!

  19. Jeni Gray says

    Very informative and helpful!! Thank you Crystal!! :)

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Thank you Jeni!!

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