Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Category: College Camper

A Solid Foundation

The college camper had a squishy floor upon arrival at the farm. The previous owners had tiled it and the mortar base was the only thing keeping anyone from falling through.

Bedroom floor torn out.

We researched all the options for RV flooring and settled on a few necessities. We wanted the floor to float above the decking, it needed to be water-resistant, and it needed to be very thin to work under the walls and doors. With those requirements in mind, we found Traffic Master Allure flooring sold at Home Depot. The flooring is available in tons of colors, but we chose Khaki Oak since it was sold in the store and available immediately.

Hubs installed the floating floor in about 6 hours. The planks have glue tabs that allow them to adhere to each other but not the subfloor. Cutting into all the tight corners is easy since the planks can be scored with a utility knife and snapped to the correct size.

The gray edging is the sticky strip that allows each plank to stick to another once pressure is applied to the seam.

A week later, the floor is handling the construction traffic really well. We walk in and out with rocks and butyl tape stuck to our shoes and the floor takes the wear beautifully. It’s easy to clean with a shop vac at the end of the day. Perfect for a college student.

A Facelift

“Just slap some paint on it.”

Sounds easy, right?

*Bangs head on wall.*

Sure, painting takes just a couple of hours – or faster if you’re trying to beat a rainstorm. But the prep work for painting a 30-year-old travel trailer?

Six weeks.

Butyl tape, silicone caulk, latex caulk, and decal all in one spot.

No joke. We scraped, scrubbed, and conducted science experiments to discover the correct chemical remover for all the different adhesives and caulks on the trailer for six weeks. Lucky for you, I now have a list:

liquid nails = DAP Caulk-Be-Gone

Butyl tape = plastic scraper for the chunks and mineral spirits on shop rags for the residue

decals = heat gun and plastic scraper

clear silicone caulk = WD-40 and a scraper for the thick stuff, then “sand” off with scotch brite pads on a die grinder.

latex caulk = Goo Gone Caulk Remover

rust = scotch brite pads on a die grinder

general metal cleaning = acetone (don’t use on aluminum siding – it just takes the paint off)

Be prepared for lots of ripped fingernails, cuts, and skin coated with mineral spirits. Funny side note: I started adding Collagen Peptides to my coffee everyday and noticed that my cuts heal really fast now. If you are taking on a trailer remodel you might want to try the peptides. Oh, and get a tetanus shot.

Seriously.

Buy the shop towels listed above in bulk. And nitrile gloves. You’ll use a lot. And be sure that the scraper is plastic – metal will damage the aluminum siding. If you don’t have an air compressor – get one. You’re going to need it for sanding, scrubbing, and painting.

Steps to paint the exterior of an aluminum-sided RV:

1.) Remove all the doors, windows, trim, and side rails.

2.) Scrape off all the chunks of butyl tape and wipe clean with mineral spirits and shop towels.

3.) Remove any decals and other kinds of caulk.

4.) Sponge-bathe the entire outside of the trailer with shop towels.

5.) Sand the edges of any holes you intend to fill and any rough spots. Clean those spots.

6.) Fill holes with Bondo.

7.) Sand Bondo spots. Clean those spots.

8.) Tape off any part of the trailer you don’t want painted, including the window holes. Don’t forget the tires.

9.) Spray auto primer on Bondo spots and any bare metal spots.

10.) Prep paint sprayer with 6 parts paint and 2 parts acetone.

11.) Spray light coats of the paint over the body of the trailer. We sprayed 2 coats.

12.) Spray a light coat of clear coat according to the manufacturer directions.

13.) Remove any tape or plastic from trailer and wait to dry. We waited 5 days before re-taping for stripes to make sure the new tape didn’t remove the new body paint.

14.) Repeat steps 10-13 if you want a different color accent.

Body paint done.

I must admit that it turned out better than I expected. It’s not perfect – there are rough spots where we could not remove certain adhesives. I would wager that our previous owners were not handy. Murmurs of “idiots” were frequent during the cleaning process.

Grant opted for a white body accented by red and black stripes that will match his 1993 F-150 tow vehicle once it’s painted.

We also changed the aluminum windows from brown back to aluminum with paint. It took 3 cans for all of our windows. I’m really impressed with the Rustoleum High Performance Enamel paint. It goes on very smooth, levels out beautifully, and is very hard once dry. I can’t even scratch the paint with my fingernail now that it’s been hardening over a week.

Unfortunately, the day after Grant installed the bathroom window, I fell through the sink (don’t ask) and shattered the bottom pane of glass. Good news? I learned that duct tape is great for removing glass from skin.

Next week? Interior floors!