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Old 05-17-2017, 12:14 AM   #1
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Plywood as main floor

Getting ready to tear out the original floors and preparing for installing insulation and flooring. I'm planning to keep this a rather simple build. Thoughts on installing rigid foam insulation, then plywood on top. Instead of going the extra step of adding laminate or hardwood on top of that, why not just call it done with the plywood and some stain?

Thanks!
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Old 05-17-2017, 06:17 AM   #2
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Sure, why not? You could take it one step further and score it to look like plank flooring. I had a friend who did that and made it look like wide plank flooring. stained it a dark dark brown, then poly'd it and the thing looks gorgeous.

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Old 05-17-2017, 06:31 AM   #3
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My floor is plywood. It has a plastic coating on both sides though. It's a floating floor.
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Old 05-17-2017, 06:51 AM   #4
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The problem with putting in a pretty hardwood laminate floor is you just can't seem to stop once you get started. Next it's oak cabinets and a granite wet bar! LOL I am in a last two week push to put my bus on the road. After all the prep work to seal the metal floor, I went with 1/2" styrofoam, 1/2" plywood and 1/4" laminate. Love the look. Love the feel. Nothing to splinter over time. Easy to clean. But my bus is short. I might have spent $150 on laminate for my 15' of floor but longer busses will run more.

You will want to sand, paint and protect your plywood floor. Edges will be catch points and need further attention. Even higher grades of plywood will be softer than laminate so the first time you slide a box of tools off the bus or drag a chair you will likely see some marks. My laminate install took about a day. I spent another day cutting pieces to cover the edges where necessary (I have thick carpet in the front of the bus around the driver/passenger seats). The laminate snapped together like a breeze and didn't require any further finish. It's beautiful. I would go with it again in a heartbeat.

My opinion...

If you have the dollars to spend I suggest go with the laminate. If your building a hunters camp bus for you and your drinking friends stay with plywood. I've never put in laminate flooring and my floor looks like a professional did it.

Warmest regards!

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Old 05-19-2017, 12:47 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comments, all!

I do have a short bus, so that will help with cost. But my reasoning for using only plywood, is to save initial costs on the build. I live in Portland, OR and this year we are looking to have a very short summer, considering it is still fairly consistently raining. I need to be able to move into this bus before it starts raining again in the fall. So I'm on a little bit of a time crunch, as well as short on funds for this year. I'll be living in the bus full time with the intention of parking it in someones yard/driveway for the coming winter, to save on rent (damn it's expensive here!)

Anyways, the point will be to add a nicer floor next summer, if I can't swing it this year. Now, I know what you're likely thinking, but I do not plan on building this thing out like so many of you do. While I do admire the full builds, this is not my intention. I want zero walls, and my cabinets will be from repurposed dressers/desks/etc, bolted or screwed to the floor. So that stuff shouldn't be too difficult to remove if I need to.

I'm leaning more towards adding the nice floor in this year, but I'm still uncertain. Those that have chimed in so far, thanks very much! Giving me much to think about.
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Old 05-20-2017, 02:44 PM   #6
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No judgements here. Make it your own! Sounds like you have a plan. Do the plan.

I've dropped a lot of money into my build. Still spending again today. I hate cheap plywood that I have to use a crowbar to make flat (speaking of cabinetry... not your floor). So I've been buying the $45 sheets of 3/4 birch and oak. I keep telling myself it's only $50 more that pine. But it DOES add up!

Have fun! Post pics!

Ross
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Old 05-20-2017, 04:21 PM   #7
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If you're going to winter in Portland you're going to need insulation to be comfortable and reduce heating costs. My insulation will have paid for itself within a couple of years easily.

I did the same thing you're doing, but last summer, trying to get the insulation done before the cold weather got here.

There's the foam guy down in Albany that will spray a bus interior with foundation grade foam for $800. Spray foam insulation costs are reported as much higher all across the country.
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Old 05-20-2017, 06:11 PM   #8
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I put carpeting on the front and rear 1/3ds of Brunhilde with beaucoup padding underneath. The center 1/3 is covered in lino. Coupled with my neuropathy, I don't feel cold floors at all. Of course, she came from Indiana, not known for warm winters.
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Old 05-20-2017, 07:59 PM   #9
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plywood planks

I ripped 3/8 plywood into 6 " planks then glued them and nailed gunned them down to my 3/4 plywood subfloor which had been sealed with a paint on membrane. The planks were painted, distressed then varnished before laying down, then varnished again in place. It looks great, like an old farmhouse floor. So far, I love it.

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Old 05-20-2017, 09:15 PM   #10
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Nice job. I love the look. I've never seen plywood ripped down to get the look though.
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Old 05-21-2017, 02:10 PM   #11
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Looks fab. I've seen that whitewashed too... Looks so nice Well done!

Also re: floor debate... You'll save a TON of weight by not adding another layer of floor! Just a thought

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Old 05-25-2017, 12:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennynic View Post
I ripped 3/8 plywood into 6 " planks then glued them and nailed gunned them down to my 3/4 plywood subfloor which had been sealed with a paint on membrane. The planks were painted, distressed then varnished before laying down, then varnished again in place. It looks great, like an old farmhouse floor. So far, I love it.

Awesome! I dig the look!
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Old 05-25-2017, 12:22 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
If you're going to winter in Portland you're going to need insulation to be comfortable and reduce heating costs. My insulation will have paid for itself within a couple of years easily.

I did the same thing you're doing, but last summer, trying to get the insulation done before the cold weather got here.

There's the foam guy down in Albany that will spray a bus interior with foundation grade foam for $800. Spray foam insulation costs are reported as much higher all across the country.
Hmm, that's not terrible, though I think I am leaning towards rigid foam due to cost. I haven't gotten a hard estimate on what it will cost me yet, but surely a bit less than that.
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Old 05-25-2017, 12:29 AM   #14
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New plan! Or just a thought.... convince me otherwise!

I am able to get free, lightly used, 4'x8' sheets of 15/32" thick OSB from my work. I'm thinking that I will lay this over the insulation, then buy .25" or .5" birch (or other nice looking) plywood to put over top of that, offsetting the seams. I know that OSB is not ideal since it will expand when it gets wet and won't contract back, but I figure if I sheet with plywood over top, there won't be nearly as many seams to leak through compared to laminate or hardwood.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-25-2017, 10:56 AM   #15
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I love the wood look.

That's my theory too. I put up plywood that looks like a subfloor on the walls and ceilings with the idea that it could be covered with any aesthetic material.

I have no personal experience with OSB. It swells up like a sponge when water gets on it so I have this natural aversion to that type of product.
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:11 AM   #16
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New plan! Or just a thought.... convince me otherwise!

I am able to get free, lightly used, 4'x8' sheets of 15/32" thick OSB from my work. I'm thinking that I will lay this over the insulation, then buy .25" or .5" birch (or other nice looking) plywood to put over top of that, offsetting the seams. I know that OSB is not ideal since it will expand when it gets wet and won't contract back, but I figure if I sheet with plywood over top, there won't be nearly as many seams to leak through compared to laminate or hardwood.

Thoughts?
You said you're ripping it out after a year right? If so why bother spending money? Get the OSB, paint it with a latex paint to give it something of a water-proofing, then go to Home Depot and find some remnant thin laminate. Only needs to hold together for a yr or 2.

As for your cabinets, I'd skip the dresser as a cabinet idea. God awful look. Google Habitat for Humanity or Community Aid or the like and get the real thing. You can buy doors, windows, sinks, cabinets, etc. for next to nothing from houses that have been upgraded, demo'ed, etc. Keep an eye on Craig's List. NOW is the time of year to go "shopping" for curb furniture. There are dorm rooms somewhere near by.
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:14 AM   #17
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OSB is squishy... i have a whole freakin house full of the crap... only floor in my house that feels solid is the common area where i layed 3/4" oak hardwood on top of the OSB..

plus I had one washing machine spill.. a hose cracked and leaked not more than a few minutes but bad enough it got under the vinyl floor and buckled the OSB subfloor.. the marine grade plywood the washer is sitting on got the direct leak and took it like a champ..

I wouldnt put anything but marine grade plywood in the bottom of a bus.. unless you are crazy vigilant about sealing up leaks and have no skoolie windows left.. theres likely some spot in a school bus that still leaks.. except maybe for those that have sealed every rivet and ditched every skoolie window for RV windows or skinned over with lots of seam sealer on the metal joints..

or your bus is going to be in the desert 90% of the year..

-Christopher
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Old 05-25-2017, 12:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
OSB is squishy... i have a whole freakin house full of the crap... only floor in my house that feels solid is the common area where i layed 3/4" oak hardwood on top of the OSB..

plus I had one washing machine spill.. a hose cracked and leaked not more than a few minutes but bad enough it got under the vinyl floor and buckled the OSB subfloor.. the marine grade plywood the washer is sitting on got the direct leak and took it like a champ..

I wouldnt put anything but marine grade plywood in the bottom of a bus.. unless you are crazy vigilant about sealing up leaks and have no skoolie windows left.. theres likely some spot in a school bus that still leaks.. except maybe for those that have sealed every rivet and ditched every skoolie window for RV windows or skinned over with lots of seam sealer on the metal joints..

or your bus is going to be in the desert 90% of the year..

-Christopher
Marine grade is expensive. And you're going to do all of this work to rip it back out in a year? I don't think so.

Remember the original post. You're building a bus to last 20 yrs. He's building one as cheap as possible to last 2 yrs tops. If he's got the money NOW then by all means, use marine grade. Personally, I hate even touching OSB. Nothing but splinters and a huge PITA. But for a year and $100, he's got a floor and all the cabinets he needs if he shops at the community aid places. Kinda hard to beat that when you have to be out by the end of the month and you don't get paid again until mid next month.*

*I don't think the OP is on that tight a schedule or budget but you get the point.
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewerbob View Post
You said you're ripping it out after a year right? If so why bother spending money? Get the OSB, paint it with a latex paint to give it something of a water-proofing, then go to Home Depot and find some remnant thin laminate. Only needs to hold together for a yr or 2.

As for your cabinets, I'd skip the dresser as a cabinet idea. God awful look. Google Habitat for Humanity or Community Aid or the like and get the real thing. You can buy doors, windows, sinks, cabinets, etc. for next to nothing from houses that have been upgraded, demo'ed, etc. Keep an eye on Craig's List. NOW is the time of year to go "shopping" for curb furniture. There are dorm rooms somewhere near by.
What I meant was that I could remove the cabinets and lay nicer floor on top of the plywood. Not rip the whole floor out. Whatever goes in as far as the flooring goes, I would like to either add to, or just complete it the first time around.

As for my idea with the cabinets, I respectfully disagree. Although I'm sure it could look awful if I used cheap, poorly made dresser/table/etc. I do not care for the look of standard cabinets.

A bus build that has inspired this build so far is here:

https://www.facebook.com/laLUNABUS/

I really love the look that they got with the used furniture. They ended up bolting everything to the floor.

A big reason I don't want to use "standard" cabinets is that I like the idea of being able to relatively easily move the furniture, should I decide I don't like the layout.
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
OSB is squishy... i have a whole freakin house full of the crap... only floor in my house that feels solid is the common area where i layed 3/4" oak hardwood on top of the OSB..

plus I had one washing machine spill.. a hose cracked and leaked not more than a few minutes but bad enough it got under the vinyl floor and buckled the OSB subfloor.. the marine grade plywood the washer is sitting on got the direct leak and took it like a champ..

I wouldnt put anything but marine grade plywood in the bottom of a bus.. unless you are crazy vigilant about sealing up leaks and have no skoolie windows left.. theres likely some spot in a school bus that still leaks.. except maybe for those that have sealed every rivet and ditched every skoolie window for RV windows or skinned over with lots of seam sealer on the metal joints..

or your bus is going to be in the desert 90% of the year..

-Christopher
I will have to keep that as a consideration, but OUCH my wallet! I plan to keep all skoolie windows but I am going to fully remove and reseal all of them.
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