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Old 11-14-2012, 01:18 PM   #1
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Rotted interior wall - how to remove wall paper to repair wood (w/o destroying it)?

Greetings,
I have a 2002 Fleetwood Storm 30’ Class A RV that I have a slight water leak issue with and I’m hoping the collective experience of this web community can help me come up with the root cause of the problem as well as the best way to fix it.

Some history – we got the motorhome in 2010 and found out right away that we had a couple of water leaks. One was the antenna mast and the other, more significant one, was the right front sliding window. It appeared that the drain holes that are cut into the frame were plugged so the water was actually just accumulating in the lower track and then spilling out on the inside. In the cavity between where rain water would enter the frame from above and where it would exit and run down the side of the coach, there was a foam weather strip. It appeared that this weather strip was keeping water from draining out freely. I was able to pull out enough of the foam to open a path from the water entrance holes to the exit holes and I never saw any evidence of leaks after that.

Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago when I was doing my winter prep and I noticed the armrest/cupholder that was mounted to the wall below the window that used to leak was loose. I checked it out and found that a huge portion of the wall below the window was rotten so the screws wouldn’t stay in. Much of the wall paper was bubbled/loose over the rotted area. I immediately checked out the drain situation on the window and found that there was still a large piece of foam down in the lower window track cavity. I pulled the whole strip out. I compared the ‘bad’ window with the one on the other side and they are of different construction and that the other side doesn’t use any foam. Strange I think.

My questions –
Is it safe to assume that the water damage on the interior wall is from the window having blocked drain holes – or – do I need to take the window out and check the frame for cracks or places that may not be sealed properly? (I had the situation in my house where my door wall had 3 screws that went down into the subfloor that were left unsealed by the builder so I had to replace some of my subfloor due to water intrusion/wood rot… so I know it happens)

Can anyone tell me the best way to fix the wall myself? If I can figure out how to get a good sized piece of wall paper off without totally destroying it so I can put it back on after replacing the wood, I’m perfectly capable of fixing the wood. The problem is how to get the wall paper off without destroying it?

Another option I thought of would be to remount the armrest with new attachment locations – in good wood – and leave the rotted interior wall alone… It’s pretty much hidden so as long as I’ve stopped the leak, do I really need to replace the wood?

THANKS!
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:34 PM   #2
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Does the window that's leaking butt up against the windshield on one side? If so, I would pull the molding off the inside and do an inspection of the area close to the top. Somehow you need to determine if the water leak has compromised the seal between the window and the exterior. Not sure how Fleetwood puts windows in but with Winnebago thereis no frame around the window. They just cut a hole in the Fiberglass-foam-in-wall-Luan (sandwiched together) and screw the frame together from inside. On mine the windshield had leaked and the seal around the window was compromised. It was quite a job to repair, we had to plane some hardwood and epoxy it on the inside of the fiberglass in order to have something to screw the frame to. Once done I put insulating material around the bottom and side of window and used a 1/4" thick wallboard to finish off the area. My unit drains right over this window (A/C and rain) if the unit is lower in the front. This could have contributed also.
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Old 11-14-2012, 04:37 PM   #3
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This company advertises they can duplicate the wallpaper for you,

RV Wallpaper Duplicators
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:40 PM   #4
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Thanks for the lead on the wall paper duplicator - based on their phone number, they're in my area (S.E. Michigan)

As for the location of the window relative to the windshield, it is separated by 2" - 3" so there is a thin piece strip of the flat exterior surface between the side window and the fiberglass 'cap' that is the front end of the RV. The joint has a 1" piece of trim over it. Perhaps I should remove this exterior trim strip and see if there is a seal and if it's functioning properly.
On the inside, there is a 3" - 4" molded trim piece that covers the joint.

When in storage (99% of the time), the RV is tilted toward the front. This could make a very small leak a very big problem over time.

Thanks for the replies!
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:08 PM   #5
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I don't know of any magic way to remove and reuse wallpaper, especially if it's bubbled and damaged from moisture. The paneling is often particle board or some other material also very easily damaged by moisture. I would remove the damaged panel, inspect for damage in studs, floor, and surrounding area, then replace the paneling. Rot has a nasty habit of spreading to any wood in contact with the rotted material, so if you ignore it, it will just get worse, not to mention mold and damage to other structural material, including the exterior skin that could start to delaminate if moisture attacks from behind.

Most RV windows are held in place by a trim ring on the inside that has screws every few inches all the way around attaching to the exterior window rim. Remove all the screws, having someone on the outside during the last few screws ready to catch or hold the window in place as the last screws are removed. Once loose, push the window out from the inside and lower to the ground. You can then examine the gasket (typically butyl rubber) around the window opening. Scrape, clean and replace with proper gasket material. Do not use silicone, it will fail.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:06 AM   #6
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Do not use silicone, it will fail.
Is the rubber seal that goes around the windows supposed to seal the RV by itself (without sealer) or is it assumed that when you remove a window that you have to use sealer?

What kind of sealer should I use? I'd assume I can get the right stuff at Camping World but what about an auto parts store or hardware store?

Anything else I need to know prior to pulling the window? I need to be able to do this over a weekend so lining up materials ahead of time is important.

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-15-2012, 09:46 AM   #7
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If it's on the inside of an RV, it's not "wallpaper" it's what in a stick's 'n' bricks we'd call "panelling".

It's very thin plywood (usually Luan Mahogany) that comes with the 'wallpaper' already attached, they just cut it to size and tack it to the wall and ceiling. That's why there's beading, or some form of trim, in every corner and seams are covered with a sort of matching tape.

Any lumber yard or building supply place can order it for you in a wide range of patterns.
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Old 11-15-2012, 09:48 AM   #8
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Here's a couple of good 'How to'
VIDEO: How To Replace RV Windows Yourself - The Fun Times Guide to RVing
How to Replace RV Windows - Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com

The 'gasket' that goes around the exterior rim of the window is butyl tape. Check Camping World or local RV dealer or repair shop. Once the window is reinstalled, a small bead of silicone caulk can be applied at the top and sides of the rim to keep water from going between window rim and sidewall. It does often fail, and needs to be checked and/or replaced each year.
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:22 AM   #9
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yes, I guess it would techinically be 'paneling'... That might make it a little harder to get 'wall paper' that matches - but perhaps that place linked earlier can match any wall covering regardless of wheter it's paneling or wall paper.

Also, thanks for the how-to links.

Neil
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:26 AM   #10
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this is not a fun project. I had a similar problem in the bedroom and removed the wall covering. As others have indicated, it was a covered luan plywood product. Decided to go with a stained wood replacement. I used red oak plywood, stained, and light application of poly. Looks like new and stain matches other wall finish perfectly.
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:01 AM   #11
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I was able to get replacement luan with the attached vinyl and matching vinyl tape directly from Fleetwood for my then seven year old Bounder. There's no way of removing the vinyl from the luan without damaging one or the other. I'd recommend completely removing the window, repairing the wood, and replacing the window making sure it's properly sealed.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neo102470 View Post
Is the rubber seal that goes around the windows supposed to seal the RV by itself (without sealer) or is it assumed that when you remove a window that you have to use sealer?

What kind of sealer should I use? I'd assume I can get the right stuff at Camping World but what about an auto parts store or hardware store?

Anything else I need to know prior to pulling the window? I need to be able to do this over a weekend so lining up materials ahead of time is important.

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!
There are two types of window seal construction:
1. A rubber seal that goes around the metal window frame. The seal is visable from the outside of the coach.
2. A butyl tape sealant that is applied to the backside of the frame and is sandwiched between the window frame and the fiberglass sidewall.
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:20 PM   #13
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This company advertises they can duplicate the wallpaper for you,

RV Wallpaper Duplicators
Thanks for that link. I have it bookmarked. It could come in handy someday.
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
Here's a couple of good 'How to'
VIDEO: How To Replace RV Windows Yourself - The Fun Times Guide to RVing
How to Replace RV Windows - Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com

The 'gasket' that goes around the exterior rim of the window is butyl tape. Check Camping World or local RV dealer or repair shop. Once the window is reinstalled, a small bead of silicone caulk can be applied at the top and sides of the rim to keep water from going between window rim and sidewall. It does often fail, and needs to be checked and/or replaced each year.
Again, do not use silicone! Besides better caulks being available, once silicone has been applied and cured, nothing will ever stick to it, including silicone; it has to be completely removed, a difficult job at best.
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