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Old 04-18-2019, 10:08 PM   #1
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My Fix to the Saggy Ceiling Syndrome

My 2007 Winnebago developed some saggy vinyl ceiling due to me unintentionally putting some stress on it that broke the "elderly" bond between the vinyl and foam backing. This is how I fixed my ceiling for a little more than $500 and it could be done for much less if one didn't use all the costly wood molding I used to trim out the project.

Here's a couple pictures of the extent of the bubbling:

I tried to do a re-glue based on instructions from a member in the Winnebago subform of IRV2, and it worked OK, but I wasn't completely happy with the results:

So after a lot of thought and examining many options, I decided to use flexible PVC Ceiling tiles trimmed out in wood. The ceiling tiles come in a variety of patterns including just plain ones, so you have a good choice based on your tastes.

Here's the steps I used to complete my project.

These are the starting materials. White (I would have liked off-white, but they were not available) ceiling panels and small paneling nails that are ring shanked for holding power. They proved to hold VERY well into the 3/16" thick ceiling panels.

The white ceiling panels are approximately 23 3/4" square and when one end was slid up under the existing structure that holds up the vinyl, two of them just covered the length between those structures. So in net, one side of each panel is held up by the existing structure and the panel nails hold up the other three sides. With the existing vinyl still in place to keep the project clean, it was a tight fit to get the panels under that structure, but a putty knife will help you hold it open as you carefully push the panel in place.

Continue installing the panels over the area you want to cover.

You may notice that I have about a 3" gap between the panels and the wall. This was because of the plans I had for doing the wood moulding where the ceiling and wall above the slides meet. If you do this project and don't want to spend the money or take the time to do a bunch of wood moulding, you might want to go ahead and butt the panels right up to the wall. You'll also see that I did NOT do the entire ceiling as the entire ceiling was not damaged and I was able to avoid trying to take out and reinstall over the panels, in a way that would look nice, all the vent covers, lights, speakers, etc. that run down the center of the ceiling.

TIP: Pre-drill the holes for the nails in the ceiling panels. The PVC can crack with a nail driven directly through it, plus, it saves some pounding on the ceiling. With holes drilled, I easily installed the nails by hand with a regular hammer.

Here's the ceiling with just the panels installed on both sides:

If you wanted to do this for a minimum cost, you could now trim this out with some low-cost white trim and be done. I got the panels on sale for $6.99 each. With tax, I had about $120 into the white ceiling panels and a few bucks for the nails.

I had decided that I wanted to really spruce up the project by doing some nice woodwork to trim out the project. Here's my materials list. I'm including links to the materials where I purchased them not to say this is the only place that has the materials but so that you can look at the specs to find like materials at your favorite home project supply store. As a side note, I would have preferred to use maple, but I couldn't find it locally in the styles I wanted, so I used Poplar, which worked just fine.

1. 1/4 x 3 x 8' Unfinished Poplar Lattice Moulding

2. 1/4 x 3/4 x 8' Unfinished Poplar Screenstock

3. 3/4 x 3/4 x 8' Unfinished Poplar Quarter Round Moulding

4. 7/8 x 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 Unfinished Poplar Rosette Moulding

5. 3/8 x 2 x 8' Unfinished Poplar Panel/Mullion Casing

6. Stain to compliment existing stains in the motorhome. We went a little darker, but with the same kind of "cinnamon" tint.

7. A clear finish of your choice. I used a Minwax spray product for ease of application and quick drying.

8. For all the woodwork I used an air brad nailer and brads of appropriate length based on which piece of molding I was installing. I do NOT recommend trying to nail wood molding up by hand. It takes too much pounding. The air nailer worked like a charm and took tons of work and grief out of the project. I bought the air brad nailer that handles 5/8" to 2" brads for less than $50. It also handles big staples and I do enough projects around the house that this tool can be used for that and was an easy justification for me to buy one.

9. Screws that will work with your coach's structure to attach what I will call "base" layers to the ceiling and walls. I needed two types....a hardened screw to drive into the aluminum header (pre-drilled holes) above the slides. A fine thread drywall screw to go into the ceiling. These worked well for me, but again, you will need to understand your underlying structure and choose fasteners appropriate to your project in form, length, and material.

Step one was to finish all the wood moulding.

Step two was to use some of the 1/4 x3 flat stock to cover the area on the walls above the slides. I used a 1/4" Forstner bit to put a countersink about 1/8" deep and then used a tapered countersink in the bottom of that for the flat head screw to fit down into. After preparing those holes in the wood, I held the wood up and pre-drilled the aluminum header above the slide and installed the screws. For some reason I forgot to take pictures of this step but you'll see the result in other pictures coming up. When I got to my finishing step, I used a putty pen closely matching the stained wood to fill in the forstner bit hole and you really cannot even see them in the finished product unless you really examine it closely.

Step three was to install what I will call an underlying base layer of trim on the ceiling. I think the pictures will explain it better, but with the roof structure that is holding up the vinyl and now my panels and the fact the the vinyl and underlying foam "give" about a 1/4" under pressure, I had to put in the underlying layer so that the "finish" layer laid over the top of all the structure on the ceiling. Because this underlying layer would be covered up, I could use the fine thread sheetrock screws to attach it firmly to the ceiling structure and it would be covered up.

Here's the pictures.

Step four is to install the next layer which will lay directly on top of the base layer, but over the ceiling structures. I used the air nailer and brads to install this layer. When pressed together, the seam virtually disappears. This is one reason I used TWO 1/4" layers vs one 1/2" thick flat stock with the areas over the ceiling structures routed out. Plus, using the two layers allowed the underlying layer to use a much heavier fastener on the base without it being seen on the finished project.

Step five was to trim out the wall to ceiling corners with the 3/4" quarter round.

TIP: As you develop your plan to attack your project be keenly aware of EXACTLY how your slides, if you have them, move in relation to anything sticking out of the wall or down from the ceiling. You should run your slides in and out carefully observing the tolerances you have to the wall above the slide and the ceiling at all movement of the slides in and out to understand what clearances you have to work with. My kitchen slide basically comes straight in and out, so it was not hard to work around. However, my dinette slide first comes straight up several inches, the slowly archs up and in when retracting. I had to be extremely careful in my design that I did not have a trim design that the slide would hit when going in or out.

Step six was to apply what I will call the decorative layer using the rosettes and mullion casing. First I applied the mullion casing over the second layer of 1/4 x 3's along the wall/ceiling juncture. Other than filling any holes with wood putty and touching up any place that the stain got damaged when cutting, the corners are now complete.

Step seven is to apply the rosettes on the corners of the "inside square" and also any you may want spaced inbetween the corners. My wife and I decided we wanted one where each of the ceiling support structures met the wood base layer. Again, the pictures will tell a better story. These rosettes were glued and nailed to make sure they would hold solidly.

Step eight is to fill in between the rosettes with the mullion casing:

Step nine is to use the screenstock to cover the seam/nails between the panels:

Step ten is to finish off any areas where the panels meet directly with a wall. I used some white heavy stick on window/door weather sealers:

As a last step, I touched up any holes with putty and any tiny areas where stain chipped off during sawing of the material. This finished off the project!

I know that fixing the "saggy ceiling syndrome" is something many want to do, but may not know exactly how to attack it for a reasonable cost. This is the way I approached it that was relatively low cost and hopefully looks nice as well. This method should work regardless of if you have a motorhome, fiver, or TT.

As I said at the beginning, this project could be done for much less money by skipping all the woodwork and trimming it up lightly with white molding of some kind, so it could be a very inexpensive way to fix the problem.

I have received a number of compliments and the best, to me, was when I recently traded in the unit and the owner of Steinbring's Motorcoach immediately commented positively on the way I fixed that age old problem of the saggy ceiling. The comment wasn't used to try to degrade the value of the coach, but rather as a way to get a good result that held the value at a reasonable cost to repair. That was good enough for me! Another person that looked at my coach immediately stated that he really liked the look...much better than just the plain all-vinyl ceilings.

Now, I know that what I did may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I have had some validation that this approach is acceptable to potential buyers and people actually in the business of buying and selling motorhomes.

I hope this helps anyone wondering about another possible way to approach this kind of fix. If anyone has questions, feel free to PM me and I'll answer what I can about the way I approached my project.

"Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning"
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Old 04-18-2019, 10:15 PM   #2
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Did you fix the roof leak first?
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Old 04-18-2019, 10:23 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
Did you fix the roof leak first?

There was no roof leak. As I said in my "story" I did this by accidentally stretching the vinyl material and breaking the bond between the vinyl and the foam backing. I was at first attempting to do a little "spruce up" of the areas above the slides by installing some woodwork and in having the fit too tight, stretched the length of the material. Again, nothing to do with any water intrusion. Simply a completely unintentional, but stupid mistake on my part.
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Old 04-18-2019, 10:55 PM   #4
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Old 04-19-2019, 12:35 AM   #5
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Very nice craftsmanship!
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:14 AM   #6
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Looks great
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:58 AM   #7
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That looks great nice solution to a big problem, i'am having same type problem in master bedroom I've re glued it with fair results but it may come down to a solution like yours,i was a carpenter for 30 yrs so install should be no problem I said should,your trim color looks amazingly close to mine if I may ask what stain did you use Thanks John and good job
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Old 04-19-2019, 11:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by cataska View Post
your trim color looks amazingly close to mine if I may ask what stain did you use

John, I used Minwax Water Based Wood Stain Clear Tint Base in the Oriental Ginger standard color (they have to mix it, so get the can of tint base off the shelf and whoever you buy it from will take care of you.)

A comment that I found this stain difficult to work with. It doesn't soak in like a nice oil-based stain. The best I can describe it is like using extremely thin paint. I had to go over some areas twice to get the coverage I needed. In the end, it worked out great, but it took some patience in the application process!
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Old 04-19-2019, 04:51 PM   #9
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Thank you.
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