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Discussion Starter #1
I have severe environmental sensitivities, and I can't seem to find plywood that my body is OK with right now. So I'm trying to come up with some kind of subflooring to put above XPS foam insulation on the floor. Before I realized this plywood thing was going to be such an issue, I put down the insulation: A layer of Reflectix, and then 3/4" XPS foam. So the foam isn't super well supported in the gaps. (Yeah, yeah, these choices weren't ideal, but there you have it. :)

The only non-wood idea I have at the moment is sheet metal, which would be fine, though it's expensive and requires a fabricator, so it'd slow things down. I considered something like Durock or magnesium oxide board, but I assume they would crack terribly. Anyone have another creative idea?
 

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Sorry to hear of your allergies Julie. You must also be concerned your problems will extend far beyond just the plywood floor in a custom van build. Is it just direct contact that's the problem? If the plywood was covered with a sheet flooring (like vinyl or rubber) maybe you would be less reactive to it.
 

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Spanning the ribs is OK with the XPS foam as it is reated for 25#/sq. inch I believe.
The factory floor has a plastic top layer that is a bit slippery but might be available from someone here who is taking it out. I think you can buy ABS or other plastic sheeting in any thickness from a supplier. 1/2” should do it but will be heavy and slippery if wet too.
Most new decking planks would work although a bit thick and would require a bunch of fasteners.
Better read up here on insulating before you buy a bunch of XPS. Ok on the floor but begins to melt at 160ºF and the roof and walls can reach that.
 

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Julie, you say "subfloor." What do you plan as your final floor?

What if the ply were sealed all four sides? That should not be difficult to do--several coats of water-based poly or paint, let it dry thoroughly before installation? The nice thing for you is that with an impervious surface, the floor should never be able to grow mold.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmm, the ABS idea is really interesting, and there's a local supplier. Any idea if I could install finish flooring right on top of that, like Marmoleum? Thanks so much.
 

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Another thing to consider is tile underpayment like Hardyplank or Wonderboard from HD or Lowes. If you cover it with carpet it may work - not a great solution but doable. Some people have also used rubberized horse mat from Tractor a Supply with good results but I think rubber smell might be a problem.
 

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It isn't the best choice because it's concrete based with mesh to strengthen it. If you seal the seams with mesh joint tape and thin set it might work out tho.
 

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Hmm, the ABS idea is really interesting, and there's a local supplier. Any idea if I could install finish flooring right on top of that, like Marmoleum? Thanks so much.
Research what can stick to ABS as it is in a class of plastics that might present issues with adhesives. It is glued to itself with heat or a solvent (Acetone I think) spray 3M 90 so they say will work so the Marmolium might be useable.
Caution that it expands a lot with temperature changes so provide relief for that. .375” should give a real solid floor but will it stay flat? Ask your supplier.
 

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Glad to see you are considering Marmoleum. It is truly great stuff. Its antimicrobial properties should be good for you. It is applied with a water-soluble black goopy adhesive. You might contact the manufacturer (forbo.com) and pose your question there.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Excellent suggestion, msnomer. Thanks -- just emailed them.

If I do end up going with sheet metal, do I need to provide room for expansion of the metal? That is, should I make my template a little bit small so that the metal can expand?

And I'll ask the ABS sheet supplier about dealing with expansion tomorrow.

You guys are awesome! Thanks a million for your help.
 

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One more thought that just occurred to me: A cork floating floor. If, of course, I could tolerate it.
Have you tried formaldehyde-free plywood? This is what I was planning with a VOC sealer. I am still in the planning stage of my build and I am focused on low toxicity.

Marmoleum is great if you aren't sensitive to linseed oil. Also the click version that doesn't use adhesive would be best. Cork flooring will offgas for a while.

Strips of 8020 aluminum extrusions might work for a subfloor with some flooring on top. Also if you can't use plywood then you could build all structures from 8020.
 

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If mold specifically is your issue, I'd think you'd be fine with ply. Under Marmoleum, the only place it could ever get wet would be at the doors, and those areas could be sealed.
 

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ABS can off gas, as can the XPS that you already have installed.
readily available 6mm ABS would be too thin. thicker is expensive.

other options:
Okoume Ply
coosa board
CoreRigid (structural ABS)

We like minicell foam under Okoume plywood floors.
Minicell does not off gas and will never squeak

Call us at DIYvan and we can discuss further
 

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Durock and wonderboard off gas a lot, I used to use it in bathrooms. Would not hold up well in a van, near zero structural strength. I would try MDO medium density overlay, a plywood used for signs. I would seal all 6 sides just in case.
 

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Hi,
You may have already done this, but if you google "non allergenic plywood" some interesting links come up. One uses a soy based glue, but that may not be any better.

I think that some of the hardboards or pressedboards are just fine wood particles that have been pressed together under high pressure -- so, no noxious glue.

Gary
 

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Hi Julie -
I use Coosa Composites Bluewater board for my BASE4X4 sub-floors: fiberglass reinforced polyurethane foam. Lighter than plywood and no chance of any rot/mold/moisture related problems.
Mark
 
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