Removing the floors of the bus was one of the easiest steps but at the same time, very tedious. I saw many examples of people on the internet leaving in the existing floors in their school bus conversion. But I am very particular about these things and I try to do things as close to perfect as I can. As I looked at the floors and debated if I should remove them or not, I knew that at the end of the day if I did not remove these floors and check what was under there, I would regret it in the future.
Materials and tools I used for this step
Hand tools and power tools
- 7” Grinder
- 4 ½ “ Grinder
- 3 ½” Die Grinder
- Dust Mask
- Clear Professional Face Shield
- Mechanic Gloves
Paints and prepping
- Spray Bottle
- Lacquer Thinner
- Box of Rags
- 6” Foam Paint Roller
What are the floors made of In our school bus?
The floors in this bus are (starting from the top) is 1/8 inch rubber linoleum style flooring covering a 3/4 inch pressure-treated plywood floor. Underneath the plywood is the main floor of the bus which is steel. The floors were just nailed in with roofing nails. I would’ve never imagined that the floors would’ve been held in with roofing nails.
How do we remove the floors?
We made a video explaining this step in better detail than I will be able to explain in a blog post but I will try to give you a brief explanation. I cut the plywood with a 3 ½ inch die grinder roughly 3 ½ feet apart. After the cuts were made. I used a 1 inch 4 foot long stock steel bar as a prybar. I used a sledgehammer to hammer the prybar wedged in between the steel floor bed and the plywood. That prybar gave me the ability to pry up the wood floor with relative ease. After I removed the wood there were some nails left in the steel floor that had their heads rusted off. I cut the nails with my 3 ½ inch die grinder immediately, for safety reasons. I didn’t want any of my kids or anyone else to step one of those rusty nails.
How bad were the floors?
The steel floors overall were not too bad. There was just a little bit of surface rust with a couple of moderately rusty areas. It was nothing out of this world. But I am definitely happy I decided to remove both floors.
Prepping the floors for refinishing
I also made a video for this step explaining what I did. But as stated above, I will try my best to explain it. The main tool I use for this step was a 7 inch grinder and 4 ½ inch grinder. With that grinder I was able to take care of most of the rust on the floor. I also needed to used a 80 grit grinding pad and a 3 inch grinder to get to the spots that were to hard to reach with my big grinder.
After I was done grinding the floor I blew off the floor with my air compressor and a handheld gas blower. It was important to try to get rid of any metal filings, dust, or rust particles left over. After the floor was as clean as I could get it, I went ahead and I wiped it down with lacquer thinner to remove any grease, oils, or residues left over. Making sure the floor was clean before applying the paint was important because this would allow better adhesion to the floor.
Ospho Rust neutralizer
Before painting the floors I applied Ospho. Ospho is a rust neutralizer that I have been using on all of my projects as far back as I can remember. I can even remember my dad using it his body shop as a kid. I’ve tried many others products that claim to do the same thing but nothing else has worked as well Ospho has for me. After getting rid of any heavy spots of rust with the grinders I applied it with a spray bottle making sure to get all of the bare metal covered and then let it sit 24 hours. After the 24 hours you will see the white ashy residue and dark spots. The dark spots are where the heavier rust was and the ashy residue should be throughout all of the sheet metal. At this point you should be able to clean off the ashy residue with a wire brush or grinding pad and paint right over it.
Before I painted the floors
I did the grinding and rust neutralizer steps twice. I know many people in my industry would say that doing this step two times is a waste of time. But I have been doing it this way and it has led to better results for me over the long run.
Painting the floors with POR-15
Now on to painting the floors. I use the product called POR-15 for any project that requires me to seal in the rust. Again, this is one of the products that I’ve been using for a very long time and I’ve had great results with it. There are products out there similar to this, and I’m sure that some of those products would have worked just as well for this application but I personally prefer POR-15 over many of the other products out there. It can be a little pricey at about 150.00 a gallon but I think it’s well worth it.
I used a foam paint roller to apply the paint to the floor. The reason I went with a foam roller instead of spraying it on was just because it’s a little less messy. Also, because I am going to lay new wood on top of the sheet metal, the appearance of the paint wasn’t that important.
My final thoughts
So in closing, this step overall wasn’t too difficult. It took me about four working days over a two week period to complete the whole process. I am definitely glad I remove the floors before I went on to the next step. Thank you for reading and watching these videos. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer them! Thanks again!