Hello fellow RV’ers and all to soon be part of the RV family!
Mason here with Hitched and Halling. We are here to tell you all about tips for RV Renovation!
Katherine and I renovated our 2009 Forest River Cardinal 3150RL fifth wheel in 2018 and began our full-time life on the road in the summer of 2019. If you are like us, you know that most trailers, new and old, have similar interiors and an insane amount of Beige (if you like the color Beige, this post may not be for you). Below I will take you through each of the main sections that most RV renovators (including us) modernize in their rigs to give it that “wow” factor.
Please check out our Instagram @hitched_and_halling before reading forward to get the full picture of our renovation and travels!
For us and most, flooring seemed like the best place to start when redecorating our RV. If you are not great with a brush, I can definitely see how starting with the paint would be beneficial. After removing everything from the RV that can fit out the door, redoing the floors can seem daunting at first. Katherine and I had no idea how to do any of it, but thanks to YouTube anything is possible. Our best tips regarding floors would be:
Invest in solid underlayment. This will soften the floor to the step, prevent creaking and squeaking, and most importantly provide insulation in the cold if you plan on Winter camping. We went for the bargain underlayment, and now our feet pay the price by freezing at colder destinations.
Take your time. If this is your first step in your renovation process, I promise you will want to pay most attention to the floors and not be too excited on moving on to quickly. When traveling, your RV shakes in ways you can’t imagine and can lift up or shift flooring. Even on our smoothest trips, some of stuff has been halfway across the rig! Be thorough when placing down your flooring, you’ll thank yourself in the future when you don’t have to do it again.
Be SUPER careful if you had slide-outs. Different trailers have different slide-outs but be sure to check you are not going to hinder your slide(s) from performing as usual. We added a 1/2 inch sheet of plywood to each of our slides to leave room for molding on the edges of the slides, however, we did not know the screws we used to secure the plywood to the slide floor would leave deep scratches when we first tested closing the slides. Flooring is even more fun when you get to do it all over again!
Buy more flooring than you need. Save yourself time (especially if you live 40 minutes from the nearest flooring store like we did) and buy at least an extra box/roll of all your flooring materials. You can always take it back, but if you have room in your rig, bring the extras along for any replacements you may have to make on the road.
Good ol’ painting. Seems like it would be like so much fun in your mind, but after one coat of primer you’ll be sick of it. We had no prior painting knowledge, but figured how hard could it be? Not hard, just time consuming. During our renovation, we were both working full-time jobs which made painting the longest process of the entire project. Although some would consider it “tiny-living” painting our 38ft bundle of joy seemed like a mansion. Our RV originally had wallpaper, but we ended up just painting right over (even after a lot of people saying it was a bad idea). It took a couple extra coats, but there are no blemishes on our walls. Here are our best tips for painting:
Don’t be cheap, buy good paint. I always try to research and get the best product value. I saw a ton of others who had used Valspar 2000 paint for their RV, which was relatively inexpensive compared to other paints. I did 3 coats on our interior walls with that and could still see the wallpaper creeping through. Then switched to the pricier PPG Manor Hall and only needed one coat to be done. Would most likely only need 2 coats of quality paint, or you can do a couple of coats with cheap paint and top it off with something better like we did. Either or should get the job done!
Buy a lot of painter’s tape. We did not replace any appliances (the previous owner had really only used the rig as a place to sleep, not much of a chef) so we painted with our appliances in place. Be sure to take your time and set painters tape so you do not permanently coat something on accident (I accidently painted a white line on our RV microwave and get scowled at by Katherine to this day since it won’t come off all the way)!
Set a painting schedule. One of the few perks of buying a small rig is less painting! If you bought a monster like us, you will want to attempt to set a schedule on getting your painting done. Our famous last words were “we will paint that spot tomorrow” but then ended up 4 margaritas deep at a restaurant with our friends instead. Treat it like homework, get it done, you’ll thank yourself in the end.
Our paint (the good one, use whatever you see fit for priming if you’re renovating on a budget): PPG Manor Hall Interior Flat (we used Satin on our molding, and it came out nice)
Now the fun and excitement of adding your own personal touch! By now you have scoured the internet and social media trying to recreate someone else’s RV décor, and we did the same! Nowadays, RV renovations turnout to be copy-cat replications of turning boring beige interiors into white wonderlands including white walls, white brick backsplashes, and you guessed it…white cabinets. Nothing wrong with that, everyone’s interpretation (including ours) turn out different and more beautiful than the next. Here are our best tips for RV decorations and furniture:
Build a dream floorplan. Channel your inner architect and draw up your RV’s floor plan with measurements on paper so you know how much room you have. Ideally, you would do this as your first step in the renovation so you can always have your eye out for decorations and furniture while taking a break (or procrastinating) the flooring/painting steps.
Contact other RV renovators. If you see something you like on some else’s RV transformation, shoot them a message and find out where they got it! If they are like us, they will be excited to share the information and hear more about your renovation progress.
Measure your entryway, and make sure anything you buy will fit. Don’t make the mistake of buying a giant mattress or couch that can’t fit in the doorway. Thanks to new shrink-wrapping technology (I don’t know if that’s real, just sounds cool) you can order any sized mattress by mail and save money in the process. Companies like Lull Beds, Helix, or Casper make any sized mattress and send it in a tiny box will have your wondering if there is even a bed in there. Bring the box into your RV (don’t open it outside or you might as well have Mattress King deliver you one), slice it open, and watch the expanding magic happen! We were skeptics at first, but our Lull bed is super comfy.
IKEA! Everyone knows IKEA. Unbeknown to them, they have a niche in the RV market by having all of their furniture packed in tiny boxes that fit in RV doorways. Bring your floor plan measurements, follow the arrows, pick out what you want you want, and build it all inside the RV!
We have a ton of decorations and furniture in our rig, feel free to contact us and we can send you a link to where we got it!
Some of these tips may be a bit obvious, but renovating an RV is not as hard as it may seem. Be sure to follow us on Instagram @hitched_and_halling and ask us any questions you may have for your RV renovation.
We hope to see you all on the road in your rolling homes very soon!