How To Remodel RVs & Motorhomes Yourself (…See How I Remodeled Two 5th Wheel Trailers)

rv-remodeling.jpg It’s been said that most RVs off the lot are decorated “early ugly.”

For that (and other) reasons, lots of people remodel their RVs. Some take on a different remodeling project each year.  Others tackle it all at once with a complete RV overhaul.  I’ve actually done one of each.

Generally, the idea is to modernize outdated furnishings and optimize the placement of things onboard your RV to give it a more cozy, updated look and feel.

According to The RV Makeover Bible, the 5 most commonly performed remodeling projects are:

  1. Replacing or upgrading the flooring
  2. Reupholstering the furniture
  3. Upgrading the window treatments
  4. Painting or wallpapering the walls
  5. Replacing the dinette with a table and set of chairs

How many of those have you done?

remodel-rv-by-j2davis2005

The first words out of my wife’s mouth when we brought our Dutchman 18B travel trailer were, “So when are you going to tear the dinette out of this thing?”  I don’t know what it is, but ever since I remodeled our first RV, my wife has approached the subject of redecorating with a no-holds-barred attitude.

With 2 successful RV overhauls under my belt, my wife now thinks I can make a silk purse out of any old sow’s ear when it comes to making an old RV come to life!

How We Remodeled Our 1st RV:

Our first RV project was a 10-year-old Prowler 25-foot fifth wheel trailer.

It had seen a hard life, but we bought it cheap enough and wanted to make a good vacation RV out of it.

#1 We Replaced The Dinette Table

The first thing to go was the dinette.  My wife and I have a particular dislike for RV dinettes.  Since there are only 2 of us, dinettes take up way too much space inside the RV.  Plus, as you get older, it becomes more difficult to get in and out of those dinette seats which are so confining!

A simple small round table and 2 chairs works well inside the RV, and it looks a lot better too.

For the table, we picked a pine table top from Home Depot, and the familiar metal tube table legs from Camping World.  After a few coats of polyurethane, we had a table that could still be easily removed.  Best of all, our new dinette table gave us even more space in our small RV living room!

#2 We Replaced The Carpet

The next step was the badly worn and faded blue carpet throughout the RV.  A vacation rig doesn’t need carpeting.  Carpet just collects dirt, and before long will look just like what we had: dirty carpet.

I’m a firm believer in a floor that can be swept out.  If you have kids (or pets, as we do), this is the only way to go.  RV rugs can be taken outside and shaken, but carpet is harder to clean and will rapidly start to look nasty.

So, out came the carpet.  We installed peel and stick vinyl tile in its place.

I must admit, this was a mistake.  It was fine in the summer, but when stored the RV through the colder months, some of the tiles came loose and had to be replaced.

It would be well worth the extra effort to put in 1-piece vinyl flooring when you do this upgrade.  Better yet, installing laminated wood flooring would add a touch of class to the space.  With today’s snap-together laminates, it’s a simple and cost-effective way to get rid of old carpet!

#3 We Replaced The Window Treatments

With some new curtains on all the windows, our mini-makeover was complete.  Our old RV trailer was freshened up and looking like new again.

 

How We Remodeled Our 2nd RV:

remodel-rv-living-room.jpg Our second remodeling RV project was quite a bit more extensive, though still within the abilities of the average guy who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

When we decided to get back on the road again and leave Texas, we gave up our apartment and quickly moved into a secondhand 36-foot triple slide 5th wheel trailer.

Again, it was about 10 years old and a little worse for the wear.  The redeeming factors were:

  • It had more space.
  • It was the layout we wanted.
  • it was less than half the price of what a new RV would have cost.

We moved into it just as it was.

Now, only couples who get along very well together should attempt what we did next.  I immediately started a top to bottom rebuild while we lived in this small space!  This ended up being a pretty good-sized project, to say the least.

#1 There was some structural water damage that required my gutting one of the slideouts, adding new wall studs, a sub floor, insulation, and doing away with one window. Once it was sound, we started on the updating.

remodel-rv-slideout.jpg The dinette went, as did the fold-out sofa.  Actually. we emptied the 2 living room slideouts of everything that was permanently mounted, and we approached that part of the RV as an empty room.

Wainscoting  panels were installed, and the upper portion of the walls were painted on one side of the room.  Wallpaper was installed on the accent walls.

New wood trim around the slideouts with some lace curtains finished off the look.  We installed new carpet in the living room, and with new vinyl in the kitchen portion of our newly remodeled home we were done!

We approached this RV remodel a bit differently. Since we knew that we would be living in this RV for at least a couple years, we wanted it to feel like a home.  That meant my wife had to be able to move the furniture around, giving our residence a fresh look every now and then.

We actually treated this RV like an apartment, and we bought all new furniture — including a small sofa, recliner, kitchen set for 2. Having all of the new things inside a freshly remodeled RV really brightened up the place.

Without all the built-in stuff taking up valuable space inside the RV, we were also able to add a small chest freezer for additional frozen food storage.  A freezer is a great add-on if you’re going to be stationary for long periods of time.

remodel-rv-5th-wheel.jpg When we finally made the move north — with the walls slid in and things placed for travel — we had no issues with the fact that the furniture wasn’t bolted down to the floor.  Everything stayed in place just fine.

We also fixed up our spot at the RV park pretty nice too. We stayed there 2 years, during which time we built a deck, planted flowers, and we even built a swing.  In fact, the park was pleased that we left all of that behind when we moved on.

 

 

After these 2 remodeling RV experiences, my wife now looks at everything with an eye for change.  As a frustrated decorator, it doesn’t matter where we are, she wants to tear something out and do it different.

So, would I do another RV makeover again?  Absolutely!  It’s the best way I know to save and possibly even make money on an RV purchase.

Besides, it gives your RV the feeling of home that just can’t be attained at the factory.

 

Don’t Want To Remodel Your RV Yourself?

If you’re not particularly handy with do-it-yourself projects, or you just don’t have the time or space to overhaul your RV yourself, then let it to the professionals do it!

These companies will do a complete overhaul on your RV for you:

 

More Great Tips For Remodeling Your RV

7 Ways To Feng Shui Your RV

RV Bed With Storage Remodel

10 Things To Remember When Remodeling Your RV

A Frilly RV Renovation

RV Closet Remodel

Examples Of An RV Flooring & Interior Remodel

RV Pantry Upgrade

Top RV Remodel Ideas

RV Forum: Tips For Remodeling Your RV

Small RV Upgrades That Make A Big Difference

Remodeling Your RV For Your RV Office

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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