Top 4 Tips Before Starting Your RV Renovations

Looking for RV renovation advice? Check out these top tips that will make your RV feel brand new again!

You’ve decided that it’s time for an RV remodel. Your rig is looking a little drab, tired—maybe even worn out. Or perhaps, you bought a used one with the goal of making it shine. Well, I have some tips for you to think about as you’re planning your do-it-yourself RV renovations.

When planning out your RV renovation, there are so many little things that go into it. The temptation is to jump right into the remodel without knowing what you’re getting into. Instead, check out these top 4 tips before starting your RV renovations.

Tip #1—Pick a style that gives you freedom 

One of the best things about RV remodels is that you get to take a chance on something. Maybe there is a style you have always wanted. Maybe a color you have shied away from because it is a little too much. Well, this could be your chance to go for it. 

When you think of a style, it’s important to choose something that gives you the freedom to express yourself and creates room for it to evolve as you travel. You don’t need to go out and buy decorations for your RV because while you’re traveling across the country, there will be things you want to add to your rig’s vibe. 

One of my favorite styles for RVing is the “boho” vibe. Boho is short for bohemian. And before you say you aren’t a bohemian-type person, get to know what that style actually means in regards to decor. While the bohemian style is closely related to the hippie movement of the 70’s, the decor is a little different. The boho style represents the life of a traveler. They are people who appreciate nature and understand their place in it. It is about people who are on the move and living life a little less conventionally. 

Let’s be real—the RV life is very boho. This nomad-type life is perfect for the boho style because it is all about bringing different colors, shapes, decor and artifacts from our travels into one place. It will let you bring different pieces from your journeys together in one uniquely-you style. Here is a link that gives extra boho tips on pulling it all together. 

Tip #2—Paint all of the things

When I say “all of the things,” I mean walls, cabinets, hardware and even light fixtures. We all know that paint can change things in a hurry, but sometimes we stop with the walls. Some of the most beautiful before-and-after remodels involve cabinets in a daring color. 

When painting cabinets, it’s important to not make the rookie mistake of thinking you can jump right in to painting the cabinets. There’s some prep that goes into painting things like this. 

Common cabinet painting mistakes

  • Not prepping properly: From a light sand to using primer, you’ll need to prep the cabinets before painting them. 
  • Not understanding the product: One easy way to make sure you have the right product for your application is to take a door off the cabinet. Take it into the store, and have them help you find the right solution.
  • Being in a hurry: If you are in a hurry when painting, so many mistakes will follow. Painting takes time. Make sure to fix all the little problems as you go. Use tape and nice brushes. Paint in the right conditions—not too hot, not too cold or not too humid. And allow time for the paint to cure. 

One of my favorite painting and money saving hacks is painting hardware and light fixtures. I have painted hundreds of pulls, hinges and light fixtures with this Rust-Oleum spray paint. If you have an older rig, there is a pretty good chance you will have the classic gold light fixtures, hardware, hinges, shower surrounds, etc. But no worries—a five dollar can of spray paint can change the game. 

Make sure you’re giving an excessive amount of time for the paint to cure. I know the can might say that it dries in 1-2 hours, but that is only dry enough to touch. There are several tiers to “dry”. You have “dry to touch,” “dry enough to handle,” and “dry throughout.” We are looking for the dry throughout, which can take days. 

The spray painting itself is relatively easy. But the patience needed for the curing process is borderline torchorous. Stay patient and you will be glad you did. This five dollar can of spray paint can literally save you hundreds of dollars. 

Tip #3—Vary your textures

Confession time. I was reading this article about “easy ways to decorate your RV” when I realized how important textures are for a renovation. In the article, the author lists off all these great ways to decorate your RV. And I thought, “they’re right!” Textures make a space feel like home. If there are any ways you can add different textures into your design, you will be grateful in the end. 

Here is what I mean by textures: wood, tiles, fabrics, bamboo, pillows, metals. All of these textures can be brought into your RV in different places. If your current rig has a lot of solid surfaces, you might want to swap out blinds for curtains. This will bring in a softer feel to a space without doing too much. If everything in your RV is covered in that 70’s laminate, you might want to bring in some wood grains or bamboo strands. It helps to bring that natural feeling into a space. 

My favorite way to bring in varying textures is by laying out the things that I already have. I have wooden and metal cooking utensils. So, I found a way to bring them into view all the time. This brings just a touch of texture variety out into the open. I also removed a couple of cabinet doors—the ones that didn’t shut just right—and got two types of baskets: hand-woven and fabric with leather handles. This simple change allowed me to remove some of the hard texture—and bring in three new textures—while eliminating a couple of the broken cabinet doors. 

Tip #4—Bring back the vinyl! 

No, not vinyl records…we are talking flooring. We all know how much wear and tear our floors take. The amount of steps, paws or slides is a bit excessive. And the flooring gets used more like a commercial space than residential. The flooring we choose in our RV renovation matters. 

When I say bring back the vinyl, I am talking about Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP). LVP is 100% waterproof, pet-friendly, affordable and doesn’t get destroyed by humidity. This flooring can work anywhere in your RV. It comes in tons of colors and styles. And a great place to look for this flooring is at Floor and Decor.

When choosing an LVP, there are a couple of things to consider. First, if possible, choose something that is a little thicker. I would recommend going at least 6mm thick. And the second is to make sure it has a nice “wear layer.” Not all places will advertise the wear layer, but I suggest you find that out beforehand. The wear layer is there to protect the sheen and look of the flooring. 

You will see the wear layer rated in units called “mil.” This doesn’t mean millimeters—it actually means one one-thousandth of an inch. In a home, the ratio for LVP is a 1 mil layer to 1-year ratio. Meaning that for every mil of the wear layer, you can expect the sheen and look to hold up for 1 year. In an RV, I would maybe cut that in half because of the excessive traffic. I’d suggest looking for something close to the 12 mil wear layer.

Start your planning

Don’t get tricked into thinking this small space takes less planning. In fact, it requires more thought. But taking these four tips into consideration, will equip you to come up with a uniquely-you plan.

For more inspiration and ideas, check out our other blogs here.

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  1. Claudia
    28th April, 2022

    Shouldn’t the weight of luxury vinyl be taken into consideration when replacing flooring in an rv? Seems like it would seriously jeopardize the gross vehicle weight….

    1. DB Cooper
      28th April, 2022

      Going with LVP is a compromise but it gains you an excellent look and durability. LVP is heavier than the early 2000s Berber carpet it replaced but lighter than the nice teak and holly that would have provided a nautical look. The durability of LVP is far higher than any wood floor or carpet.