How to paint the interior of an rv

If you are remodeling your RV, chances are you are going to want to paint. It’s a cheap and easy way to give the interior of your RV a facelift. It will lighten and brighten the inside of your home on wheels tremendously. Even though it is a lot of work — it’s 100% worth it. Painting the inside of an RV is not as simple as painting a room in a house. There are several steps and lots of prep work that make the paint last and look good. We show you how to paint the interior of an RV in our video and provide a quick step by step guide below. 

We chose to paint the walls and cabinets of our Class C RV in the “traditional method”. There is a new paint that is an all in one primer, gripper, and paint that says you do not have to sand or prime called Beyond Paint. We know several people with RV’s (like Loftis Party of Six) that recently used Beyond Paint and said that they like it. However, we saw several reviews online where over time it didn’t hold up. Since there were mixed reviews, we decided to go with the old school method outlined below. It’s 100% your choice to do it the “hard way” aka our way, or take the easy route. If you do use Beyond Paint to paint the interior of an RV please let us know how it went and held up over time! If you want to follow our method, here is a guide on how to paint the interior of an RV.

1. sand the cabinets and/or walls

The success of your paint job relies heavily on the quality of your prep work. Since RV walls don’t have much texture like normal house wall, the gripper/primer and paint will have trouble “sticking” to the walls if you don’t sand. Sand any and all cabinets or walls you intend to paint. We choose to sand the walls with a light grit sand paper, such as 220 grit. Cabinets will require a higher grit to remove any stain they may have on them. We used 150 grit sandpaper for cabinets. To make our lives easier we used an electric sander, which is relatively cheap and so much better than sanding everything by hand.

A few tips on sanding:

  • Remove the cabinet doors and all hardware in order to easily sand.
  • Make sure to have proper eye protection and mask and ventilate the RV or trailer well. There will be sawdust EVERYWHERE.
  • After we were done sanding , we vacuumed the walls, cabinets, and pretty much everything so there was no residual dust.

2. Fill any holes with bondo

If you have any holes in the wall, sand them down to make them flat to the surface of the wall and use Bondo putty to fill them. This worked really well for us and was recommended over normal wall spackle you’d use in a home, because it firms up really well once it dries. Be careful with the “cementing” mixture that you add to the putty. It’s supposed to help the putty harden after about 10 – 15 minutes, but if you add too much, the putty will harden in your bowl/plate and you won’t be able to actually use it on the walls. Re-sand the walls after you’ve filled the holes to make it completely even.  

3. degrease the walls

Next you will want to degrease the walls extracting any oils that could be trapped under the paint. You can use a spray degreaser like Simple Green or you can take a more natural method and use a mixture of vinegar and water. We personally chose to use the vinegar and water. Wipe any cabinet or wall you intend to paint with the spray and a rag.

4. Tape everything off

Tape off anything you do not want painted including windows, cabinets that aren’t being painted, floors, ceiling, etc. This process is very time consuming but is essential — unless you’re a master painter and have Jedi skills when it comes to cutting in. We used Scott’s painters tape.

5. prime and paint

You’re finally ready to paint! Start with a quality gripper and primer combination. We used PPG primer and gripper combination which is also sold at Home Depot and it worked really well. Other blogs noted that several coats of primer were needed. We only needed two coats. Dennis wasn’t even sure why we were painting white after the fact.

Use a variety of brushes and roller sizes. There are a lot of weird nooks and crannies in an RV. Getting between the cabinet and the wall, behind the toilet, or in between the slide out is challenging. We ended up buying a variety pack that had a liner for the paint tray and multiple size brushes and rollers and it worked out nicely.

A few tips on painting:

  • Peel the tape off 15 – 20 minutes after you painted the last coat. If you wait too long it will peel the paint off with the tape. If you miss this step or accidentally wait too long, cut the painters tape with a knife so it doesn’t ruin the paint. 
  • The number of coats you will need to paint depends on the paint color. We only needed 1 coat of white paint, but had to paint the cabinets 3 times.

  • For our 25 ft. trailer we used a 1/2 a gallon of the gripper/primer, 1 quart of white paint, and 2 sample containers of the cabinet paint.
  • Let the paint set and dry. Ideally one to two weeks without use. The longer it “sets” the more likely the paint will last.

This process is long, but it’s worth it — and honestly, it wasn’t as bad as others made it out to be. We sanded, primed, and painted in three days total with only one person tackling the job. Just remember, the more you want to paint inside your RV or the larger your trailer, RV, or fifth wheel is the longer it will take. We hope this blog post and video has helped you better understand how to paint the interior of an RV and feel prepared to conquor the job!

 

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Liz & Dennis

Liz & Dennis

ESRV Team

We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!

 

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