If you’re like us, one of the first questions you have for your RV remodel is how to paint an RV interior.
Painting the walls of an RV isn’t the same process as in a home. There are several steps and lots of prep work that make the paint last and look good. In this video and blog post, we show you how to paint an RV interior in a step-by-step guide.
Why paint an RV
Painting an RV is 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.
You can paint the entire interior of an RV. From the walls to cabinets, and even the ceiling. But how you paint the different sections will vary slightly. We opted to paint our walls and the cabinets in the kitchen only. This cut costs on paint and materials. And more importantly, saved us a ton of time.
How to paint an RV interior
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 RVs 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 walls, 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 light-grit sandpaper, 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 sanding the vacuum the walls, cabinets, and pretty much everything to remove residual dust.
2. Fill any holes with Bondo
Sand down any holes in your wall to make them flat on the surface of the wall. Then 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. Then you won’t be able to use it on the walls. Re-sand the walls after you’ve filled the holes to make them 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 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 to be painted. This could include windows, cabinets that aren’t being painted, floors, ceilings, 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 painter’s tape.
5. Prime & paint
After all of that prep work. 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. It worked really well for us. Other blogs noted that several coats of primer were needed. We only needed two coats.
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 regarding how to paint an RV interior:
- 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.
- 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 painter’s tape with a knife so it doesn’t ruin the 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.
- We used 1/2 a gallon of the gripper/primer, 1 quart of white paint, and 2 sample containers of cabinet paint for our 25 ft. motorhome.
This process of painting an RV interior is long. But it’s worth it. And honestly, it wasn’t as bad as other bloggers 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 have helped you better understand how to paint the interior of an RV and feel prepared to conquer the job.