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15 Tips For Tackling The Most Common DIY RV Renovations

This post was updated on March 15th, 2024

Whether you have a shiny new RV or older one begging for updating, chances are you’re in need of some renovations. Try some of these tips for tackling the most common DIY projects, from brightening up boring walls and upholstery to replacing floors and window treatments.

Replacing or upgrading the floor

RV floors are usually the first thing to show wear and tear. If you’re unlucky enough to purchase an RV with carpet, chances are you will want to replace it at some point (especially if you travel with pets). Even non-carpeted surfaces such as linoleum and laminate tend to break down over time and will benefit from a refresh.

Replacing the floor in an RV is a big job in the scope of DIY RV renovations, but certainly not above the skill level of even mid-level DIYers. Here are a few tips to lead you in the right direction.

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DIY RV Renovations
Amanda Watson
1. Choose the right floor material.
  • Peel & Stick Vinyl: This flooring comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Vinyl tiles are available as squares or long planks that mimic the look of wood.
  • Laminate Wood Floor: A popular choice that is simple to install and known for durability.
  • Linoleum: Comes in a wide variety of styles and colors. Linoleum is sold in sheets that you cut and staple to the sub-floor. While it is an economical choice, linoleum is also subject to stains and tears over time.
2. Be careful around the slide.

If your RV has a slide, be extra careful when installing new flooring in that space. Because the slide moves in and out you could have issues with scratching on certain floors.

One solution is to carpet the slide-out side (or keep the existing carpet). In general, a lower profile floor is better in the slide, as it is less likely to snag and become damaged.

3. Remove the old floor.

Take a close look at the furniture and cabinets in your RV to determine the best way to remove the floor. Consider what pieces must come out and what can be cut around.

Many furniture items like couches and chairs are simply bolted into place, while bigger items like cabinets and appliances are often attached in multiple areas and removing them can cause a multitude of issues.

4. Install trim for a finished look.

If you can’t get the new floor under the furniture items, try installing molding or trim to cover to the edges and give it a finished look.

5. Area rugs to the rescue!

If this all seems too involved, consider covering the existing floor with area rugs. Not only is this an inexpensive and easy solution, but it allows you to change up the look as often as you want.

DIY RV Renovations
Amanda Watson

Recovering the upholstery

The two most common complaints about RV upholstery are that it’s either too boring (white or beige) or too old fashioned (floral patterns). Since it’s impossible for the RV industry to offer designs that suit everyone, many people choose to reupholster some or all of their RV furniture.

6. Learn by watching tutorials on YouTube.

The thought of re-upholstering furniture can be intimidating, but it’s actually a fairly simple job. Want to know the secret for success? YouTube videos. With a little searching, you can find a YouTube tutorial for reupholstering everything from dinette cushions to a full-size couch.

7. No sewing machine? No problem!

There are several ways to recover furniture without a sewing machine. By getting creative with staples, velcro, or safety pins you can easily give your upholstery a fresh new look with minimal effort.

DIY RV Renovations
Creating with Jessica Perez
8. Use the existing fabric as a template.

Instead of fussing with the measuring tape and hoping you got it right, simply use the old fabric that you removed as a template for cutting and marking the new fabric.

9. Take the time to find the right fabric.

Beyond the color and pattern, choosing a durable fabric that cleans up easily will extend the life of your upholstery.

DIY RV Renovations
Amanda Watson

Refinish the walls

Are you tired of that gold flower-patterned wallpaper? Or maybe those off-white walls are too bland and you want to add some color? A can of paint to the rescue! Refinishing the walls in your RV is one of the easiest DIY RV renovations.

10. Paint it!

The simplest option for re-finishing RV walls is to apply a coat of paint. Make sure the walls are clean and free of dirt and grime before applying a latex-based paint. For high use areas, a satin or semi-gloss finish paint wipes up easier than a flat finish.

DIY RV Renovations
The Noshery
11. Yes, you can paint over wallpaper.

In fact, painting over wallpaper is much easier than trying to remove it and then having to deal with the sticky, uneven mess left behind. First, glue down any loose pieces. Next, clean the surface well and apply a coat of primer. Finally, apply at least two coats of chosen paint color.

12. Have fun with it!

Since RVs typically don’t have much wall space, why not use them as a place to add a pop of bright color? Maybe you want to try your hand at a painted pattern or add some stick-on decals for interest. Paint is relatively inexpensive and simple to change so don’t be afraid to have fun with it.

Upgrade the window treatments

RVs come with a variety of window treatments. Some have fancy night and day shades, some have mini blinds, and some have good old fashioned fabric curtains. Not all these options work for all RVs and sometimes it’s necessary to make a change.

DIY RV Renovations
Life With 4 Boys
13. DIY fabric curtains.

If you can sew a straight line you can make curtains. Keep it simple by sewing two panels for either side of the window and hanging them on inexpensive rods. Using the old curtains as a template makes the job even simpler.

14. Blackout fabric makes a great curtain liner.

When making new curtains, consider using blackout fabric as a lining. This extra step will add to the cost of materials, but if you’re sensitive to light (or simply want more privacy) it’s well worth it.

15. Upgrade the cornice boards.

Maybe you like your existing blinds or shades but want to change out the cornice boards that surround the windows. No problem! This is one of the easiest renovations that you can tackle.

DIY RV Renovations
Amanda Watson

Simply remove the boards, uncover them and replace the old fabric. The only materials needed are a screwdriver, staple gun, and some fabric. For a step-by-step guide, check out this helpful tutorial from Nina of the Wheeling It blog.

Have you tackled any of these renovations? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Not doing a full renovation? Try some of these other simple ways to make your RV feel more like home.