The wallpaper in many RVs and trailers leaves a lot to be desired. In addition, the “paper” that comes with your RV can’t easily be removed; it’s usually a luan or other type of plywood with a vinyl or wallpaper-like texture on top of it.
Some people may like the patchy patterns or dull flowers on RV walls, but many people feel the need to freshen up their mobile space. If you are the latter, here’s a simple 5-step way to paint over your RV wallpaper.
First, gather your materials.
- Latex Paint with Primer: To save the step of priming the walls, purchase a higher end latex paint with primer included like BEHR’s Premium Plus Ultra Paint and Primer in One. A paint and primer combo is a thicker paint and will coat the walls better, but it is more expensive. To figure out the number of gallons of paint you need for your size of RV, you can do a rough measurement of the walls you want to paint and then plug those numbers into Glidden’s Paint Coverage Calculator. Once you decide on your desired color, pick up a few samples in the shades and gloss you like to test in an inconspicuous area first. A glossier paint will be easier to clean.
- Painter’s Tape: FrogTape is easier to remove than blue painter’s tape and has a micro barrier that prevents bleeding.
- Drop cloths: You can also use old sheets. Lay these on the floor and over furniture and appliances.
- Various sized paint rollers and a paint tray: Paint rollers will give your RV walls a cleaner look than brushes. Also, pick up some tiny brushes (like the kind artists use) for small details if necessary.
- Sandpaper: To allow the walls to grip onto the paint, lightly sand the walls with a fine grit sandpaper—such as 120 to 150 grit.
Prep, sand, tape and paint.
Remove any wallpaper borders that are on top of the wallpaper. This can be done with a spray bottled filled with warm water and fabric softener or vinegar.
Spray the water onto the border and let it soak into the paper. Gently pull away the border with a sponge or with a plastic scraper. The Mountain Modern Life blog has two great posts on removing wallpaper borders and painting RV walls.
Use the sandpaper in one direction (either vertical or horizontal) to lightly texture the walls to hold the paint.
After sanding, wipe off any dust or glue residue with warm water. If you feel your RV walls are greasy or dirty (especially around the kitchen), clean them with a degreaser like Zep. Let the walls dry.
Tape off around windows, doors, cabinets, and anything else you don’t want painted. If you can, remove any electrical face plates and monitors or tape them off as well.
Paint around the edges of windows or cabinets first with a smaller roller. Pay attention to any areas without the original wallpaper (such as the toe kick under a sink). They can be ignored if they are rarely seen.
Use a larger roller to paint the walls of the RV. You can choose to do all your walls or leave some unpainted. If you have darker wallpaper and are covering it with a lighter paint, you may need to do a second coat. If not, let the paint dry thoroughly before removing the painter’s tape.
To see the painting process in action, Wanderland Travelers have an excellent video on how they painted over the wallpaper in their Bounder RV:
For more information on how to freshen up your RV walls, read How To Upgrade Your RV Wallpaper.