5 Quick and Easy RV Mods That Will Make You Look Like a Pro

Jul 6, 2020 | Maintenance & Mods

5 Quick and Easy RV Mods That Will Make You Look Like a Pro

Easy and budget-friendly RV mods that you can do in under two hours to totally upgrade and customize any RV.

By Jupiter

Photo: Jupiter

You’ve spent a lot of time researching and deciding which RV to buy—everything from the size to the space to the colors of the interior. And while it may be your ideal rig, there are still a few upgrades you can add to make your new RV feel even more personal and homey. Whether you have a brand new RV or a vintage trailer, here are five easy and budget-friendly modifications you can do in less than two hours.

1. Lighten Up Your Kitchen With a Peel and Stick Tile Backsplash

Inside an RV with gas stove and cooktop, and peel and stick white tile applied to stove backsplash
Photo: Jupiter

Materials Needed: Peel and stick tile sheets, surface cleaner (such as trisodium phosphate), scissors, and chalk.

Time: 1-2 hours

First, you’ll need to clean the space you intend to tile. For this, I recommend using trisodium phosphate (TSP) mixed with warm water. TSP is excellent for getting rid of grease, grime, smoke, and soot stains—all the things that can really dirty up a backsplash. Plus, TSP is relatively inexpensive and can be found at most major hardware stores.

Once you’ve cleaned your surface and given it some time to dry, you’re ready to apply your tile sheets. Follow the instructions on the packaging, and be sure to cut the sheets to account for any outlets, windows, or edges. Before you start cutting, it can be helpful to trace a guideline directly onto the sheet to ensure perfect alignment. Chalk is great for tracing because you can easily wipe it off when you’re done. Then, all you have to do is peel the protective paper from the adhesive side, align the adhesive side with your backsplash, and apply a light, even pressure. Ta-da! A brand new kitchen in roughly three steps.

Note: Peel and stick tiles are not recommended for use in extremely hot climates as the heat tends to melt the adhesive. 

2. Make Your Cabinet Hardware Match Your Style

Close up of black cabinet handle inside an RV with stove in the background
Photo: Jupiter

Materials Needed: Cabinet hardware, screws, and a screwdriver or drill.

Time: 10-15 minutes

Changing cabinet hardware is one of the most straightforward ways to refresh your space. To change your cabinet hardware (pulls and hinges) you first need to decide what type and style of hardware you want to purchase. Ensuring that the new hardware actually fits inside your RV is a must, so be sure to either take measurements or bring a piece of the old hardware with you to compare. 

If you have a screwdriver or drill, cabinet hardware can be removed and installed in a matter of minutes. So don’t worry about committing to a lifetime with one drawer pull—if you get tired of it, you can always switch it up a few months later. 

Note: Most drawer and cabinet pulls come with two different screw sizes, so be sure you use the correct size or you’ll be left with a wobbly, uneven pull.

3. Give Your Fridge a Functional Facelift With Chalkboard Paint

Close up of old RV fridge with black chalkboard paint on front
Photo: Jupiter

Materials Needed: Chalkboard paint, medium-fine grit sandpaper, painter’s tape, and a screwdriver or drill.

Time: 1 hour (more time may be needed to allow the paint to dry)

For this project, you’ll first want to find out if your fridge has screws that allow the front plates to be taken off. While taking the plates off allows for an easier painting experience, don’t stress if you can’t take it off—you can always use painter’s tape as a guide.

If you can remove your plates, you’ll want to unscrew them, take them off, and lay them somewhere flat. Then, you’ll want to give them a good, even sanding. To know when you’re done sanding, look for a surface that is visibly scuffed (no longer shiny) but not deeply scratched or rough to the touch.

When you’re done sanding, be sure to wipe the plates off with a wet cloth to remove any excess dust. Now you can start painting. Try to apply the chalkboard paint in a single, light coat—it doesn’t apply well if you attempt to lay down multiple, thick coats. The great thing about chalkboard paint is that it’s relatively easy to work with and cleans up well (I recommend this one from Krylon). Let the paint completely dry before reinstalling the plates back onto the fridge.

If your fridge plates don’t come off, you should still follow the same steps (sanding, cleaning, and painting) but apply some painter’s tape before you start painting. Mark off the parts of the plates that you don’t want painted, and try to get the tape as smooth as possible to maintain clean, even lines.

Note: Most RV refrigerators are small, so try using smaller paint brushes instead of large rollers. These will help control the paint better and they work really well for small cracks and corners.

4. Control the Vibe With Some Additional Lighting

Small, white round light laying on a table with instructions and packaging box
Photo: Jupiter

Materials Needed: Lights, a drill or screwdriver, and electrical wire caps or electrical tape.

Time: 10-20 minutes

When installing new lighting in your RV, you’ll want to look for lights that are easy to install, easy to use, and don’t require too much power. I recommend this dimmer light from Dream Lighting. It gives the appearance of recessed light, and the screws are external so installation is super easy. Plus, its operating voltage is 12 volt, so you can run it using your RV’s battery. 

Before you get started, make sure your RV is disconnected from any power source and your battery is turned off or disconnected. Next, uninstall your existing light by either unscrewing it from the RV’s ceiling or simply pulling it down and detaching the wires. Once you’ve removed the old light, connect the wires in the new light with the corresponding positive and negative wires from your RV. Color coding on wires can sometimes vary, and there are plenty of wire diagrams online to help, but I personally think this diagram is the most straightforward.

Finish installing your new light by screwing it back into place or following any additional instructions from the manufacturer. And don’t forget to turn your RV battery back on if you want to test the new light.

Note: For safety reasons, be sure to cover any exposed wires with a wire cap or electrical tape.

5. Turn Your Bathroom Into a Mini Spa With a New Showerhead

White showerhead inside RV shower with red floral wallpaper
Photo: Jupiter

Materials Needed: Showerhead and slip joint pliers.

Time: 10-20 minutes 

When purchasing a new showerhead for your RV, make sure that it meets your specific water requirements. For example, if you do a lot of boondocking or off-grid camping, then you’ll probably want to get an RV-compatible, low-flow showerhead with a stop valve. If you prefer RV resort camping and regularly use hook-ups, then a more traditional showerhead will work. Showerheads can range from about $7 to $75, depending on the model and features. But with the wide variety of options on the market, you’re bound to find one that fits your unique needs, budget, and design preferences.

To install, start by unscrewing the base of your existing showerhead (often called the nut) in a counterclockwise direction. Once your old showerhead is off, simply attach the new one and screw clockwise to tighten. Never use plumber’s putty or pipe dope to install showerheads, as they may react with the plastic and cause it to break.

Note: Use a pair of slip joint pliers to hold the shower arm in place or assist in loosening the shower nut.

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Jupiter is an aspiring multi-hyphenate and wanderer who lives in their completely self-renovated 1979 Coachmen Leprechaun with their two big dogs. You’re most likely to catch them exploring public lands, hiking for a view, or laid up in a hammock with a good book.