4 DIY Ways to Upgrade Your RV Cabinets

Dec 5, 2022 | Maintenance & Mods

4 DIY Ways to Upgrade Your RV Cabinets

Give your RV cabinets new life with paint, caning, Lauan board, and more inexpensive and fun mods.

By Renee Tilby

Photo: Renee Tilby

Have you ever looked at your RV cabinets and been less than impressed? We’ve been flipping and renovating RVs for more than 7 years and here are our four favorite ways to give your RV cabinets new life.

Touch-Ups

RV cabinets, especially ones made with veneer, can be susceptible to unsightly scratches and dings. These scuffs might make you think that painting the cabinets or ripping them out are your only options. But before you take drastic action, consider spiffing up what you have. 

Blemishes on veneer or hardwood cabinets can easily be covered with a Sharpie or wood stain pen. Choose a color similar to that of your cabinets or a bit darker to cover up the scratch, then wipe the excess away with an alcohol-based wet wipe. Finish up by rubbing the cabinets down with a microfiber cloth and wood and furniture cleaner.

Crisp, white cabinetry throughout an RV.
Photo: Renee Tilby

Cabinet Hardware

A bit of pizzazz makes all the difference. Hardware is like jewelry for cabinets and can take the look from dated to modern in a few minutes. If you want to change your cabinet pulls, you have two general options: Paint what you have or replace them. 

When painting the existing hardware, scrub them down, sand them, and place them on cardboard or another paint-safe surface. Grab your chosen color of metal spray paint, and get painting. At least two coats of paint is recommended,  including a layer of primer if your paint doesn’t already contain it.

Swapping out the hardware altogether? Be sure to get handles with the same hole spacing as your original, or be prepared to drill new holes and fill the old ones. RV hardware tends to be smaller than traditional hardware, so taking the original handles with you to the hardware store or taking accurate measurements for online shopping is highly recommended. 

Glass Panels

Not loving the glass inserts in your RV cabinets? There are a lot of fun options for recovering and replacing them. The easy choice is to cover the existing glass with another material. It’s much harder to remove the glass and replace it. Most of the time the glass is glued in with a silicone glue and can be removed by cutting it out with a utility knife. However, sometimes that glue doesn’t want to cooperate and the removal process can become quite difficult. In that case, your choice is to break the glass to remove it or cover it.

A sink is set in a white cabinet base with modern gold handles.
Photo: Renee Tilby
White cabinets have been customized with a new modern inlay.
Photo: Renee Tilby

Replacement Choices

One of our favorite materials for upgrading cabinets is caning. Caning, or rattan webbing, is rigid enough that it can either replace the glass or be glued onto it. The woven material also gives texture, warmth, and a more interesting look to the cabinets. Another replacement option is Lauan board, which can be cut to size and glued in place of the glass, then covered or left as is. Replacing the glass with thin sheet wood is also a good choice if you want to paint your cabinets. Punched aluminum sheeting can also bring some fun, industrial interest to your cabinets. 

Glue-On Options

For a similar look to rattan web or caning that’s easier on the pocketbook, you could consider using burlap to cover up your glass panels. This process works best with a fine woven burlap that’s been ironed with starch. Once the burlap is stiff, cut it a few inches larger than your panel, tape off any part of the cabinet you don’t want covered in glue, and follow the directions on the spray adhesive to attach the fabric. This process can be used for pretty much any fabric that you’d like to use to add a new look to your cabinet doors. 

Paint

Looking for an even bigger transformation? Then paint is the way to go. This project takes more time and energy than the other upgrades on this list, but it also has the highest potential for reward. First, you need to remove all the cabinet doors and hardware and put the different types of hardware in labeled bags. We highly suggest labeling the location of each cabinet door with a permanent marker under the hinge and placing a small piece of painter’s tape over it.

After sanding the doors down with 180- or 220-grit sandpaper, wipe them down with a degreaser. Then spray or use a sponge roller to roll on a high-quality primer. Finish up with the top coat of cabinet paint, let it dry, flip the doors over, and do the other side. The more time and care you take with each step, the better your end result will be. This is not a project to rush or cut corners.


Upgrading your cabinets can be a fun and rewarding project that will breathe new life into your entire RV.

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Renee Tilby

Renee and her family of seven live full-time in their RV. They've been on the road for more than 4 years, renovating RVs and the occasional home along the way. They love to find hidden gems everywhere they go and consider nature the absolute best place to do that.

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