6 Ways to Upgrade Your RV Fridge

Nov 28, 2022 | Maintenance & Mods

6 Ways to Upgrade Your RV Fridge

Changing out the look of your RV fridge is a fun and rewarding project that can bring new life to your RV’s interior without spending a lot of time or money.

By Renee Tilby

Photo: Renee Tilby

A bit tired of the aesthetic of your RV kitchen but don’t have the time or energy for a massive project? We have the perfect solution: a fridge panel upgrade.

The typical fridge that comes in an RV has removable panels that can easily be modified or replaced. Some new RVs come with residential-style fridges without panels, so these tips focus on modification options for the standard RV fridge. 

Related 5 No-Drill Mods to Help Organize Your RV

A light covered fridge panel cover adds a lighter look to a RV kitchen.
Photo: Renee Tilby

Prep

Before you jump into modifications, you’ll want to remove the panels from the fridge and freezer doors. While this might seem a little daunting, it’s actually very easy. Most RV fridges will have a removable black trim piece on the outer edge of the door or on the top of the door. You’ll want to open the door, grasp the top of the trim piece, and gently pull outward. Although gunk can build up around the trim and make it somewhat hard to remove, it should come off fairly easily. Once you’ve removed the trim, the panel will slide out with minimal effort.

How to Paint Your RV Fridge

There are two different types of panels that come on a standard RV fridge: a raised panel that’s usually finished to look like your RV’s cabinets, or a flat panel that typically comes in a black, somewhat glossy, finish. The best way to refinish a raised panel is to paint them the same way you would paint your RV cabinets.

First, sand the panel down with 220-grit sandpaper and then scrub it with a heavy-duty degreaser. After the space is prepped, spray or roll on a high-quality primer, let it dry, and then apply a durable cabinet paint. You can paint your RV fridge along with your other cabinets or as a standalone project. 

Green paneling covers the front of an RV fridge.
Photo: Renee Tilby

Adding Wood Paneling to Your RV Fridge

If you have raised panels on your RV fridge and want to replace them with a flat one, or you want the look of light wood on a flat panel, you can replace them with 5- or 2.5-millimeter wood underlayment or Luan plywood paneling. The first step to achieving this look is to cut the paneling to the same size as your original panels. You can take the dimensions to your local home improvement store and have them cut the wood to size or cut the sheet yourself with a jig saw or table saw. 

Once the wood is cut to size, you can use polyurethane or other wood finishers to create a more durable and less absorbent finish. When the finish is dry, slide the panels back into the fridge doors to create a beautiful and minimalistic look.

A wood-paneled RV fridge with a DIY herringbone pattern
Photo: Renee Tilby
A wood-paneled RV fridge with a DIY herringbone pattern painted with green ombre
Photo: Renee Tilby

Getting an Ombre Effect on Your RV Fridge

Using Luan (also known as Lauan) board as RV fridge panels is extremely versatile. You can paint them, stain them, use a wood burner to create patterns, and wallpaper them. If your RV fridge has flat panels, you can flip the panel around and create different looks.

One option is to create an ombre herringbone look. To achieve this look, use a wood burner to create a herringbone pattern on the panel. Then, with two sample-size bottles of paint (one in white and one in your color of choice), incrementally add white to the second color as you move up each section of the pattern that you created with the wood burner. The wood burner makes indents in the wood that make it easier to follow with the paint and gives a nice texture to the finished project. Alternatively, you can use a pencil instead of a wood burner to create a similar effect. 

How to Chalkboard Paint Your RV Fridge

Chalkboard paint is a popular DIY mod because it’s easy to apply and fun to use; it can turn any surface—including your RV’s fridge—into a space for creative expression.

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Start with either the back side of your flat panel or the panels from the underlayment and apply chalkboard paint. If you don’t want to use paint, you can purchase chalkboard vinyl that can be applied to your fridge panels the same way you would apply wallpaper. If you go the paint route, it comes in either a spray can or a bottle. 

Start by priming the surface, then apply two coats of the chalkboard paint, allowing it to dry between coats. After it dries, slide the painted panels back into the fridge and enjoy a new look that doubles as an art canvas.

A leafy patterned wallpaper is added to the front of an RV fridge.
Photo: Renee Tilby

How to Wallpaper Your RV Fridge

Wallpaper is one of the easiest DIY RV fridge mods, especially if you have flat fridge panels. It’s also the only option that’s compatible with the glossy side of flat panels. Once you remove the flat panels from the fridge (or have a wood panel cut to size), lay it on top of the wallpaper and trace it with a pencil. Cut the wallpaper sheet to size and line it up on your panel. Slowly remove the wallpaper backing as you smooth out any bubbles.

Use a credit card to smooth out the wallpaper.

Related How to Wallpaper Your RV Bathroom

Other RV Fridge Mod Ideas

Wood paneling isn’t the only option for replacing your original fridge panels. Galvanized steel, dry-erase boards, thin hardwood sheeting, or any other sheet material that’s thinner than 0.25 inches can be cut to size to fit into the panel space of your RV fridge. 

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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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