You might have seen videos or even walked through an old camper that has been remodeled and thought to yourself, “That looks like so much fun!” or “I could never do that!”. Well, we’re here to tell you that remodeling an old camper is doable – even if you’re not a professional! Sure, an RV renovation is a lot of work, but we’ll cover all of that and help you out.
Based on my experience, it’s a lot of fun and rewarding to take an old camper or vintage camper and remodel it into something new.
Not to mention, it can save money in the long run.
- Average Cost to DIY Your Camper Remodel: $5,000
- Average Cost for a Pro to Remodel Your Camper: $15,000
You can do an RV remodel with some quick tricks like upgrading light figures, changing them all to LED lights, painting all the surfaces, and maybe a peel-and-stick backsplash. Don’t worry, it sounds like a lot but that’s what we’re here for. We’ll dive into all of that.
While there are some projects I’ve tackled and thought I would never do again, this is not one of them. In fact, I’m looking for a project camper right now to remodel! Ideally, I’d like to do a vintage Airstream camper.
So if you’re thinking about remodeling an old camper, here are some tips to get you started. It’s not quite a step-by-step guide, but it’s pretty close.
We also kept in mind that you might be on a tight budget, so we’ve included a few tips for keeping more money in your pocket during your RV renovation.
Inspect the camper for any damage and make necessary repairs before beginning the remodel.
The absolute first thing you want to do is go through and inspect your camper for any damage.
Look for holes in the walls or ceiling, water damage, or structural issues. Ensure the tires, axles, and frame are all in good condition.
|Roof and Exterior
|Check the roof for any leaks or damages that could allow water to seep in. Inspect the exterior for any cracks, rust, or other signs of wear and tear. Also check the tires for dry-rotting and the frame and axles for any cracks or broken welds.
|Interior Walls and Ceiling
|Look for signs of water damage, such as stains or soft spots. These could indicate a leak in the roof or walls. We’ll cover water damage in more detail in a minute.
|Walk around the RV to feel for any soft spots in the floor, which could be a sign of water damage or structural issues. The best way is to use a broom handle and press down onto the floor every 2-4 inches.
|Test all faucets and check underneath sinks for leaks. Flush the toilet to ensure it operates correctly.
|Test all lights and outlets. Make sure the RV’s battery, generator, and other electrical systems are functioning properly.
|Test all appliances including the stove, oven, refrigerator, and air conditioning system to ensure they’re working properly. These are typically the things that are easiest to replace.
If you find any damage, repair it before continuing with the remodel.
If you overlook damage and start remodeling, you could make the problem worse or even create new problems. For example, if there are structural issues with the frame, remodeling the interior could put too much stress on the frame and cause it to collapse.
Damage caused by water and moisture.
Water damage is another big problem to look for. If there is any water damage, you need to find the source of the leak and repair it before continuing with the remodel. Otherwise, you could end up with mold or other problems down the road (no pun intended) in your newly renovated camper.
Of course, when you’re renovating an RV you’ll want to repair the leaks before fixing the damage caused by them. Otherwise, your work will be for not.
By fixing critical problems like these first, you can avoid any significant issues later on and have a much smoother remodeling experience.
Remove any items that are not needed and make room for the new remodel.
When doing a total rehab on a camper, you’ll want to know how much space you have to work with. You can get a great sense of the amount of space by removing everything that isn’t needed.
All those extra items take up valuable space that could be used for storage, comfortable seating, or even just extra living space.
If you plan on remodeling the kitchen, you’ll want to clear out all the cabinets and countertops so you have a blank slate to work with.
Maybe you plan on giving the RV bathroom an upgrade (we highly recommend it), you’ll have to clear that out of the old camper as well.
The same goes for any other camper area you plan on remodeling. Clear out all the old fixtures and toiletries if you’re redoing the bathroom. And if you’re remodeling the living room, remove any unnecessary furniture or decorations.
Full demo in an old camper remodel.
In addition to the major appliances and furniture, you’ll want to rip out the old floor of your old camper if you intend to put in new flooring. All the doors need to come off as well – usually you only have one to the master bedroom and the bathroom. This may seem time consuming, but if you’re going to do a full reno, then you need to do a full demo.
By removing everything from the old camper that isn’t needed, you can get a precise idea of how much space you have to work with and what type of layout would be best for your needs.
Plan out the remodel before starting to ensure that everything will fit properly.
Now onto the planning. Actually, you probably already have a good idea of what you want your remodeled camper to look like. But it’s essential to plan everything out before starting the remodel to know everything will fit properly and function the way you need it to.
Start by sketching out a rough layout of the camper. Then, with your wholly gutted RV, measure all the areas you plan on remodeling and note the dimensions. You’ll use this information to determine how much material you need and what size furniture or appliances will fit.
Now you can start planning the specifics of your remodel. For example, if you’re remodeling the RV kitchen, decide where the stove and refrigerator will go, how much counter space you need, and where you want the kitchen cabinets and sink to be located. I recommend using existing plumbing and electrical hookups to help determine the layout of your remodel.
The same goes if you are working on the bedroom remodel. Most RV brands have general sizing you can use as a reference, so if you are renovating a Coachmen RV, you can typically find information on things such as Coachmen closet sizing or the proper measurements for the Coachmen RV mattress that would fit in the RV you are remodeling. With that being said, if you are completely refabricating and redesigning the interior of your Coachmen RV, you will need to go off your own measurements and data.
It may seem like a lot of work to do all this planning, but avoiding any issues later is worth it. Plus, once everything is planned out, the actual remodeling process will be much easier and much smoother.
Use quality materials to ensure a long-lasting remodel.
I can’t stress this enough! Travel trailers, campers, and RVs take quite a beating when driving down the road—especially when you’re heading in the backwoods for a glamping excursion. Therefore, you need to use quality materials in your remodel if you want it to last.
For example, when remodeling the kitchen, use solid wood cabinets instead of particle board or laminate. For the sink, throw on a durable kitchen faucet. And if you’re redoing the floors, use a durable, easy-to-clean material like vinyl or tile instead of carpet. There are plenty of budget friendly options out there, even for the more durable materials and supplies.
When RVs come from the factory, they typically use lighter, less durable materials to save on weight. But since you’re not worried about keeping weight, you can use heavier, more durable materials in your remodel without issue.
Not only will using quality materials make you remodel more durable, but it will also make it look nicer and improve the resale value of your RV. So it’s worth spending a little extra money on quality materials.
Take your time during the remodel to ensure that it is done correctly.
Renovating a camper is not a fast process. It’s going to take time, effort, and patience. So make sure you take time during the remodel, so everything is done correctly.
If you rush through the process, you’re more likely to make mistakes or overlook important details. And since RVs are not easy to work on (compared to your home), those mistakes can be difficult and expensive to fix.
The last time we did a remodel, it took us around six months. Of course, we weren’t working on it full-time, but it was still a lengthy process. I’m sure you can remodel a camper much faster if you dedicate all your time to it. However, it’s not going to be a quick or easy process.
So my best advice is to take your time, do things right first, and enjoy the remodeling process. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Have fun with the remodel and add your personal touch to it.
This goes without saying, but remodeling a camper is your chance to add your personal touch to it and make it feel like home. Think about it, you’re taking an old camper or old RV and making a new RV with a modern look. So have fun with it!
There are endless possibilities when remodeling an RV, so think outside the box and get creative. And if you’re unsure how to do something, there’s always a YouTube channel or two or Google. Not only can you learn how to accomplish a specific remodeling task, but you can also get some great ideas from other people’s old camper remodels.
Over the years we’ve seen a lot of old camper remodels that have turned out great with a new look. This is your chance to get that brand new RV you’ve always wanted. Even if it’s your first time and you’re just updating the sleeping area or doing an entire old camper remodel, you’re going to have a blast.
You can always hire out your RV renovation.
Whether you are looking to make a few changes or completely remodel your RV, hiring out an experienced professional for the job is a an option.
Professional contractors can help ensure that any renovations are done efficiently and correctly. Additionally, they can offer tips and expertise on how to select materials that match your style and budget.
When it comes to RV renovation projects, always be sure to hire a contractor who has experience in this field and can provide references from past clients. While there are some aspects that are the same, it’s worth noting that an RV renovation is completely different than a home remodel.
Some tasks like flooring is similar, but you might want special window treatments and curtains that aren’t made for a house. So keep that in mind when you’re hiring out the RV renovation on your vintage camper.
Other ideas for your camper remodel.
Now that you have a good idea how to do your camper remodel, we’ve got a few ideas to throw at you.
- Adding in built-in storage solutions and cabinets to maximize space. Old campers are inherently small spaces, so you’ll want to make the most of the space with the added storage space.
- Replacing existing windows with energy efficient replacements to reduce heating and cooling costs. This is especially true if you full-time in your RV.
- Updating plumbing fixtures to modernize the look of your RV. These are quick and easy upgrades; even if you’re just doing small changes to your RV and not a full remodel.
- Adding accent lighting to create a cozy atmosphere. You can make your RV really elegant with some beautiful lights and light fixtures.
- Customizing furniture pieces for maximum comfort during travels and long-term stays alike. We’ve found replacing an old table with an Ikea desk is an easy job and can make your main area look great.
- Replacing outdated appliances with new models that are reliable and up-to-date with current technology trends. Keep in mind that you’ll spend more money on RV appliances than you will for residential models.
- Painting the walls with a fresh coat of paint or wallpaper to create a unique look in each room of the RV. Whether you want plain white paint or something with more personality, paint goes a long way. You’ll want a paint sprayer as well.
- Installing RV solar power systems for green energy that is both efficient and affordable in the long run.
I’m sure there are more upgrades you can think of. These are just some of the more common things we’ve seen and liked over the years.
Enjoy your new remodeled camper!
This is the most important tip of all. Once you’ve finished remodeling your camper, sit back and enjoy it. You worked hard on it, and now it’s time to relax and enjoy all your hard work.
Whether your camper remodel is over a fifth wheel or a vintage travel trailer, the fun part is enjoying it when you’re done.
If you put in the effort to remodel your camper correctly, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful and long-lasting remodel. You can enjoy it for years to come. So please don’t rush through the process. Take your time, and have fun with it.