Just like your home, remodeling or renovating an RV can be challenging, not to mention costly.

Sometimes, it needs to be repainted, reupholstered, or refinished.

This can be a little more challenging if you’re buying a used RV as you may need to make repairs, replace the furniture, add new lighting, décor, and install new hardware and fixtures.

What if you have a lot of repairs to make along the way?

The cost of remodeling an RV can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. It depends on the condition of your RV, the repairs that need to be made, and how far you want to go in your remodeling. It may also vary depending on if you’re hiring a professional or doing it yourself.

In this article, we’ll provide essential insights about RV remodeling, including what to consider when buying a used camper, how much a renovation or remodel will cost you, and how to remodel an RV on a budget.

Buying a Used Camper

If you don’t already have your own RV, the first thing to do is buy a used camper.

Depending on the type of van and its features, a new van can cost you up to $50,000 or $10,000.

However, this may not be the best way to go as standard RVs depreciate year after year.

Here’s a better explanation. Like every automobile, the RV starts to depreciate the moment it leaves the lot.

In the first year, it loses about 30% of its value, and in the next two years, another 20% is lost.

That leaves your trailer as 50% valuable as it was just three years ago.

This is one of the reasons why it’s best to go with a used van.

Here are other reasons why you should consider buying a used camper.

It Saves Cost

You get to buy a three-year used RV for half the price it was sold. Obviously, the most significant benefit is the amount of money you’re able to save.

All of the gadgets and amenities the camper has will be yours. Even with additional repairs and maintenance, you won’t spend as much money as you would on a new van.

You Can Ask The Owner Any Questions

It is easier to research a previously owned RV than a new one.

If you are buying from its owner, he can give you detailed information on its working condition, the extent of use, weaknesses, and strengths.

If you’re purchasing from a pre-owned RV lot, they can refer you to its previous owner to get the information you need.

You can also get information from people who have owned the same model you’re looking to purchase to help you know what to expect.

Flexibility of Remodeling

This is probably your second home. As long as the RV is not too old, you can customize and remodel it to your taste.

You may also find that the RV has a soft, homely touch since the previous owner has already customized it.

Things to Consider When Buying a Used Camper

While a used RV has its benefits, it also has its disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages is that it is used and some of the parts may be damaged.

You’ll need to check the van’s overall condition, as this is one of the main things that determine how much a remodel will cost.

Before we get into the thick of things, there are preliminary questions that are pertinent.

  • Why do you need an RV?
  • What type of RV suits your purpose?
  • Where will you be taking the RV?
  • What features do you need in your RV?
  • Who will be occupying the RV?

These questions are part of the things you should prepare answers to before you begin to search for a camper at all.

If you need a camper that will be occupied by you alone, and maybe occasional guests; you are on the road only a few times, that means you need a small cozy camper, and your best choice would be either a teardrop camper or travel trailer if you have a towing truck.

If you move a lot and live alone, a class B RV might be what you need.

It is, therefore, crucial that those questions be answered.

Regardless of who you’re buying an RV from, we recommend you check for the following when purchasing a used camper, check out for the following:

Water Damage

One of the significant concerns and most expensive damage to fix in an RV is one caused by water. It is relatively easy to spot and should be taken seriously. Start the inspection from inside. 

  1. Check the roof for any spots that may be caused by water. They are usually brown and cause discoloration to the ceiling.
  2. Examine the wall panels as well; push them a little to see how well they hold. If you can easily push them in, there is chance water has been reaching them.
  3. Check the AC area and kitchen area for brown spots. If the enclosure gives a musty smell or the cabinets feel warm when you open them, it is a sign.

Mechanical Damage

The mechanical parts of a camper can get damaged from movement and a lack of it. It is, therefore, essential to check them out. 

  1. The most obvious place to start is the tires; check in-between the threads for cracks that may have developed due to weather or sitting idly.
  2. All nuts and screws should be checked for rust. You wouldn’t want to buy a van that would cost you insane amounts to fix. 
  3. Be sure to inspect the ladder; check its mechanical function. It will help you to access the roof and the damage it’s holding.
  4. Pull the slides out to test, let them go through their full range of motion to detect any shortness in their usual reach. 

Electrical Issues

An RV carries many appliances, and they run on either electricity, propane, or solar. 

  1. Inspect the Power Distribution Panel, and ensure the AC breakers are stiff when you change the power source. 
  2. Watch out for overheating when running the circuits and make sure there are no blown out fuses.
  3. Check the battery bank for corrosion and wire breakage. Don’t forget to switch on every electrical appliance in the kitchen, coolants, AC and fan, power outlets, and power cords to check if they’re in good condition.

Structural Issues

You can check for structural issues while inspecting for water damage. A leaking roof compromises the structure of the whole RV. 

  1. Focus on the front and rear of the trailer; these are the places most likely to hold a pool of water.
  2. Check every AC and refrigerator vent to see if there is any damage and the extent of the damage. 
  3. You should also take a trip outside, check the trailer’s body, and give it little pushes. An RV’s body should be firm. If it’s not, the structure might be compromised.
  4. Slide under the trailer, too, check the axel and support for any corrosive bolt, as they are the balance of your home.
  5. The floor is also an essential part of the RV. Make sure it doesn’t creak too loudly when you walk on it. If it does, it might be loose at some points and need change. 
  6. It is also advisable to be thorough in areas where water leakages have been seen.

Upholstery

The primary issue upholstery tends to give is with rodents. 

  1. Open every cabinet to check for rats and mice droppings. If there are rodents in that RV, you can’t miss it.
  2. Open every cushion there is, and check for holes where they might be nesting. It is crucial to get rid of the rodents and their hiding places as they may pose a threat to your health and your RVs appeal.

Painting and Finishing

If everything is in good working order (which is almost impossible), the RV might need some refinishing. 

  1. Check for flaking paints, wall coverings due for a change, floor coverings, and carpets that need to be replaced.
  2. If you’re unsure how to check these areas for damages, you may take a professional along with you. 

Make no mistake about it, if you buy a used camper that requires too many repairs, your cost of renovation and remodel will skyrocket.

Starting Your RV Remodeling

Whether your RV has seen better years on the road or you just purchased a used camper, remodeling your RV can be an effortless task or a daunting one, depending on how skilled you are or how much money you’re willing to spend.

Flooring

The widest part of your RV will always be the floor. It is the first thing that one sees whenever they come in to visit you.

So, you have to give it a great deal of attention. You might fix every other thing in your trailer and realize something still doesn’t look right; it’s your floor.

This brings us to the question, how do you know it’s time to change your flooring?

Here are some signs your RV floor needs some touch:

  • Water Damage: If you see patches on your floor, probably, leaks from the roof or vents, that floor needs to be changed.
  • Age of Flooring: Some floor coverings such as carpet have a lifespan of 8 years. If your new used RV’s flooring has not been changed for a while, you should. Just by looking at it, you can tell if it is dull.
  • Cracks and Tears: If you notice cracks and tears on your vinyl flooring, then it needs to be changed.

One more sign to look out for is excessive creaks when you walk on it.

RV Floor Remodeling Choices

  • Vinyl: This material is one of the best options to replace your old RV flooring. It is durable, affordable, and water-resistant. That means you can use it in areas that are prone to water damage in your camper. It is also easy to install and clean, especially for those whose RV endures much traffic.
  • Carpet: Carpet is desirable if your camp has a lot of noise because it absorbs sound. It gives you the “Home feeling,” and it is relatively easy to replace. However, it absorbs odors as much as it does sound. It is not water-resistant, and it is not as durable as vinyl.
  • Laminate Flooring: This material is similar to vinyl but has more strength. It can withstand high pressure and is suitable for those who want hard materials. It has an aesthetic quality; it is easy to clean and install, but it is not water-resistant.
  • Hardwood Flooring: Flooring your RV with hardwood makes it beautiful. However, it isn’t easy to maintain, and its weight makes your trailer use more fuel.

Upholstery

Every camper knows that the floor and padded furniture are the most used part of the RV.

Therefore, replacing the covers of your sofa and recliners will go a long way in making your camper attractive.

It may also be advisable to replace your furniture if they don’t give you the vibe you want.

Your couch, recliner, dinette, drawers, and storages can all use a little touch-up.

Kitchen Cabinets

Your kitchen cabinets, just like your upholstered furniture, need to look good. Remember, you have a relatively small space, so your kitchen cabinets must complement your floor and the other furniture.

You can add simple cabinet door handles to them, repaint, or spray them.

Bathroom

Your bathroom could use upgrades as well. You will agree that you always want to conserve water, especially when you’re in the boondocks.

One thing that will help with that is a pressure head shower. Get your hygiene done with little water.

Toilet

When nature calls, you’ve got to answer. However, you can answer in a nice place.

Moving your business across the RV for disposal is unappealing to imagine; you can change that. Upgrade your toilet to one of the flushable ones.

You can do it yourself, but if you think something might go wrong, get a professional to handle it.

Bedroom

This should be your relaxation haven. After you’ve journeyed to and fro, this is where you recharge.

Get rid of everything that makes you uncomfortable in there.

Is it the colors of the wall, the built-in storage atop the bed?

Remove them. Make the bedroom as free as possible.

Windows

You might need to clean or replace your windows. Isn’t the purpose of buying and living in an RV to see the outdoors?

Make your windows what they should be, an opening to the outside world. Replace plastics that are aged and glass that is cracked.

Check the gaskets around the glasses or plastics if they have not torn. If they have, replace them.

Walls

Another expanse that shouldn’t be left bare. Cover your walls with colors that complement your furniture.

From your living room to your dinette, choose colors that complement the floor and furniture, colors that blend everything.

In your kitchen and bathroom, use backsplashes to protect the wall and give them that exquisite look. They are easy to install and are self-adhesive.

The same can be used on your toilet walls as well. Paint your bedroom walls with serene colors.

Finishing

Give your RV’s outward appearance a boost. Be artistic in the design you apply. If you’re creative, you can try your hands on something new.

If you’re not, you can paint it in monochrome. Another option is to hire a professional.  

RV Remodel Costs

It is relatively expensive to remodel an RV. However, you can cut your cost by doing most of the remodeling yourself.

With most of the materials easy to access and instructions on using them available everywhere, you can do it yourself.

Here is a breakdown of a hypothetical B-Van remodeling on a 1990’s RV.

ItemsPrice
Tires$1300
Caulk$50
Paint$300
Flooring (Laminate)$87.5
Sofa$1500
Mattress$220
Dinette Cushions (for two)$850
Engine Tune-Up and Minor Repair$300
Gas Burner$500
New Sewage Hoses$150
Décor$35
Window Coverings$100
Total$5,392

Note that this class B RV has a floor area of 25 feet. Depending on your floor area, the cost of flooring might be higher.

Also, no labor cost on flooring was incurred, so you’ll need a higher budget if you hire a professional.

It is common to hear RVers remodel their trailers for as high as $30,000.

You may need to get a professional to visit your RV and estimate your remodel cost based on your specification.

Remodeling an RV on a Budget

If you’re on a budget, you can still remodel your RV to your taste.

All you need to do is get yourself educated and start from the most straightforward task.

There are numerous tutorials on how to DIY so many things in your RV.

Check out our channel for a good chunk of information:

You’ll have to watch them and learn. You can start with spray painting your kitchen cabinets and other wooden storage in the camper.

You can carry out tasks like cleaning, painting, new flooring installation, gas detectors installation, and installing lights, gas tanks, and other accessories.

Technical upgrades can be contracted out to professionals, although this will attract additional costs.

Conclusion

Remodeling your RV can take both time and money. Give yourself enough time to plan it out.

If you’re buying a used RV, look for a camper that doesn’t require too many repairs and maintenance.

Check for water damage, mechanical damage, electrical issues, and structural issues.

While it can be expensive, remodeling doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank. You can save money on your RV remodeling by doing some or all of the works.

Take the tasks one at a time, and watch your lovely camper transform before your eyes in a few months.

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