When we first purchased our motorhome, Pearl, last January, I honestly didn't know if I'd ever manage to paint the walls. It seemed like a daunting task, since RVs come with vinyl wallpaper hermetically bonded to the lauan plywood walls. How does one even go about painting this stuff? I really wasn't sure.
Over time I became inspired after seeing so many images of dramatic RV makeovers on Pinterest and other online sites. If they could do it, why couldn't I? After all, Pearl is our home, and we might as well enjoy a space that reflects us and not some motorhome designer who was obviously enamored with beige!
The previous owners had changed only a few small things here and there; otherwise, Pearl looked just like the pictures in the 2007 Newmar Baystar brochure I found online. We were ready to brighten her up.
I did my research online to figure out the best way to paint these walls successfully. Ultimately, this excellent blog post from Trek With Us gave me the testimonial, photos, and step-by-step instructions I needed to attack this job with confidence.
Since we live in Pearl, I'd never attempt to paint more than one "room" (better yet, just part of a room) at a time. That is disruptive enough, as there are limited places in such a small space to put the displaced items so that I can access the walls to paint them. In this case, I planned to paint only the three walls of our front slide-out. This is where our sofa and dinette sit, so amounts to about half of our living and dining "rooms".
Even these three small walls required a lot of prep time. The main part of the project took most of two days. Yes, we actually took two days in a row off our bikes!
My first task, done ahead of time, was patching the holes left when the previous owners removed the factory day/night shades and replaced them with plastic mini-blinds. You can see the white spackle material in the photo below. Fortunately I was able to do this part with all the furniture in place.
For the rest of the prep, we had to move all the furniture out into the middle of the room. Barry even unscrewed the dinette table from the wall so I didn't have to work around it.
I first used a fine-grit sanding block to lightly scuff up the walls to give the paint something to grip onto, then came behind with a damp rag to remove the residue. Next I taped around the four windows, wall sconce, and cabinets. Applying the tape took awhile but was well worth it to get a professional-looking paint job.
One plus: Because of all the furniture in the slide-out, I would only have to paint down to the floor under the dinette table. The furniture completely hides the rest of the lower walls, meaning that I didn't have to deal with the carpet line except in the one area. That was a huge help, as that is a tough area to paint.
Notice the bubble wrap taped over the ceiling lamp and under the cabinets below? This was not to protect against paint but to keep us from repeatedly bumping our heads, as we'd already done it a couple of times. Ouch! At least now if we bumped, it wouldn't smart so badly.
I did all the prep through the taping the day before priming and painting. We left the mini blinds up until the next morning so we'd have privacy overnight. Barry took them down first thing the following morning, and I laid out a large plastic drop cloth over the entire area, including our furniture, as I tend to be very sloppy with paint!
After those tasks day 2 began with priming. Although the paint I bought claimed to be a combination primer/paint, I didn't want to take any chances. I'd had great success before with "The Gripper" primer, recommended in the Trek With Us post I linked to above, so I wasn't going to mess with a good thing.
Here's what the walls looked like after putting on a coat of The Gripper. Blotchy but sealed. What a change already!
Finally, the real fun began. I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Eggshell Enamel from Home Depot in a color called "Corn Stalk" It's a really nice golden yellow, not too dark or too bright. This color would look good in just about any room. It is really hard to photograph, though. In some photos it looks much lighter than it is.
As you can see below, I used a narrower, smaller roller than the common 9" roller I've used in our past homes. This is a very nice size for the tight areas and smaller walls of an RV. A full-size roller would really be overkill here.
I had hoped to get one-coat coverage with this paint, but I wasn't completely satisfied after one coat so ended up recoating just the areas that would show when the furniture and cushions were in place. Anything below the furniture line just got the one coat.
The second coat went on quickly and gave the full coverage I was looking for.
After I'd finished painting and the second coat had dried for an hour, Barry started installing our new cellular shades. We ordered them from Select Blinds, and they are custom made for our oddball window sizes. They are a combination of room darkening and blackout portions. We would have rather had a combination of sheer plus blackout, but those were not available. Oh well, we still love them. They are cordless, modern, and so easy to use. A huge improvement on the plastic mini blinds they replaced. Installation was a breeze as well!
Our last tasks of the evening were removing the blue painter's tape and sliding the furniture back into place, just a tiny bit away from the walls until the paint cured completely. It was nice to be able to move around in our space again!
I took this photo the following morning; it shows the color of the walls much better than the photo above, taken at dusk. You can also see the new shades. This is the room darkening portion; the blackout portion is below, but we will only be using those at night.
The photo below doesn't show the yellow at all, but I wanted to include it because it shows the shades, furniture back in place, and of course, Paisley! She seemed relieved to have her usual space on the sofa back after two disruptive days with furniture pulled out and "stuff" out of place everywhere.
I have enough of the paint left (and plenty of Gripper primer) so will likely attack the small hallway between kitchen and bedroom next. Once started, it's hard to stop! I also hope to paint the bathroom and bedroom eventually.
And work remains to be done on the new platform furniture Barry built: finish carpentry, priming, painting, and bolting it to the floor.
Nope, we never get bored living in an RV!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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