If you’re looking for a way to give your RV a fresh new look, painting the cabinets is a great option. This may feel like a challenging project, but with the right steps, it can be done fairly easily and cost-effectively, too! In this article, we will walk you through the process of how to paint RV cabinets.
Before You Begin Painting Your RV Cabinets
It’s worth nothing that before you jump in to paint your cabinets (or do any upgrades to your RV) that you should consider if it will impact the value of your RV – either good or bad.
I have always wanted to update my RV, but doing so may have hurt the resale value. I decided to limit the changes so that my personal RV taste wouldn’t affect the resale value. If that’s not important to you then by all means move forward on your project. But just in case you think you might sell your RV one day, it’s a good idea to consider this.
If you decide to move forward on your paint project, then you’ll need to decide on the look and feel that you are going for.
A good idea is to check-out other people’s RVs to get inspiration. A blog I love to follow for DIY ideas and renovations is RV Inspiration (see link at the end of this article).
I’m friends with Ashley, the original blog owner and I know Health and Alyssa Padgett who took it over in 2022. This site provides amazing ideas for everything from RV storage to doing your own renovations.
Set Your Project Budget
Next, decide on your budget. If you’re reading this post then you’re likely trying to do things on a budget. But DIY projects often have costs that you don’t plan for because something went wrong or you you missed a step.
To get started with a budget you’ll need to know what supplies you need and which ones you already have. Check out the list below to get started.
To paint your RV cabinets, you’ll need:
- Sand paper (less expensive option) or sander (more expensive option)
- Tarp or drop cloth (or just use some newspaper if on a budget)
- Screwdriver (less expensive option) or drill (more expensive option)
- Paint (see below for paint type)
- Painter’s tape
- A few paintbrushes (different sizes)
- A roller and tray for painting larger surfaces
- Small step stool or ladder depending on high your cabinets are
You can find all of these at any home improvement store or online.
What Type Of Paint To Use To Paint Your RV Cabinets
Before you get started on your paint project, you’ll want to learn a little more about RV paint so you can make a decision about the right paint to choose. There are a variety of RV paints to select from. RV paint comes in three distinct varieties.
Water-based paints are the most common type of RV paint. They are easy to apply and clean up. Water-based paints also have a low odor, which is important when painting in confined spaces.
Acrylic latex paints are similar to water-based paints, but they provide a more durable finish. They are also more resistant to fading and chalking.
Enamel paints are the most durable type of RV painting. They provide a high-gloss finish that can last for years. Enamel paints are more difficult to apply, however, and require specific application techniques.
Narrowing Down Color Choice:
Now that you know a little more about the types of RV paint available, you can start to narrow down your color choices.
When it comes to choosing colors, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, consider the overall look you’re trying to achieve. Do you want something bright and cheery? Or are you going for a more subdued look? Once you have an idea of the overall feel you’re going for, you can start to narrow down your color choices.
My friends, Dan and Lisa Brown, from Always on Liberty, painted their RV interior with bright colors. While this isn’t specific to cabinets, I love how they used color in their RV to make it their own. See the link below to learn more about their project.
Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of natural light that will be in the space. If there isn’t a lot of natural light, you may want to opt for lighter colors so the space doesn’t feel too dark.
Once you’ve considered all of these factors, it’s time to start picking out paint colors! Here are a few popular RV cabinet color ideas to get you started:
- White: White is a classic choice that can give your RV a clean and fresh look.
- Gray: Gray is a great neutral option that can complement any style.
- Brown: Brown cabinets can give your RV a warm and inviting feel.
- Black: Black cabinets can give your RV a sophisticated and elegant look.
Step-By-Step Process For How To Paint RV Cabinets:
Now that you’ve selected the perfect color, it’s time to get started on your project! Follow the steps below to learn the top tips to paint your RV cabinets.
Step 1 – Prepare the Area
The first step is to prepare the area where you’ll be painting. If possible, do this outdoors so you can have plenty of ventilation. If you can’t do this outdoors, be sure to open all the windows for ventilation. You may even want to wear a mask if you are particularly sensitive to chemicals like me.
Whether you are outside or inside, spread out a drop cloth or tarp (newspaper if you’re on a budget) to protect the ground from paint drips, so you don’t accidentally get paint on the ground.
Recently, we painted a wall in our house and the worker who was helping did not put a tarp down outside and now our cement has a rusty-brown color. This is what you want to avoid.
Step 2 – Remove the Hardware
Next, you’ll need to remove all of the hardware from the cabinets. This includes handles, knobs, and hinges. Once the hardware is removed, a bonus tip is to label each piece so you know where it goes when it’s time to reassemble everything.
Then, use a putty knife to fill in any holes left behind by the hardware. This will prevent paint from getting into these areas and makes for a smoother overall finish.
Step 3 – Clean the Cabinets
Once the area is prepared and the hardware is removed, it’s time to clean the cabinets. Be sure to remove any dirt, grease, or grime that may be on them. Basic soap and water should be enough, but you can also use Pine sol, or even just vinegar with water or baking soda with water.
Step 4 – Sand The Cabinets
Next, sand the cabinets to create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. You have a choice to use an electric sander or sand-paper. This will come down to how much paint you want to remove, your budget, and if you want to save yourself some time by using an electric sander.
When you’re done, wipe down the cabinets with a damp cloth to remove any dust from the sanding. This photo is from a tour we took at the Tiffin factory in Red Bay Alabama. You can see how many cupboards they get through using that handy sander!
Step 5 – Paint the Cabinets
If the cabinets are particularly old or damaged, you may want to use a primer before painting.
Now it’s time for the fun part – painting! Begin by painting the inside of the cabinets first. Then, work your way outwards towards the doors and frames. Be sure to use even strokes and paint in thin layers. It’s better to do multiple coats of paint than to try to get everything covered in one go. Once you’ve finished painting, let the cabinets dry completely before moving on to step six.
Step 6 – Reassemble the Hardware
Once the cabinets are dry, it’s time to reattach all of the hardware. If you used the hack of labeling the hardware when you took it off, this should save you time when you put everything back together. That’s it! You’ve now updated your RV cabinets.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to give your RV a whole new look. Painting the cabinets is a relatively easy and inexpensive project that can make a big difference in the overall appearance of your vehicle.
If you need more RV painting tips or inspiration for any type of RV modeling project head over to RVInspiration.com
Another great way to update your RV is with new furniture. Check out our blog post on How To Replace Your RV Furniture.
Click here to check out Always on Liberty’s RV interior paint project.
Most important, have fun while doing this project. I am a firm believer that if you are going to take on a do-it-yourself project, you should try to make it as fun as possible. Happy Painting!