- Insider spoke to Bo and Madison Cox, who renovate RVs for a living.
- They told Insider that paint can drastically transform mobile homes, making them look more spacious.
- But RVs can’t be painted like a home, so it’s important to properly prepare before you paint.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Interest in RV life has boomed over the last year, with more and more people deciding to live on the road full-time.
Customizing these tiny homes on wheels can be tricky though, particularly if you’re not familiar with interior design.
Bo and Madison Cox, who have renovated 10 RVs for their company Troop Nashville, spoke to Insider about how to make a mobile home look as inviting as possible.
They said paint makes a drastic difference in how RVs look, but you have to be careful about how you apply it.
Paint can make RVs look bigger
According to the Coxes, most manufacturers create RVs with dark interiors.
“The reason they do it is that people are always like, ‘Oh, it’s going to get so dirty because it’s white,'” Madison said.
You might prefer the darker look if you’re just using your RV for camping or other situations where you are tracking in dirt often, but for people who live in RVs full-time, that isn’t always the case.
Dark paint and cabinetry make RVs look smaller than they are, so embracing white or other light-colored paints can help open up the vehicles.
“People are wanting to live their normal day-to-day lives,” Madison said. “I’d rather see the dirt.”
Madison and Bo specifically recommend painting walls and cabinets, since they take up so much space in the RVs.
Removing heavy window treatments can also help RVs look more spacious, as letting in more light makes things look larger.
But painting an RV is more complicated than painting a house
Although paint can be a game-changer for RVs, it can cause problems if you don’t know how to use it properly.
Bo and Madison told Insider that people run into trouble with painting an RV when they approach the renovation the same way they would a home renovation.
“A lot of people will be like, ‘Oh, I painted my room at home, so we can paint a camper,’ but there’s so much that goes into it,” Madison said.
“I typically spend the entire four to eight weeks that we’re working on these things painting,” she went on to say.
Painting an RV is different than painting a house.
Surfaces in RVs aren’t built like walls in a home, so they have to be cleaned and sanded at length before they can be painted.
The Coxes told Insider they typically follow a five-step process when painting.
They start by cleaning the walls with a heavy-duty cleaner that has trisodium phosphate in it. Then, they prep the surfaces. For cabinets, that means sanding, and for both walls and cabinets, they patch and sand any holes. They also caulk the walls and cabinets at this stage of the process.
Finally, the walls can be painted, and they typically require two to three coats.
“I prefer Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore paints, but I always advise for DIYers to talk to the people working at their local SW or BM what paint would be best for them,” Madison said of picking paints. “It’s always best to tell your local paint professionals what you’re painting and what types of temperatures and abuse the paint will be exposed to and have them advise you on a product.”
Skipping the prep process can lead to peeling paint
Madison and Bo stressed to Insider that taking the time to prep before you paint will save RV owners a headache in the long run.
“Before you jump in, make sure you know what you’re doing, or you’ll end up with peeling paint, and that’s a nightmare,” Madison said.
She said that peeling most often occurs when walls aren’t properly sanded or cleaned before being primed and painted.
If you don’t prep your surfaces before you paint, the paint will likely peel.
Likewise, skipping parts of the painting process, like not patching holes, can leave mobile-home owners with a displeasing look.
“But I would say the biggest mistake people make is not caulking,” Madison added of the painting process.
“Caulking before you paint — with a really good caulk that isn’t going to crack — is like ironing your outfit,” she said. “It looks sloppy if you don’t do it.”
You can learn more about Troop Nashville here.
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