For many avid travellers and campers, RVs are an indispensable part of their travelling and camping experience. Finding a good RV can sometimes be rather tricky, even for the most seasoned adventurers and campers with some long miles behind them.
Equipping an RV is an even bigger challenge if you do not know what to look for and where to find it.
RVs can cost from 10,000$ to anywhere up to 300,000$ and for those that are looking to refurbish their RVs and adapt them to their needs, finding the proper equipment and tools is a must.
This is why we decided to dedicate an article to understanding what it takes to properly refurbish one of the most essential elements of the RV interior – the camper panelling. Keep reading as we investigate the different types of materials and the best options for your RV.
What is RV wall and ceiling panelling?
Although it would be impossible to talk about thousands of different models of RVs, it is quite safe to assume that most RVs share many similarities. For example, when stepping into an RV everyone will easily recognise that there is usually a difference in the panelling that is used on walls and ceilings.
The panelling can be any sort of a material that is easy to install and handle easy to maintain and most importantly resistant to different weather conditions such as high heat or moisture. Panelling covers the ceilings, walls, and sides of your RV and gives you an extra layer of insulation.
Why is the RV panelling so important?
RV wall and ceiling panelling will either make or break your bank. You can easily find an RV on Craigslist for just a couple thousand, refurbish the insides, add a couple of tweaks, find the right RV panelling material, and resell it for a handsome profit or keep it for your next travelling/camping adventure.
Regardless of whether an adventurous and nomadic lifestyle is for you, the reality is that many people are turning to RVs and there is an increased demand for them. This should not come as a surprise given the fact that the Pandemic left millions of people stranded in their houses longing for a trip or an adventure.
What are the most typical RV panelling materials?
Let’s explore some of the most typical building materials for RV panelling:
1. FRP Panelling
FRP or Fibre Reinforced Plastic is a polymer matrix reinforced with fibres such as glass or carbon. It is a lightweight material beloved in the RV industry due to its elasticity and functionality.
FRP panelling can be modified into different designs, and patterns, and mimic different textures.
The PVC or Vinyl RV panelling is made using one of the most popular plastic polymers. PVC is easy to find and is usually cheap and comes in various colours, patterns, and textures. The great thing about PVC RV panelling is that it is fairly easy to manipulate, bend, and cut. Other than being a cheap alternative to other panelling materials, it also comes in many different varieties.
PVC tend to deteriorate faster than many other materials so you will most likely have to deal with having to change your vinyl RV panelling after noticing the cracks in the material after some time.
Plywood is also a popular choice for RV wood panelling and the shoppers usually look for natural-looking composite plywood camper wall panels that are quite durable and do not break easily.
The one thing that we would advise for those that like to travel or live in wet areas of the country is to avoid refurbishing the interior of your RV in composite plywood because the moisture can damage your plywood panelling.
Even though it is rather durable, even the simplest speck of mould can turn your beloved RV into a nightmare on four wheels. This is why it is important to prioritise the efficiency of your camper’s walls and ceilings rather than the aesthetic and the natural look. If you live or travel in wet areas – plywood is not your friend!
MDF or Medium-Density Fireboard is amongst the most popular lightweight RV wall panels, and it is usually considered a cheap alternative to composite plywood walls and ceilings. MDF is made by gluing sawdust into a panel covered by wooden veneer sheets. MDF is ideal for those that have RVs that require the panelling that has to be cut into many different shapes or sizes and also for those campers that have a rather tight budget for remodelling their campers.
Even though it stands out from the crowd with its price point, ease of shaping and applying, the medium density fireboard is not necessarily your most durable RV panelling material because the glue that holds the sawdust together tends to deteriorate over the time and you will eventually spot material inconsistency in your MDF panelling.
If you do not mind changing your MDF RV panelling every year or two, then you can safely opt for this inexpensive and flexible material. however, if you are looking to refurbish your RV once and not have to worry about it for the next couple of years then you might want to skip the medium density fireboard panelling.
Where to buy RV wall panelling?
Check out your local hardware store
Hardware stores are usually the safest bet, and you can find high-quality RV panelling in many hardware stores or lumber stores. If you are looking for something more specific or more tailored to your tastes, they are usually flexible and will be able to order your preferred material for you.
Another good thing about buying RV panelling in-store is that many of them also offer advice and can give you more details about the materials and share their first-hand experience. Many stores will even offer to cut the panels for you which is ideal if you are not very crafty, or the job is simply too time-consuming.
Buy it online
You can easily buy a variety of RV wall and ceiling panelling online just by doing a simple Google search. The only thing you will need to know is which type of material you will need so it is important to do your research before ordering. Many different hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes have a good variety of RV wall and ceiling panelling so you easily find them in their online stores as well.
Amazon is also a popular place to look out for RV panelling materials and doing a simple Amazon search will give you an almost endless supply of different materials, designs, and textures. Remember that many online products can be a bit misleading so if you do not know the material, please do your research, and make sure to read the reviews before your purchase.
Some online places will offer you to put in your preferred specifications of size and shape however many others will not so make a note of that before making an online purchase.
How to install RV panelling?
RV panelling is typically not that hard to install. Normally, panelling is directly stapled to the studs in the wall or on the ceiling.
If you are concerned with the aesthetics, you can always use putty to cover the traces of staples or if you prefer to use wallpaper you can also apply it directly to the panelling and easily cover any traces of stapling.
Repairing panelling is usually a no-brainer because it either deteriorates naturally over the course of a year or a couple of years (which is very typical with wood and plastic) or rots due to weather conditions.
The best thing to do is just to remove the entire piece and make sure that the exposed part is clean and that there is no water damage or mould. You should be able to find the same or similar 1/8-inch panel and cut it to the desired length and width so that it can easily fit r and replace the removed panelling.
In case you notice mould or some type of water damage it is very important to inspect whether the mould or water damage has affected other parts of the wall or ceiling and figure out whether you will have to remove other panels as well. Before installing new RV wall replacement panels, it is important to sterilise and clean the studs or completely remove them if they are rotten. Upon sterilising and cleaning the surface area below the panelling it is good to apply mould treatment and leave it to dry out for a couple of days before installing a new panel. If you do not do that then you can count on experiencing the same problem in a couple of months and risking the water and mould damage spreading to the rest of your beloved RV.
If you are unable to find RV interior panels with the same texture or colour and you are bothered by a single or a couple of pieces visually sticking out, you can always hide the replacement with a picture frame or an accent piece or simply use the wallpaper that will unify the space once again.
The science of RV wallpaper
If you are looking for a nice RV wall panel wallpaper, you can always go for a minimalistic look or something that is more patterned or textured. If want to create a starker contrast between the ceilings and the wall, then you can always put a more complex pattern on the ceiling and keep the walls minimalistic.
Another popular design for wallpapers are natural-looking textures like wood or stone but it is also not unlikely for many RV owners to use Wallpapers that mimic old bricks, anything from dirty white to clay colour could also bring some class to your RV.
In recent years RVs have undergone a resurgence in popularity and many RV owners have turned their RVs into little art pieces on four wheels and when we say this, we mean it. 3D panels or wallpapers that mimic a 3D, textured look have also become popular bringing a sense of luxury and depth to your RV. This could be ideal if other elements are very minimalistic because it balances out the interior design that can sometimes look a bit plain.
The great thing about opting for wallpaper for your RV wall and ceiling panelling is that it can easily be applied, and it can also easily be replaced. You do not have to worry about changing the panelling from time to time and causing a mismatch because a good wallpaper can fix almost any visual discrepancy.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to choosing the right wallpaper is to do the same thing as you would do to your house, if your RV is small then do not opt for very dark or heavily textured wallpaper for your RV wall and ceiling panelling, instead, choose. lighter and less textured wallpaper. This will create the illusion of open, larger space.
Everything else is up to you and your design tastes and preferences.
There you have it! We hope that you learned something new about RV panelling and we are happy if this article helped you understand the differences between the different RV wall and ceiling materials and helped you choose the right one.
As you can see, refurbishing an RV is similar to refurbishing a house: a lot of things strictly depend on your tastes and preferences but there is also a bit of research needed before committing to it. As we highlighted, make a note of the fact that you should do your research about the best materials for your eye RV and for the conditions of the area in which you live, or you are planning to visit.
As with any project, RV panelling renovation and installation can be a bit daunting but if you put effort into it, we are sure you could turn your beloved RV into a stunning work of art.