Being a travel trailer owner is a rewarding and enlightening experience for you and your family. The weekend retreats and vacations will create lasting memories that bind your family in love and fellowship. What happens if the beloved travel trailer begins to fall apart?
How do you repair travel trailer walls? You can repair travel trailer interior walls yourself, in six easy steps. The supplies needed are minimal, and you’ll save money in the long run:
- Clear Carpet and Paneling
- Circumvent Obstructions like Wiring or Plumbing
- Seal to Keep Out Moisture
- Replace the Walls if Necessary
- Sand the Repaired Area
While invasive, repairing the walls inside your travel trailer is a straightforward job that any person with the time and tools can tackle. Keep reading for an all-out blitz on the ways to repair your ailing travel trailer walls.
Table of Contents
Before any demolition starts, you should do an inspection to determine which part of the walls needs the most attention. A good thing to look for is damp spots around the edges of each panel. These wet spots are a breeding ground for black mold and other hazardous bacteria. Another hot place to search is on the outer wall. If there are breaches on the outside of the barriers, that is just another job; don’t worry, we will get to that one.
You will need a wide variety of tools like:
- Pry Bar
- Metal Shears
- Putty Knife
- Electrical Tape
Of course, the level of repair should meet the needs of the trailer. As always, safety equipment should be worn at all times, with particular attention being placed on protection from the mold with goggles and face mask.
1. Clear Carpet and Paneling
As with any repair job, the first thing to do is to remove any carpet or paneling. Often, some places will show wear, while others will need a closer inspection. When you are clearing, make sure to check the adjoining wood as it may need to be repaired as well. A good rule of thumb is to start on the ceiling and work towards the floor. The majority of campers and travel trailers floors are made with particle board that will disintegrate at the first sign of water.
If you have fiberglass walls, you should focus on repairing the insulation at this point. Between the metal and fiberglass coating is a layer of foam insulation. While the wall is opened if you have ruined insulation, now would be the time to fix it. A newer fix to fabric insulation is to have cellulose-based foam sprayed on surface walls. The chemical compound sticks to every depression and fault. You are making it impervious to water damage if applied correctly.
Water and mold will damage the fabric type of insulation you use. If you have the option to spray foam, it is easier to deal with and cheaper in the long run.
2. Circumvent Obstructions like Wiring or Plumbing
When the clearing is finished, you should look to move any wiring or plumbing that might obstruct you from reaching your work area. The walls of a travel trailer have a system of wiring and plumbing that runs throughout the camper. Just like in your home, these wires and pipes have a specific purpose. The essentials should be rerouted, and the non-essentials should be tossed until it is time to replace them.
If you are rehabbing an older trailer, you could have copper wires and pipes inside the wall that could be switched out. Newer campers and travel trailers have a series of flexible plastic tubing for plumbing. This tubing makes more modern campers have a more flexible design. With the addition of the plastic pipe, you could redo the entire layout of the camper. Older travel trailers made fresh again are some of the most adored by campers.
3. Seal to Keep Out Moisture
The main flaw of most travel trailer walls is the paneling or particle board that makes them up. Like the floors mentioned earlier, cheaper particle board walls will collapse after only a few bouts with rain or snow. Once you find the imperfection, using an epoxy sealant will keep moisture out of the wound. Applying this to edges and joints is a good idea because it prevents airborne agents from invading your sleep area.
There are specific types of sealers made for the kind of walls you have in your travel trailer. If you are working with an older camper, it could have a corrugated metal wall. When working with these types of walls, getting the appropriate epoxy or sealer for the surface is vital.
4. Replace the Walls if Necessary
Let’s hope it hasn’t come to a full replacement, but if it has that isn’t too big of a problem. There are a few companies out there who produce a replacement wall for a travel trailer. A full-on replacement of walls will be expensive, so be prepared to open your wallet. The walls are made with the insulation, and other sections of the structure layered together. When you need to repair a hole, cut the part to fit and fill with the same sealer you used earlier.
If you are replacing fiberglass, there is more work that needs to be done at this stage. Complete fiberglass walls should be handled with extreme care. The slightest drop of a corner or sagging middle piece could mean that you have to start all over. Fiberglass can be very brittle and should be handled as such.
The same can be said for corrugated metal. The material is durable and resilient but could have problems with direct force when handling. Make sure that you don’t crease or fold the metal in ways that would make it structurally and aesthetically displeasing.
5. Sand the Repaired Area
Now that you have your hole or wall section covered and sealed, it is time to sand down the section. Allow time for the sealer to harden before you begin this step. Use fine-grain sandpaper to work around the seams of your repaired area. If at all possible, keep the wall as close to factory condition as you can.
Fiberglass is a different animal. It is created with layers of hardened plastic piled and piled until a certain thickness is reached. While it is a versatile material, most cars and boats are made with it; it can fail and turn into a nightmare. Using liquid nail, or something similar, run beads along with the studs inside the walls. Cut your piece of fiberglass to fit and apply even pressure. Allow time for the epoxy to harden, and your wall should be good as new.
6. Update or Paint the Trim
As with any wall repair job, you can expect to do some painting and trim work. This step is optional, and if you aren’t repairing to the factory refurbished standard, that is ok too. Use a paint that matches and can stand up to the elements, or earn your DIY stripes with a modern renovation.
Go crazy at this point! This is your camper, and if it is a weekend family getaway or a spot for the guys to hunt or fish, the decor should reflect that. The trim work time is also an excellent time to upgrade. There are thousands of options to replace any section of the interior of the camper. Paying attention to furniture and bedding will give you a new layout, while LED lights can be used to replace the old electric bulbs.
Repair RV Water Damage Wall Repair
One of the most common problems with a travel trailer is water damage. As often as the camper is in the elements, you should expect to have damage within the first year of service. The most common spots to find damage are around the joints, and anywhere there has been a hole punctured.
RV Water Damage Wall Repair >> Check the video below
Take note that if you have a few small spots of mold or corrosion, that is ok. What you must look out for are the more significant sections that can begin to chip away at your bank account. Eventually, if left untreated, the camper will be unable to be fixed.
The steps to repair water damage are:
- Check For Stains
- Brown to Black
- Hit the Edges
1. Check For Stains
The best place to start when repairing is to find the source of the problem or problems. Staining is a sure-fire way to find leaks. When water seeps in through seams or cracks, it will leave a slight brown stain. When you see these stains, there is a leak somewhere in the area.
Older campers will have the standard staining that comes with any family usage. The stains from the water will be in areas that have the plumbing or the most water usage.
2. Look for Mold
The water stains will have a discoloring effect on the carpet or insulation that surrounds it. The way to gauge the extent of the damage is to check the level of discoloration. If it is a light brown, then the area hasn’t been getting moisture for an extended length of time. What you should be on the lookout for are black and wet areas.
If there are large areas covered in moisture or black mold, you should immediately cover your face and eyes. Black mold can be dangerous, but also can be removed with some elbow grease. Attack the mold with bleach and industrial-strength soap, and it will knock it out.
3. Inspect for Further Water Damage
Once the inside has been cleaned, you should take the time to inspect the undercarriage for more water damage. A good thing to check is the bolts that secure the edges of the camper to the trailer. These bolts should be easy to find and can tell you lots about what is going on inside your travel trailer walls.
Remove one of the screws from the underside and inspect it. A clean and regular screw means that the interior walls are free from leaks and holes. If there is rust on the screw, you have some problems that will take some further digging.
Here, you can find an article from our website about: 15 Effective Ways to Stop Condensation in Travel Trailers or RV
Fixing Travel Trailer Wall Delamination
Wall delamination is a severe problem that affects most older travel trailers. Delamination is the term used for the breakdown of the layers in the wall. Hot and cold streaks shrink and expand the layers over time. Some of these layers will be close to the surface and are capable of being pressed with the hand.
RV Delamination Repair Tips // How To >> Check out the video below
Trailer walls are made by gluing together several different pieces of board and insulation. These layers make up the walls and usually consist of around 3 to 7 sheets. The layers are:
- Wood Paneling
- Gel coat
Luan is a thin sheet of plywood that is made from tropical hardwood. Luan is made in southeast Asia and is used to make all kinds of things like dollhouses and even small tools. The luan is then glued to the next layer of styrofoam.
Glued to the first layer of luan is a styrofoam pad that is an inch or two in thickness. Sometimes this layer is used as insulation. Styrofoam is made by refining several different types of polystyrene and molded under pressure.
The wood paneling seen in campers and trailers across the country is the next level. The walls are thin sheets made from several different types of wood and wood products. Wood paneling is usually for the interior of the trailer. There are specific indoor and outdoor wood panels. When buying, make sure that you get the correct kind of paneling.
The outermost layer of a camper wall is coated with a type of weather-resistant gel. Though called a gel coat, the segment is a fiberglass material that is often covered with a coating that helps the siding stand up to the extreme weather.
I recently wrote an in-depth article about RV Sidewall Delamination – Crucial Guideline & Helpful Facts, have a look at it.
What are Interior Walls Made of?
Depending on when and where the camper was built, the walls could be made of several different materials. The walls inside the trailer are going to be made of something readily available and easily worked on. They provide attributes crucial for a safe and comfortable camp.
Here are some examples of those attributes:
- Soundproofing: Camping can be a noisy environment if the campground is full of generators or lively campers up late having a good time. Having walls provides a barrier between you and the unwanted noise of others. Keeping the noise inside is another benefit.
- Looks: Having walls increases the looks of the camper. A significant part of having interior walls is they provide some needed color to the inside. Dressing up the walls is just as important as maintaining the structure of the travel trailer. Paint and wallpaper are popular choices and improve resell value.
- Insulation: If camping in colder environments is, a possibility having walls will keep the cold air at bay while giving a place to hide from the warm temperatures. Keep in mind that extreme temperatures aren’t going to be stopped by walls. If there’s a space between the walls, you can add extra insulation, just like in the home.
Walls for the travel trailer could be made from several different materials ranging from woods to fiberglass, and in higher priced trailers, carbon fiber walls are available. Whatever the material, the tools around the home or local department store should be able to work with it.
A great place to shop for repair materials is the manufacturer’s home page. They will offer many items that could be used to make repairs before diving into a retrofit or full-on rebuild. Checking with the manufacturer could also lead to several options for aftermarket parts and ways to improve your travel trailer’s life.
While working on a travel trailer can be tackled by a carpenter of any level, having someone to help is never wrong. Power tools and electricity have the potential for severe injury and having a second pair of hands could mean the difference between life and death. Safety should always be the top priority.
RV Interior Wall Material
The primary RV interior wall materials:
- MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
- Wood Paneling
One of the most popular types of travel trailer walls is vinyl. It is a light material that is easy to work with and readily available from several different places. Cutting will require a jigsaw or a rotary saw, like a Ryobi. Covering the face while working with vinyl is recommended.
When it comes to the inside of the trailer, having a material that is light and able to be easily customized can mean saving tons of time and money. Vinyl is light enough that adding several layers doesn’t mean much extra weight.
Vinyl comes in two types of boards and sheets. A sheet of vinyl like those on a tent is for a pop-up, while the hard-plastic variety works best for trailers with pop-out walls and flooring. Sewing for vinyl sheets is delicate work and should be tackled by a professional if applicable.
MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
MDF is made from the bits and pieces leftover from industrial processing. They are thrown into a vat and mixed with a unique adhesive that forms them into long sheets like plywood. They come in 1/2in and 3/4in sheets and are usually tan or chocolate colored. Glue from these sheets is hard to deal with and could ruin the paint.
Having MDF walls in your travel trailer is going to be an issue if they get wet. Once they get nice and soaked, they will separate and begin to flake off. When MDF gets wet, it is better to replace it than to deal with the slow deterioration.
The best thing about MDF is that you can work with it like any other type of wood. It is a bit more pliable and could be used for backing behind seating and around corners. Working with MDF is a snap for those who have any background in carpentry.
Fiberglass walls for a travel trailer are some of the best types for extreme environments. They are much better at holding in heat and cold air.
They fit together much better than wood, which leaves a seamless shell. Being seamless adds to their ability to retain heat and cold.
Fiberglass is easy to work with but can have some adverse side effects. Breathing in the dust made by cutting fiberglass can have some nasty effects on the lungs and throat.
Think of cut fiberglass as tiny bits of the cactus spine. If they lodge in the throat or mouth, there could be a world of hurt waiting.
The weight of fiberglass is its biggest asset. The light material is ideal for walls as it doesn’t add any excess weight to the frame. If you have a pop-up or slide-out panels, replacing them with fiberglass is an excellent idea.
Wood paneling, like the kinds seen in house trailers, can be found inside older models of the travel trailer. They used this type before the multi-wall method that populates the market today.
Having a single sheet of paneling on the wall leaves a space between the inner and outer walls that will need insulation.
Wood paneling is much like MDF in that it can come in an industrially glued sheet or as in thinner pieces of plywood. The cutting and nailing can be done with a hammer but using a nail gun will ensure that there aren’t any mishaps that could ruin the sheet. A hammer miss could puncture the entire layer.
Wood paneling is cheap. If you have access to a blown insulation gun, you could make the insides economical and practical. The major downside is strength and durability. While they are much more robust against wet climates, they don’t provide lots of protection against the cold or heat.
How to Cover your Travel Trailer Walls.
If the walls inside the travel trailer require covering or painting, there are some things to consider. While paint and wallpaper are comparable in price and application, your trailer walls will be the deciding factor. Older trailers will take a coat of paint that some newer ones will not.
A fiberglass or vinyl wall will work best with paint. Wood will work well with either, and the same goes for MDF, except for more prep work and treatment. Sanding should be expected as will primer and several coats to get the color you want.
Travel trailer walls are often made from an industrial paste glued together from leftover bits of wood in the forestry process. These are going to have a weird color that may not gel with the paint used. Expect several coats or some shopping to find the correct mix of paint.
Wallpaper could be difficult to apply if there are smaller sections of the wall inside the travel trailer. A great deal of attention must be paid to making sure that the pattern is matched, and the paper is flat and unwrinkled. When the glue on the backside of the paper is activated, the wall must be ready and free of debris.
Packing the Walls with Insulation
If your trailer walls have spaces between the outer and inner walls, the best thing to do is use insulation to pack the holes. Once the holes are filled, they will protect the travel trailer from cold and unwanted noises. It must be monitored for wear as wet insulation is a sign of deeper problems.
There are two kinds of insulation, they are:
- Blown Insulation
- Rolled Insulation
One of the newest innovations in insulation is the creation of a blown type of insulation that protects against the elements and noise. It is applied with a spray gun and swells to about 1/8in or larger depending on the type of insulation.
For pricing, you should contact a local installer. They will come and give an estimate after some measuring and poking around inside the trailer. When the foam is applied, there will have to be reductions made, and the contractor will be more than able to complete them.
Blown insulation is a more involved process than any other type. While there are ways to do it yourself, they can be sketchy and hard to work for the novice. This is a job best left for the professionals and worth the extra money to have it done correctly.
The rolled insulation is the kind that is seen in the attics of homes across the country. It should be handled with gloves and goggles and can be cut with a box cutter. Hardware stores carry these giant rolls.
Rolled insulation is the easiest to install of the types. Once it is measured, it can be laid or stuffed inside the walls for protection from the cold. If there is an air conditioner unit inside your travel trailer, it will keep the air inside at the temp you like.
This insulation is dense and takes up lots of room. When adding it to a travel trailer, some pieces don’t quite fit and need extra work. Compressing the insulation could make it more susceptible to water and weaken the wall structure.
RV Exterior Wall Replacement Panels
RV exterior wall replacement panels – Replacing RV Aluminum Siding >> Check out the video below:
How To Repair Exterior Travel Trailer Walls
If the inside of your travel trailer has become watertight and all leaks have been repaired, you should gear up for tackling the outside panels next. If you are one of the lucky campers who have aluminum or fiberglass siding, you are in for a lot less work and money than those with delaminated walls or ceilings.
Aluminum wall repair
When you think of aluminum walls, the first thing that springs to mind are the corrugated metal trailers that dominate the RV sales lots. These are standard sheets of metal with ridges that help to piece the walls together like a puzzle.
When making repairs on the aluminum siding, you should pay extra attention not to crease or bend the metal. Also, if there are several windows and doors, you should make sure that you have measured everything to fit.
Repairing the aluminum exterior walls on your camper can be done following these steps. They are:
- Top to Bottom
We have all seen the large lip that runs around the top and bottom of the camper. That is called a moulding. This moulding hides the seam where the metal comes together. Using a screwdriver gently pry this moulding back until the metal seam is visible. Don’t go wild on these thin strips of metal, as they will go back on the camper or can be used to liven up the inside with decorative flair.
The parking and brake lights on the camper should be removed as well. They often have colored lenses with a bulb housing right behind. Remove the bulb and store it somewhere for safekeeping. The area around the lights can be pried loose with a screwdriver as well. Lights can be at spaced intervals around the camper. Make sure that all the lenses, bulbs, and housings stay intact.
When the camper comes from the factory, the panels are stapled to the form with tons of industrial-grade staples. The moulding that was removed will expose just how much is stapled to the frame of the camper. Take a hammer and start removing the staples from the wooden frame.
These aren’t the fasteners that we know from grade school. These are more like nails with a crossbar. They are fired with a nail gun and have substantial weight and heft to support the walls.
When the pieces peel back from the frame, it is time to straighten and adjust the bits that have been damaged over time. A great idea is to lay the sheets down on a flat surface and use a hammer and putty knife to tap away the imperfections. Go slow and use a lower amount of pressure than average. Aluminum can be finicky.
To combat the metal having a mind of its own, it would be a great idea to trace the other pieces as they come off. What you would do is place the new section under the old and make an outline. This outline lets us know where all the screws and staples from the last piece went. Not having to stop and fix every tiny section saves tons of time in the long run.
6.Top to Bottom
The siding that goes on a camper is not much different from the one that goes to your house. They are large sheets of metal with a series of holes drilled into the bottom. The bottom of each sheet is where the staples and nails will attach to the frame. It is best to install these from top to bottom.
Trim is the area around the:
You worked these pieces over pretty well in the removal stage, and now it is time to make them whole again. For all the tracing we did earlier, there will be parts that still need removal or addition. Use metal shears or a saw to make the edges level and access to lighting easy and straightforward.
Now that all your siding is up and the holes are ready for the fixtures, it is time to install. Replace the lighting fixtures and lenses, paying close attention to the bulbs and their cords. Once that is taken care of begin to replace the moulding along the tops and bottoms of the trailer.
Replacing Rotted Walls In Camper
To replace rotted walls in camper just check out the video below:
How To Repair A Travel Trailer Shower
Another problem area that is the first to fail inside a travel trailer is the shower. All the wood and particleboard that make up the walls and foundation of the camper is susceptible to rot and mold. The shower and toilet are definite hot spots that usually yield results. The steps to repair your shower are:
- Cut the water
- Remove panel
- Plumbing disconnect
- Wall removal
- Floor pan removal
1.Cut the water
It’s a no brainer that you should cut the water before jumping in to demo the stall. If you are using power tools and the water is left on, you could be shocked or electrocuted. Safety is always first when it comes to working with any kind of tool. Plus, a cool and dry area is best to work with all the woods and metals you will be using.
2.Remove the panel
Once the water is off, you should begin to remove the panel on the shower’s roof. This panel should be connected to the housing that comprises the shower. Now that the ceiling piece is removed look around and find any spots or wet patches on the wall. You should look for yellow or brown spots. Discoloration usually signals that water has begun to leak. If there are black spots with mold on them, remove the panels for cleaning.
If there is black mold, you will need to mix bleach and water (4 parts to 1) and scrub all surfaces that have mold. After an hour or so, go back in with an industrial-strength soap and clean everything up. Once it dries, you should be able to get back to work.
I know you think this is about the water, but you should disconnect the faucets and spigots. You will need to have all the hardware kept in the same spot, so you don’t lose anything. Usually, there is a plastic cap over the handles. Using a flat-head screwdriver, you can pop the cap right off and get to the screw hidden below.
The same goes for the spigot. A simple twist with a pipe wrench will loosen the faucet enough for you to unscrew it the rest of the way. When the pipes are exposed, check for any faults or leaks in the line. Again with the mold inspection. It is worth the extra time to protect you and your family.
The walls and shelving inside your travel trailer shower should come out in pieces like a puzzle. Some will be connected with brackets that are accessible via a cabinet opening.
If there is substantial water damage, you might need to replace the entire shower wall. By following the steps in the section above, you should be able to knock this out with no sweat.
With the shower wall exposed, now is the time to get to work cleaning and repairing. A breathing mask and goggles are essential for this kind of work, as years of moldy build-up does contain harmful chemicals that could lead to all sorts of nasty illness.
5.Floor Pan Removal
If you’ve ever looked into the shower in your travel trailer, you might not have noticed that a large part of the floor is a giant pan. This pan keeps splashes and drips from making it into the camper’s flooring and is made of thick plastic.
More than likely, you will need to remove the floor grate that connects to the plumbing. Once the grill is removed, you can move around the edges of the pan and separate it from the wall.
You can pretty much count that the floor under the pan is going to need to have some rehab work done on it. Over some time, water will seep through and begin to eat away at the floor. As thick as the floor pan is, it can’t stop water from oozing through imperfections in the pipes.
Refitting is the part that makes the most difference. If you have an older camper, you would be surprised at how a new color or upgrade to an old appliance will make things pop.
Be careful to fix the underlying problems before any final changes are made. The functionality of your shower is more important than how it looks to other people.
Like the walls themselves, showers can come in an array of styles that match your particular purpose. A common gripe of travel trailer campers is that the shower isn’t large enough, and they are forced to use the community showers. If this is a problem for you, now is the time to fix it.
Since you have a new shower, it would be a good idea to get some new hardware for it as well. Go with something that fits the aesthetic but can be easily swapped out if it breaks. Also, pick something simple, that everyone can operate.
A popular trend is to have brushed brass faucets and handles. It gives whatever feel you are going for a rustic lilt that is cropping up more and more in camping.
Once you have the design that you like, all you need to do is apply a bit of plumbers tape to the faucet and screw everything down.
RV/Camper Shower Drain Repair DIY >> Check out the video below
Damaged travel trailer walls might look scary, but forking over a bunch of cash to have someone fix the walls is even more frightening. The good news is that you can give your travel trailer’s walls the TLC they deserve, all on your own.
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