Monday, April 13, 2015

How To Paint Old Paneling in a Travel Trailer

Posted by Devin

I must admit, I wasn't really planning on posting a tutorial about how to paint a trailer. In fact, I wasn't even planning on painting our trailer at all at first! But when I was preparing to get started on this project I tried to do some internet research about how to do it and I had a really hard time finding information on this topic! I sort-of had to look in a bunch of different places to pull together what I thought we should do. So I am going to provide the kind-of info I was looking for in hopes that it will help someone else out there with their own "glamping" project.

Our travel trailer is a 1970 Rancho El Rae that came to us with the original paneling still in tact, although it did have a few areas with some damage. (You can see my full "before" post here.) I think with any vintage trailer you're going to have to expect a little wear-and-tear to have occurred and given that our trailer is 45 years old, the paneling looks pretty good. Although I didn't mind the paneling too much, when it came down to it, the trailer of my dreams did not include old paneling in it. I wanted a bright and fun and airy space! So it didn't take me too long to decide that painting the interior was the way to go. If you feel the same, this tutorial is for you!

But before you begin, you should know that this is not a super quick, one day project. I tried to keep track of the time Jake and I spent working on it and I counted no less than 35 hours between the two of us. It may be a small space, but it's still a big undertaking! And sometimes you have to get yourself into some uncomfortable positions to finish the job. I was feeling pretty hot, cramped, and claustrophobic in the picture above! With that being said, every minute was worth it for me since I think my trailer looks SO much better now. Hands down, no contest, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Still think you want to paint??? Ok then, read on!

Here are the materials you will need:
- 1 gallon Kilz Original Oil-Based Primer (used about half)
- 2 gallons Interior Paint in Eggshell in your color choice (I used Clark + Kensington Interior Paint Plus Primer from Ace Hardware, but only because it was on sale. I am not picky about the brand and it does not have to be a paint plus primer. I used an ENTIRE gallon of bright white and only a partial gallon of the yellow, which we used for our kitchen cabinetry. The yellow I chose was a color called Jackson Square by Valspar. Keep in mind I have a very small trailer, only 18 feet long from hitch to bumper, so you may need more or less paint depending on your trailer size.)
- Paintable, white or clear caulking
- Small roller brushes and pan
- Small Purdy paintbrush (must be Purdy)
- Paint thinner (for clean-up with the Kilz, which can be a pain to take off of fingers and brushes)

Step 1: Empty the trailer.
Remove all cushions, decorations, pillows, rugs, take everything off the counters... basically just get everything out of the trailer so nothing will be in your way or risk getting painted on. We even removed our carpeting which is not tacked down but fits so snugly it doesn't go anywhere. Taking the carpeting out was the BEST decision. Not having to worry about the flooring or deal with a dropcloth helped a ton. (We let the toddler in the goofy jammies stay.)

Step 2: Remove all doors and drawers from the trailer.
Jake and I set up a large table outside the trailer where we could lay all of the doors/drawers out for painting, making sure to label each piece with a small bit of tape so we would know exactly where it belonged back in the trailer. We then took all of the hardware off of everything and put it in individual bags for each drawer/door that were also labeled. We didn't want things getting all mixed up and it made for super quick re-installation when we were finished. (Sorry, I didn't get any pictures of the doors and drawers off before we painted so you'll have to settle for these later shots. Like I said, I wasn't really planning on posting about this part of the glamping project.)

Step 3: Prime.
Everyone I talked to said that you MUST prime when painting a travel trailer. The space is small and walls are extremely likely to get bumped and brushed which can cause annoying nicks and scratches in the paint if you don't prime. Plus, trailers often undergo extreme temperatures which can cause problems with your paint and sometimes the old paneling wants to bleed through if primer is not used. All in all, we felt that priming was going to be worth our time in the end. My husband and I made this a team effort and it worked well. While I went through the trailer working on the trim with my Purdy brush (I don't tape, I cut-in with my brush which is much easier with a Purdy brush than other, cheaper brands), Jake came behind me and rolled everything. You don't need to make sure you have perfect coverage with this step, simply get one nice, fairly even coat on everything and then you can move on. Remember to use the paint thinner for clean-up on rollers and brushes, not water which will not work.
TIP: When using oil-based primer I always avoid getting it on my skin as much as possible because it is so hard and harsh to get off. I keep a rag with me to quickly wipe up anything that gets on me. You've been warned. ;)

Step 4: Paint.
Once the primer is dry, it is time to paint. Again, I did trim while Jake followed with the roller. We found  that it took two coats of trim everywhere, two coats of the yellow with the rollers, and THREE (yes, three) coats of the white with the rollers to get good coverage. Trying to paint over dark paneling with white is obviously going to take a few coats. Maybe I was just being a perfectionist, you can decide when enough is enough for yourself, but I wanted that white to be solid and bright!

Step 5: Caulking
Now I know that most people would say that this step should be before priming and painting. However, it was difficult for us to see where the paneling needed some caulking until it was already painted. Besides, once the caulking was done, it took very little time for me to go back over it with the trim brush and paint it. So for this step you are looking for any cracks, holes, and gaps in the paneling and you are going to want to fill those in with your caulking. Simply run a bead of caulking over the crack, dip your finger in a cup of water, run your finger down the caulking, and smooth it out making sure to wipe excess caulk off of your finger with a rag as you go. The most important part of this step is dipping your finger in the water before you run it over the caulking. It's the only way to get a nice, smooth finish without having to go back and sand it down later. It works SO well. Here's a before and after picture of the worst spot in our trailer. You can see the gaps in the paneling once we were done painting. After the caulking was used to fill them in it looked so much better, even before it was painted.

Step 6: Touch Up
At this point simply go back and paint over any caulking you have done and do a final look-over to make sure there aren't any areas that need a bit more work. When you are satisfied that everything looks nice and finished, you are ready to move on! Also, it's not a bad idea to keep some touch up paint handy in your trailer. Even with priming, chances are you're going to need it at times during your travels.

Step 7: Re-Install Cabinet Drawers and Doors
Once everything is painted, it is time to put it all back together! Re-installing your painted cabinetry should be pretty simple since everything is already labeled and ready to go. :)

Now that the cabintery is back in, you can refill your trailer with all of your cushions and pillows and curtains and knick-knacks (and carpet) and you are ready to go! Our painting project may be completed, but I am still in the middle of the full "glamping" project. Check back here in a few weeks to see the completed trailer! Happy camping, everyone!

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At May 13, 2015 at 1:27 PM , Blogger I'm Feelin' Crafty said...

We have this exact same trailer, I think. The name sounds a little different, but it looks exactly the same. I so want to do this. We never use our kitchen or our shower, so I really want to tear those out and make one big bed along the back... Saw the finished post too. Looks great!

At January 27, 2017 at 12:38 PM , Blogger Jade Graham said...

his is a cable car ride to the scenic mountains of the Maokong area in Taipei. cheap and affordable vacations

At February 8, 2017 at 2:04 AM , Anonymous paint sprayers said...

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