Garbage to Glam: Camper Trailer Remodel

Have you ever wanted to spend some quality time with your talented husband, hoping it will bring you even closer together than you already are? Then skip this article. IN THE BEGINNING We did a minor remodel of a small pop-up camper, some paint and cushion recovering. Nothing big, took maybe a weekend. We got a lot of good use out of it, but our boys were growing, and we needed more space. So we sold the pop-up and found a great deal (or so we thought) on a 1979 Prowler, twenty-two foot home away from home.

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The seller told us he had used it for hunting but everything worked. He had taken out the couch and put in a queen-sized mattress. We thought it was a steal, and then we got it home…. DEMOLITION My husband pulled out the mattress and noticed some water spots in the upper front corner. He started pulling out the paneling and the water damage is was much more extensive. Hubby started demolishing everything. At one point, I was convinced he was just doing it because he was connecting to his inner destructive child.

Beginning of demo

bunk Beginning of demo Here’s what the beast looked like when we started.. 15 - 2

15 - 5  kitchen

diningtable

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And the demolition kept going and going… 15 - 6

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And going….

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I don’t know why, but hubby got to demo and all I got to do was clean up after him. Several times. Just like everyday. Anyway….next step was caulking leaks, and replacing the walls we tore out. We found sheets of paneling called “luan.” Did I mention my husband is a handyman? For real. That’s his job. It helps.

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Yes, even pulled the sink, cupboards and table out.

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Once we did this, we were ready to prime. And we primed everything! The raw wood really soaked it up. We used Bulls Eye Primer from Rustoleum. A lot of it. The nice thing about priming everything? No cutting in, no worries about getting paint on something you shouldn’t.

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I already had all my colors picked out. That’s one of my biggest downfalls. I set my mind on something and that’s what I want. So I took lots of samples; fabric, floor, paint chips..you name it. But don’t get your heart set on things. Be willing to be open minded, willing to make concessions…I didn’t so much, let to a lot of arguments. Moving on.

The one thing that did stay steady throughout was the paint colors. I had 2 picked out, they were next to each other on my paint chip and were neutral enough that I could pick my complimentary colors later. I picked “Agreeable Grey” and “Anew Grey” from Sherwin Williams. Seems appropriate. We bought latex…

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2nd color1

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2nd color5Don’t buy latex.

Here’s the thing…our latex paint stayed tacky…for like 2 weeks. So I went to the internet and it said we should use an oil based paint. Urgh. I had to realize this AFTER both colors were done. So I went back to the store and found oil based paints. The downfall I found with this is 1) you need paint thinner to wash your brushes 2) it stays wet for at least 24 hours 3) it only comes in glossy (at least that’s what the guy told me). So things are super shiny.

Soooo…I had to repaint…one color a day. That sucked. But it wasn’t tacky any more.

The next thing was cupboards. After looking at the space we needed to fill and how many we needed, not to mention color – we decided to build our own. Otherwise, they ran about $100 a shot and we’d need 4. I certainly wasn’t going to pay over $400 for cupboards. We used melamine with iron-on edging. Cut the cost almost in half. Getting them perfectly square was a challenge. And nicks along the edges can be more prominent on white. Shawn’s brother had some great tools to make the job easier, including a saw that ran on a track and a tool that cut the edges.

Needed help getting started, so enlisted Shawn’s older brother who does this stuff for a living.

Needed some pointers from older brother on this one.

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Keeping them level.

Side view. Had to make cupboard level and then add caulking.
Side view. Had to make cupboard level and then add caulking.

 cupboards3Finished product. These are above the sink.

cupboards5 cupboards4These are above the table. Holes were cut to allow wiring to come down.

Close up of the hardware we chose.
Close up of the hardware we chose.

Next came the counter top. Remember the concessions I told you about? This was one of them. In order to keep costs down, we had to choose from laminate counter tops that were kept in stock. But hey $60 for a 10 ft. piece? I think it was worth it.

Counter without sink in it:

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Closeup of colors – had to add some gold/browns into my color scheme after this.

countertop closeup

Once the counter was in it was time for some fun things like fabric and tiles. I just took the old cushions and found a “no sew” way to recover them on pinterest. We did see that the peel and stick tile was supposed to be great for use in campers, but I went with traditional tile because I couldn’t find a stick on one that was what I like AND affordable.chairbacks1

I got vinyl fabric to recover the railschairbacks2

Using a coupon from Joann’s Fabrics that allows you to take 50% off an item, and even more if you give them your email, allowed me to purchase all this fabric for only $40.

cushion

Tile choice for the area behind the seats.

tile choice

This area.

tile location

This is what it looked like before grout.tile without grout

Backsplash tile. This was on sale also at Home Depot.

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We combined it with peel and stick tile to cut costs as well. The peel and stick was less than $1 a piece.

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Then we cut a hole for the sink. We cleaned and reinstalled the old one.

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Added a chair rail to create division between colors.chair rail

We had the microwave from a previous move, and a generous client that Shawn had done some work for gave him the refrigerator. It wasn’t working at the time, but it just needed a new fuse.edging_Frig_microwave

I was pretty proud of this. This is the same old crappy table that came with the camper. I primed it with gray and used black Rustolleum on top of that. I got 2 colors of metallic paint and dipped a plastic grocery bag in it and tapped it randomly on the table for the marble look. After that, we put something on it like a bar-top lacquer which made it really shiny. Also from pinterest.

painted table

One of the final steps was to add the flooring. It was the peel and stick kind as well. This was called “Iron Wood” and it was the one thing I did not compromise on. It really pulled everything together.

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I love how this all came together.20150621_153042

The curtains were the very last step and this will be the one thing that people will either love or hate. I wanted a pop of color and went very dramatic. I like it, but it will definitely not appeal to others. I was going to do a no sew curtain as well, but it didn’t go well. The fabric wouldn’t stick, or you could see the rough edge through it and the glue would soak through. So I dug out a sewing machine we had inherited, read the manual and attempted curtains. They certainly look homemade, but they’ll work for this.

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The last thing we needed was a bed. After a lot of debate about whether to make one or buy one, we just opted for a futon. I couldn’t be happier and I’m sure it saved us from a lot of cussing. It was amazingly hard to find a queen size, so we went with a full size and I’m glad we did, it would have been too tight on the sides otherwise.

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And now just as a reminder, before and afters! Let me know if you have any questions, and would love to hear comments as well!Before and after 2

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63 thoughts on “Garbage to Glam: Camper Trailer Remodel

    1. Thank you so much. We had a pop-up camper – older as well, which only really needed paint and reupholstering. We ended up putting new flooring in that as well, but it was much smaller than this one. We have 2 boys and quickly outgrew the space. Wouldn’t it be fun to “flip” campers like they do houses?

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  1. All that water that created the interior damage came from somewhere…I sure hope you fixed that as well.
    You more than likely have multiple voids in the outside caulking between roof and side wall panelling

    Hopefully that will be as easy and fun to fix as the interior but I somehow doubt that..

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    1. We put a rubber sealant on the roof and we caulked everywhere that even looked like it might be a leak. We’ve had several hard rains since we fixed and it’s holding up well! **fingers crossed**

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  2. This is great -thanks for sharing. We have a 1984 Aljo Aly and are ready to do some renovating. May I ask how many does your camper sleep? We have bunks in ours, but are considering making it a triple by using the exterior storage space beneath.

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    1. Thank you. It currently sleeps 4. The table folds down and sleeps two little one, the futon easily sleeps 2 adults. We opted to get rid of the bunk above the futon and use it for storage, which currently will hold ALL of our blankets, sleeping bags and pillows. And a cool thing for storage? We found collapsible ottomans from Wal-Mart that fold down to about 2 inches high, but when set up, will act as foot stool or table, and is very sturdy. http://www.walmart.com/ip/39147446?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227026859238&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=56003964369&wl4=&wl5=pla&wl6=88449477609&veh=sem

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  3. Looks great! Especially beautiful job on the table. We just bought a 1992 Winnebago Chieftain and it needs extreme cleaning and updating. My husband and I have remodeled our house bathrooms and kitchen, so we aren’t “virgins” but the RV has some challenges. Thanks for the ideas!

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    1. We are going to redo the bathroom next spring hopefully. The tub has a crack in it, so our plan is to pull the tub and leave it out. Take out the cupboards under the sink and put in a pedestal sink and tile the entire bathroom. We’re just going to add a small ‘edge’ where the bathtub sat and install a hand held shower. So I will post images then!

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  4. We have a 24ft prowler same year, same old flooring, same everything except you have a couple more feet!! So I was wondering about the flooring. Did you rip up the old floor before laid new? and what was under it? Did it come easy?

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    1. You can kind of see what was there in the before pictures. Very ugly yellow linoleum! We left it in there and put the new flooring on top. We did pull staples, vacuumed and scrubbed it before we put in the new stuff. We were lucky enough not to need to pull any out. HOWEVER, when looking for new flooring, keep in mind the thickness of the new stuff and make sure it doesn’t interfere with doors opening, or your table staying level (don’t want that kick out leg to lift one end up too high). The flooring we used was this http://www.homedepot.com/p/TrafficMASTER-Allure-6-in-x-36-in-Iron-Wood-Resilient-Vinyl-Plank-Flooring-24-sq-ft-case-72217-0/202885477 super easy to cut around edges and install, but we put throw rugs on the traffic areas, because it can scratch.

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  5. Awesome job you did on the makeover. I have a 1976 Prowler that I have been working on also. Curious…what kind of 110volt lighting fixtures did you use? I redid all new 12 volt but would like to redo other lights due to headroom.

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  6. I’m a single mother of 7, recent unforseen events have put me in a similar situation. Fortunately I only have my 2 daughters still living with me, theres noway I could have tried to fix my 1980 layton travel trailer and chased little ones, lol. Our place had a water leak last August and we before we realized it our floors had turned to mush, base cabinets rotted and lost our kitchen appliances. Its Janurary 2016 and we have just started on repair/ remodel of our place due to lack of finaces. You have givien us hope and we wanted to say thank you for the inspiration, it helped when we were down and ready to give up. My 2 daughters and I have recently started to grab items that are being trowen away and are in process of fixing and putting in our home, thank you both again.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great work , I am just starting on a simular project 1985 prowler M31z , has water damage but didnt know to what extent . Do now, extent is great have cleared out everything from inside all that is left is floor and side walls and part of roof , metal outside have pinholes all over ( not worth even trying to save support beams in ceiling rotted, walls rotted , floor is JOKE!!! previous owners just added more plywood over rotted plywood have found 4 floors over insulation and tin. well that it for now any advice would be greatly appreciated .sincerely deb bushee in vt.

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  8. Have you thought about or have you painted the outside of your camper. We have the same camper and I was wanting to paint the outside. What are your thought?

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    1. I have thought about it…a lot. The hubby says that since it looks so bad on the outside, we don’t have to worry about break-ins when it’s in storage! But I haven’t ruled it out yet.

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  9. I have the same camper..recently purchased it..I am going to be remodeling soon…grays and turquoise..we have some water damage but not bad. I am curious about one thing…what did you do for the bathroom?? That is the only thing I am worried about..not sure what to do in that small space. Thinking of getting rid of the sink and the bath/shower combo and just putting in a shower.. I would love to see what you have done with yours. Thank you in advance! Blessings
    Christina

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    1. We haven’t done the bathroom…yet. We do have plans, however! We currently have a bathtub that we want to take out because who takes a bath out camping? We are also going to take out the carpet and tile the whole thing, just leave a little lip between the “shower” and the “bathroom” area. I have 2 boys, so we don’t need the under sink space in there and my husband has a hard time getting the door closed if he’s in there…so we’re thinking we just need a pedestal sink and hooks and maybe a shelf to put towels and hang wet clothes, but that’s it.

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    2. We hadn’t gotten to the bathroom yet. But we also want to take out the bathtub. We were planning on tiling the entire room and keeping the shower with just a small lip. Maybe change the sink to a pedestal type without the understorage. We have a cabinet to put what we need in there. Will let you know if we get to that point!

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    1. This was the biggest fight my husband and I had. I originally want the metal looking squares, but it was too expensive. This is wainscoting that you usually use on your walls. It was on sale. Hubby said it would not work….but so far so good! I love the clean look it gives our ceiling.

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  10. Thank you for this post!!! So encouraging. I’m beginning this project but for a mobile business. I has been very trying as my husband is not quite as handy as yours and we’ve done a lot of yelling during this process. Question: what did you put on the ceiling? Still luna paneling? I love it.

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  11. How long did this project take. Hubby is handy and I’m good with ideas; we built a second floor to our house so we know about compromising. I love working with him on these projects. Same year prowler. Great ideas ! , !

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  12. I want to show some thanks to you just for rescuing me from this crisis. Just after checking throughout the world-wide-web and seeing basics that were not productive, I was thinking my entire life was well over. Living without the presence of answers to the problems you have resolved by way of your good site is a critical case, as well as those that might have in a negative way damaged my career if I hadn’t discovered your web page. Your own competence and kindness in playing with the whole thing was tremendous. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I had not come upon such a solution like this. It’s possible to at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for this high quality and amazing guide. I won’t be reluctant to suggest your web page to anyone who would like guide on this situation.

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  13. YOU HAVE TOUCHED, MOVED and INSPIRED ME! I told my “handy man” (who has 3 disgusting campers) that he had ONE YEAR to GET MOTIVATED to do something with his nasty, UGLY EYE SORE infested campers before I lit a match to them!! TODAY…was the 1 year mark!! But as I walked out to light that match (just kidding)…I decided to google “renovated 1970 Prowler Camper” and WALA…THERE BEFORE OUR EYES WAS HIS MOTIVATION AND MY DELIGHT!!!! LOLOL
    However, I sorta have a feeling this project is going to cost more than I think. So, can you give me a ballpark figure as to what yals cost to renovate?
    Thank you so much for saving me from becoming a pyromaniac on his HEEPS of crap. LOL
    GREAT JOB!!!

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    1. My favorite reply yet!!! Overall, I believe ours cost under $2000. I suggest finding the most expensive part you want to remodel (ours were countertops and cupboards) and start there. I had a different color scheme in mind, but due to cost, found a countertop remnant and went from there. Cabinets weren’t as big of deal because they can be repainted, but if your “handy man” is up to the task of making new ones…that might be a cost. Look for sales, sales, sales or pinterest ideas. Fabric places (like JoAnn’s Fabrics http://stores.joann.com/nd/fargo/1865/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=Maps&utm_campaign=Google+Places) will give you 60% off a reg. priced item if you give them your email. (I think they send one out every week!) Good luck! Hope to see pictures.

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  14. I just paid 25.00 an hour to redo a prowler 76 front end it envolved taking off the front siding reframing due to water damage rebuilding the inside with Luann just to the kitchen area Where the bed slash couch pull out is. 99 man hours at 25.00 equals 2,400. Yicks I fell like a fool. I guess these jobs should be labors of love if you dont want to spend a small fortune. I haven’t even redone any of the remainder of the trailer, floors, paint, kitchen anything, bathroom all original and needing updated. To mention the outside.

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  15. We have a Prowler, almost the same year and layout.
    We have been working since last summer (part time), reDIYing ours too
    Came out looking pretty good. We kept same cabinets, and repainted, added new knobs. Used Luan for the wall and floors, and put peel and stick onto that. Painted the kitchen counter, but haven’t done anything to the table yet. Love your table. Haven’t done the bath at all yet. Wish I could post my before and after pics. Looks so much bigger. We picked a soft yellow / white for the kitchen, a light gray for the middle, and a Caribbean Teal for the bedroom.
    We had the same old yellow linoleum as you, we just mailed Luan down and put peel and stick square tiles over that. (Used tile glue to make it last).
    As far as the 1 booth seat, I found a King size leather padded headboard at a garage sale for $5, and will cut that to size and reupholster with fabric.
    Would like to be able to show you before and after pics.

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  16. Hey great job on the trailer! I’m rebuilding a similar 1979 Prowler 22′ travel trailer (if interested have documented it on my website toadlybroodle.ca). I’m having trouble finding info about the trailer online, however and wanted to ask you if you know where the VIN number is located? I have sanded down nearly the entire tongue frame and can’t locate it. Also do you know how much the trailer weights? Thanks 🙂

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  17. Thank you so much for your project post! Very informative and inspirational! We are doing the same with a 1993 30′ Prowler, but it is in much worse condition inside due to extensive water damage from seriously bad plumbing, filthy living, and major neglect. (It cost only $500 for a reason…) The exterior looks fine, but I have had to gut the interior COMPLETELY, down to the siding… One important thing to look for in doing these rehab/reno trailers is how they were framed – frequently the deck (plywood subflooring) has carpet/vinyl laid over all and the walls are framed directly on TOP of this. Water damage will soak the carpet under the walls, rotting out the framing & complicating the repairs. (How nasty!) I am documenting my project & will post it to help others in repairing their trailer/tiny house. I would love to see photos of your bathroom remodel when you get it done! (I home repair/remodel work, so have lots of experience dealing with this kind of mess…)

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  18. Hi,
    Great job! Currious if the 1979 Prowler has both Gray & Black tank? It combines single black tanks?

    We’re looking for a 1978-1980 in Oregon. We done 1 trailer so far. Now moving into the affordable 70’s and 80’s.

    Thank you for posting your work!

    Greg and Ann

    Like

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