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DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!

July 08, 2022

DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!  soultravelers3 paint
Have you ever painted a camper van? Since we arrived in Barcelona in early May, we've been enjoying our summer trip to Europe, adoring the dollar/euro exchange rates, planning our new world tour and loving this bargain apartment rental resort, but we've been busy too with our camper van restoration and remodeling our vintage RV! As you might imagine, being an American Vanlifer in Europe, means  we have specific challenges due to doing this in a different language and different culture ( different stores & products). 

DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!  paint in spain


Every article online about painting a camper or RV in English, only recommend American paints which does us no good here. We looked into hiring someone locally to paint the interior of our camper, but the prices were outrageous ( $3000 - $5000) and the people seemed unethical & unreliable, so we decided we had to do it ourselves, despite never having painted before. Sadly, time was wasted trying to find a decent painter, so now there has been a real time crunch to get it done because we have to move out of the rental place this week and into our camper very soon as high season is approaching & someone has booked the bungalow we are in.  So lots of pressure on my sweet husband & he is the type that would normally hire someone to do this, but if there is a will, there is a way. Since others have done it, I thought we would figure it out & save money. 

DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!  help from experts
Luckily, because we have been coming to this resort for years (since 2007), we talked to the head painting guy who supervises all the painting in the beautiful mobile homes and bungalows here & has for a long time. So he looked at our surfaces inside and what we wanted to do and advised us on the paint & primer and where to buy it. Then we drove to that paint store and that  salesman also got into our camper and looked at the specifics of what we needed. Thus, with all we had read, we felt confident.


DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!  paint we used soultravelers3

Gar is an artist who went to one of the top art schools in the world & an award winning graphic designer, so is very particular and has skills for this kind of thing, even though he has never done it in a house or camper. His masking alone was masterful, that few would have the patience for. ( Note the photo showing the primer is next to removed masking). So these photos show the primer and paint we used here in Spain & he completed the job in 7 long days in the heat ( yes, had a heat wave that week adding to the problems & chore of doing this in a tight space). 

After we cleared it out and cleaned it thoroughly, the first part of "painting" it masking well ..

DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  soultravelers3masking comes first
... ( which takes lot of time and effort but may be the most important part).

DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!  soultravelers3 masking a camper

Then, he had to remove all the cabinet, closet and bathroom doors and keep every screw and things that held them in place and label and mark every one carefully. 

DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  soultravelers 3 removing cabinets

We brought them back to the bungalow where we could do it more quickly. I could have helped and we even met a young painter that lives nearby, but he is super particular, so preferred to do it himself despite the time pressures. So that began 12 hour days and longer. 

DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  soultravelers3 doors to cabinets
So he learned and taught himself as he went.Note my plant cuttings in the background on a chair. I am hoping the root so I can add them as plants once we move in. 
DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  painting rv cabinets
We used every surface for drying these doors including our chairs from Italy that we recently steam cleaned!
DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!  soultravelers3 rv painting 101

Then we had to move the camper because we are in a bungalow and it belongs in a camper area, so a longer walk between the two places for us and up hill to get there, but at least it was close to a water source. 

DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  moving the camper
The bad news with painting  campers, vans and RV's is the tight space, awkward positions to reach the endless nooks and crannies, thus harder on your body and takes longer. 

DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  awkward painting positons inside rvs vans and cmapers

DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  painting camper ceiling

But every time I returned, it looked better, so that had to be rewarding to see and pushes one on. 

DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  taking meal breaks when painting rv
I'd make and bring meals and water to try to support this challenging project, but he was all work horse, which is his modus operendi anytime something needs to get done and more so when it has a tight timeline. 

DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  roller size for camper van paint job
Having the right equipment is important. After the first day, he was wishing he had a smaller roller for some tight spots, then the next day when he was picking up more paint, he spotted just the size he needed. 
DIY Camper Van Renovation  on a Budget - Painting Interior!  organizing equipement for painting rv job

Also being well organized is very important, because in this heat, the paint dries fast, so one has to be ready for anything.

DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!  white on white inside rv


DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior!  soultravelers3 vintage rv remodel

Step by step, he got two coats of the primer on and mostly one coat of the paint on top of that. 

DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior! hard to reach places in rvs vans and campers

The hardest part was getting far back into the tiny bunkbed spaces to paint. You can't even tell by the photos what a tight fit it was. I had to hand him everything because he was totally wedged into that too-small-to-paint space, but it got painted nevertheless! 

DIY Camper Van Renovation on a Budget - Painting Interior! painting rv  cabinets and putting them back on
Putting the cabinet and other doors back on is another big challenge and if not done right, can result in not getting them back on! 










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Readontheroad

Super job, it looks great! Glad you got some local expert help to pick the right paints the first time. Happy travels!

jeanne

Aw, thanks so much!! We are really glad we did it and got that good advice. We still have more to do when we get to Andalucia for the winter, but really enjoying how new it feels inside!! Today he painted the front bumper that really needed it because it was almost white because it was so faded and now looks new! Happy 4th and I hope you guys are doing great!!

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