Monday, August 22, 2011

Interior Trailer Remodel Completed

In our last post we told you about some of the things we were doing to our RV, but we were still in process and did not have any pictures to show you. I'm happy to say that we are now about 99 percent complete and ready to share what we have done. It has been a difficult period in which to accomplish much. Texas has had one of the hottest summers on record and doing anything outside has been no fun. While most of the work was done inside, we still had to do some parts of it outside, and just the general heat and humidity made doing anything unpleasant. That's one reason why it has taken longer than we had hoped to get it all done.

As we mentioned in our last post, changing the refrigerator to a household unit became part of the project. When it arrived we had to get it into the rig by opening the escape window in the slide out and lifting it from the tailgate of the delivery truck through the window on its back. There's no other way to get it in. It took a while to get all the blocking, bracing and trim just right to hold it securely in place and to look just the way we wanted, but we are very happy with the final result.

As you can see, it is a side by side unit with water and ice through the door. It draws air in through the lower right side of the grill, and exhausts through the left side of the grill. There is no need for any air movement behind or beside the unit but there is space all around anyway. I secured it by raising the front wheels and wedging the top against the upper cabinet, then added extra security by installing a Z bracket that goes behind the upper rail and screws into the top front face of the refrigerator between the doors. It is painted black so you don't even see it. I secured the bottom by making a board that is just the right height to slip between the floor of the opening and the bottom of the refrigerator. It sits against the front wheels and is screwed to the floor of the cabinet, securely holding the refrigerator in place. It cannot move.

While waiting on the refrigerator I completed the rebuilding of the water damaged wall, and I did the preparation for the new shades. This involved running 12 volt electrical lines to all the areas where we would be installing shades. I had to tap off several different places in both slide outs and in the rear. It was quite a job to keep all the wires hidden behind walls or inside cabinets.

I also began the process of making new valance boxes for the shades. I used 7/16 oriented strand board. They have a leg and a top section, both of which were covered with batting and fabric. The top section is plum colored and has a geometric pattern. The legs are a solid plum colored microfiber fabric. All the pieces of wood were cut at Jenning's on Chris's table saw and assembled here. I used his pneumatic brad nailer and glue. Here's a look at the finished product.

After the refrigerator was installed we began putting up wallpaper. We purchased a light tan, textured, cloth backed vinyl. It has the appearance of corduroy. Given all the windows etc., I don't think there was a single piece that did not have cutouts in it somewhere. It took quite a bit of work, but it came out very nice. You can see it in the previous photo as well as this wider shot.

After the wallpaper was done we installed the valance boxes and then the shades. The MCD shades are the top of the line window covering for RV's. They are not cheap! While there are many options available, ours are typical of what most people do. They consist of a day and a night shade. The day shade is solar blocking and is pulled down in all the photos below. They really help keep it cooler inside. The night shade is a cream colored vinyl material. The day shades are manual and the night shades are electric. Even the manual shades are a far cry from the old style roll up shades. The roll up speed and the upper height limits are settable. That means you can just give it a tug and let go to put it up. It slowly retracts to its preset location. The night shades are electric and remotely controlled. Here is a photo of the remote.

There are 14 buttons to control individual shades, but we only have 11 shades. I have programmed the other three buttons to work groups of shades. One does all, one does all the shades in the rear of the unit, and one does all the shades in the curb side slide out. These are great! Raising and lowering all the shades in this rig used to be a major hassle. We rarely opened more than a few. Now we can open or close all the shades with the push of two buttons. It's one of the best upgrades we've made.

Once the shades and valances were complete I installed base molding along the bottom of all the walls, crown molding along the ceiling, and new corner molding in all the corners. We took some of our wall paper to Lowes and had them mix a paint to match which we used on all the molding before installation. The molding gives the place a nice, finished look that feels more like a house and less like an RV. You can see the molding in the previous photos as well as in this one and some of the photos to follow. The photo also shows the trim around the slideout that we covered in fabric to match the window valances.

The next project was the tile in the kitchen area. We removed the mirrors that Teton had installed on the walls, and replaced it with 3/4 inch square glass tiles. We used a spray on mastic that works better than thin set or regular mastic on slick surfaces like the original walls. We also used an epoxy grout that is normally used in commercial applications. We were concerned that regular cement based grout might crack due to the flexing and movement of the trailer. I had to make oak trim to finish it off nicely. Here are several photos of the finished tile job.

The tile is much darker than the original walls. This, along with the removal of the mirrors, made the counter area quite dark. So, we ordered and installed some 12 volt LED's for under the upper cabinets. That involved running more 12 volt wires inside cabinets and through walls. The lights are hidden behind the front trim and really brighten up the counter area. In fact, they are almost too bright first thing in the morning, but just great the rest of the day. Here is a photo of three of them installed just behind the front lip of the upper cabinets. This photo is taken from the top of the counter looking up.

Somewhere along the way, Dianna decided she didn't like the original 120 volt lights any more. So we replaced all of them, including the ceiling fan. They do look very nice. You can see some of them in previous photos. Here is a closeup of the fan, and you can see the lamp above the rear window as well. The new wall sconces are shown in previous photos.

Once we finished making messes, it was finally time to replace the carpet. We ordered a two tone cut pile carpet made by Mohawk. It is a new product that they call Triexta or SmartStrand. It is guaranteed not to stain. For demonstration purposes they installed it in several animal cages at zoos around the country. You can see some of the videos on their web site where light colored carpet that had been in a rhino pen for two weeks was cleaned with a just hot water. Even bleach is not supposed to affect it. I'm sure some of it is marketing hype, but it does seem to be pretty good stuff. I doubt we will be as hard on it as the rhinos and camels were, but it's nice to know it should last. We're really enjoying walking barefoot and feeling how soft it is compared to the old carpet. Here's a photo of the carpet.

That's about the end of the interior remodel story. Somewhere during the past couple months we have also refinished the kitchen table and moved all our stored goods from a regular storage facility to one that is climate controlled. Of course, that required building more shelving and working outside in this terrible heat, but we got it done.

Next on the agenda is the outside. We have an appointment starting the day after Labor Day to get the outside of the trailer repainted. We're going to keep it white but have some new graphics painted on. There will be no more decals or vinyl graphics. They will also be replacing the radius where the outside walls and roof meet with fiberglass. Teton used a cardboard form for a couple years, and brought the roofing material down over that form to meet the top of the walls. Of course, the cardboard did not hold up and they abandoned that method, but that's how ours was built. It sags and looks very ugly. Some other minor body damage will be repaired before they paint.

The one other thing we may change is the sofa. It doesn't really go with the decor any more, and the hid-a-bed is almost impossible to sleep on. We are thinking about installing a smaller sofa or love seat with storage underneath, and using an inflatable bed for the rare times we have guests. Stay tuned.

So, for those of you who thought we have just been goofing off all summer, now you know. We hope you like it as much as we do.




  1. Wow, other than the fact that the floorplan is unchanged, it's a whole new home! Looks great. I agree about the couch. It was the only thing I didn't love in all the photos. VERY nice job.

  2. You should submit this to some RV magazine, or to Teton (or did they close?) and make some money back on your back breaking labor, that you did this hot summer--maybe Home Beautiful. It looks absolutely gorgeous. Can't wait to see it.

  3. Looks great! I hope you don't get lazy not pulling shades anymore. I'm sure glad you went with plum, that's my favorite color! Seriously, wonderful job man!

  4. Really looks great! I love the electric shades. Most excellent.

  5. Wow, what a lot of work, but what great results. Can't wait until you are here again to see it in person.

    Did you individually lay all those little tiles around the kitchen, or do they come pre-laid on some kind of backing?

    What's the difference in the night and day shades? Why not just use the day shades all the time?

  6. Daryl, you can see the difference in the third photo. Looks like the day shades just filter the sun with a polarizing screen, but the night shades are solid and don't let anyone see out or in.

  7. Donna has it. The day shades reduce or eliminate sun bleaching of fabric, plus they keep it much cooler inside. They have been very welcome during this hot summer in TX.

    The tiles came in one foot squares. I can't imagine putting them up one at a time.

  8. Have you been living in your RV through most of the remodel? What are your plans for travel? Will you stay in TX this winter?

  9. What a wonderful remodeling job; and, how I admire your skills. My wife and I hope to become full-time RVers, too, in the coming year. Currently, we have an older Teton, and hope to buy a New Horizons Majestic, carefully custom spec'd.

    I very much like your desk/TV cabinet combination unit, with the TV above the desk; but I have one important question: Do you find it to be a problem--at all--always having to "look up" at the TV (when viewed from the recliner chairs)? Is it still even a small "issue" for you, somewhat, or is it, instead, after you became used to watching TV at this necessary "view-angle," that it was simply no longer a problem for you? Thank you.

  10. Jim -- Thanks for the fine compliments. The TV height is no issue at all. When seated in the recliners the TV is as a completely natural angle. Since we are usually reclined somewhat, the TV is straight ahead. There is no looking up. Fortunately my TV's viewing angle is excellent. Otherwise we might have needed to tilt it down somewhat. I have a similar arrangement in our bedroom. There the TV had to be mounted at an angle, but it's perfect for watching TV from the bed.

  11. "We used a spray on mastic that works better than thin set or regular mastic on slick surfaces like the original walls.

    We also used an epoxy grout that is normally used in commercial applications."

    Do you have the brand names of these Items that you used? I really need a backsplash and love the tile. The guys at my Lowes are a little less than helpful and knowledgeable. lol

    The whole re do is beautiful but the tile is gorgeous.

  12. I'm sorry I don't remember the brand names. The spray adhesive was purchased at Lowe's. We used two cans at about $9 per can. It was in the tile isle. We considered tile setting mats but they were very expensive and won't work for small tiles.

    The epoxy grout was purchased at Home Depot. It comes in plastic tubs that have the two components inside. You just mix them together and go. You will need a special epoxy grout float because it is much stiffer than regular grout. Home Depot had that too.

    Since we used glass tiles we also had to purchase a special glass tile blade for the tile saw we used. Regular tile blades won't work.

    Good luck with your project.

  13. Thank you so much Richard.