Whether you live in an RV, or you’re temporarily going to stay in one during a family trip you have planned – it never hurts to give your RV’s walls a thorough inspection. If any repairs are required, it’s important to first know what type of material the walls are made of.
So, what kind of walls are in RVs?
Most RVs have interior walls made of plywood, MDF or vinyl. These walls are surface-treated with wallpapers and paints for overall longevity and aesthetics.
Without the interior walls, the RV will be left with just plain (and of course, conductive) metal throughout its structure which isn’t ideal for long-term living conditions.
Read below to know more about the differences between the common materials used in RV interior walls, their pros and cons, the importance of interior walls in an RV, and also details regarding surface treatment methods such as applying wallpapers or paints.
3 Kinds of Materials Used for The Walls in RVs
The kind of material used for the interior walls in RVs depends on individual needs and requirements. For a long-term basis, you may want to go with something that lasts longer.
For something like a family trip, you’d want a cheaper material that just gets the job done. Let’s discuss the 3 major interior wall materials:
1. Composite Plywood
Plywood is essentially a combination of different layers of wood stacked on top of each other in a perpendicular fashion. This helps provide strength and durability to plywood, making it harder to chip off or wear out.
Apart from durability, plywood is preferred for RV interior walls because of its aesthetic beauty as well. The wooden appearance gives off a cozy, homely feel that eliminates the metallic, monotonous look an RV would have without any wall treatment.
However, plywood is vulnerable to deterioration, which happens when it’s exposed to water. If there’s any kind of water leakage in your RV, the water would seep through the plywood walls and wear off the adhesive holding the layers of wood together.
This can be avoided by dealing with even the slightest form of leakage as soon as possible.
Consider instead a composite material made of mostly fiberglass.
2. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
MDF is a cheaper alternative to plywood that is mostly used for short-term scenarios as it doesn’t last as long as plywood or vinyl.
MDF is composed of sawdust glued together between layers of veneer, resulting in a material much more lightweight than plywood. The composition of MDF also allows it to be able to be shaped into any form as desired, making it aesthetically versatile.
However, its lightweight and low cost come at the expense of its own life – you might find yourself having to maintain and replace MDF surfaces as early as after one year of use. The glue holding the veneer layers together wears off easily, causing the whole MDF structure to start deteriorating.
Here’s a video showing an RV remodel using shiplap MDF…
Vinyl is another option cheaper than plywood and is a material that has emerged as popular among DIY enthusiasts. This is because it does not require a lot of complicated equipment to install and maintain.
It also offers versatility in terms of aesthetics as you can find vinyl sheets in many colors and designs in the market.
Vinyl is even cheaper than MDF, and also easier to install than both MDF and plywood. You just need a cutting tool as simple as a utility knife.
Similar to MDF, vinyl can be cut in any shape as desired and then mounted on the walls. However, it does not last a long time and you might see cracks forming on its surface after less than one year of use.
Both MDF and vinyl can be bought in bulk at a price almost half (or even lesser than) the price of plywood sheets, which is why many people buy several of them and use them after their existing MDF or vinyl sheet has worn out.
Surface Treatments Used on The Walls in RVs
There are mainly two ways the interior walls in an RV can be further enhanced through surface treatment: applying wallpapers and paint. Let’s discuss both down below:
Wallpapers come in a variety of designs, so you can have fun shopping around for different kinds of wallpapers till you find the one that suits your aesthetic taste the best.
Wallpapers are also very long-lasting – typically, they last over 10 years in an environment that is not highly humid. Otherwise, they may start peeling off and deteriorating.
Similar to wallpapers, painting leaves you with a lot of room for creative exploration. However, depending on the kind of paint you’re using, it might release toxic fumes or chemicals while you’re applying it, so you must stay away from it till it has completely dried.
Paints are easier to apply than wallpapers though, as you just require an appropriate primer/emulsion and the colors of your choice. Wallpapers, on the other hand, force you to level their surfaces before you can mount them onto the walls.
Benefits of RV Interior Walls
Living comfortably in any RV would be very difficult without proper wall treatment. This is because of the following reasons:
Interior Walls Provide Insulation
Without the interior walls, an RV is just all metal. Since metal is a conductor, the RV would become too hot during summers and too cold during winters. Interior walls help regulate the temperature, so you are able to live in a suitable and safe environment.
Interior Walls Provide Soundproofing
Just as with any home, you would want privacy in your RV. Interior walls contain soundproofing properties so that people outside the RV don’t get to hear whatever you are doing inside.
Whether you choose to keep a natural wooden look with plywood sheets or experiment with wallpapers and paint, interior walls help step up the overall aesthetic of an otherwise plain and metallic RV.
The walls in RVs, whether made from plywood, MDF, or vinyl, not only revamp RVs from a cosmetic point of view but also help create an environment that’s suitable for both long-term and short-term stay.
Investing in them should be prioritized as a basic necessity rather than a luxury.
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(Featured image: forestriverinc.com/Grey Wolf)
Erick is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Growing up in Nairobi Kenya and now calling Glasgow, United Kingdom home. Sipping on homemade spiced swahili tea and enjoying a good book is his idea of bliss.