Stuff required: paint, painter’s tape, drop cloth, paint roller, small paint brush, medium paint brush, light, ventilation, time, patience
Time required: 8-10 hours
Actual painting: 3 hours
Choosing a Color
The first thing I did when I decided to paint the inside of our RV was settle into a daydream. I was inspired with many ideas while admiring about a zillion different paint colors, and I thought I could let my daydreams lead me to all the right decisions. I thought I would see THAT special color, KNOW to put it in a particular room, and then follow through with my HGTV-worthy RV flip. I considered bright patterns, pastels, bold colors, natural textures, and traditional styles (whatever that means). But, alas, I eventually realized that there were too many choices to have any success if I kept at it without a better plan.
So, after some presumptive coaxing, I got Chris to agree to care what color I picked. We agreed on starting with the bedroom and using “some kind of blue” for the slideout and “a white” for the rest of it. I thought that would narrow it down, but it almost felt like we’d made it harder. Now, the pressure was on to find the right blue and not allow myself to change my mind.
I decided to ask my mom (who also co-owns an RV) for her opinion on the color. But I never got to get her opinion because the conversation never got that far. When I told her that I was going to paint the interior walls in our RV, she literally stopped in her tracks. She looked at me, all serious-like, and said, “I wouldn’t do that.” Her reasoning was very sound: RV walls are different from normal walls in a house: They’re thinner, they’re in panels, and they’re usually wallpapered (ours are). It wouldn’t look right and the paint might not hold. This, of course, made me nervous because my mother tends to know stuff about things, and her trepidatious (made that one up) tone had me a little concerned.
But, as she knew I would, I decided to charge forward with the project anyway and paint to my heart’s content, and then some.
After weeks of further deliberation over the color and leaving little cardboard paint tabs on the mantle above our bed, I landed on a palette in one of the promotional pamphlets I found. Looking back, I know I had put waaay too much thought into it by that point and probably should have just stepped back and let Chris pick. But, I didn’t. Led to the palette by a blu-ish grey I sort of liked, I selected the theme I wanted based off of the fancy pictures in the flyer. It was time to choose, and this color was interesting enough that it would show our personalities… right? And, as Chris reminded me, if I didn’t like it it’s not like I’d think about the color every day once it was up… Of course I wouldn’t. That would be nuts.
And, as Chris reminded me, if I didn’t like it it’s not like I’d think about the color every day once it was up… Of course I wouldn’t. That would be nuts.
Finally, it was time to start.
The Project Begins
The first thing I wanted to do was take down the headboard to paint behind it… but that was a complete bust. As many RV owners know, factory installations are very sturdy. After all, they’re made to be able to go down the road without falling. The headboard was installed in such a way that I could not figure out how it was installed. Therefore, I couldn’t get it down.
That became an “oh well,” and I decided I would have to paint around it, even though that went against what I’d always believed about painting walls (take everything down that you can).
Aside from being essentially part of the wall, the color of the headboard was only okay. But, I decided, it was okay and not terrible, even if it wasn’t my favorite. I could deal. And Chris couldn’t care less. And anyway, I had seen a tutorial on painting fabric, so I could figure something out.
Anyway, because I learned that we would be leaving the headboard up, I had to pick a paint color that complemented the brown well enough to avoid making it look like… well, you know. The brown the stuff.
So I decided to go with “Special Grey” by Sherwin Williams. It was on the palette I had selected and looked fantabulous in their picture. Since we are living in the RV, I thought it would be nice to make it feel more homey. Despite the fact that it wasn’t blue, I decided to go for it. I also went against everything I read about trying a sample first, and I went to Lowes to buy the whole can.
Buying the Paint
At Lowes, they asked me which sheen I wanted, as they always do. I had forgotten to think about the finish, and they could tell by my expression that I didn’t know.
“What are you painting?” they asked, and when I told them that I was painting an interior RV wall, both people behind the paint counter blinked at me for a few moments.
“Most RV interior walls are covered in wallpaper,” said one guy. I nodded. He smiled, seeing that I was aware of this and going to do it anyway. “But it’s different wallpaper from house wallpaper, and most importantly, the glue is different. If you paint over wallpaper in a house, the glue and paint can cause a reaction that causes the wallpaper to bubble up and slip off. Kinda makes the paint job pointless. But RV wallpaper–if it’s installed in the factory–is put on a foam material with a different kind of glue that shouldn’t have that effect. And in fact, you don’t need primer.”
I was relieved to hear that, especially because I’d also forgotten to think about primer, and asked him what he thought of Special Gray in a bedroom. He got very excited and pulled out his phone, showing me his living room that he had just painted Special Gray. He told me to go with eggshell in the bedroom, satin or semi-gloss when I get to the kitchen (unless it was huge, which it’s not), and semi-gloss for the bathroom.
A few minutes later, I finally had my Special Gray paint in the appropriate sheen.
Finally, I Started Painting!
I ended up having to do the project on a weekend (no surprise there), and started by moving the mattress to the side and putting painter’s tape around the headboard, the light, and the trim. I also put a drop cloth down, but I’m not convinced it helped much. The prep took about an hour and a half.
Once all of the protectors were in place, I got my materials together so I wouldn’t have to move around a lot and risk slopping paint somewhere I didn’t want it to be.
Then, finally, it was time to paint! I was so excited… until I put the color on the wall. Turns out my “special” gray was more like lavender gray. It’s a really cool color, but I honestly can’t think of any practical use for it in my life.
Nonetheless, I’m a cheapskate and I wanted to get this project started. So I painted.
The Final Stretch
About an hour later, I had coat #1 on, which is all I had really planned for. However, it definitely needed another coat. I waited about an hour (not long enough) and then went at it again. After waiting for another few hours and realizing it was going to be sticky no matter what, I finally took off the painter’s tape to reveal the final product.
Finally, my color was on!
But, sadly, I immediately regretted the decision. I was relieved to have it done, but really not that pleased with how it turned out. Will I change it? Maybe. In all honesty, I do think about it almost every day.