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Renovate RV Cabinets – 5 Tips for Easy Upgrades

Do you want to renovate RV cabinets? Have your cabinet & closet doors become outdated? Today we’re discussing five tips to make the cabinet renovation process a little bit easier.

We’ve renovated two vintage RVs in the last five years – both times, updating the cabinets have been key. Our vintage Airstream has been totally transformed, largely because of the sleek cabinets.

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Tip 1 // Use a Framing Square // Renovate RV Cabinets

Nothing in an RV ever seems perfectly level. The bubble level (aka Spirit Level) would require the RV itself to be perfectly level in order to be accurate.

That’s why we love a framing square! Rather than using the science (I’m assuming some form of gravity) of a bubble level to mark you levelness to the ground, a framing square lets you choose what you’re leveling base will be.


We use the “cabinet box” as our base-level and the framing square allows us to mount the cabinet doors perfectly in line with the box.

Honestly, this is a great (and inexpensive) tool for any RVer interested in mounting or hanging things.

For Airstreamers, a Framing Square can be even more useful due to the lack of straight-angle reference points.

Tip 2 // Sanding is Important // Renovate RV Cabinets

Weather you’re repainting your original cabinet doors or building new pieces, sanding tools are essential.Zinnser_BullsEye123PrimerWB_wht_gal_Z02012.png

First – if you just want to freshen up your old doors with new paint – you’re going to need the ideal surface for painting. Using a gritty sandpaper on smooth doors will create a good surface for paint to attach.

We use a primer that is made for “hard to attach” surfaces.

If you’re building new doors from scratch, the more sanding tools the better. We used a heavy grit to round our corners and edges. Sanding with a fine grit created an awesome finished surface for a top coat.

The orbital sander is a light weight tool that saved us time and elbow grease. We bought a pack of multiple grit orbital sand paper to give us options.




Tip 3 // Hardware is Important // Renovate RV Cabinets

Choosing the right hardware for your renovated RV cabinets is important, too! We 60879107_2303524579899362_17498736145989632_n-2wanted residential style handles to give our RV a homey feel.

While this looks great – it also comes with some issues.

How do we secure the doors shut on travel days?

Fortunately we discovered a great solution. Magnets hold the doors closed with serious intensity. We found 60lbs magnets on Amazon. These magnets don’t weigh 60lbs, they hold 60lbs worth of tension.

For added strength we used these heavy duty hinges that keep doors closed (or opened when fully extended). They are also hidden when cabinet doors are closed!

Tip 4 // Use a Template // Renovate RV Cabinets

Templates save time and increase accuracy. Handles, pulls and hinges all have pretty universal set-ups. Templates allow us to knock out a lot of precision work quickly.

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 11.55.51 PMThis is a simple cabinet hardware template on Amazon for less than 10 bucks.

However, if you’re cheap like me, you can create your own template!

Just use a piece of scrap plywood – preferably square – and drill holes appropriate to your hardware. Use that piece of wood as a guide for the rest of the cabinets!



Tip 5 // Use the Right Wood // Renovate RV Cabinets

If you build your own cabinet doors – we recommend high grade plywood with LOTS of plys. This will let you finish the edges with paint or lacquer and maintain a smooth surface all around!

If you choose to use mediocre plywood – it weighs less and costs less – you can frame out the edges to give it a professional look!


If you ask yourself: Renovate RV Cabinets? We hope these tips help you navigate more easily through the process!

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