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Many RV owners want to hang wall decor or a shelf in their camper and wonder how to hang things on RV walls. In this article I'll cover all of the best ideas for hanging things on RV walls, including ways to hang things without holes in the RV walls or causing any permanent damage to the walls, how to hang pictures, and how to hang heavy things on RV walls without them coming down.
How Much Weight Can RV Walls Hold?
Believe it or not, RV walls can hold quite a bit of weight in spite of being very thin. RV walls are typically made of luan (wood) panels with vinyl “wallpaper” bonded to them with heavy duty adhesive. RV manufacturers mount window cornices and even cabinets directly to the walls and ceilings, so you don't need to worry about the walls not being sturdy enough to hold organizational or decorative items.
The tricky part is finding the right method for hanging things on these thin wall panels.
When hanging things on RV walls, RV owners typically run into one or more of these main issues:
- Heavy items may fall down since the wall panels are thin and there's not much for the screws or wall anchors to “grab on to”.
- Adhesive wall hanging methods don't always work either. The adhesive may fail and wall decor and other objects may fall down.
- Drilling holes or using adhesives to hang things on RV walls can cause unsightly damage when those items are removed.
- Some RV owners fear damaging whatever is behind the wall when drilling holes.
In this article I'll go over the various ways I and other RV owners have dealt with those issues in order to hang just about anything on the walls of an RV.
How to Hang Things Without Damaging RV Walls
Many RV owners prefer to avoid doing anything that would cause permanent damage to the walls of their camper, especially if the RV is brand new. If you put a bunch of holes in your RV walls to hang decor, then if you later sell your camper your walls will be full of holes that are not easy to fill and cover unless the walls are painted (in which case you can fill and paint the holes same as you would in a home).
For that reason, it's best to only use screws, nails or other hardware for hanging items you intend to be permanent, such as a towel bar.
Fortunately, there are adhesive products you can purchase to avoid drilling holes in your walls, and these are usually a lot easier to install, too. (Check out my article about Adhesive Organizational Gadgets for some ideas!)
Another way to avoid causing permanent damage to your RV walls is to use adhesive products for hanging items, which is what I'll talk about next.
Command Hooks: The Old Classic
Nearly every RV owner I know, myself included, has used Command hooks at some point or another to hang something on the wall. I used this clear type to hang a plant in my living room. I spray painted the hook gray so it would match the wall a little better.
However, whenever I have tried using Command hooks to hang things on the exterior of my RV, such as a plastic hummingbird feeder or a sign on my front door, they have always fallen down. They seem to do just fine for hanging lighter weight items on RV wallpaper, but they don't do well in all types of weather, which is why I prefer a different type of adhesive hook for heavy duty all-weather situations.
My Favorite Kind of Adhesive Hooks
For hanging heavier items, or for hanging anything on the outside of my RV, I always use this type of heavy duty adhesive hook. Not only have I used them to hang bird feeders, I have also used them to hang things in my shower, and to hang RV skirting.
They will remain firmly stuck to any non-porous surface through all types of weather, and I have even had to use a butter knife and a pair of pliers when I needed to remove them (which completely destroyed the plastic backing and made it NOT “reusable” as advertised).
I've had mixed results with getting these hooks to stick to textured and non-porous surfaces. I was not able to get them to stay stuck to unpainted RV walls in the area under my RV, but they worked well on painted RV walls.
In the video below, where I demonstrate the removal of adhesive hooks from the wall next to my stove, you can see how sturdy they are, and how I was able to remove them without damaging the walls:
My Favorite Way to Hang Things on RV Walls: Acrylic Mounting Tape
Sometimes you need to mount something instead of hanging it, and for that I use Acrylic Mounting Tape.
Acrylic double-sided mounting tape is very strong, yet it can be easily removed from surfaces such as RV wallpaper without damaging it or leaving behind any residue. I have even used it for hanging Command hooks when their original adhesive failed. It's especially great for joining two flat, non-porous surfaces, and will hold up in all temperatures, even if it gets wet.
How to Hang Pictures in an RV
Acrylic mounting tape also works great for hanging pictures in an RV, which is how I hung the artwork shown below.
Here's a video of me later removing that same picture a couple years later, where you can see how well the tape held and how it left no damage behind:
Believe it or not, I also used this tape to mount the wooden box holder for this ceramic sake serving set on the wall shortly before our first RV road trip. It stayed up until I took it down about a year later!
Rustic decor seems to be popular with a lot of RVers, so when I saw these adhesive branch hooks I had to add them to my list.
But do you see how they are mounted?
Looks like acrylic tape to me. Meaning these could easily be a DIY project if you have access to some branches and a way to saw them in half!
I'm telling you, this acrylic tape is the best. In fact, I use it so frequently for so many different projects that I wrote a whole blog post about all the ways I've used acrylic tape in my RV!
Another Favorite of Many RV Owners: Command Strips
Many RV owners like to use Command strips to hang things because they are designed to be easily removable and are fairly inexpensive. When I was a teacher, I sometimes used these to hang decorative items on the cinder block walls of my classroom, and as far as I can remember, they worked well. However, the acrylic mounting tape serves the same purpose and is cheaper inch for inch.
Using Velcro to Hang Things in an RV
Many RVers like to use Velcro for hanging items on walls. Industrial-strength Velcro can be used for hanging heavier objects. One advantage to using Velcro is the item can be easily removed and replaced as needed, for example to change the picture inside a frame, or to stick the remote control on the wall next to the couch.
My personal experience with Velcro has been mixed. When I used it to hang decor in an old apartment, it stuck so firmly that when I tried to remove the pictures for moving, it pulled off a chunk of drywall with it. I also tried using Velcro to hang a piece of coroplast in my RV shower skylight to partially block the hot sun, and the adhesive failed, due to the heat I would assume.
But Velcro does have many good uses, and it is a staple for DIY projects in my RV. Specifically I have used it to make plexiglass covers for my RV windows for winter, and I've used small Velcro squares to hold cabinet doors closed that kept flying open while we were driving our RV.
Foam Mounting Tape Used for Mounting Items to Porous Surfaces
As much as I love acrylic mounting tape, I find that foam mounting tape like this sometimes works a little better for joining porous surfaces such as wood. The only catch is that it is more difficult to remove than the acrylic tape, and may leave behind residue or tear wallpaper.
Tip: This is the same stuff used on the back classic Command hooks, so it can be used to replace the adhesive in order to reuse a Command hook if you have to move it.
How to Prevent Screws and Wall Anchors from Coming Out of RV Walls
RV walls are constructed from a very thin piece of wood paneling covering aluminum or wood studs, with insulation or foam in between the studs.
If your RV has wood studs, you can drill into a stud to hang items and they will be very sturdy (use a stud finder to help locate the studs), but if you can't find a stud, or if your RV has aluminum studs, you may find it difficult to prevent screws holding heavy objects from coming down.
Using Heavy Duty Wall Anchors for Hanging Heavy Items on RV Walls
I experience the problem of the flimsy wall paneling in my fifth wheel when the wall anchors holding the towel bar shown below came loose.
I was able to fix the problem by using heavy duty metal self-drilling wall anchors, which did a better job of grabbing onto the paneling than the small plastic ones did.
Here's a video of that project:
Using Construction Adhesive to Hang Heavy Items on RV Walls
I know several professional RV renovators who buy and flip RV's and/or do client RV renovations, and whenever I ask them how they hang heavier items on RV walls such as bathroom vanity mirrors or wood plank “shiplap” on the walls, they always say the same thing: Liquid Nails (or another brand of construction adhesive) reinforced with screws or nails.
Now, the thing to know about construction adhesive is that it is a permanent solution for hanging something on the wall of an RV. You won't be able to remove whatever you're using it to hang without damaging the wall, so only use this option for hanging things you plan to leave forever!
But if you want to be 100% certain the shelf, mirror, or medicine cabinet you're mounting won't come down, use construction adhesive in addition to screws or nails, and that thing won't be going anywhere.
How to Avoid Damaging Whatever is Behind the Wall
Being concerned about what's behind the wall you're drilling into is a valid concern, but it's a problem you can mitigate with a bit of logic.
Try to understand where the various systems are located in your camper. Look at the diagram of your model (you can usually find it by Googling to find the user manual or sales brochure) and try to identify which walls might have hidden pipes or electrical components. Unscrew panels and look behind them. Most of the time, you'll find that the interior walls of an RV have nothing but empty space behind them, and the exterior walls just have insulation behind them.
If you're afraid of hitting a wire behind the wall, consider this: are there any electrical outlets, light switches, or light fixtures located on the wall you're drilling into, either on the inside or outside of your camper? If not, the chance of hitting a wire is slim to none. On the other hand, you might want to avoid hanging a picture directly above an electrical outlet, for example.
Finally, a good rule of thumb is to pay attention to where your RV already has screws going into the walls. If there is a mirror or picture hung on a wall, it's probably safe to take it down and replace it with something else. If your RV windows had cornice boxes mounted around them with screws, you're safe to take them down and hang curtain brackets in the same spot, provided that you use screws no longer than the ones you've removed.
Using Pop Rivets to Attach Hardware Directly to RV Wall Panels
If you're still hesitant to drill into your walls, here's a solution: pop rivets. These are metal “buttons” (for lack of a better word) that will grab onto the wallboard without going deep into your wall. You can purchase a pop rivet gun fairly cheaply on Amazon. I haven't tried this method personally, but here is an excellent video where a guy demonstrates how he uses one in his RV.
Using Push Pins to Hang Lightweight Items with Nearly Invisible Damage
Push pins can be used for hanging lightweight items, and the hole they leave will be almost unnoticeable. Additionally, they are unlikely to nick a wire but would instead just push it out of the way.
Using Monkey / Gorilla Hooks to Hang Heavier Items with Minimal Damage
These also require a very small hole but will allow you to hang heavier objects with minimal damage to the wall.
How to Repair Holes in an RV Wall
In the video below, I demonstrate how to repair holes in the wall of an RV. Since I painted my RV walls, I was able to paint over the repair, but you can also use beige colored putty to fill the holes in your walls, or, if you can find it, you can purchase seam tape in the same pattern as your wallboard to cover and disguise the hole.
Will Hanging Things on the Walls Decrease the Value of an RV?
One of the concerns many RV owners have when it comes to drilling holes in their RV walls is whether doing so will impact the value of their RV.
In my possibly unpopular opinion, sticking cheap white plastic hooks and other items all over the place which will take a lot of work to remove does more to decrease the value of an RV than to use a screws to properly mount a quality shelf, cabinet, or coat rack that will add storage or functionality to the RV.
I can tell you from my personal experience having sold RV's as well as from conversations with a Camping World employee whose job it was to evaluate an RV's trade-in value that permanently installing a towel bar or hanging a storage basket on the wall or even using a nail to hang a picture on your wall, will not negatively impact your RV's resale value if the workmanship is of good quality and the item you installed matches your RV's other fixtures and decor.
I would recommend that when choosing items for permanent installation, you select items that will match your RV in both color and quality. For example, if your RV bathroom has oiled bronze cabinet hardware, choose an oiled bronze towel bar instead of a cheaper chrome one so that it will match and look like it belongs. If you install a shelf or medicine cabinet, choose one in a similar color to the cabinets and other woodwork in the same room so that it won't clash or look like an afterthought.
Now that you know how to hang things on the walls of your RV, check out these articles to get ideas for using the vertical surfaces of your walls and cabinets to add storage to your RV:
If you'd still rather stick with adhesives (no pun intended!) for hanging things on your RV walls, you'll enjoy this article: Clever Adhesive Gadgets for Organizing Your RV