Cold Weather RVingCustomizing Your RVDecorating Your RVRV LifeWinter

Insulating RV Walls with Faux “Wood Plank” Adhesive Panels

Decorative foam "faux shiplap" wall panels used to insulate RV closet
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Decorative foam "faux shiplap" wall panels used to insulate RV closet

Campers and motorhomes are notorious for having thin walls without much insulation.  This of course makes them lighter weight, but also means it’s hard to keep them warm in cold weather.  Even if you have a four season RV for winter camping or full time living in extreme cold, you may find that some of your walls are better insulated than others, and cold walls can cause condensation to form, which can lead to mold or mildew.

We’ve been fortunate not to have had any serious problems with condensation during the three winters we’ve spent so far in our Keystone Everest fifth wheel, but there is one place that gets colder than the rest of the RV, and that’s our bedroom closet.

Last year I taped some Reflectix to the back wall of the closet to try to help hold in some of the heat, but I’ve since heard people who battle condensation in their RV’s say condensation can become trapped behind the Reflectix, so I decided that wasn’t a method I wanted to recommend.

Then a few months ago, one of my subscribers told me about a way she increased the insulation in her RV closet.  I loved the idea and decided to try it myself, and that’s what I’m sharing in this blog post.

What I Used for Insulating My RV Walls

The key to this project is an adhesive decorative wall covering from a company called Arthome.  In fact, this project has a double bonus: not only can it potentially slow down heat loss through the walls of an RV, but you could use it to give your RV walls a style makeover as well.  As far as I know, this product is only available for purchase online at Amazon.com.

Update 9/23/2019: The brand I originally purchased is no longer available on Amazon, but this one appears to be the same product (but a slightly different color).

If at some point that listing is also removed or if you would like to look for other color options, you can try this link.

The adhesive panels are made of soft PE foam about 1/4″ thick covered in plastic.  They come in several styles, including gray or brown faux wood planks (sometimes called “shiplap”) or white faux brick.

The foam creates a 3-D textured effect that looks very realistic, and in fact, I’ve seriously considered buying more to create an accent wall in my RV.  I think this stuff would look especially good on the headboard area of an RV, in a small bathroom, or lining the walls of a slide-out.

If you’re looking for way to create the look of a brick or shiplap wall in your RV but want something that looks a little more realistic than wallpaper, I definitely recommend this product.  However, I wouldn’t use it near a stove cooktop since it’s made of plastic and could melt (check out this post for kitchen backsplash ideas) I also wouldn’t count on being able to remove it later, as the adhesive is very strong.

Because the panels have a plastic coating, they would be easy to wipe clean, and according to the product listing, they are resistant to moisture.  Because the adhesive is so strong, I’m not worried about condensation getting underneath.

Installing the Adhesive Wall Panels

Here is what the product looked like out of the package:

Adhesive foam wall panels (faux wood plank or shiplap) used to add insulation to my RV walls

In this close-up photo you can get a better idea of the thickness and the type of material:

Adhesive foam wall panels (faux wood plank or shiplap) used for insulating the walls of my RV

The panels have a paper backing you peel off to expose the adhesive.

Adhesive foam wall panels (faux wood plank or shiplap) used to add insulation to my RV walls

The first step was to measure and cut the panels to the correct size.  “Measure twice and cut once,” as they say!

Adhesive foam wall panels (faux wood plank or shiplap) used for insulating my RV closet

I started out using an X-acto knife over a cutting board to cut the material, but later I started using a pair of sharp scissors and those worked well too.  I think I would recommend using a box cutter / utility knife for long, straight cuts, and scissors for trickier parts with angles and curves.

Adhesive foam wall panels (faux wood plank or shiplap) used to cut down heat loss in my RV closet

Here is what the cut edge of the panels looks like, so you can see the type of squishy foam they’re made of:

Adhesive foam wall panels (faux wood plank or shiplap) used to help my RV stay warmer in cold weather

Following the product instructions, I cleaned the walls of my closet.  I just used a microfiber cloth damp with water to remove any dust particles since the walls of my closet weren’t really dirty.

Cleaning RV closet walls to prepare for installation of fake shiplap wall panels

Then I got started sticking it to the walls.  I decided to run the “planks” horizontally so that the foam would easily bend with the curve of the wall.  I like this look better anyway.  Even though the adhesive is very sticky, I was able to carefully pull the panels away and reposition them if needed.  However, I ended up wasting an entire panel when it accidentally became stuck to itself and trying to pull it apart caused it to tear, so be careful not to let that happen!

Using faux shiplap foam wall panels for adding insulation to RV closet

After I installed the first one, I learned with the second one that it was better to start at the top and leave the extra inch or so of space at the bottom next to the floor instead of starting at the bottom and working up to the top, so that way the narrow strip I cut to fit in the gap would be less noticeable.

Insulating RV closet with adhesive foam panels

I had to cut a narrow vertical strip for the 6 inches or so in the middle of the back of the closet that wouldn’t look so great on a large wall, but since literally no one will ever see it, I decided to do it the easy way rather than to try cutting the panels so that the lengths of the planks appeared to be staggered, which is what I would do for joining the panels some place more visible.

Foam panels used as insulation in RV closet

I forgot to take a picture of this area until after I put the clothes back.

The hardest parts were the walls with a curved edge and going around the closet pole (which I was too lazy to remove and put back later).  But since the material bends, I was able to position it with the backing still on, squish it into place, and cut along the curve.  I probably would have been a little more careful to measure instead of it doing it this way had it been somewhere more visible than the back corner of my closet.

Adhesive shiplap wood plank wall covering for RV walls

Because the foam is sort of squishy, it’s very forgiving of mistakes.  You can squish a small piece in to patch a gap and it expands to fill the space so that it hardly shows, which is what I did so that the panel could slide in over the closet pole.

Below is an up-close look at the 3-D wood grain texture of the product.  To me it looks very realistic and I love the color (SUCH a big improvement over the beige wallpaper, which I had always regretted not painting when we painted the walls in the rest of our RV.

Faux shiplap wood plank wall made of adhesive foam panels in RV closet

And here it is finished!  The whole project only took me a few hours, even with stopping to take pictures.  And in case you’re wondering, I ended up using about 8 1/2 panels, which was two packs of 5 panels each.  I would’ve had a full panel leftover had I not accidentally ruined it, and I still had enough partial pieces left that I plan to use them to line the inside of my bathroom medicine cabinet.

Faux shiplap wood plank wall made of adhesive foam panels in RV closet

Here’s how it looks with my clothes put back in, which I took the opportunity to sort and organize. 🙂  (I talk more about RV closet organization ideas in this blog post.)

Faux shiplap wood plank wall made of adhesive foam panels in RV closet

Final thoughts

So do the foam panels actually keep my closet warmer?  I can’t really say definitively because I wasn’t able to measure before and after and I didn’t have any problems with condensation I was trying to solve, but it’s 33 degrees outside right now and the walls don’t feel cold to the touch, and maybe it’s my imagination but I think it feels less drafty as well.  But I am so happy with the way this DIY project turned out just based on looks alone that for me it was worth it regardless!

How I used peel-and-stick foam 3D "shiplap" to insulate my RV closets for winter #RV #FullTimeRV #RVDecor #RVDecorating


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30 comments

  1. Katie @ Mountain Modern Life 17 January, 2019 at 11:46 Reply

    What a neat product and I think it turned out awesome in your closet! I may have to do this in areas of our RV that tend to get drafty, like the closet and certain storage areas. Thanks for sharing and I love that it was a tip shared by one of your readers! Gotta love the RV community 🙂

  2. Terry Reinhardt 18 January, 2019 at 13:08 Reply

    I love this idea, I am thinking to use it in the bathroom. It is very cold. Do you thing this is something I can Use?

  3. Kim Garner 18 January, 2019 at 14:56 Reply

    I’m the subscriber that recommended it and it works, it is running in the 20’s at night with negative wind chills, no condensation, and I love it. And your absolutely right it would look awesome as in a slide. Thanks for all you do for us by writing these articles and using our recommendations.

  4. Cate Jones 19 January, 2019 at 01:05 Reply

    Awesome! I am keeping this blog in my reno file for when we start remodeling. Thanks for sharing Ashley. It looks great!

  5. Rosalie Coddington 19 January, 2019 at 07:23 Reply

    Looks nice….we are in south west Florida. Our problem is heat not cold. I am wondering if this would work here. Our trailer is used mostly in the hottest time of the year. We volunteer at a state park from April until October. I will have to check it out. Love the gray. Thanks for the info.

    • Ashley Mann 20 January, 2019 at 17:45 Reply

      Hmm it might help insulate regardless of whether you’re trying to keep it warm or cold! Do you put Reflectix in the windows that the sun is coming straight in? I find that does help! Though we finally broke down and got a free standing air conditioner from Lowe’s last year. It was the only thing that finally kept us cool enough. I believe this is the model we got: https://amzn.to/2AVJACh

  6. Melissa 19 January, 2019 at 07:46 Reply

    Hi Ashley, thank you for your post. I did something similar with moisture resistant foam from Lowe’s. It’s a little thicker. I planned on using wood grain contact paper to cover pink panther. 😉 However, this stuff just may have changed my mind! 👍🏼
    PS: I’ve submitted a question on Amazon to see what they say about using this on RV floors. I have a tiny motorhome. The floors get super cold! What do you think? Puncture city? 😬

    • Ashley Mann 20 January, 2019 at 17:41 Reply

      I would not recommend it for floors because the material is easily punctured. I’d go with an insulating underlayment under regular flooring instead. If you don’t want to replace your flooring, you might try just adding some rugs to start with.

  7. Living Light RV 20 January, 2019 at 20:39 Reply

    This looks awesome but I’m still a bit concerned about condensation collecting behind the product and creating a mold problem inside the walls. Wouldn’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire, as they say!!

    • Ashley Mann 21 January, 2019 at 12:15 Reply

      I definitely don’t think I’d put it in a closet that was constantly getting damp walls without doing something else to control the condensation as well, but in combination with other condensation controlling techniques, I think it could help warm up the walls and reduce heat loss.

  8. Joanie Minton 23 January, 2019 at 07:32 Reply

    What a wonderful idea. I’m thinking of doing the wall behind my bed, as the head of the bed is under a window in our 35′ Motor Home… Be very functional, plus look good, too…I use shades of gray and white in that room, already and I think the color that you have used would be most appropriate….Thank you…

  9. Deb 19 February, 2019 at 09:43 Reply

    What a clever idea. Never knew this foam existed!! Do you think it would work on the ceiling in our RV? We have a 2005 and it has the carpet like stuff on the ceiling ( not sure of the real name for the stuff!) wanting to remove it it at some point and replace it with something. Any thoughts would be great!

    • Ashley Mann 20 February, 2019 at 12:25 Reply

      Hmm I think it could work; the only issue I can think of would be that the seams between the panels might not look good unless you cut them to make the “boards” look staggered. And if your RV is very big, that much material might be expensive. Maybe order one pack and test it before deciding for sure?

    • Ashley Mann 19 April, 2019 at 12:17 Reply

      I think it would! Though you might need to trim it to make the lengths of the “boards” appear staggered as I mentioned in the article.

  10. Marian Vaughn 1 May, 2019 at 23:01 Reply

    How hard is it to get crisp neat edges in where 2 walls meet? Clean enough without adding trim?

    • Ashley Mann 2 May, 2019 at 10:12 Reply

      It’s actually quite easy because there’s some give to the foam, so you can cut a little extra and then squish it in.

  11. Gloria Elswood 7 May, 2019 at 22:39 Reply

    What are the measurements of the panels Would this work in a house bedroom with cold walls or would it look too cheap

    • Ashley Mann 8 May, 2019 at 08:37 Reply

      The dimensions of each panel is 2.52ft x 2.26ft, and you get 10 panels per pack. At that price, I don’t think I would personally use it on a wall in a house. It might damage the sheetrock if you ever tried to remove it, and I think up close it might look kind of cheap like you say. What about putting foam flooring underlayment on the walls and then covering it with some type of wood paneling? The great thing about walls in a home is nail holes can always be easily filled later if needed!

  12. Regina 31 May, 2019 at 13:58 Reply

    I found the white panels, but I can’t find the wood panels for sale anywhere. I have searched for days. Any tips or hints on where I could find there?

    • Ashley Mann 4 June, 2019 at 12:33 Reply

      Oh man, it looks like the gray wood plank version may be out of stock or possibly even discontinued! How frustrating; I’m sorry! Maybe you could try contacting the Amazon seller (Arthome) to ask if they can direct you to the manufacturer?

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