This post may contain affiliate links.
Brooke is a previous full-time RVer and long-time freelance writer and editor. Although she sold her motorhome to travel internationally, she has remained active in the RVing community through her client work and friends. In addition to two self-published books, Moving Away and Home Flexible, Brooke shares her travels, nomad tips, and other insights on TrailingAway.com.
RV renovations can cost much more than the actual motorhome or travel trailer—but they certainly don’t have to. You can keep your RV renovation costs under a few thousand dollars with careful planning.
Typical RV Renovation Costs to Consider
When inspecting an RV you hope to purchase, it is essential to make sure it does not have any major damage. If you are trying to stay within a tight budget for your RV renovation, avoiding excessive repairs is key!
Here are some of the most common expensive RV renovation costs:
Engine & Driving Components (including brakes and tires)
You definitely want to avoid engine repair in a motorhome. This can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to repair!
When buying a used drivable RV, it is important to know the maintenance history and how often the motorhome was driven. Proof of keeping up with regular oil changes, the most recent tire replacement, etc. is good to have!
Updates like this are the fastest way for your renovation project to become overly expensive.
Pro Tip: Have your RV inspected by a professional to check for any costly red flags! If buying a drivable RV, getting it checked by a mechanic is a smart idea.
If an RV is rusty or the frame is cracked, this can be difficult to fix and can be a safety concern. Unless you have extensive renovation experience, it is probably a bad idea to take on an RV remodel with this kind of more serious issue.
The air conditioner, generator, refrigerator, and other major appliances can be very costly to repair. Some appliances can cost thousands if a replacement is needed.
Repairing damage from water can be very costly. This can include removing mold and reinforcing walls and flooring, as well as replacing furniture.
Signs of water damage can be seen in rippled wallpaper and discoloration. Be sure to check the ceiling for any cracks and around windows and slides for sealant issues.
Electrical & Plumbing Issues
Having to fix major electrical or plumbing issues in an RV can be very time-consuming, expensive, messy, and even dangerous. Hiring a professional is the best route for any major problems with the electrical system or plumbing, which can really add up!
If you decide to update your furniture with more modern pieces, this can make a dramatic difference to the look of your RV.
Here are some great ideas for removing your dinette booth and replacing it with a more updated option. This is a great way to make your RV feel more like a home with a traditional dining area.
Removing your old RV furniture isn’t as hard as you might think. See how easy it is to remove a jackknife sofa from your RV.
If you’re planning to sell your RV, consider if you want to buy and include furniture in the sale as you budget for updating furniture. Not all renovated RVs are sold with furniture included.
Switching out any dated handles, faucets, and lighting fixtures can offer an upgraded look with minimal effort. Luckily, there is plenty of flexibility here when it comes to budget since you could go with a fancier, brand-new option or a budget-friendly thrifted option! Spray paint can also work for updating most fixtures.
Replacing the floors in an RV can cost a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, especially if a repair to the subflooring is needed as well. However, simple budget options do exist and DIY work can help cut costs. Laminate is a very popular and durable budget option!
Read these tips for replacing RV flooring, including removing old flooring and dealing with the subfloor.
With peel-and-stick options readily available on Amazon, replacing RV tile or backsplashes, and in the shower can easily stay within budget. However, re-tiling an area will definitely increase the cost by a few hundred dollars.
Painting or Wallpapering Interior
While definitely the most impactful, paint and the associated supplies can add up to a few hundred dollars or more during a larger RV renovation. Many RVers paint the walls and cabinets. Some also spraypaint the hinges, knobs, and fixtures. (See tips for painting success here.)
However, to save some money, you may want to consider just refinishing your cabinets instead of painting them, like the ones in these remodels with unpainted cabinets.
Adding wallpaper is more time-consuming, but can be a great way to add a dramatic effect for an accent wall, like in this bathroom.
Updating Shower Stall
If the shower stall that came with your used RV looks old and discolored, painting it or replacing it may be on your remodel to-do list. You can even remove a damaged or dated RV shower door and add a stylish curtain instead. See these DIY ideas for updating your RV shower!
If you are on a budget, doing a DIY reupholstering project for your dinette or window coverings can do a lot to update the look of your RV.
Contact paper is a go-to budget option for many DIY RV renovations, but it isn’t the only way to update your countertops.
Adding throw pillows, rugs, artwork, plants, and other decor items can really help to add your unique style to your RV. You can even spread this outside to decorate your campsite!
Updating & Painting Exterior
If you want your RV to be modern and updated on the outside as well, removing old decals and giving it an updated coat of paint can go a long way. However, exterior paint will be more expensive and you’ll need a lot of it.
You could also consider replacing decals or even doing an entire vinyl wrap (a pricy, but nice-looking option!). Here are some ideas for updating your RV’s exterior.
Worried about how your RV remodel may adjust its resale value? Read these tips for what to avoid and consider when renovating with resale in mind.
How Much is an RV Renovation? Examples of RV Remodels at Various Budgets
RV renovations can range from a few hundred dollars for basic DIY updates to a few thousand or even tens of thousands for more extensive remodels. Even RVers who buy brand-new motorhomes or travel trailers often tend to make modifications to personalize the style and functionality.
Personalizations are especially popular with full-time RVers, but many RV “flippers” have had success with buying used RVs and renovating them to have a more updated, modern look.
1. Basic Budget RV Renovation – around $500 – $1,000
So much can be accomplished with paint, fabric, and determination. Many RVers have made huge improvements by simply painting cabinets and walls, spraypainting outdated fixtures, and reupholstering dinette cushions and window valences.
The biggest investment in a budget RV renovation is the hours of work you will need to put in to cut costs by DIYing your projects.
Sticking to a budget will be much easier on a van, compact motorhome, or small travel trailer with less square footage to update. Keeping costs low is also reliant on not having any major repairs or replacements needed.
Heath and Alyssa Padgett completed a budget RV remodel of a Class C motorhome for only $500. The main projects for their 1994 Coachmen Leprechaun involved tons of painting, sewing curtains for the windows, and replacing the carpet with vinyl flooring.
The biggest impact was made with paint. Since they painted every wall and cabinet as well as spray painted hinges and other fixtures, it was a huge effort. However, it was worth it to have an updated and cheery home to live in for their extended honeymoon. Learn more about their $500 motorhome renovation here.
This RV renovation of a pre-owned 26-foot travel trailer was done in just a week and for only $600! They recovered the sofa and dinette area, used contact paper to update counters, did a ton of painting, and added an accent wall using patterned wallpaper.
2. Updated RV Renovation – around $1,000-2,000
If you get a great deal on a used RV, it may be worth it to spend over $1,000 on your renovation. Especially if you are skilled at making repairs and basic updates.
For $1,600, this fifth wheel renovation by The DIY Mommy is a great example of what can be accomplished with creativity and hard work.
A big part of this renovation involved ripping out and replacing the back wall due to water damage. However, she notes that they did have a lot of the supplies for this renovation on hand which helped them save on costs.
For close to the same cost, The DIY Mommy renovated another used fifth-wheel RV. This time, the axle had to be repaired as well as water damage (a common issue in older RVs).
Luckily, her husband is experienced in these kinds of repairs. Otherwise, it can get very pricey to repair water damage correctly and safely!
Similarly, renovator Erin Cherry spent $1,500 converting her 17-foot trailer.
Slide the arrows across to see the before and after of her kitchen!
Her biggest expenses for this renovation included replacing the entire hot water system.
3. Substantial RV Renovation – $2,000-$10,000
If you are up for the challenge, taking on a more substantial RV renovation can be very rewarding!
This camper renovation cost about $3,000 and took around four months. The owner did a lot to update the style of the 2007 Thor Freedom Spirit travel trailer. She was able to get many of her RV remodel supplies from Amazon or Home Depot. Most of the decor was found on clearance!
This 1999 Shasta Cheyenne Class C RV remodel was done for under $8,000. A good portion of that budget was set aside for solar and power upgrades. However, there were some unexpected costs around broken plumbing.
It’s important to note that close to $1,500 was spent on tools for the various DIY RV remodel projects. More substantial renovations will take more advanced tools.
This couple had to purchase a drill, saws, a sander, and more to complete this remodel! They do a great job at detailing every cost in their blog post!
4. Complete RV Remodel – $10,000-$25,000
For a totally updated look and upgraded features, you’ll need to shell out some extra money. However, there are still some great ways to stretch your budget even if you are completely gutting and rebuilding an RV!
These RVers spent under $10,000 to remodel their 2001 Coachman RV. This included fixing a water-damaged wall, replacing furniture, getting a new A/C unit, updating flooring, adding real tile to the kitchen backsplash, and doing shiplap throughout various areas of the RV.
This gorgeous DIY bus conversion surprisingly only cost about $25,000 (not including the cost of the bus). The solar package and tow bar were two of the most expensive purchases to complete the conversion. It also took about 30 hours a week over a total of eight months to complete!
5. RV Remodel with all the Extras! – $25,000+
If you are living full-time or traveling often in your RV, it may be worth it for you to upgrade the experience with higher-quality appliances, technology, and features. There is a lot of cool gear out there, so you could definitely have a lot of fun with a bigger budget!
This 2004 Monaco Windsor RV renovation took seven weeks and cost about $27,000. Since the owners work from the road, they put a lot of their budget into technology and office upgrades. They also added some nice-to-have elements like a fireplace and tv lift!
It’s also worth noting that the couple spent about $8,000 on painting because they hired professionals to paint the cabinets. However, they noted they were not happy with the work and wouldn’t recommend them. Sometimes DIY isn’t only a way to save money, but a way to have more control of the outcome of your project as well!
Best Tips for an RV Renovation on a Budget
1. Have a Plan.
If you are trying to stick to a budget, the first step is to outline the costs of your RV renovation and make sure you have a realistic plan.
2. Do It Yourself.
Learning how to replace flooring or install a new backsplash by yourself can save you hundreds over hiring a professional.
3. Ask Questions.
There are tons of great online forums for current or wannabe DIY RV remodelers, like this RV Renovations group on Facebook. This is an ideal place to ask questions and learn from others who have had the same issues and found a way to resolve them (or made mistakes you can avoid!).
4. Get Creative.
You don’t have to update your RV the same way everyone else has! Figure out a renovation plan that works for you, your budget, and how much time you have. Maybe it makes more sense to hot glue new fabric over your dinette cushions or put up a shower curtain to hide an older shower stall until you can save up to remodel it.
5. Buy Pre-Owned.
Look for furniture, decor, and appliances on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, online RVer forums, or garage sales to save a ton rather than buying new.
6. Get it Right the First Time.
While making mistakes is a great learning opportunity, it isn’t great for sticking to a budget during a DIY remodel. Take your time, measure twice, do your research, read your manual, and have a solid plan to put forth your best effort the first time to avoid spending extra on re-dos.
Now that you have a better idea of how much it costs to remodel an RV, get some more inspiration on how to renovate your rig here!