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Ashley Mann spent three years living full time in a 38-foot, 5th-wheel RV with her husband Josiah and their cat, Kitty. Her favorite thing about RV life is the challenge of finding the perfect way to organize a space, and she loves seeing all the creative and clever ways people come up with to customize their RVs.
Using wallpaper on your RV walls is one of the easiest ways to personalize your camper and add color to an otherwise plain RV interior.
If you're planning to renovate your RV, wallpaper can also add interest to your RV interior, and can allow you to incorporate a trendy pattern or color palette in your design that can later be changed if you get tired of the look.
In this article, I'll share some tips from RV owners who learned the hard way about the pros and cons of hanging wallpaper in an RV. I'll also tell you which brand multiple RVers consider to be the best peel and stick wallpaper for an RV, and of course I'll share lots of photo inspiration along the way!
RV Wallpaper vs. RV Wall Paneling
Before we get too much farther, I want to clarify that wallpaper, whether it's peel-and-stick or the traditional kind hung using wallpaper paste, is NOT the same as what's already on your RV walls.
The “wallpaper” that comes already installed on RV walls is actually part of the wall itself.
RV wall paneling is made from luan (plywood) with a sheet of vinyl bonded to it during the manufacturing process using industrial-grade adhesive. That bond is intended to be permanent, so removing it is very difficult. Don't worry—it's not necessary to remove it before painting or installing decorative wallpaper.
How to Match Original RV Wallpaper
If you've stumbled across this article because you're looking for replacement wallpaper to match your existing RV walls, here are three options for you:
Option 1: Purchase RV wallpaper from Camping World
Camping World sells rolls of wallpaper designed to match the paneling used in many of the newer RVs. You can order it in 50-foot or 100-foot rolls through the Camping World website.
Option 2: Purchase wallpaper that's a close match.
If you can't find wallpaper that matches yours at the link above or you're looking for a cheaper option, you may be able to find a brand of wallpaper that looks similar to what's in your RV.
For example, the Norwall brand on Amazon sells wallpaper in a beige pattern that appears to be very similar to what was used in RVs manufactured during the early 2000s.
There are also several brands of faux linen wallpaper that look similar to recent RV models.
Option 3: Order replacement wall panels.
Another option is to replace the entire wall panel. The problem with this option is that the only place I've been able to find that currently stocks replacement RV wall panels is RVPartsNation.com. Unfortunately, they don't have much color selection, and they require an order minimum of ten panels.
If you find another good source to buy RV wall panels, please share it in the comments!
You could also call the manufacturer of your specific RV model to see if they would sell the paneling directly to you.
Alternatively, you could use thin plywood panels to replace your RV wall paneling and cover them with matching wallpaper, such as those mentioned above.
Things to Consider Before Putting Wallpaper in an RV
While wallpaper can look great in an RV, there are some potential drawbacks to using wallpaper in an RV that you should be aware of before beginning your project to avoid extra work and potential disappointment.
Potential Problem #1: Extreme temperatures can cause wallpaper to peel off the walls.
The problem most frequently encountered by RV owners who decorate with wallpaper is wallpaper peeling off the walls—especially after the RV has been in storage in a cold or humid climate.
Temperatures below freezing as well as humidity in warm climates can cause wallpaper adhesive to fail. This is something you’ll want to consider if your RV ever gets very hot or cold inside.
Later in this article, I’ll share tips from other RV owners for preventing wallpaper from coming down, no matter the weather!
Potential Problem #2: Hanging wallpaper could negatively impact your camper's value.
Something else you may want to consider before wallpapering inside your RV is how your design choices may affect your RV’s trade-in or resale value.
Even if you have no immediate plans to sell your RV, you never know when your plans might change!
It may be difficult to get the price you want for your RV if you choose a wallpaper that:
- Is a bold or colorful pattern
- Appeals to very specific tastes
- Follows a trend that may soon be dated
- Or clashes with the rest of the RV.
In those cases, you may consider removing the wallpaper or covering it with a more neutral pattern before selling.
On the other hand, if you choose a wallpaper that complements the cabinets, flooring, and decor, it’s more likely that others will view the wallpaper as a nice addition.
The quality of your wallpaper installation job is another factor that can impact the value of your RV. Sloppy workmanship will almost certainly decrease your RV’s value whether you trade in your RV or sell it privately. It’s important to work slowly and carefully and give attention to detail when hanging wallpaper in your RV in order to avoid crooked or upside-down patterns, unmatched seams, uneven edges, and other mistakes.
Preparing Your RV Walls for Wallpaper Part 1: Repair Any Damaged RV Wall Paneling
Before you can wallpaper your RV, first make sure the walls are clean, smooth, and free of damage.
What Causes RV Wallpaper to Wrinkle, Bubble, or Peel Off the Walls
If the vinyl on your RV walls is wrinkled, peeling, torn, or bubbled up, there's a very good chance that water got into the walls of your RV and was absorbed by the paneling, causing the adhesive to fail. The bad news is, if that did happen, it's also possible that there's mold behind your walls.
To be sure there's no mold in your walls, cut through the vinyl and possibly through the paneling itself to see what's behind it.
You'll also want to make sure you've identified and stopped any water leaks by checking all sealants on your RV exterior for cracks and gaps and resealing as necessary.
Here are some of the most common places leaks occur that you'll want to be sure to check:
- Along exterior seams—check for sealant that has cracked or peeled away
- On the roof around vents, skylights, and air conditioning units
- Along the edges of the roof
- Along the edges at the tops and bottoms of slideouts
- Along the top of the curved “nose” of a trailer
Even a tiny pinhole can result in major water damage and eventually mold, a dangerous health hazard, so it’s important to regularly check the condition of your RV sealant and reseal the seams.
Where to Buy Replacement RV Wall Paneling
As I mentioned earlier, sourcing a single sheet of RV wall paneling is not always easy. If you're planning to cover it with wallpaper anyway, you could instead replace the damaged wall panel with a sheet of thin plywood from a home improvement store.
How to Repair Torn or Peeling RV Wallpaper
If the vinyl wallpaper is peeling off of your RV walls but isn't torn, try using spray adhesive to reattach and smooth out the wallpaper.
If any parts of the vinyl are torn, cut and remove them.
If you're planning to paint or wallpaper over your walls, you can use spackling to level out the area where the wallpaper was removed. If you want to match your RV wallpaper exactly, you'll probably need to replace a larger section of the vinyl, which I'll explain later on in this article.
How to Repair Bubbled RV Wallpaper
If you’re confident there’s no mold or moisture behind your bubbled wallpaper (perhaps you can see the back of the panel through an access area), an easy way to repair the bubbling is to use a needle or safety pin to poke a tiny hole in the middle of the bubble and squeeze out the air. Then use a credit card to smooth out the paper working slowly from the edges inward.
This way, you can get the vinyl to lay flat with almost no visible damage. If the wallpaper won't stay in place, you can squeeze some glue through the hole to help hold it down.
How to Fix Wrinkled RV Wallpaper
Just like with bubbled up RV wallpaper, wrinkled wallpaper can also be caused by water damage, but wrinkles can also be caused by the RV shifting and twisting while in motion.
If you’ve determined that there’s no mold or moisture behind your wrinkled wallpaper, you can try using a hair dryer or a heat gun on a low setting to melt the adhesive and smooth out the wrinkles using a credit card.
How to Repair Holes in RV Walls
If you’ve removed your RV’s factory-installed window coverings, decor, or furniture, you may end up with ugly holes in your RV walls. If you’re planning to paint or hang fresh wallpaper, these can be filled with sparkling after first trimming or pushing into the hole any raised edges of vinyl to create a level surface.
If you are not planning to paint or cover the holes, I would suggest using wood filler tinted to match the color of your RV wallpaper. This will make the holes barely noticeable from a distance, especially if they're covered with curtains or wall decor.
What to Do if Those Fixes Don't Work
If you’re unable to repair your RV wallpaper but don't want to completely replace the wall panels, there's another option. Try using a razor blade to make a vertical cut from floor to ceiling on both sides of the damaged area. Remove the entire section of the vinyl that includes the damage, then replace that section of vinyl with new matching wallpaper, using 1″ strips of wallpaper to cover the seams.
Preparing Your RV Walls for Wallpaper Part 2: Make Sure Your Walls Are Clean.
Next, before applying wallpaper you'll want to make sure your walls are clean, as dust and grime can prevent wallpaper from sticking to the walls. Dirt and grease may also cause bumps under the wallpaper.
A cloth rag damp with water should be enough to clean the walls in most RVs, but if you have any areas which are particularly grimy (for example, next to the stove) you might add some dish soap to warm water and use it to scrub before wiping all soap residue off of the walls.
What's the Best RV Wallpaper Type?
You have three basic choices when it comes to wallpaper:
1. Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper
This wallpaper is sticky on the back, like a sticker. To hang it, you peel off the backing before sticking it to the wall.
Peel-and-stick wallpaper is popular not only because it’s less messy to apply, but because it is also often advertised as being removable. However, it’s also the type of wallpaper most likely to peel off when you don’t want it to.
2. Pre-Pasted Wallpaper
This type of wallpaper has a water-activated adhesive on the back. It’s not sticky until you moisten it with water, kind of like licking an envelope.
It is also designed to be removable. All you have to do is get the wallpaper wet again and the wallpaper can be peeled off the wall.
3. Traditional Wallpaper
This wallpaper doesn’t have any adhesive on the back. To hang it on the wall, you first have to paint the back of the wallpaper with wallpaper paste. (Some people instead paint the adhesive onto the wall directly. You can try both ways and see which one you think is easiest—the result will be the same!)
The best way to remove traditional wallpaper is to get it wet (a spray bottle is often used for this task). The paper will absorb the water and the wallpaper paste will become tacky, allowing you to peel the paper off the wall.
Which type of wallpaper should you use in your RV?
The choice is really up to you, but if you decide to use peel-and-stick wallpaper, you may end up needing to reinforce the adhesive. I’ll explain your best options for reinforcement in the next section.
On the other hand, if you use vinyl peel-and-stick wallpaper and end up using additional adhesive to get it to stay stuck to your RV walls, you may have a difficult time if you decide to remove it later.
The Best Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper to Use in an RV
There are so many brands of peel-and-stick wallpaper on the market! The best way to be assured of choosing a brand that won't peel off the walls in cold or humid weather is to read reviews from other RV owners who have had a good experience, even in extreme climates.
One brand I've heard nothing but good things about from RV owners who have used it is Spoonflower. Multiple RV owners have told me they used this brand and have had no issues with it peeling, even after taking their RV out of winter storage.
Spoonflower.com is actually a marketplace website where artists can sell their designs as wallpaper or fabric.
It's a bit more expensive than some of the brands you can find on Amazon, but if the space you're covering is small, the price difference might not end up being that much. Plus, you can buy fabric to match and make curtains or throw pillows! 🙂
How to Keep RV Wallpaper from Peeling
What can you do if the wallpaper you've fallen in love with is an unknown brand, or if the wallpaper you already put up starts peeling off the walls?
I asked several RV owners who decorated their RVs with wallpaper to share their tips for preventing the wallpaper from coming down, and here’s what they said:
- Be sure to clean and prep your walls according to the instructions for your particular type of wallpaper. If your wallpaper requires a specific surface texture, you may want to start by painting your walls with a pre-wallpaper primer.
- One RV owner said she ran a line of acrylic latex painter’s caulk along the edges of her wallpaper at the top and bottom of the walls to help the wallpaper she used stay in place.
- Another RVer used a dot of Gorilla glue on each corner of her peel-and-stick wallpaper to keep it from peeling.
- Elmer’s spray adhesive can be used to hang wallpaper with a permanent bond. However, I would avoid this option unless you’re 100% okay with your wallpaper never coming off the wall.
- Karla Bradley, a professional RV renovator, uses wallpaper paste to hang any type of wallpaper she uses, including peel-and-stick wallpaper. She said she used to have problems with peel-and-stick wallpaper coming down, but wallpaper paste is fool-proof.
More RV Wallpaper Inspiration
Ready to personalize your RV with some pretty wallpaper? Take a look at these photos for ideas and inspiration!
Wallpaper Added to RV Bedrooms
Use wallpaper to create a headboard or accent wall in your RV bedroom.
Wallpaper in RV Bathrooms
The tiny size of an RV bathroom makes it fairly affordable to do a makeover using wallpaper.
Create an Accent Wall with Wallpaper
Wallpaper can be used to create an artistic focal point in your RV, as seen below.
Want more ideas for decorating your RV? Check out the RV Makeovers Resource Page!