Creating Planked Walls in Our RV
Have you ever thought of a problem as a blessing in disguise? We have, but it normally doesn’t seem like a blessing until much later down the line.
The interior walls in our RV ended up being a blessing that came from a problem. The problem was a water leak that came in through our bathroom skylight and soaked one of our ceiling panels. The blessing, we were forced to remove some of our interior walls, and in turn, we learned a lot about how they’re constructed while at the same time realizing we could make some changes.
By looking at the before and after pictures of the interior walls we now know the water leak was a blessing dressed up as a problem in the beginning.
As a refresher here’s a before photo, which shows our old swing open door.
Creating Planked Walls In Our RV
When we removed the interior walls of our RV we were forced to take off the paneling first. By doing this I was able to get a glimpse of how the walls were constructed which boosted my confidence level for the rest of the renovation.
When you’ve never removed a wall before or seen what they look like without the paneling it can seem a bit overwhelming. Don’t get discouraged though, because once the paneling is off it’s pretty basic.
As you can see from the pictures above the skeleton of the wall is constructed of 1×2 and 1×4 boards.
- Rubber Mallet
- Ryobi Airstrike
- Miter Saw
- Tung Oil with Citrus Solvent (The Real Milk Paint Company)
- 1 1/2″ Corner Molding
- 1 1/4″ Flat Molding
- 3/4″ Inside Corner Molding
- Pine Tongue and Groove
Hopefully, if you’re creating planked walls in your RV you don’t have to completely remove the walls. We had to remove ours because of the leak. If you need your walls completely removed I touch on those steps at the bottom of this post.
As we move forward I’m going to explain how we created planked walls in our RV which for us involved removing the old panels. If you’d rather not remove your panels at all you could attach the tongue and groove boards directly over the panels that are installed.
Considering we needed to remove the panels to remove the walls for the water leak we decided we’d not reattach the panels. By leaving them off it saved us a little bit of weight and was just as easy to install.
If you’re going to leave your panels in place you can skip Step 1.
Every RV is different, below I’ll explain how we went about creating planked walls in our 2008 Tiffin Allegro OpenRoad 32LA. If some of the steps I mention below don’t seem to work within your own RV I’d suggest reaching out to your manufacturer to see if they have any recommendations.
Anyway, on to step one.
Step 1 – Removing the Panels
One of the hardest parts about removing the panels is finding out exactly how they’re attached. Luckily you’re here and I can help point you in the right direction.
I hate to admit it, but as I was trying to remove our panels I got frustrated. Mainly because I was having a heck of a time finding a place to get underneath the panels (our paneled walls were made out of luan plywood with a veneer surface). That’s when I decided to go piece by piece.
Your first targets are going to be the door jamb pieces. As you look at the edges of your walls you’ll see the door jamb pieces lining the opening where your door closes.
Above you can see where one of our door jambs was located.
They were attached using small nails and staples. However there were also a couple of screws for the doorknob latch. Make sure to check for any screws that may be hidden. Once you know there aren’t any screws holding them in place it’s a matter of gently prying it loose.
Now that the door jamb piece is removed you should be able to see the edge of the panel. Our panels were attached with a combination of glue and staples. At first we thought we may reattach the panels so we were very careful about how we pried them off.
We moved down the edge with a small crowbar, using it to gently pry the panel off. This may be a difficult process. Even with how slow and gentle we were with our panels there were spots that stayed stuck to the skeleton of the wall because of the glue.
Anyway pry all the way around the panel and you should be able to slide it off and out of the RV. You’ll want to follow this same process for all the walls you’re planning to plank, that is unless you are planking right over the panels.
If you need to remove your walls entirely I have a section at the bottom of the post where I explain how we did it.
Step 2 – Measuring and Pre-Cutting
Now your paneling is removed and just the skeletons of the walls remain. Time to make it look the way you want.
Katie and I elected to use pine tongue and groove paneling. We wanted something that was light weight and easy to install, these panels were perfect.
Considering I’d be using the same walls we’d removed to fix the ceiling panel I wanted to make sure it was the same measurements across for the entire height of my wall.
I started with the wall closest to the kitchen and measured the distance across from the top to the bottom. Tiffin did a great job creating the wall, meaning all of my measurement were the same (23 3/4″). Next I measured the height of the wall itself (79″), in doing this I was able to figure out how many pieces of paneling I’d need.
Since I knew all the pieces needed to be the same size I used my measuring tape and marked lines on all the pieces I’d need. Then took them over to my miter saw and cut them all at once.
Side Note: I had a total of 4 walls I was going to be covering with the tongue and groove pine boards, in turn I repeated this same process for the other 3 walls.
Step 3 – Attaching the Tongue and Groove
At this point I have all of my tongue and groove boards cut and stacked in different piles for each wall. Now it’s time to install them.
As I held the first piece up against the wall I considered which way would be best to start. Should I start at the top or bottom, should I put the groove or the tongue against the floor or ceiling?
I ended up cutting a piece of the tongue and groove in half, this left me with a completely flat edge on one side and the tongue on the other. I then placed my new flat edge flush against the ceiling, leaving my tongue facing down from the top.
This way worked extremely well, but you should do what is best in your situation.
Now that I know how I’m going to install it, it’s time to get to it.
I took my first piece and line it up against the ceiling, while at the same time making my edges flush with either side.
When I did this I noticed it didn’t look completely level, so I grabbed my level and placed it against the bottom of my piece of paneling. By using the level I was able to make sure it was straight.
Now taking my Ryobi Airstrike, I placed nails through the paneling making sure they find the studs in the wall. Our walls had three studs, one on either edge of the wall and one in the middle.
With the first piece nailed in place it was a matter of going piece by piece down the wall.
With every new piece I’d line up the tongue and groove then slide it into place. After it was in place I’d use my rubber mallet, giving it a little love tap for good measure. Then use the Airstrike to secure it.
It’s important to note that some tongue and groove pieces don’t line up as well as others. In those cases the rubber mallet is used for more than just good measure, sometimes it is used to make them completely come together.
For the next 3 walls I followed the same process until I could no longer see the interior skeleton of the wall.
Step 4 – Can’t Forget the Trim
So now you’ve got to put finishing touches on the doorways so as they don’t look unfinished.
Considering we no longer had a swinging door I’ll be referring to these finishing touches as trim.
Katie and I decided to go with a few different types of trim.
For the hallway doorway that leads into our bathroom and the edge of the wall that leads to our bedroom we used a 1/4″ thick by 1 1/4″ wide piece of pine which we picked up at our local Home Depot.
For the wall edge in the doorway from the bedroom to the bathroom we used a lipped piece of wood roughly the same size.
We used a piece of 1 1/4″ 90 degree corner molding for where the hallway meets the kitchen.
You can see our kitchen backsplash to the left, which we used pine tongue and groove for as well.
We used a piece of 3/4″x 3/4″ inside corner molding for the 90 degree angle created where our hallway and bedroom walls come together.
With our trim picked out it was as easy as measuring the height of the wall, cutting the trim to size, then attaching it with our Ryobi Airstrike.
At this point the walls are looking like walls :).
Step 5 – Sealing It
In a previous post we talk about The Real Milk Paint Company and their Tung Oil with Citrus Solvent. We love the way it looks on a few of our projects including our kitchen countertops, and bathroom countertop. We had some left over so we went with it on our walls.
You can watch the video where we walk through the process of how we used it on our bathroom live edge counter top.
The video of us using Tung Oil with Citrus Solvent on our bathroom countertop may make it seem a bit more difficult than it is for these pine tongue and groove pieces. The main reason being that these pieces are much thinner than the countertop therefore requiring less coats. We put a total of 2 coats on our walls.
If you’d like more information on how to use Tung Oil.
The beauty of tung oil is that it’s all natural, works as a water repellant, and is non-toxic. It works by seeping down into the wood in turn fully ingraining itself in the wood. We’ve noticed the tung oil darkens the wood a bit while also helping to highlight the natural wood grain.
Side Note: Tung Oil dries with a matte finish not glossy.
In the picture above the wall on the left has been tung oiled, the one on the right has not.
We have become huge fans of tung oil, but know that not all tung oil is created equal. Some of them out there add extra ingredients to the oil which can take away from the all natural aspect. If you’re trying to reduce chemicals you should do a bit of research, or just go with The Real Milk Paint Company’s version because we’ve already done the research on them.
Before and After:
Here’s a photo showing the planked walls in our bathroom:
Extra Step – Removing the Walls
Do you need to remove the walls completely? Don’t worry it isn’t very hard. Every RV is different, our walls didn’t have electricity or plumbing running through them. That in turn made this process a bit easier for us.
If you have plumbing or electric running through your walls I’d suggest reaching out to your manufacturer to see if they have any tips to help you along the way.
If you don’t have those thing running through your walls I hope the information below will help.
Searching for Screws
You’ve removed the paneling from the walls (this will show you if you have any plumbing or electric running through them). Now it is time to hunt.
I say that because we found a few of our screws were hidden behind little pieces of plywood. I know it makes no sense, check out the photo below.
The screw in the middle of that piece of wood needed to be loosened, allowing us to spin it to reveal a hidden screw that went into the ceiling. The floor had the exact same situation.
The good news is there was only six screws. There was a screw in each corner, with two screws in the middle of the wall, one going into the ceiling and one into the floor.
Now that you’ve found all of your screws grab your drill and remove them. The walls should stay in place after you’ve removed the screws due to the pressure from the ceiling and floor.
Remove the Wall
Before you start this step look closely at the wall to make sure you didn’t miss any screws. Leaving one screw behind can lead to a very bad time.
You’ll want to grab your rubber mallet and tap at either the top or the bottom (I chose the top). It’s important when you tap on the wall to remove it that you do it gently. These walls are generally made of 1×2 boards which have had screws and nails placed in them. If you strike the wall too hard you could split the wood or break it a part.
Now all you need to do is follow those steps for the remaining walls and you’ll have them removed.
That about wraps it up for how we went about creating planked walls in an RV. I really hoped this has provided guidance for your own project or given you the inspiration to try something new.