With all this renovation on the fifth wheel, we thought we’d share our two cents on products or techniques to use. Now, we’re no pros but we have spent our fair share on the internet researching and watching how-to videos. Renovating your trailer can be pretty stressful time consuming, especially if you’re planning on living in it afterwards.
I mentioned before Jeff re-coated our roof and sealed up seams. We’ve read you should only have to re-coat your roof every 4-5 years. Now, this may vary from state to state given all of our different climates and various weather fronts. So, Jeff spent an afternoon up our roof scraping off old chunks of rubber, scrubbing it clean with some Dawn dish soap and hand held bristle brush. Then once the water had completely dried, he was able to get back to the important work. He went around on the roof filling in any holes with butyl and a sealant. Then came time for coating the roof with the rubber coating (He used Henry’s brand of elastomeric coating), the coats went on with thin layers gradually and as each layer dried the roof was assessed to determine if an additional coat was needed. Jeff ended up doing only two coats at this time and will look at the roof after winter. He then took off all the moldings and screws one by one from the outside of the trailer and resealed all of the seams(The brand of sealant used was an Ultimate MP Sealant by WeatherMaster ). It was really hard to tell where exactly the water leaks were coming from on the two walls, but the leaks were high up somewhere so we figured we’d cover all of our bases. We had to wait a day or two for all the rubber to dry before Jeff could test the leaks again. He let water run down the roof and over the side of the trailer for several minutes then we waited and watched inside the torn down walls for any sign of wetness. His roof coating and resealing work! No sign of wetness in the walls, so he was ready to put up the new wall panels.
We scoured the aisles at Home Depot and Lowes looking for the right type of material to use for wall panels. The previous walls were / are quite thin so he didn’t want something thicker because that would make it harder to patch back together. Weight was another factor, when restoring fifth wheels or any camper for that matter weight is always going to be a big factor. If your tiny home is going to be stationary and never travel anywhere, then maybe you can have a little leeway but for most of us, mobility is one of the key reasons for moving into a trailer or tiny home. So, Jeff searched for thin wood that was light weight but still sturdy enough we could possibly hang decorations or photos on it in the future. He ended up using a smooth coated hardboard. (Here’s a Link to Lowe’s for the panels.) which can sometimes be used as a backing behind shower stalls and seemed very similar to the exact panels we had before. One side of the panels he bought was coated with a water resistant coating making it nice just in case we have any more water leaks in our future (fingers crossed!!). Jeff also replaced any of the moldy insulation inside the walls, we just used the cotton candy pink stuff! The walls went up nicely, only putting up a little bit of a fight.
Texturing and painting was next on the agenda. We used (Sheetrock)brand of putty for filling holes and patching around the trailer. Jeff looked at different types of texture there was out there but given the small space, spraying it on wasn’t a really good option. We found a roll-on type of texture by (Homax). Jeff’s never used it before, he watched a video or two and got a little advice from my dad who’s an all around carpenter and then he used one of our bedroom walls for practice. We figured that wall would end up being covered in photos so it would be ok if it looked a little funky. We prepped all the walls first by cleaning them, going over them quickly with the electric sander and then wiping them back down before getting started. It took Jeff a few tries to get the hang of rolling the texture down, getting the technique just right but our walls look outstanding. The texture really does give the fifth wheel more of a home feel rather than a camper vibe. When it comes to paint, I usually prefer Behr products, which here we find those products at Lowes. But given our budget we used a mixture of these brands (Olympic and Glidden.) We opted for the paint with primer included, it’s always nicer to be able to just do your 1-2 coats and call it good. We chose to go with satin on the sheen of the paint for the walls and semi-gloss for cabinets and moldings. After living in the trailer last winter we know how much condensation can build up on the walls, so we chose a sheen that would stand up to moisture and cleaning.
We also added bead board on the bottom half of the bedroom walls with a thin layer of insulation (This Kind) to help keep us a little warmer in the winters. In a fifth wheel the bedroom is on the goose neck aspect so when our siding/insulation is put up for winter the bedroom gets left out. We can use all the little extra warmth we can get. The bathroom also seems to get pretty chilly, maybe it’s the tiny water tank, and short, cooler-temped showers but we decided to add a little extra insulation in there too. We put in galvanized corrugated metal halfway up on the tiny little walls, placing the insulation just behind that. Crossing our fingers the little extra work will do us a little good.
We have three different types of flooring in the trailer. In the bedroom, we chose to go the cheap route given our bed takes up the majority of the floor. We like to shop at Lowes, it’s in most of our bigger cities so it’s easy to access and one store may have what another didn’t. We found one of the cheapest wood pergo styled flooring Lowes had to offer. Again we don’t expect much traffic on the floor but the few inches around the bed. Jeff laid this down last fall when we first moved in. We then put in vinyl peel and stick flooring in our bathroom and hallway.(Luxury Vinyl) This flooring is pretty neat, it is grout-able flooring, which gives it a stone like look. My dad even got down on his knee to scratch at it because he thought it was real stone. Our living area we wanted something sturdier, something that would stand up to more traffic and moisture. We found out about resilient vinyl flooring and thought it would be perfect for little home. You can find flooring like this at Lowes, Home Depot and most likely at any retail flooring store. Jeff recently laid this same type of flooring down for his parents. Their flooring came from Lowes and is of a much sturdier product (Shaw) We ended of buying ours from Lumber Liquidators (Tranquility Flooring). We compromised on color a bit, Jeff wanted something grey and I was leaning more red, so we went dark, ha! The price helped a little bit too, we found our flooring for only $1.29/sq foot! Nice find when you’re on a tightly squeezed budget. The color we chose looks perfect with everything we’ve done thus far. And of course to continue on our path of helping to keep us warm during the cold months, insulation was laid under the flooring. (Flooring Underlayment.)