Our little place is all ready! It’s absolutely adorable and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Jeff did a fantastic job with the renovation and we’ve collaborated quite well with the designing aspect. Our next step is to of course move in, Jeff is currently job hunting since we’ve taken a break from our road adventures. Once we have cash flow, we will be able to find a spot to park the trailer and move in. We still have a lot more downsizing to do too. No photos or decor have been unpacked since we sold our big house and I know we have a ton of boxes to go through. We’re both very excited to get moved in and start living tiny. (*Crossing fingers Jeff finds a good job soon!)
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.)
We moved into our fifth wheel last October after we sold our big country home. We had been looking at trailers for weeks but by the time we sold the house it seemed as if we had run out of time and needed to purchase one quickly. Jeff found ours on Craigslist for $2,000, which we thought was a pretty good deal. The fifth wheel is a 96′ model, faded teal carpet, padded window coverings, carpet in the bathroom and awful wallpaper galore. It pretty much looked like the nineties threw up everywhere.
We lived in the trailer from October-March, up until we took off on the road. In those five months we were saving up money for our trip and making sure some of our bills were paid so we didn’t do too much to the trailer. We lived with the trashy carpets and I dealt with not unpacking decor and the rest of my kitchen. However, I did make sure we got rid of that yucky carpet in the bathroom. I just don’t understand why carpet is laid into bathrooms?! We also needed some more storage space, so Jeff built us a really nice bed with a storage compartment underneath and while he was at it he tore out the ugly carpet and put in pergo in our bedroom. We chose to use the cheapest pergo wood flooring that we liked for our bedroom as the bed takes up about 80-90% of the room so you can’t see much of the floor anyways. Then before we knew it, it was time to leave for our trip so the fifth wheel was parked over at my dads.
We pulled the trailer over to Jeff’s parents a few weeks ago and demolition started a week or so later. The gross carpet was the first thing we pulled up and the amount of dirt piled up underneath was unbelievable, yuk! I’m just so happy to see that ugly stained carpet gone! We also knew we had a bit of a water leak on the inside of one of the walls, so that was Jeff’s first big challenge to tackle. As he pulled the wall panel off we realized it was more than just a ‘little’ water leak and turned into a much bigger project. He found moldy insulation under one of the panels he had ripped off so he continued to investigate only to find more mold. He ended up replacing two walls and insulation before we started texturing. To ensure we wouldn’t have anymore issues with leaking, Jeff rubber coated our roof and thoroughly went around the outside re-sealing all of the seams.
Texturing the walls was the next big step for us to tackle. We had a lot of holes and areas where the vinyl wallpaper was peeling up. I’ve never done any hole patching before, Jeff usually does all that kind of stuff but I learned quickly and had a lot of fun helping. We decided to texture the walls instead of just painting over the wallpaper as the texture gives a more ‘real’ home like feel. It took a few practice tries with the texture before we felt confident enough with rolling it on all of our walls. Jeff handled it just like a pro though! We painted all of our cabinets and walls, tore down the padded window coverings and even painted the couple of the doors we have inside the place.
But, my most favorite project we tackled in the trailer was our reclaimed wall. My dad does a lot of wood working and collects wood from all sorts of places, he gave us some old cedar fencing that was beautifully weathered. The wood came to us already torn apart (thanks Dad!!) so I sanded each of the planks and made a paint wash for a few boards as Jeff cut and nailed them up. The wall turned out so amazing, I’m quite proud of ourselves. I’m actually really proud of Jeff, he’s been working so hard on this renovation and doing such a great job too. There has only been so many things I have been able to help with. Either my back hurts, my hands are too swollen, having a weekly flare up or I’m just too tired. Jeff is an incredible husband, always making sure I don’t over do it and that I’m feeling well. He’s done a great job in our little home, I can’t wait to move back in.
More photos to come once we are completely finished with the place. We’re getting real close!!
When we bought our 5th wheel, we had purchased it with the intentions of renovating. The ‘bungalo’ as I like to call it is a 1996 model, so as anyone could imagine, it definitely could use some updating. We decided to start on the back of the camper, which is our room. So far Jeff has been able to pull up the 90’s teal carpet and replace it with pergo wood flooring and build us a really neat bed frame that allows for storage underneath, and the dog’s kennel built right in. We then got side-tracked with the bathroom updates when the toilet was replaced. The flooring in the bathroom area was actually getting wet, so up came that carpet. (yes carpet in a twenty year old camper, yuk!) We found this really neat vinyl peel and stick that is grout-able, it looks fabulous. There are plans of course for making our walls a little less 90’s, but just one step at a time.
Winters here in Idaho can be pretty brutal, especially if your little casa is 5th wheel. Jeff spent several weeks trying to get us comfortable in our new mobile dwelling. The heater in the campér doesn’t work, so we bought space heaters and those little buggers run 24/7. At one point it was so cold in the bedroom before we had all the insulation and skirting up our dog’s bed actually froze to floor! However, after all of Jeff’s hard work we are now quite comfortable in here.
As were getting more settled into our new place, we’re finally able to start thinking about our big trip. We plan on heading out in June, so this gives us plenty of time to save up to our set goal of cash and find our vehicle. We’ve already decided that we won’t take the 5th wheel given the expense of gas, therefore we’re going to look for a van or maybe even a very small RV. We have a handful of national parks and forests we want to visit as well as family through out the U.S, so being able to save money on gas is definitely worth the cramped quarters. Traveling in a van or a tiny RV will force us to get outside of the vehicle more and explore. This is also one of the reasons why we chose to down-size and move into our 5th wheel. Our old home was so big, we sometimes didn’t see each other or we wouldn’t even use one half of the house for months. Now that we’re in the 5th wheel, we use every inch and every corner. I also think just in the few months we’ve been here, we’ve already grown closer.
After hours upon hours of craigslist searching, used and new lots, we finally found a 5th wheel and for a hell of a deal too! We started going through our things, deciding what we really needed and what wasn’t necessary to keep lugging around. The biggest and probably the hardest thing for us to do was to figure out what to do with the “micro farm”. Jeff and I both have a soft spot in our hearts for animals, and we had a handful of pets. With the array of animals, most of our friends called the house a zoo! We had 5 tortoises, a few fish tanks, a total of 6 chickens and ducks, a rabbit, a canary, a cat, a dog and a small parrot. We definitely knew the dog, cat and bird were staying with us. Our dog only weighs about 12lbs and she’s the princess, the cat and I had been buddies since before my husband I even started dating so there was no question there, and my parrot, well I just wasn’t going to let him go, he’s precious to me. We did find great homes for everyone. The tortoises even went to a local reptile rescue and that made us feel good knowing they went there. It was a bitter sweet feeling, but it was one step closer to new journey.
Downsizing our things was hard at first, trying to decide if something is really worth taking up space. The 5th wheel we bought was 31 feet in length and we estimated our total square footage with the slide was about 275sq feet. Big change for us coming from 1700sq foot! I think I went through my clothes alone three times before we actually moved into the 5th wheel. I am happy to say however, we both are able to fit our clothes into standard sized rubber-maid totes. Of course this isn’t bigger items like coats and jackets, but we did do a good job. (I had two closets of clothes in our old house) Since we did only have a short time to get the house ready for selling and to minimize our things, we ended up needing a storage unit. I’m sure we will be able to get rid of a lot of things in storage since by now we haven’t even noticed these things are gone.
So, we officially moved into the 5th wheel around the first of October 2015. We’re renting a lot in a really nice mobile home park which allows RV/campers. The neighborhood is in Boise, right in town and such a big difference for us being right in town. We had been living in the country for a few years and were quite use to the country living life style. Our first few days we were without power, leaving us to use a generator just so we could run the lights and maybe the tv but it wasn’t enough power to heat up a shower. We like camping, but this wasn’t what we were thinking of when we decided to move. Once we finally got power, we started to settle into our new lifestyle quite well. There have been few things we’ve had to get use since moving into a tiny ‘home’, but surprisigly the space hasn’t one of them. The space is actually nice, no stairs to climb, less to clean and once we start, it’ll be way easier and cheaper to remodel than a standard sized home. A couple of the things we’ve had to learn; cooking on a propane stove, mastering the water pressure in shower and how to not blow the breaker when the space heater is running at the same time while the toaster oven is going or even the blow dryer! The outside sound changes took some time getting use to. We were use to hearing chickens, donkeys braying and tractors plowing. Now, we hear sirens, motorcycles and the trucks bringing in new shipments for the stores we live right behind. But, I don’t jump up and look out the door at every loud crash and boom sound anymore. We were also quite surprised how dusty it gets in here and how long the smells from cooking simmer through out the place. But these are all things worth discovering as we move forward. I laid here one night after we first moved in and looked at my husband saying, “We’re really doing this!”