When renovating a caravan in Australia, there’s a fair bit to consider. Below is a rundown of some common caravan renovation tasks to help you make your van the best it can be for hitting the road. We've also included a range of caravan renovation ideas so that you can consider everything you might need to do before starting your caravan renovation project.
The perfect caravan is one that suits your needs, and one that you'll be happy to live in for extended periods of time.
Vintage caravan renovation takes the ideas in this blog post to the next level. Are you going to renovate your caravan with a classic 60s coastal vibe or a colour scheme that reflects Australia's caravanning cultural heritage?
In this post we've collected a range of handy hits and product recommendations to help you with your project; from simple renovations and minor improvement projects through to ground-up rebuilds. Of course, the team at PaintAccess is ready to help you with paint and paint accessories recommendations and advice. Let's jump in...
Caravan renovation walk-through
As you approach your caravan renovation project, it can help to have a clear understanding of the steps involved, from initial assessment to roadworthy checks before you set off on your next adventure.
- Assessment: start with a thorough assessment. Check out the entire caravan, focusing on the chassis, flooring, and walls to make sure the structure is sound. If you're not a seasoned renovator, get a professional to take a squiz for any rust, rot or other issues.
- Planning: create a plan and budget. Before going hammer and tongs, lay out what needs to be done and allocate funds accordingly.
- Stripping out: remove old fixtures and fittings. Rip out old carpeting, fixtures, and fittings that you won't be needing. You might need to get your hands on a skip bin for all the rubbish.
- Repair work: carry out necessary repairs. Attend to any structural or cosmetic issues like fixing leaks, treating rust, or repairing broken windows (unless you plan to replace them at Step 6).
- Updating utilities: revamp electrical and plumbing systems. Replace old wiring and ensure the plumbing is up to scratch, from water tanks to taps. Consider getting a sparky and a plumber to help out if needed.
- Insulation: insulate walls, floors, and ceilings. Proper insulation is crucial for keeping cool in the scorching Aussie summer and warm in the winter. Replace window frames and windows with more efficient modern windows where possible.
- Interior makeover: redesign the interior. Put in new flooring, paint the walls and ceiling, and update or replace furniture. Opt for lightweight and durable materials when it comes to installing a dining table or bed frame and optimise space saving and storage wherever possible.
- Exterior work: give the exterior some love. A fresh coat of paint or new cladding can make your caravan look like a million bucks. Making sure you have heaps of storage space that is accessible from the outside is also important.
- Appliance upgrade: replace or revamp old appliances. Think about updating old appliances with new, more efficient modern appliances. Remember you'll need to prepare multiple meals in your caravan kitchen each day, for long periods of time.
- Final touches: add the finishing touches. Decorate your space to make it feel like home, and don't forget practical additions like window coverings and storage solutions.
- Compliance check: ensure your caravan is roadworthy and compliant with registration requirements in your state or territory. This might include checking the weight, ensuring safety features are in place, and having the appropriate registration and insurance.
Choosing the right paint and accessories
When it comes to painting your caravan, the first step is to choose the right paint. Modern caravan manufacturers use high-quality automotive paints for caravan exteriors and there's no reason you shouldn't do the same for your vintage caravan or retro caravan. But there are different paints for different purposes:
- Exterior Paint: opt for a durable and weather-resistant automotive acrylic paint to give the exterior a fresh, new look. One of the best ways to apply paint is with an electric airless paint sprayer like the Graco ProX17. It's a great option for caravan renovators.
- Interior paint: for internal walls and ceiling, a water-based acrylic paint can offer a durable and easy-to-clean finish. It's less toxic, dries quickly, and is available in various finishes including matte, satin, and gloss. We recommend Taubmans Endure, which has long been a favourite of caravan and RV fit-out professionals.
- Primers and undercoats: whatever you're painting, we always recommend you use a high-quality primer. A 3-in-1 sealer, primer and undercoat is always a good option. Choose a primer that's suitable for your caravan. A good primer will help paint adhere better and last longer. We recommend Dan's Paint Cosmocoat 3-in-1 Prep.
Of course, choosing the right paint is only part of the challenge. You should also think about the right paint colours for your new caravan. There's no need to paint everything in the same white paint.
There are also a range of paint accessories you should consider investing in. Some of these are necessities for your caravan renovation paint work, and some will simply make your renovating easier:
- Sandpaper and sanding blocks: prep surfaces by sanding to create a smooth base for painting. Klingspor Painters Sandpaper is a great option for most applications.
- Brushes and rollers: have a range of brush sizes and roller types for different surfaces and corners. Oldfields make some great brushes and rollers and are a favourite of professional tradie painters.
- Painter’s tape: use painter's tape to mask off areas that you don't want to paint. We consistently recommend iQuip Envo Tape.
- Drop cloths or plastic sheeting: cover floors, benches, and other furniture to protect them from paint splatter and overspray. The Oldfields Pro Series is a great option.
- Paint trays: essential for holding and managing paint while you work. Uni-Pro has some great paint tray products.
- Ladder or scaffolding: you should be able to access all areas inside your caravan, but ladders or scaffolding may be necessary for reaching high or hard-to-reach areas outside. Indalex makes a wide range of ladders in a variety of heights and sizes.
Remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions for all paint and painting accessories and allow adequate drying time between coats for the best results.
Top tips for caravan renovation
Whether you're trying to add some additional storage space or rebuilding your caravan from the ground up, here are some final tips, tricks and handy hints to help you along the way:
- Manage water effectively: keep water conservation in mind as water is precious, and water bans still apply in some areas. Also, consider installing additional water tanks if you plan to travel to remote areas.
- Choose suitable paint colours: opt for lighter shades to make the space feel more extensive and airy. Reflective colours can also help keep the caravan cooler.
- Test your paint: before fully committing, buy small paint samples to test the colours in different lighting conditions.
- Utilise safety gear: use gloves, masks, and safety glasses to protect yourself during the painting process.
- Choose energy efficient options: consider installing solar panels. It’s an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to keep your batteries charged.
- Ensure good ventilation: make sure there is enough ventilation while sanding and painting to avoid inhaling dust or fumes, and help paint dry faster.
- Consider vinyl flooring: linoleum or "lino" might be an unfashionable choice for homes now, but adhesive vinyl flooring remains a popular option for caravans. Adhesive vinyl floors can be wiped clean and can easily be installed around both kitchen and bathroom furniture and fixtures.
- Storage, storage, storage: taking everything you need for your adventures is critical. Make sure you make ample storage and that you have access to storage areas when you need it.
Renovating a caravan can be a rewarding experience that opens up a wide range of holiday options without breaking the bank. Renovating a caravan can save you thousands, bringing down the average cost of your adventures for years to come.
PaintAccess has seen a significant increase in the number of customers seeking advice and guidance about the best ways to renovate a caravan and the different products that might be particularly suited to caravan renovation work. A few have even asked for a list of tips and product recommendations.
So there you go, a basic rundown to get you started on your caravan reno! Good luck, and don’t forget the good old Aussie spirit of giving it a red hot go!