Smart Tiles one year update and installing some more

Well, it’s been a year since we’ve installed our Smart Tiles back splash and wanted to give an update.  When Sandie came home with “Tile Stickers” I must say I was more than a little hesitant.  My initial reaction went something like “There’s no way I’m putting these fake a** tiles on the wall”, but after reading up on them I decided to give them a shot.  At about $10/sheet I was also put off by the price, but considering there’s no need for thin set, grout, floats, sponges and a messy cleanup they all of a sudden start to look like a great value.  Plus they won’t chunk off the wall while we’re bouncing the trailer down the road.  Checkout the below video to see our Smart Tiles update and watch us install them in the bath.

Now having them installed for a year I must say that I’m a believer.  If you know us, we’re not exactly easy on anything we own and these Smart Tiles are holding up wonderfully so far.  There’s absolutely no signs of wear and the adhesive (which I wasn’t all that confident in) shows no signs of quitting.  I must say I’d recommend these tiles to anyone looking to improve the looks of their RV without breaking the bank or sweating too much.

Since I installed the original back splash I’ve been squirreling away some scraps to add to the bathroom at some point.  Around the bathroom counter we have some shoddy plastic trim that’s cracked and broken and I’ve wanted to do something to make it look nicer for a while.  Now that our back splash has made it a year I guess it’s about time to do the bathroom and finally throw the rest of my scraps away.

If you haven’t seen the original Smart Tiles install video you can check it out here:

Improve RV Organization with drawers in your cabinets

With our recent war on clutter it was only a matter of time before we tackled this cabinet.  It’s a fairly large (the largest we have in the trailer), but we’ve always used it as a catch-all.  It’s really been a large junk drawer since we finished out renovations.  Well, the days of clutter are coming to an end and this cabinet is the latest victim.

We had a few options when it came to reclaiming this space.  We knew it needed to be divided to make use of the height, but since the cabinet is 24″ deep I didn’t want to squat and reach to the back of shelves.  I also knew that if I was going to make drawers I could weasel a new tool out of the deal and I’ve been eying up a Kreg Pocket Hole jig for a while now.

After measuring the space and carefully researching drawer slides, I quickly proceeded to order the wrong drawer slide.  My plans were to make these push to open drawers, but I didn’t want to wait for new ones which means we now have plain old drawer slides.  Unfortunately, like most of my other projects, this wasn’t going to be my only mistake.

Building the drawers was the easy part.  Make a 14 1/2″x22″ box with a bottom.  Oh yeah, and make it out of plywood with nice smooth edges.  The Kreg jig was awesome and it made assembling the drawers a breeze.  I was going to skip the right angle clamp and used clamps, but it made assembly go so much quicker than if I was trying to use bar clamps.

So, here’s where mistake # 2 comes in.  This one’s really not my doing, but I should have known better.  Never buy hardwood plywood from a home improvement store.  The veneer is thin, barely glued to the core, and the core just has a ton of voids in it.  Lesson learned, buy lumber from a lumber yard and avoid all the extra work trying to fix a bad product.

I’m not going to go into all the build details, but here’s our video that will show you how we did it.


Now that I have my new Kreg jig, I must say that everything is starting to look like it needs some pocket holes.  I have a few more projects lined up to use this tool on.

If you have any storage ideas that are working for you leave them down below.  We’d love to hear them.

How we made a fabric headboard with pockets

So, we’ve always struggled a bit with storage in the trailer which is expected with 6 people and a dog in a trailer.  We’ve been working on getting everything more organized and one of our nagging problems is where to put things when we get in bed.  Our bed is just that, there’s no end tables or storage to be had, it’s just a mattress.  The small things like glasses, phones, etc. typically get stuffed on the side of the mattress and hope it’s there (in one piece) when we wake up.

Well, Sandie recently saw photos of a faux headboard that someone made out of fabric which included storage pockets.  After seeing that she decided it was just what we needed and I think she was right.  We had left over fabric and curtain rods, so this project didn’t costing us anything extra.  Check out the video below to see how we did it.

In the end, we ended up sprucing up our sleeping area while giving us somewhere to keep a few things while we sleep.  It’s a win in my book and the price was just right.

If you have any comments or would like to share some of your storage ideas or projects leave them in the comments below.

Recovering RV dinette cushions by an amateur

It was probably one of the first concerns I had when I entered the trailer that was soon to be ours, the upholstery and curtains. While Mark was tasked with basically rebuilding the back half of the trailer, I was going to have to pretty up that fabric that had an unknown amount of behinds sitting on it over the years. Ugh, what was I going to do about this?

I knew I could figure out new curtains. I bought a few curtain panels and with my mom’s help, figured out how to use a sewing machine for the first time ever. I cut the panels into a few valances. Voila, done! Straight lines were about as basic as you can get. It was cheaper than buying fabric and saved me a lot of time.

Up next, the arm-less jackknife sofa, which was a HUGE eyesore. A new sofa, at about $500, was not in the budget. My saving grace was found at Wal-Mart. A sofa protector, in just the color I wanted, covered the entire sofa and was a steal at $25. Weeeeee!!!

Now, all that was left were the dinette cushions. Getting the cushions recovered was not something we wanted to spend money on while the entire back of the trailer was being completely rebuilt and a new rubber roof was needed. I did find a place that had replacement covers but the ready-made ones did not fit our size nor were they a good price for our budget. So, my fix was to paint them (I know, crazy!). After watching a few YouTube` videos on how to use fabric medium and latex paint, it was a band-aid fix that we could live with for a while. Going in, I knew I was going to be tasked with recovering them at some point.

Mark seemed to have growing confidence in my sewing abilities after I made him two costumes this past year.  The first was a Dorothy (yes, The Wizard of Oz Dorothy) dress for Halloween. The second was a Silent Bob coat for a costumed silent auction. Neither looked very good, in my opinion.  I had no idea what I was doing, but the results were wearable.  So now, he was confident I could make new covers. He was so confident, I fell for it too.

This last camping trip was the longest we ever stayed in the trailer.  By the end of the trip, I knew the rough, hard, painted cushions had to go.  Everyone was complaining about them being “scratchy” and scrapping their skin.  I heard them all loud and clear, I needed to recover the cushions before the next trip.

Mark tried to talk me into wrapping the fabric around the foam and stapling it to a piece of plywood.  It may have worked, but I was determined to do it the “right way” and with a zipper no less.  I watched a YouTube video on hidden zippers.  I could definitely do this. It was almost too easy!

Fast forward to the video below and you will see just how NOT easy this was.  I will say, while not perfect, they are leaps and bounds more comfortable than the painted covers.  They just need some Scotch-Gard and hopefully the kids won’t mess them up too badly on the next trip.  Clearly, don’t follow in my footsteps if you decide to tackle this project, but if you’re willing to learn how to sew recover your cushions is a great way to update the look of an RV.

How to build shelves for your RV cabinets

If you’re looking for how to build shelves for your RV cabinets you’re in the same boat we were.  After we finished rebuilding our trailer we were in such a rush to get out and go camping we skipped planning for storage.  Over time we began piling things in drawers and cabinets until it began to drive us insane  We don’t plan to start the 2016 season with this problem, so this needed to change fast.

A few weeks ago we added a Coroplast storage compartment and now we’re moving on to the kitchen.  The cabinet above the sink was beginning to look like a junk drawer, so that’s where we focused.

RV Shelves

Our goal was to add a shelf that was inexpensive, matched the existing cabinets, and included a lip to prevent things from sliding off.  We ended up spending about $20 on a sheet of 1/2″ plywood and a 1″x2″ while had paint, glue, caulk, and paneling adhesive lying around that we were able to use for the project.

Check out the quick video below to see how we put this all together


After adding the shelf for $20, Sandie spent another $20 at Target for the pretty blue bins that now reside inside the cabinet.  These bins may have blown our budget storage idea, but it’s a small price to pay for a happy wife.

If you have any storage ideas leave them in the comments below.  We still have a few areas that need additional shelving and are looking for some creative solutions.





Tour of our travel trailer

Over the past year we’ve posted lots of photos and details of the work we’ve done to our RV, but haven’t really shown the finished product.  Realizing this was a bit of a tease we decided to do a walk through video to show what it looks like now.  With the help of Vanna White Sandie, come along as she takes you through our KZ Sportsmen 2505.

For those that haven’t read through our older posts, here’s a summary of work we did on the interior of the trailer:

  • Replaced the entire roof including some of the rafters (couldn’t have done the inside without this)
  • Replaced a 3’x8′ section of floor and sister floor joists
  • Rebuilt the entire rear wall around the slide
  • Rebuilt the rear 4′ & 10′ of the side walls
  • Rebuilt part of the dinette that was rotted
  • Rebuilt the base of the jack knife sofa that was rotted
  • Disassembled and clean toilet while replacing seal & blade
  • Installed new vinyl flooring
  • Installed Smart Tiles backsplash
  • Painted walls and ceiling
  • Painted cabinets
  • New short queen mattress
  • Replaced all bulbs with LED’s
  • Made new curtains

I’m sure I’m missing some things, but that will give you an idea of what this journey has entailed.  If you’re interested, all of our old posts can be viewed by going to Interior Repairs or Exterior Repairs in the “Our Trailer” menu at the top of the page.

It’s been a long road from the start of our search until now, but this has brought our family closer and has given us the opportunity to make lasting memories.  If you have any questions leave them in the comments below.


How to install a Smart Tiles backsplash

When we were going through the brunt of our repairs last year Sandie found Smart Tiles while on a shopping rampage at Home Depot.  When she first told me she bought stick on tiles, and they cost $10 each I expected the worst and had no intentions of putting these on the wall.  Once I actually saw the tiles in person I quickly changed my tune.

At first glance these Smart Tiles look like real glass tile, but are soft to the touch, lightweight, thin, self-adhesive tiles.  They can be cut with a razor or scissors and don’t require any thin set which makes for a quick and clean installation.

When compared to what comes from RV manufacturers, the Smart Tile product blows them away.  Most travel trailers don’t come with any back splash while some make a feeble attempt at a tile backsplash by using unrealistic wall paper to fake the look.  In all of our shopping only the higher end units include an actual backsplash that compares with this product and we were able to get this look for about $140.

From start to finish the installation took me about an hour and a half including prep work and removing trim, switch and outlet.  The only tools I used to install the tiles were a razor, scissors, cutting mat, and metal ruler.  I also used a drill, small pry bar and a putty knife to remove brackets and a piece of trim prior to installing.

The installation was about as easy as could be expected.  If you can safely handle scissors, a razor, and apply stickers you should be OK.  Here are a few tips I have based on my installation:

  • Start with a full sheet in the entrance of the room just like you would with real tile.
  • Keep the flat side of the tile on the same side as the direction you’re working since the next tile will overlap the first.  Since I started up against a piece of trim I started by cutting the staggered edge and butted that end against the trim and the bottom against the counter.
  • If you’re going around an opening such as window or doorway strike a like spanning both sides to make sure the tiles align correctly on the other side.

At the end of the day I think it turned out awesome and more importantly Sandie is thrilled with the new look.  As they say “happy wife=happy life” and this was a small price to pay in the happiness department.

If you have any questions or want to share a Smart Tiles project of your own please comment below.

A frustrating and wet day

Well, I had another frustrating day today.  It rained all day and I’ve been rushing around to get all the little stuff finished before this weekends trip.

I started the day by washing 1/2 of the trailer and the awning in the rain.  It was dirty enough that washing it in the rain was a huge improvement.  Unfortunately, this might have been the best part of the day.

I finally got around to cleaning the glue off the floor from laying the new floor.  I then mopped up and proceeded to drag mud through the trailer.

While trying to put the finishing touches on the dinette, I cut my only 1×4 about 3/4″ too short.  I made a trip to Lowes to grab another and cut that one short again.  I finally found out what I was doing…the wood and tape measure were hanging up on a piece of 3/4″ trim against the wall.  I finally gave up on this because I didn’t want to go out and get another piece of lumber.

Next, I started on a piece of trim above the door.  This should be easy, right?  It’s just a 1/4″x 4″ piece of wood that needs to match the curve at the top of the door.  Well, it turns out I need a 5″ wide piece.  I decided to try to make it work and planned to fill the extra 1″ with scraps since they were just slivers that would barely be noticeable.  It’s no surprise, but I botched that cut too.  I made a template for this piece and will be back at Lowes in the morning for another piece of wood.

I ended the night by starting on new vinyl for the nose of the trailer.  I thought I had red vinyl lying around, but was wrong again.  I finished cutting the blue vinyl and will install it tomorrow when the rain stops.  Here’s a sneak peek of what it’ll look like when finished.


I should have the red vinyl next week and will finish up the front.  I’m still not sure if I’ll be putting on there…we’ll see.  I still also need to decide what we’ll be doing on the sides.


Picking away at the small stuff

It’s been a few weeks since our last update and over that time we’ve been working on a lot of finishing touches on the trailer.  There haven’t been many huge projects, but there have been many smaller ones.

I finally received the parts for the toilet and have it installed.  The bathroom now looks like a bathroom.


I have the trim back around the slide, caulked, and new plastic inserts in.  It hasn’t been washed yet, but it now looks finished.


I’m almost done my work on the nose of the trailer.  The hole at the top has been repaired , but there’s a small spot that needs a little Bondo to level out.  I painted it but will need to touch-up and wet sand before calling it complete.

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There are also many cracks in the plastic fenders and the lower part of the nose.  I’ve tried to decide whether to plastic weld these cracks or use epoxy.  I gave up thinking and decided to use a soldering iron to weld these cracks.  They’re not finished and I still need to tidy these areas up, but it’ll work.

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I’ve also started to make a new cover for the propane compartment out of a PVC sheet I had lying around.  I just started this yesterday and don’t expect it to be perfect, but much better than a hole.  The pieces are going together by melting the joints with a soldering iron and I may reinforce with epoxy, but they’re pretty solid as-is.  I’ll be using a heat gun to help bend the curve before welding the last few inches.  There’s still a lot of fitting to do and still haven’t decided on how it’ll be attached, but at least I’ve started it.  Who knew I’d finally have a use for this sheet of PVC I’ve saved for years.

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Next up is to check the brakes, pack bearings, and complete the lift.  I drug the family out to Harbor Freight last night to pickup a new jack and jack stands because I didn’t trust the 3 ton jack and stands I  have now.  I’ll be inspecting what I have there during the week and plan to complete the lift by the end of this weekend.  Be on the lookout for details and maybe a video.

Finally, a parting shot of the trailer.  It’s not pretty, but it’s ours.