--- Advertisement ---
facebook share
twitter share
pinterest share
flipboard share

Follow


New Year, New You, New Refrigerator Door!

New Year, New You, New Refrigerator Door!


avatar   Scott
Trip Date 11/21/2020
Posted On 01/18/2021 09:09:09

United States | Camping | Hacks | Customization | Modifications | RV Fridge Doors | Refinishing RV Refrigerator Doors | Vinyl Stainless Steel Wallpaper | RV Updates | Cosmetic Upgrades



It's a new year - are you thinking of doing any cosmetic upgrades to your RV?

Going on a long camping trip over the winter months was all of the motivation that we needed to start on some RV updates and improvements that we've thought about for a while!

After just over 3 years as RV owners, we got to the point where we were unhappy with the appearance of our Norcold RV fridge doors. The "metal" panels on the doors were not real stainless steel. The fake metallic skin seemed to be a magnet for water spots and fingerprints. No matter how hard we tried, nothing would remove the prints and spots so the door always looked dirty.


Original "Stainless" Door with Water Spots and Fingerprints

Original "Stainless" Door with Water Spots and Fingerprints

If you've noticed the same thing on your refrigerator doors and have considered "upgrading" to start off the new year, be sure to check out this article. DIYers who like hacks will find all that's needed to start another fulfilling RV customization project! We share everything that we learned during our pre-project research. Then, we detail our experience of refinishing RV refrigerator doors with vinyl stainless steel wallpaper. We've also included some tips ... including what we will do if we ever do it over again.

--- Advertisement ---


Research Leading Up to Our Choice

After doing some research we learned that many others have done various updates to their RV fridge doors. We found several techniques for refinishing the doors so that they look better. Ideas ranged from painting them or using removable stick-on wallpaper to purchasing factory-made replacement panels and everything in between. We found articles describing how people decorated their refrigerator doors with decals or fully covered the doors with a pattern or even "stainless steel". Others used chalkboard, white board or magnetic board panels.

We originally thought that it would be nice to replace our refrigerator panels. Many of the techniques that we found involved removing the old panels and replacing them. It sounded easy enough as the panels slide out through the top and new panels can be slid in. The difficulty with replacing the panels is that there needs to be enough clearance to slide the panel out through the top of the door. It doesn't really matter if the old panel gets bent during the removal process, but you certainly don't want to bend your new panel trying to get it in. If the fridge is installed in a slide-out, there may not be enough clearance for replacing panels, as was our case.


"Before" Version of Freezer Door with Limited Clearance Above

"Before" Version of Freezer Door with Limited Clearance Above

We narrowed down our top choices to two - painting with a high-gloss enamel spray paint or covering with a waterproof removable vinyl wallpaper. In order to spray paint without removing the panels, we would have needed to build a sealed tent with plastic sheeting all around the door. We'd then have to mask everything off before attempting to spray paint inside the RV. After looking at several vinyl wallpaper choices, we decided to give this much less messy option a try.

--- Advertisement ---


Purchasing Wallpaper

Before selecting and purchasing any wallpaper, our first step was to measure the refrigerator. All of the wallpaper that we found was plenty long enough for our project, but not all was wide enough. We found some 24" wide stainless steel looking wallpaper online that we thought would work for refreshing our Norcold RV Fridge.


Waterproof Vinyl "Stainless Steel" Wallpaper

Waterproof Vinyl "Stainless Steel" Wallpaper

Preparing to Cover Refrigerator

When ready to start our project, we read the instructions that came with our wallpaper. Everything seemed fairly easy but, unfortunately, the instructions were not specifically written for covering a refrigerator door. It would have been helpful if we had watched some Youtube clips with tips and guidance before we started. (We did this part way into the project when we were struggling with figuring out how to prevent bubbles when applying the self-adhesive wallpaper.)


Vinyl Self-Adhesive Waterproof Cleanable Wallpaper

Vinyl Self-Adhesive Waterproof Cleanable Wallpaper

Supplies Needed

It's important to have the right tools and supplies available before you start. The items that we found most useful were:
  • straight edge;
  • pen or pencil;
  • sharp scissors;
  • several clean hand-towels;
  • 1 - 2 credit card sized plastic cards; and
  • straight pins (for sewing - pins with a ball are easiest to use).


Gather All Supplies in Advance!

Gather All Supplies in Advance!

Since we didn't have everything available when we started our project, we had to make a trip mid-way through to purchase some straight pins!

--- Advertisement ---


Step-by-Step Guide to "Refinishing" RV Refrigerator

The best Youtube guidance that we found showed how to adhere a similar material to a home refrigerator. Although there are a few differences between covering a home vs. an RV fridge, the overall steps are quite similar.

Just like in the video, we started with the freezer door. We measured and cut a piece of the wallpaper slightly larger than the freezer door (approximately 1/4" longer and wider than the actual dimensions). The excess wallpaper on the edges gives you both more tolerance for error as well as some extra to tuck behind the lip of the door frame.


Measuring the Paper

Measuring the Paper

Cutting the Paper

Cutting the Paper

The initial placement of the wallpaper is important. While there is some ability to lift it off and replace it, you can't do this very many times. Being both quick and careful is critical. The best approach is to expose a small area of the self-adhesive and use a towel to rub out the air bubbles. You can also use a plastic gift card to push out air bubbles. As you get a small area smooth, it's time to expose more of the adhesive.

--- Advertisement ---


We started by exposing just a small area of the adhesive to cover the top center of our freezer door.


Expose a Little Adhesive to Start

Expose a Little Adhesive to Start

Air Bubbles

The biggest issue is air bubbles - not the concern of the wallpaper being perfectly vertical or having too little/too much excess on the edges. Adhering the paper to the refrigerator must be a continuous process of exposing more adhesive while moving down the door - all while eliminating the air bubbles that seem to appear constantly. A combination of rubbing with a cloth and using a plastic credit card sized card to push out bubbles works fairly well.

Although having two people working together is a plus, it is still somewhat difficult to get all of the air bubbles out. Once you've done your best and the panel is completely covered, you will most probably still have some remaining air bubbles.

--- Advertisement ---


The best technique to eliminate any remaining bubbles is to "pop" them with a sewing straight pin. Once you've got a tiny pinhole in the bubble, you can use a towel or credit card to push the remaining air from the edges of the bubble. As you push, your goal is to force the air to "blow" out through the pin hole and so that the paper is flat against the refrigerator. (This short video shows how to help get rid of these pockets of air.)


"Pop" Air Bubbles, then Push Out the Air

"Pop" Air Bubbles, then Push Out the Air

We followed this process for countless little bubbles. It does work fairly well, but there are still some small bubbles remaining.

Because of the reflectiveness of the stainless steel looking wallpaper, the bubbles are more noticeable when the lighting is really good. In lower evening light, air bubbles are much less apparent. (If you choose a patterned paper to cover your refrigerator, I believe that any remaining bubbles will be even less noticeable.)

--- Advertisement ---


Once the freezer door is covered and all air bubbles are removed as best as possible, tuck the edges of the paper under the door frame using a rigid plastic card.


Rub Out Air Bubbles and Tuck in Edges

Rub Out Air Bubbles and Tuck in Edges

Then, it was time to move on and repeat the process on the larger refrigerator door!

Helpful Tips

Here's the tips that seemed to have the most impact for us:
  • Make sure you have all supplies in the above list in your RV before you start the project;
  • If at all possible, it's best to have two people ready to devote their time to the project;
  • Carefully measure each panel of the refrigerator door. Write down your measurements and label the length and width correctly;
  • Wash your hands very well before starting (and several times during) the project;
  • Clean your refrigerator door panels very well, ensuring that they are smooth (the cleaner the underlying door panel, the smaller the chance for air bubbles);
  • Clean the table/kitchen counter that you plan to roll the wallpaper out on for measuring and cutting to avoid getting any dirt or oil on the paper;

    --- Advertisement ---


  • Lay out the wallpaper with the back side facing up. Measure and draw a line at the point(s) where the paper needs to be cut (Don't forget to add a little excess so that you can tuck some paper under the door frame);
  • Before cutting, make sure that your line is drawn at the correct point so that the grain of the paper will be going in the proper direction;
  • If using a ballpoint pen, be wary that the ink may not completely dry on the waxy adhesive backing of the wallpaper. Carefully check your fingers for any ink before cutting the paper; Wash off ink immediately (before handling the paper) to prevent any marks on your "new fridge";
  • Use sharp scissors for all cuts;
  • Peel the backing off in small batches, carefully rubbing the area with a towel to smooth out air bubbles; and
  • Finally, use a straight pin to poke a tiny hole into any remaining bubbles; Press out as much air as possible through the hole to flatten the paper.

--- Advertisement ---


Before covering our refrigerator, we had also purchased a stick-on whiteboard that we planned to place on our upper panel. It's been great for starting a grocery shopping list or to jot down reminders. Once we adhered it to the refrigerator, we also realized that it is at the perfect place to obscure any air bubbles that remained at eye-level.


Close-up of Freezer Door with Stick-on Whiteboard

Close-up of Freezer Door with Stick-on Whiteboard

It's a Wrap!

All in all, the new vinyl wallpaper looks significantly better than the fake stainless RV fridge doors that we've been looking at for the last few years. They're definitely not perfect because of our struggle to get out all of the air bubbles, but still a noticeable improvement. If we ever decide to recover the doors, we'll probably be able to do a better job on our second attempt!


The Look and Feel of Cleanable Stainless Steel Wallpaper Covering a Fridge

The Look and Feel of Cleanable Stainless Steel Wallpaper Covering a Fridge

Have You Ever Tried Out the Sofa-Bed in your RV?

We did just that before having family join us for a couple of weeks and learned what is needed to make the bed super comfy. We also figured out a great (and easy) hack that makes the bed quick to set-up on those rare times when others join us for an overnight stay. The hack even makes returning the bed back into a sofa quite painless!

--- Advertisement ---


If you ever plan to have kids, grandkids, parents or other family members or friends join you on an RVing adventure, be sure to check out "How to Make Your RV Sofa Bed a Comfortable Place to Sleep". You'll find details about everything that you need plus easy to follow step-by-step instructions.

RV Cosmetic Improvements

What cosmetic improvements have you made inside your RV?
New Year, New You, New Refrigerator Door!







--- Advertisement ---

Booking.com





Related Posts  


Other Recent Posts  


--- Advertisement ---



Comments    



--- Advertisement ---


--- Advertisement ---