Saturday, June 11, 2011

How to Renovate your Pop Up Trailer Cabinets

So we are continuing along with our 1989 Skamper 240C Pop Up camper restoration. The heat of summer is now on us and it makes going out to work on the camper a little harder. This weekend we decided to tackle how we were going to upgrade (renovate) the cabinets. As most people know the cabinets in pop up campers are not very substantial. They are made from a 3/4" x 1" skeleton wood frame with a thin veneer stapled over the frame. I believe this was done by the camper companies for two reasons. First was to save money and second was to save on weight. You could easily add 500 pounds to your camper by install heavy wood cabinets in place of the thin style that are in there. The thin veneer is 3/16" thick plywood with an almost paper like wood grain veneer covering it. After 22 years the veneer has started to wear off and almost start peeling in places. This made painting the existing cabinets out of the questions. We are doing a bootstrap renovation but we don't want it to look bad. Here is a picture of one of the cabinets that I started with.

Skamper Cabinet
So we took a walk through the wood department of Lowes and Home Depot and found stain grade bead board plywood. We also had to replace the cabinet doors which were of the same construction. For the doors we took a trip to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The ReStore is a great resource for good priced building materials and other odds and end that end up getting donated to them that they resell for their charity. We knew that they had two aisles of cabinets doors for $5 - $15 each. We ended up buying five of the $5 doors for our camper that happened to have the vertical bead board pattern as well. Our idea was to "re-skin" the existing cabinets with the bead board. The new bead board is 3/8" thick so we will lose some interior space but not much. Here are some pictures of the same cabinet as above with its new bead board skin and a close up up the sandwiched assembly.

The addition of the 3/8" bead board will increase the weight of our trailer some but I estimate maybe only 50 pounds. It is well worth it because now the cabinets are extra sturdy and will last another 20 years. Here is a picture with the old pinkish colored counter top and the door with the stain that we will have to match. Counter tops will have to be changed after the summer camping season.

New Skamper Cabinet

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