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How to Fix Up Fifth Wheels on a Budget

Published on September 28th, 2023 by Brenna Chambliss
This post was updated on October 11th, 2023

Trying to fix up fifth wheels on a budget is not for wimps. Julie and Sean Chickery learned this early on in their RV renovation projects.

The couple wasn’t new to renovating living spaces when they began DIY RV renovations. Having remodeled and redecorated every traditional home they lived in to suit their personalities and needs, they decided to do the same with two fifth wheels. Their choices were an Arctic Fox and a Heartland Cyclone fifth wheel. 

The Chickery’s YouTube Playlist Shows How they Fix Up Fifth Wheels on a Budget

As you can see, they’re pros at making thoughtful RV renovations on a shoestring

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The couple spent six years as full-time RVers before settling down at home in Virginia. Now the nine-year RVing veterans embark on RV journeys as much as possible in their custom-renovated fifth wheel. 

Their Favorite Fifth Wheel Renovation 

The Heartland Cyclone is one of the Chickery’s favorite renovation projects to date. While it was what they call “a very simple makeover,” they went against what they saw trending on social media. 

When it seemed like every RV renovation boasted new white cabinet paint, Sean and Julie didn’t make any changes to the cabinets but instead painted only the walls a light gray. They also installed new valances, switched out the backsplash and updated the living and dining room furniture. 

The fifth wheel's dark interior, before renovations. (Image: @chickerystravels)
The fifth wheel’s dark interior, before renovations. (Image: @chickerystravels)

For a final flair, they threw in some decor and curtains to top it all off. With the colors and patterns, the curtains immediately brightened up the room and made it look radically different. This was one of the most effective ways they found to fix up fifth wheels on a budget, quickly, and easily.

Julie says, “It was a simple and fairly inexpensive job that provided great returns!” 

The fifth wheel interior, after renovations. (Image: @chickerystravels)
The fifth wheel interior, after renovations. (Image: @chickerystravels)

The Challenges of Learning to Fix Up Fifth Wheels on a Budget

Painting an RV interior was the Chickerys’ biggest challenge and most tedious step of the renovation, especially while they were living in it. Add in the prep it takes to paint over wallpaper and avoid renovation mistakes, and the labor involved is no joke. 

Julie and Sean cleaned and taped off the walls before priming the walls with two coats of Glidden Gripper Primer. Once primed, they added Glidden paint to the walls in an eggshell finish. Between each coat, it was imperative to allow sufficient drying time.

Color swatches and patterns for the RV renovation project. (Image: @chickerystravels)
Color swatches and patterns for the RV renovation project. (Image: @chickerystravels)

Since they were already planning on replacing the sofa, deciding to remove the existing sofa and hold on installing the replacement until after the paint job was complete was a lifesaver.   

One update the couple did not make to this rig was updating the flooring. In other renovations they’ve seen, a flooring update can make a world of difference and really add in another layer of homeyness. 

Their Biggest DIY RV Renovations Win: Solar Electric Power Renovation  

One of the big ways they opted to fix up fifth wheels on a budget included overhauling the power systems to add solar power and Battle Born lithium batteries.

The decorative updates did a lot to make the living space more comfortable and infused more personality. But the solar and lithium renovations made more of an impact on their daily lives. 

Sean did a total overhaul of the solar power system. (Image: @chickerystravels)
Sean did a total overhaul of the solar power system. (Image: @chickerystravels)

This RV renovation power system upgrade involved three parts

Replacing the converter, and replacing all four original batteries with lithium batteries
Installing a new inverter/charger and battery monitor
Adding solar panels and a solar charge controller 

This power system update cost just over $8,000 total. While Sean and Julie would not call this an inexpensive project, they say it was “100% worth it.”

Watch the RV Solar Upgrade Video Series

This upgrade allowed them to boondock and get the RV serviced without having to worry about the refrigerator losing power.

Plus, they are passionate about using an environmentally-friendly source of electricity. 

We want all of the beautiful scenery we are experiencing to be around for future generations.

Sean & Julie Chickery

Read more about the Chickery’s RV power system overhaul in their DIY RV Solar Power Upgrade blog post.

Their RV Renovation Budget Details

When the couple decides to begin an RV renovation project, they make a list of the updates they want to make and the supplies they’ll need to get the job done. Then they price it out and look for ways to save money. 

One easy budget-saver for Julie was opting for a no-sew technique to make RV curtains out of upcycling fabric shower curtains.

She also waited patiently for sales and didn’t stick to any sort of strict timeline, which helped them avoid unplanned expenses.

In fact, it took them about six months to gather all of the needed materials before the work actually began.

The true labor of the renovation, involving painting, making the curtains and updating the backsplash, only took Julie and Sean one week. 

Best Advice on How to Fix Up Fifth Wheels on a Budget

After nearly a decade of RVing and a few DIY renovations under their belts, Sean and Julie offer the following RV renovation advice: 

1. Add Your Distinct Flair

Personalize your RV and make it yours. Don’t be influenced by others. Do you! 

2. Forget the Resale Value

Don’t worry about resale value because there are a lot of people who appreciate something different. 

3. Take Your Time to Stay on Budget

Make a budget and stick to it. You can save money by not doing everything at once. 

4. Take Small Steps

Don’t feel like you have to change everything. Small changes can make a big difference. Start with curtains or a backsplash and decorative touches. 

Last, but not least, Julie issues a reminder of the whole reason we’re here on this platform in the first place – “The point of an RV is enjoyment!” 

Follow Chickery’s Travels for More RV Tips

For before and after videos as well as price breakdowns when Julie and Sean’s fix up fifth wheels on a budget, check out their website and social media: 

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

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