RV Interior Cabinets: How to Make Quality Cabinets for Your RV?

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Are you and your RV all set to hit the road but need to know whether your RV cabinets are sturdy enough to withstand all the wild adventures you have planned? Well, we have got your back. People usually assume that all cabinets are made from wood, but this is only sometimes the case.

There are a variety of different materials that can be used to make cabinets, such as metal, plastic, wood, and even glass. Specifically, pine, oak, and cherry wood are used to make RV cabinet doors. On the other hand, the cabinet shelves are either made of plywood, MDF/HDF, or aluminum. 

camper cabinets

Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before making a purchase. In this article, we will look at some of the most common materials used to make RV cabinets. Keep reading to learn how you can build your own RV cabinets.

Types of RV Cabinets

There are two types of cabinets that you will find in RVs: integral and framed. Both have pros and cons that you should consider when deciding which type of cabinet to choose for your RV.

Integral Cabinets

An integral cabinet is one of the most popular types of cabinets for RVs. This type of cabinet is made from a single piece of material, usually plywood or MDF, and is designed to fit snugly into a corner or alcove. Integral cabinets are often used in small RVs, where space is limited, and can be a great way to add storage without taking up too much space.

Integral cabinets are easy to install and can be a great DIY project for those with basic carpentry skills. They are typically less expensive than other cabinets and can be easily customized to fit your needs. 

Framed Cabinets

If you have ever been inside an RV, you may have noticed the framed cabinets. These cabinets are not only functional but also add to the overall aesthetic of the RV. While most people think of them as simply storage space, there is much more to these cabinets than meets the eye. 

Framed cabinets in RVs is that they are made with a sturdy frame that is designed to withstand the rigors of travel. This means that your belongings will be safe and secure on the road. Additionally, the frame of the cabinet can provide additional support to the RV itself, helping keep it level and stable.

Another benefit of framed cabinets in RVs is that they are typically very easy to install. This is because they come with all of the necessary hardware and instructions. In most cases, you will only need a few tools to complete the job.

What Materials Are RV Cabinets Shelves Made Of?

There are many different types of materials that can be used for RV cabinets and shelves. Some common materials include melamine, particle board, solid hardwood, MDF/HDF, plywood, and aluminum. Each material has its own set of pros and cons that are discussed below:

shelves for rv cabinets


Melamine is a type of resin that is created from melamine formaldehyde. It is frequently used as a construction material or whiteboard surface. It is also sometimes used to create RVs’ cabinets, countertops, and shelves. 


Here are some perks of having Melamine cabinet shelves in your RV:

  • They are very easy to clean. This is great material if you camp or travel often and do not want to spend much time cleaning your shelves.
  • Melamine is also a very strong and durable material. It can withstand a lot of wear and tear, which is ideal for RVs since they are often subject to more wear and tear than a typical home.
  • Another great advantage of melamine shelves is that they are very affordable. This material is very budget-friendly and ideal for RVs since they can be expensive to outfit and maintain.


There are also some drawbacks to having melamine shelves in your RV:

  • Melamine can sometimes be challenging to cut and work with. This material is more challenging to manipulate than some materials, so it can be more challenging to install.
  • Melamine could be more aesthetically pleasing material. It is often available in a limited number of colors and patterns, so it may not be the best choice if you want something stylish and chic.

The Pros:

  • Easy to clean
  • Durable
  • Affordable

The Cons:

  • Challenging to cut and work with
  • Not aesthetically pleasing

Particle Board

Particle board is a composite panel made from wood chips, shavings, and sawdust that are glued together with resin and formed into panels. It is an inexpensive alternative to solid wood and plywood. 


  • The particle board is very strong and durable. It is resistant to warping, cracking, and splitting.
  • It is easy to work with. It can be cut, drilled, and sanded easily.
  • Particle boards are easy to find and are widely available in the market.


  • The particle board is less strong than plywood. It is not as stiff and can sag or bend under heavy loads.
  • It is more moisture resistant. It can swell and disintegrate when exposed to water.
  • It is made from wood waste, so it is not as eco-friendly as other types of wood.

The Pros:

  • Resistant to warping, cracking, and splitting
  • Easy to work with
  • Widely available

The Cons:

  • Less strong than plywood
  • More moisture resistant
  • Not as eco-friendly

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood is wood milled from a single piece of lumber. It is typically used for cabinetry, furniture, and flooring. Solid hardwood is an ideal choice for high-traffic areas or homes with pets and children. 


  • More durable than other types of wood. So if you are looking for cabinets that last you a lifetime, make sure to make them with solid hardwood.
  • It can be refinished, so you can change its look whenever you want to.
  • By using solid hardwood cabinets, you’ll be adding more value to your home. 


  • Installation can be costly so if you have a tight budget, you can try other materials
  • RVs made with solid hardwood require regular maintenance, which can be inconvenient. 

The Pros:

  • Durable
  • Can be refinished
  • Adds more value

The Cons:

  • Costly
  • Require regular maintenance


MDF, medium-density fiberboard, and HDF, or high-density fiberboard, are engineered wood products made by breaking down hardwood or softwood into tiny fibers and combining them with resin and wax. The resulting material is then formed into boards or sheets. MDF and HDF are widely used in manufacturing furniture, cabinetry, and flooring. MDF is often considered a better choice for RV cabinets, as it is less likely to warp or swell in humid conditions. 


  • MDF/HDF is more stable than solid wood and doesn’t expand or contract as much with changes in humidity. This makes it ideal for use in cabinets, shelving, and other applications where dimensional stability is essential.
  • MDF/HDF is very smooth and can be sanded to a glass-like finish. This makes it ideal for painting or veneering.
  • MDF/HDF is very strong and can support a lot of weight.
  • MDF/HDF is consistent in density and thickness, making it ideal for use in applications where precise dimensions are essential.


  • MDF/HDF is an artificial product that is not as environmentally friendly as solid wood.
  • It does not have the same natural beauty as solid wood cabinets.
  • MDF/HDF can be difficult because it tends to chip and break easily.
  • It emits formaldehyde, which can be harmful to your health.

The Pros:

  • More stable than solid wood
  • Smooth and can be sanded to a glass-like finish
  • Strong
  • Consistent in density and thickness

The Cons:

  • Not as environmentally friendly
  • Does not have the same natural beauty
  • Tends to chip and break easily
  • Harmful to your health


Plywood is a sheet material made from thin layers or “plies” of wood veneer that are glued together with adjacent layers having their wood grain rotated up to 90 degrees to one another. 

It is an engineered wood from the family of manufactured boards, including particle board and oriented strand board (OSB). All plywood bind resin and wood fiber sheets (cellulose cells are long, strong, and thin) to form a composite material. Plywood can also be a good choice for RV cabinets, but it is crucial to ensure that the plywood is of high quality and thickness.


Below are some perks of using Plywood cabinet shelves in your RVs:

  • Plywood is very stiff and strong for its thickness, so it is often used in the construction of buildings and furniture
  • It does not expand or contract as much as solid wood boards when exposed to changes in humidity, so it can be used in environments where wood would typically warp or crack
  • Plywood is less likely to warp or crack than solid wood boards when exposed to changes in humidity.


  • Plywood can be more expensive than solid wood boards
  • It can be more challenging to work with because of its layered construction (although plywood that is specifically designed to be easy to work with, such as Baltic birch plywood, can be found at many hardware stores)
  • Plywood may not be as aesthetically pleasing as solid wood boards because of its layered construction (although plywood can be sanded and stained to look like solid wood)

The Pros:

  • Stiff and strong
  • Does not expand or contract
  • Less likely to warp

The Cons:

  • More expensive
  • More challenging to work
  • Not be as aesthetically pleasing


Aluminum is a soft, lightweight metal used in various products, from cookware to automobiles. It is also used in RV cabinets and shelves. Aluminum has several benefits as a material for RV cabinets and shelves. 


  • Aluminum is much lighter than other metals, making it ideal for RVs, which need to be lightweight to be fuel efficient.
  • It is a very strong metal and does not rust or corrode like other metals.
  • Aluminum is a non-toxic metal, making it safe for cabinets and shelves.


  • Aluminum is more expensive than other metals, such as steel.
  • It can scratch easily, so it may need to be replaced more often.

The Pros:

  • Much lighter than other metals
  • Does not rust or corrode like other metals
  • Non-toxic metal

The Cons:

  • More expensive than other metals
  • Scratch easily

What Material Are RV Cabinet Doors Made Of?

There are a few different materials that are commonly used for RV cabinet doors. These include oak, pine, hickory, cherry, and maple. Each of these materials has its own unique set of characteristics that can make it a good choice for specific applications. 

rv cabinet shelves


Oak is a strong and durable wood often used in high-traffic areas. It has a beautiful grain pattern that can add a touch of elegance to any space. However, oak is also one of the more expensive woods, so it may not be the best choice for those on a tight budget. 


Pine is a softer wood than oak, so it is not as durable. However, it is much less expensive, making it a good option for those on a budget. Pine also has a beautiful grain pattern that can add charm to any space. 


Hickory is a very popular wood for RV cabinet doors. It’s a strong, durable wood that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Hickory is also a beautiful wood, with a rich, natural grain pattern. However, it can be difficult to work with, and it’s not the best choice for every project.


Cherry cabinets are a luxurious addition to any RV. They are typically made of solid wood, which gives them a high-quality look and feel. Cherry cabinets can be expensive, but they will last longer than other types of cabinets. If you take care of them, cherry cabinets can last for many years. 


Maple is one of the hardest woods used for cabinetry, so it’s very durable. It also has a very smooth grain, so it’s easy to keep clean. Maple is a popular choice for cabinets because it looks good in both traditional and contemporary settings. However, maple can be more expensive than other woods like hickory or cherry.

Is Painting Over Your RV Cabinets Advisable?

If you are considering purchasing a used RV, you may be wondering if it is advisable to paint over the existing damage. In most cases, it is not advisable to paint RV cabinets. This is because the existing damage is likely to show through the new paint job, no matter how well you prep the surface. Additionally, the new paint job is likely to peel and chip over time, leaving you with an even worse-looking RV.

If the damage to your RV cabinets is minor, you may get away with sanding down the surface and then painting over it. However, if the damage is more significant, it is best to replace the cabinets altogether. This may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually quite easy to do and will give your RV a whole new look. To understand this better, let’s have a look at a few advantages and disadvantages of painting RV cabinets. 

Benefits Of Painting Your RV Cabinets

If you are considering painting your RV cabinets, there are several benefits that you should take into consideration. Here are some of the top benefits of painting your RV cabinets:

Fresh, New Look

If you are tired of the way your RV looks, or if you want to change the look of your RV to match a new decorating style, painting your cabinets is a great way to do it.

Protection from Wear and Tear

Another great benefit of painting your RV cabinets is that it can help to protect them from wear and tear. Over time, the finish on your cabinets can become dull and scratched, and painting them will help to protect the finish.

Easy to Clean

Paint is much easier to clean than a lot of other finishes, so you won’t have to worry about dirt and grime building up on your cabinets.

Increased Value

Finally, painting your RV cabinets can also increase the value of your RV. If you ever decide to sell your RV, a fresh coat of paint on the cabinets will help to increase its value. Thus, painting your RV cabinets is a great way to give it a whole new look. Not only will this be beneficial if you want to change the style of your RV, but it can also protect the cabinets from wear and tear.

Check Out Spray or Hand Paint RV Cabinets?:

Disadvantages Of Painting Your RV Cabinets

There are a few disadvantages to painting your RV cabinets that you should be aware of before starting this project.

Time Consuming And Challenging

One of the biggest disadvantages of painting your RV cabinets is that it can be very time-consuming and challenging. This project will take you a few weekends to complete, depending on the size of your RV and how many cabinets you have.

You May Need To Paint More Than Once

Another disadvantage to painting your RV cabinets is that you may need to paint more than once. This is especially true if you are painting over a dark color. It may take a few coats of paint to get the desired look you are going for.

You May Need To Replace The Hardware

If you are changing the color of your cabinets significantly, you may need to replace all the hardware (handles and knobs) to match the new paint. This can be an additional expense that you hadn’t planned on.

You May Not Be Able To Use Your RV During The Project

If you are doing the project yourself, you may not be able to use your RV during the project. This is because painting can be messy, and you don’t want to get paint everywhere. You may need to plan on taking a few days off from work or find somewhere else to stay while the project is being completed.

If you still prefer painting your RV cabinets, you can follow the given procedure to do it professionally:

  1. Remove all the hardware from the cabinets. This includes handles, knobs, and pulls.
  2. Use a putty knife to scrape off any loose paint or varnish.
  3. Sand the cabinets with fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface for painting.
  4. If there are any deep scratches or gouges, use a wood filler to fill them in.
  5. Prime the cabinets with a high-quality oil-based primer designed for use on wood surfaces.
  6. Paint the cabinets with high-quality paint.
  7. Apply several coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.
  8. Reattach all the hardware once the paint has dried completely.
  9. Enjoy your newly painted cabinets!

The Pros:

  • Fresh, New Look
  • Protect them from wear and tear
  • Much easier to clean
  • Increase the value of your rv

The Cons:

  • time-consuming and challenging
  • You may need to paint more than once
  • You may not be able to use your rv during the project

Should You Sand The RV Cabinets Before Painting?

It is often necessary to sand most RV cabinets before painting them. This is because the paint will only adhere properly to the surface if it is sanded first. If you plan to paint your RV cabinets, you may wonder if you need to sand them first. The short answer is that it depends on the condition of the cabinets and the type of paint you plan to use.

If The Cabinets Are In Good Condition

If the cabinets are in good condition, you may not need to sand them after painting. This is because the surface will be smooth and even, making it easy for the paint to adhere. However, if you are using high-quality paint, it is always best to sand the surface first to ensure that the paint adheres properly.

If The Cabinets Are In Poor Condition

If the cabinets are in poor condition, you will definitely need to sand them before painting. This will help to create a smooth surface for the new paint and will also help to improve the overall appearance of the cabinets. If the cabinets are very old or have been damaged, you may also want to consider using a primer before painting.

What Is The Best Paint For RV Cabinets?

When it comes to painting your RV cabinets, you want to use a paint that is durable and will withstand the rigors of travel. You also want paint that is easy to clean and maintain. There are many different types of paints on the market, so how do you know which one is the best for your RV cabinets?

The best paint for RV cabinets is a high-quality, durable paint that is easy to clean and maintain. Some of the best brands of paint for RV cabinets include Rust-Oleum, Valspar, and Benjamin Moore. These brands offer a variety of colors and finishes that will suit your needs and style.

When choosing a paint for your RV cabinets, consider the following factors:


The first thing you need to decide is the type of look you want to achieve. Are you going for a modern look or a more traditional look? This will help narrow down your choices and make it easier to find the right paint.


The next thing you need to consider is the color of your RV cabinets. What color do you want? Do you want a light color or a dark color? Consider the overall look you are trying to achieve and choose a color that compliments it.


The last thing to consider is the finish of the paint. There are many different types of finishes, from high-gloss to low-luster. Choose a finish that is easy to clean and maintain.

Now that you know what to look for in paint, you can start shopping around for the best option for your RV cabinets. Talk to friends or family who have RVs and see what type of paint they use. You can also read online reviews to get an idea of what other RVers think about different brands of paint. Once you have narrowed down your choices, it’s time to start painting!

Check Out Painting our RV Cabinets – RV Renovation Before AND After:

Can You Repair Water Damaged RV Cabinets?

RV cabinets are often more susceptible to water damage than those in a traditional home. This is because they are often made of cheaper materials and are not as well protected from the elements. 

If you have water-damaged RV cabinets, there are a few things you can do to repair them.

Identify The Source Of The Water Damage

The first step is to identify the source of the water damage. If the damage is due to a leaking pipe or fixture, you will need to have that repaired before you can begin repairing the cabinets. If the damage is due to excessive humidity, you will need to take steps to reduce the humidity in your RV. This can be done by using a dehumidifier or by opening windows and doors to allow air circulation.

Remove All Of The Hardware

Once you have identified the source of the water damage, you will need to remove all of the hardware from the cabinets. This includes drawer pulls, knobs, and hinges. Be sure to label each piece of hardware so you will be able to put the cabinets back together properly.

Sand Down The Surfaces

Once all of the hardware has been removed, you will need to sand down the surfaces of the cabinets. This will help to remove any water damage and prepare the surface for refinishing. If the damage is extensive, you may need to replace the cabinet doors or fronts.

Apply A Primer

After the surfaces have been sanded, you will need to apply a primer. This will help the new paint or finish to adhere properly. Be sure to follow the directions on the primer carefully.

Apply A New Finish

Once the primer has dried, you can apply a new finish to the cabinets. This can be paint or a new stain. Be sure to follow the directions on the finish carefully.

Reattach The Hardware

Once the new finish has dried, you can reattach the hardware to the cabinets. Be sure to use the same holes that were used for the original hardware. If necessary, you may need to drill new holes.

Why Should You Care For The RV Cabinet Construction?

When you are out on the open road, you want to be able to enjoy your time and not have to worry about your RV cabinets. The last thing you need is for your cabinets to come crashing down while you are driving. 

There are a few key reasons why you should care about the construction of your RV furniture. 

Water Resilience

Water damage is one of the most common causes of furniture damage, and it can be costly to repair or replace damaged furniture. By choosing furniture constructed with water-resistant materials, you can help protect your investment and extend the life of your furniture. 

Several different construction methods can be used to make furniture more water-resistant. 

  • One standard method is to seal the wood with a waterproof coating. This type of finish can help protect the wood from moisture and other damage and make the furniture easier to clean. 
  • Another option is to use water-resistant fabrics for upholstery. These fabrics can help protect the furniture from spills and stains and can also be easier to clean.
  • Finally, you can choose furniture with water-resistant materials such as aluminum or plastic wood filler. These materials are less likely to be damaged by water, and they are also easy to clean. 


Weight is an essential factor to consider when shopping for RV furniture. Heavier furniture can add significant weight to your RV, impacting how much weight your RV can safely carry.

Additionally, heavy furniture can be more difficult to maneuver and can damage your RV if not properly secured. When shopping for RV furniture, pay attention to the weight of the furniture and make sure it is something you are comfortable with.


Cost is always a major consideration when purchasing anything, and RV furniture is no different. The price of RV furniture can vary widely, depending on the materials used in construction and the level of craftsmanship.

Cheaper RV furniture is often made with lower-quality materials and construction methods, which means it won’t last as long or look as good as furniture that costs a bit more. It’s important to consider not only the initial cost of RV furniture but also the long-term cost. 

Air Quality

One of the things that people don’t often think about when they are shopping for RV furniture is the air quality inside their vehicle. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks of poor air quality when choosing furniture for your RV.RV furniture is often made with materials that can emit harmful chemicals into the air.

These chemicals can cause a variety of health problems, including respiratory problems, headaches, and even cancer. Additionally, many people are allergic to the chemicals used in RV furniture, which can make it difficult to breathe inside your RV. There are a few things that you can do to improve the air quality inside your RV

  • Choose RV furniture that is made from natural, non-toxic materials.
  • Avoid RV furniture that is made from particle board or other composite materials, as these can release harmful chemicals into the air.
  • Make sure that your RV has adequate ventilation to allow fresh air to circulate.
  • Invest in an air purifier for your RV to help remove harmful chemicals and pollutants from the air.


Durability is important for RV furniture because you want it to last through many camping trips and years of use. Cheaply-made furniture will start to show wear and tear quickly and won’t be as comfortable to sit on after a while. Higher-quality construction methods result in furniture that will last longer and feel better to use over time.

That is why it is so important to make sure that they are well-constructed and can withstand the rigors of the road. Here are a few things to look for when you are checking out the construction of your RV cabinets:

Overall Frame Strength

The first thing you should look for is the overall frame strength. The frame of your cabinets needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the contents inside. If it is not, then the entire structure could collapse, causing serious damage or injury.

Construction Materials

Next, take a look at the construction materials. The cabinets should be made out of sturdy materials that can withstand the elements and the wear and tear of the road. Some good options include plywood, particle board, and laminate.

Proper Hinges

Finally, make sure that the hinges are properly installed. If they are not, then the doors could come loose and cause the contents of the cabinets to spill out. Make sure that the hinges are securely fastened and that they are the correct size for the doors.

So, next time you are out on the open road, take the time to check out the construction of your cabinets and make sure that they are up to the task.

Check Out RV Renovation: 5 Tips for Cabinets:

Tips in Securing the RV Cabinets

One of the most important aspects of owning an RV is making sure that the cabinets are secure. This is especially true if you plan on traveling with your RV. There are a few different ways that you can go about securing the cabinets in your RV.

Use Screws

The first and most obvious way to secure your RV cabinets is by using screws. This is a very simple and effective way to make sure that the cabinets are securely fastened to the walls of your RV. You can use either wood screws or metal screws, depending on the material of the cabinet.


Another way to secure your RV cabinets is by using L-brackets. This is a slightly more sophisticated method, but it is still very effective. Essentially, you will attach the L-bracket to the wall and then screw the cabinet onto the bracket. This will give the cabinet a much more secure hold.

Cabinet Latches

Using cabinet latches is a very common method that is used in both RVs and homes. Cabinet latches are very simple devices that latch the door of the cabinet shut. This is a very effective way to make sure that the contents of the cabinet are secure.

No matter which method you choose, it is important to make sure that the cabinets in your RV are secure. This will help to prevent any accidental damage or theft while you are on the road.

How To Build RV Cabinets?

If you’re looking for a way to add storage and organization to your RV, one of the best ways is to build your own cabinets. This project isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and it’s a great way to utilize space that would otherwise go unused. 

Here’s how to build simple yet sturdy RV cabinets.

Measure The Space

The first step is to measure the space where you want to install the cabinets. RV cabinets are typically much narrower than regular home cabinets, so it’s important to get accurate measurements. Once you have your measurements, mark out the area on a piece of paper or cardboard so you can visualize what the finished product will look like.

Cut The Pieces

After you’ve measured and marked out the space, it’s time to start cutting the pieces for your cabinets. If you’re using plywood, you’ll need to use a saw to cut the panels to size. For this project, we recommend using 3/4″ thick plywood for the sides, bottom, and shelves of the cabinets. The doors can be made from 1/2″ thick plywood.

Assemble The Cabinets

Once you have all of your pieces cut, it’s time to start assembling the cabinets. For this step, you’ll need some wood screws and a drill. Start by attaching the sides of the cabinet to the bottom panel. Then, add the shelves by screwing them into the sides of the cabinet. Finally, attach the doors to the front of the cabinet using hinges.

Install The Cabinets

Now that your cabinets are assembled, it’s time to install them in your RV. First, find a stud in the wall where you want to install the cabinets. Then, use wood screws to attach the cabinets to the stud. It’s important to make sure the cabinets are leveled before screwing them into place.

Now that you know how to build RV cabinets, put your skills to the test and add some storage space to your rig!

Related Questions

Where To Purchase RV Cabinets?

There are a few different places where you can purchase RV cabinets, but the best place to start your search is online. There are a number of websites that specialize in selling RV cabinets, and you should be able to find a wide selection of options to choose from. 

Another option is to check out some of the local RV dealerships in your area, as they may also have a few different models on display that you can take a look at. Ultimately, it will just come down to personal preference as to where you purchase your RV cabinets from. 

The Bottom Line

There are a few different materials that can be used to make RV cabinets, but the most common is plywood. Plywood is a strong and durable material that can withstand a lot of wear and tear, making it ideal for use in an RV.

Another popular material for RV cabinets is particle board, which is a cheaper alternative to plywood. However, particle board is not as durable as plywood and may not hold up as well over time. When choosing materials for your RV cabinets, it is important to consider both strength and durability.

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Written by William Perry
William was born and raised in the United States and currently lives in Utah. A retired police officer, he is the father of three and grandfather of six. Along with writing, he enjoys traveling, the outdoors, reading and spending time with his grandchildren.
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