Painting Caravan Cupboards

Painting caravan cupboards is a really cheap and easy way to give your caravan a facelift.

I’ve shared so many of my tips on decorating a caravan in the past. And receive so many lovely messages from people who want to share their own caravan makeovers, after following my advice.

I tend to treat our caravan as I would do any other room in our home.

The walls can be wallpapered. The surfaces can be painted.

It’s a brilliant way of freshening up a tired old second hand van.

Can You Paint The Cupboards in a Caravan?

The short answer is YES!

If you’ve bought a newer van, you probably wouldn’t even consider doing this. But older vans are often drab and dated inside, and the caravan cupboards are an unappealing orange wood. Or wood veneer.

Giving them a lick of paint is an inexpensive way of really transforming the space. And if you’ve up-cycled furniture in the past, you can basically employ exactly the same methods.

Painting caravan cupboards is a quick and easy way of transforming a tired old van
Painting caravan cupboards is a quick and easy way of transforming a tired old van
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

What Paint Can I Use for Caravan Cupboards?

There are so many options.

You can buy kitchen cupboard makeover paint. I’ve used this in the past and it works a treat.

Or you can use a specialist cupboard makeover primer. I’ve used Crown and also a Dulux Difficult Surfaces Primer. But in recent years, my go to primer is Zinsser.

I use Zinsser Bullseye 123 if I plan to use a water-based top-coat.

And if my top coat is oil-based, I go for Zinsser BIN.

This paint really is incredible! I even used the pre-mixed version — Zinsser Allcoat — to paint my piano! You can paint pretty much any surface with it — including laminate. I used it to paint my melamine Billy Bookcase when I did an IKEA hack and turned them into built in shelving!

It’s suggested that you can use Zinnser without even needing to sand the surface. But — regardless of that — I still do give my surfaces a very light sand, just to give a good key.

How To Paint Caravan Cupboards

I’ve listed my method for painting caravan cupboards. It’s really simple but — as with any DIY — preparation is key.

We always take the doors off before we paint them. And make a note of which door goes where.

And we paint the door surrounds using the same method. Leaving everything to dry thoroughly before we re-hang the doors.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

It might sounds alarming — and there will definitely be a moment (when you’re in the midst of your caravan renovation) that you’ll probably wish you’d not started!!

But keep painting — until every surface is coated. And eventually your caravan will begin to look just as you’d hoped.

How To Paint Caravan Cupboards

How To Paint Caravan Cupboards

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Medium
Estimated Cost: Under £30

Painting caravan cupboards is a really cheap and easy way to give your caravan a facelift. Use these tips to help you create a new look for your old van.


  • Medium grade sandpaper
  • Newspaper
  • Primer/undercoat - I recommend Zinnser
  • Top-coat - gloss or eggshell


  • Screwdriver
  • Foam roller - gloss variety
  • Paint brushes


  1. Firstly, take all of the doors off their hinges. This is not strictly necessary but makes them much easier to paint. * Make a note of which door goes where! We number all ours on masking tape. Next take the handles off. If you're not planning to re-use the handles, you can fill the holes at this stage.

    Painting cabinets is a great budget-friendly solution to updating your kitchen without breaking the bank.
  2. Next, give the surface a light sand to create a key. If you're using Zinsser (or chalk paint), this isn't strictly necessary, but I always do it just to make doubly sure that the top coat has a great surface to stick to!

    Using furniture paint to paint caravan cupboards.
  3. Prime doors and units/surrounds using a cupboard makeover paint undercoat or primer. This is the perfect stuff for giving melamine, MDF, wood, wood veneers and acrylic bath panels a new lease of life. I use Zinsser Bullseye 123 if the top-coat I've chosen is water-based. And if my top coat is oil-based, I go for Zinsser BIN.

  4. Once your undercoat is fully dry (check the manufacturer's instructions) then you can gives the doors their top-coat. Once completely dry, add your handles and hang your door back in place

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Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.

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12 thoughts on “Painting Caravan Cupboards”

  1. Hi thank god for this article!. I’m buying a second hand caravan and looking to paint the does ect…
    Do I need a protective paint or lacquer over the eggshell paint?.

    • Hi Karl! Nope — no protective lacquer! Just the paint, as you would do with a piece of furniture :) I highly recommend undercoating with Zinsser 123, this has ensured that our top coat stayed put!

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