Fix’er Up: Guide to Upgrading the Bathroom in a Camper or RV | Camper Report (2022)

Fix’er Up: Guide to Upgrading the Bathroom in a Camper or RV | Camper Report (1)

When it comes to fixtures, the first thing that probably springs to mind is light fixtures, right?

That’s fair, but fixtures encompass so much more than lights. Almost anything that sits in one spot in your camper trailer is considered a fixture. That means your fridge, freezer, cabinets, sinks, showers, and yes, even your toilet are all fixtures.

You might have purchased a used camper with fixtures that are a little worse for wear. You now have to think about getting some replacements. How do you do it?

I’m glad you asked. In this article, I’ll go step by step and tell you how to replace two of the arguably most important fixtures in your camper trailer: the shower and sink.

Next, I’ll help you shop. After all, what makes for a good camper fixture? What should you be looking for if you have to get new ones? What about brands and materials? By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have all the information you need to get yourself a nice, new, shiny fixture and install it yourself.

How to Replace Shower Fixtures in Your Camper

There are many reasons you’d want a new shower fixture for your camper trailer. Poor quality and old age are two of them. If you don’t get enough water pressure, that’s another compelling reason to change out your shower.

Now, of course you know that not all campers are the same. Thus, you can expect that replacing your own shower might be a little different from what you’re about to read.

Recommended tools:

  • A crescent wrench
  • A bucket (for any minor leaks)
  • A replacement shower fixture

Step #1: The first step to replacing your shower, regardless of your camper setup, is to ensure the water supply isn’t running. This way, you can avoid sudden splashes from pipes or hoses as you work. You can also prevent most leaks. Some small leaks may happen, and that’s okay. It’s only abnormal if the water is coming out strong and fast.

Step #2: Check that the water is truly off. The toilet should have no water in it, nor should the faucets. If there’s still water coming to these fixtures, double check that you powered down all water supplies.

Step #3: Now you can take off the shower faucet. Slowly remove all rubber washers to make the process easier. A crescent wrench can be used here.

Step #4: Fit your new shower fixture on where the old one was. Restore the rubber washers. Again, you might use the wrench for a tight fit.

How to Replace Sink Fixtures in Your Camper

An old, unappealing sink with poor water pressure is no fun to look at or use. Replacing your camper sink should be a relatively simple job that takes roughly an afternoon.

Recommended tools:

(Video) How To Clean a Mass Airflow Sensor (In-depth, detailed version)

  • Plumber’s tape
  • Plumber’s putty
  • Putty knife
  • Bucket
  • Crescent wrench
  • The new sink fixture

Step #1: Like you did with your shower, the first step is to make sure all the water is off. Empty the water lines and the drain in the sink so it’s completely free of water. You can do this with a water tank that’s low on water. Run the faucet and ensure the water pump is on. The lines will then begin to drain.

Alternately, remove the water lines (via a crescent wrench), power down the water pump, and let the water come out that way. You’ll need a bucket to catch the excess water.

Step #2: Remove the faucet with your crescent wrench.

Step #3: Next, free the sink from the countertop with a putty knife. Be careful as you do this. You don’t want to accidentally cut yourself or damage the countertop.

Step #4: Add plumber’s putty where the sink was. Now set up your new sink, placing it where the old one was. The plumber’s putty should allow it to fit firmly.

Step #5: Replace drain lines and water lines.

Step #6: Try the sink. If the joints seem a little loose or leaky, use plumber’s tape.

What Makes for a Good Fixture?

Okay, so what exactly makes for a good fixture?

The answer is a combination of things. Brand recognition is important. If you know a brand produces high-quality items, then you can reasonably assume if you buy a fixture from them, it too should be high-quality. Is this always true? No, but it’s a general guideline you can follow as you shop.

Another characteristic of a good fixture is its price. Yes, sorry, but you know you get what you pay for. Of course, some companies pride themselves on reasonable pricing, so that old adage doesn’t hold true in every last case. For the most part, though, if you buy a cheap fixture, you can’t really complain if it breaks in a year or two.

High-quality materials are the third characteristic of desirable camper fixtures. Is your toilet made of porcelain or plastic? Are your showers strong and durable or cheap and flimsy? If you paid more for the fixture, then the material chosen for assembly will probably last for years to come.

Preferred Brands

The following brands are all camper-friendly:

Toilets

  • Thetford
  • Dometic
  • Aqua-Magic
  • Sealand
  • Bravura

Showers

  • BodySpa
  • Lyons
  • Lippert
  • Stoett

Sinks

  • Dayton
  • Elkay
  • Ruvati
  • Kingston Brass

Ideal Fixture Materials

Depending on the type of fixture you’re looking for, there are going to be ideal materials for each.

For instance, let’s take Dometic toilets. Yes, they make both toilets and fridges as well as furnaces, ventilation solutions, doors, windows, awnings, air conditioners, and more.

Let’s just focus on their toilets for now. If you were to browse around on a site like Camping World, you’d see many toilets from Dometic. One of these is the brand’s 320 standard toilet, which retails for about $245. It’s made of ceramic like the toilet you’re used to back home. Compare that to their Portable RV/Marine Toilet. This five-gallon gray and white boxy toilet is built of heavier ABS plastic.

You wouldn’t really want a kitchen or bathroom sink made of plastic though, would you? More than likely not. Porcelain or another ceramic is standard for bathroom sinks, but that will require careful use and cleaning. Otherwise, you could break this delicate material.

For some sinks, stainless steel is an option. Sometimes even cast iron is used, but it’s covered in a layer of enamel. Plastic and even porcelain are more common for bathroom sinks. Most of these materials are suitable for long-term use.

Materials to Avoid

There are certain materials you should stay away from when shopping for your fixtures. They will wear down quickly, which means you’ll be shelling out for new fixtures sooner than you anticipated.

Although I mentioned stainless steel as a popular material for sinks, you have to be careful. Stainless steel can rust when oxygen and water mix. That mean that that pretty, sparkly silver sink you bought will probably look browned and crusty after several years of use.

Kind of gross, right? You can use such solutions as club soda, cream of tartar, lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, and even lighter fluid (which is recommend as an absolute last resort) to remove rust. That said, due to the nature of stainless steel, rust will always eventually return.

If you can find a sink that has aluminum in it, it should hold up better. Aluminum does not rust, which is quite handy.

Tips for Online Shopping

Okay, at this point, you should have a pretty good idea of which brands to shop for if you want a particular bathroom fixture. You’re finally ready to start ordering the materials for your new camper bathroom.

Not so fast. To ensure you get the best-quality fixture possible, here are some tips to follow when shopping online.

New Over Used

Always buy a new product instead of a used one, unless you can see the used bathroom fixture in person (which is not very likely when shopping online). Sellers can make anything look good in an image via Photoshop and other photo-editing software. What you see isn’t always what you get.

Go Direct

If you can, shop directly from the manufacturer’s website. This way, you know the manufacturer themselves are the ones who have made the item and will pack and ship it. There’s no question about quality. It should also arrive unbroken.

Reputation Matters

Otherwise, shop from reputable websites only. CampingWorld.com is one site I’d recommend. Amazon is another great one, but you do sometimes have to be choosy. That brings us on to our next point…

Beware Some Third Parties

Read carefully if you’re shopping on a site like Amazon. Remember that every product listed on Amazon is from a third-party seller. Sometimes these third parties are the manufacturer themselves because they realize people like the convenience and speed of shopping on Amazon. Other times they’re undefined parties. This is where things can get dicey. Long shipping times, expensive prices, and inaccurate products can ruin your shopping experience.

Reviews Are Your Friend

Make sure you’re getting the highest-quality product by reading reviews. If prior users weren’t happy with their bathroom fixture, then you should be weary about buying from this seller. There will always be a few negative reviews for every product, but these shouldn’t deter you in every instance. You should only find another site to buy your fixture from if there are more negative reviews than positive ones.

Look for User-Uploaded Images

I said it before and I’ll say it again: don’t always trust pictures. Manufacturers and third-party sellers will of course use the best images available to highlight their product. That will get people clicking on the listing and hopefully buying it. The pictures may be edited, like mentioned above. On Amazon in particular, users can upload images of the actual product in use. This gives you a realistic picture of what the product will look like, no frills.

Watch It in Action

Today, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers and other sellers to upload videos along images to sell a product. If the bathroom fixture you’re looking for has an accompanying video, you should certainly check it out. Again, this lets you see the product in action before you spend several hundred (and sometimes several thousand) dollars on it.

If the manufacturer themselves doesn’t upload a video with the product, may I recommend YouTube? You can surely find a tutorial, unboxing, or installation video from some other camper enthusiast who tried the same bathroom fixture before you.

Can I Get a Price Check?

You may have found the perfect site in which to buy your fixture, but don’t click that checkout button until you do more research. I suggest a Google search for the fixture so you can see what the competitors’ prices are like.

For one, this lets you make sure you can get the best deal on the fixture. There’s another reason to compare prices, too. If you found a great third-party site that’s offering the fixture for an unbelievably low price, you’ll know to avoid that listing. After all, if something seems too good to be true online, it often is.

What to Do If You Got a Poor-Quality Fixture

Sometimes you can take the above precautions and still end up with a bathroom fixture that’s not quite what you expected. Whether the quality is poor, the design is off, or the materials are bad, here’s what to do if you get stuck with a bad fixture.

From the Store

Most fixtures for your camper trailer will be available in a box from department stores, hardware stores, and home improvement shops. You may get the box home and find that the fixture isn’t quite right. Maybe you’re missing pieces for assembly. Parts of the fixture may be broken. You may have noticed some discoloration, scuffing, or other slight aesthetic issues.

There’s no need to just grin and bear it. Instead, if you have a receipt and it’s been less than a month, you should be able to return the fixture and get all your money back. You can then get a replacement fixture that’s a much better fit for your camper bathroom.

Online

If you ordered a fixture online, sending it back and getting a new one isn’t quite as easy. Every online retailer has a different return policy. You’d have to either call or email the retailer and get their return address. You might have to pay to box and ship the item, which is a pain.

If you bought your fixture from a third-party seller, returning it can be tough. If you used a reputable site like Amazon, you should be protected under them for your returns. eBay has a good return policy as well, giving you 30 days to get the item sent back. The fixture doesn’t even have to be broken, either. If “the item is not as described,” that’s all the impetus you need on eBay to send the bathroom fixture back. That should, at the very least, protect you if you deal with a less-than-savory seller.

What if you did go the Facebook or Craigslist route? You might be out of luck. It all depends on how generous the seller is feeling. Some sellers will vanish off the Internet after selling bad items, and others will make you go through hoops to get your money back. You might be expected to take pictures of the damage, pay for postage, and more.

At that point, you have to ask yourself if getting your money back is even worthwhile anymore. That’s why you should really be careful about where you buy your bathroom fixtures.

Conclusion

A fixture is anything on a camper trailer or RV that’s nearly permanently-installed. In the bathroom, that means your shower, toilet, and sink are considered fixtures.

Replacing your own camper bathroom fixtures is easier than you think. Showers and sinks should come out quite easily with little more than a wrench and a putty knife.

When the time comes to buy your fixtures, be careful of where you do it. Third-party sites can deceive you with edited pictures and cheap deals. Read reviews, watch videos, look closely at images, and ask questions if you have them. Any seller worth their salt will be glad to provide more info about the product.

Now that you know what to look for in a bathroom fixture, you should be able to find high-quality additions to install in your camper trailer. You can then enjoy the creature comforts of home wherever your adventures take you. Good luck!

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FAQs

Can you upgrade an RV toilet? ›

Since every traditional RV toilet has the same disposal process at the base, swapping one RV commode for another is easy. If you have a very old RV model, you may need an RV toilet mounting adapter to upgrade your RV toilet. But, for the most part, it's a simple and straightforward swap.

How do I put a bigger shower in my RV? ›

Obviously, you can't easily make your shower bigger. However, you can do a few things to make your showering space feel less cramped: Curved Curtain Rod — Replacing your regular RV shower door or curtain with a curved curtain rod and a nice curtain will give you more shower width to work with.

In what order do you update a bathroom? ›

Bathroom Remodeling Process: Steps for a Seamless Remodel
  1. First Step – Planning It All Out. ...
  2. Step 2 – Demolishing Your Old Bathroom. ...
  3. Step 3 – Make Plumbing Adjustments. ...
  4. Step 4 – Attend to the Electrical Work. ...
  5. Step 5 – Install Blocking for Grab Bars. ...
  6. Step 6 – Close the Walls. ...
  7. Step 7 – Begin Painting. ...
  8. Step 8 – Put Up the Tiles.

How much does it cost to replace an RV toilet? ›

Replacing an RV toilet can cost anywhere from $300 to $500, depending on your model. To replace the entire unit, you will need to purchase a new unit which typically costs around $130.

How much does it cost to upgrade a toilet? ›

On average, the cost to install a toilet ranges between $400 and $800. One-piece toilet labor costs range from $100 to $300. Two-piece toilets cost slightly more to install than one-piece toilets because of the additional labor.
...
By Labor.
Average Cost to Replace a Toilet
Highest Cost$1,000
Lowest Cost$600
1 more row
30 Sept 2022

What is a cowboy shower in a camper? ›

A cowboy shower is a portable shower that you can take on the road with you. Typically it is a shower you setup in your horse trailer (of course, when your horses are not in it). Convenience is the key here, you can quickly and easily take a shower without having to go back to a hotel.

Can you put peel and stick tile in an RV shower? ›

Peel and stick tiles for RV shower backsplash are made from the same material as your wall panels, so moisture will not affect them. You can use them on wet surfaces, and they are water-resistant and easy to clean. So, you will love the style and look of your RV shower stalls with just a little creativity.

How many gallons of water does a shower use in an RV? ›

The amount of water used while hooked up could be around 3 to 10 gallons at a time. The amount can be controlled by the user—the longer the shower, the more water used.

Is renovating an RV worth it? ›

So if you want a personalized and modern look in your RV, you should consider a renovation. And even though the trade-in value on your rig may go down, if you have a high-quality renovation, you may be able to sell it for a good price to a private party.

What can I use for RV interior walls? ›

Interior wall options for RVs and trailers

RV interior walls and ceilings are typically outfitted in one or more of a variety of materials, including plywood, MDF (medium-density fibreboard), wood paneling, and plastic laminate paneling.

Is it worth restoring an old camper? ›

Buying a vintage camper isn't for everyone. You will likely spend a lot of time on DIY repairs or finding someone who can do much of the repair work for you. Finding parts can be complicated and often expensive, too. But if you have the time and inclination, restoring a vintage camper can be a smart investment.

What should you not do when remodeling a bathroom? ›

The Worst Bathroom Remodeling Mistakes You Can Possibly Make
  1. #1 You Have to Get Wet to Turn on the Shower.
  2. #2 Poor or Bad Vanity Lighting.
  3. #3 Not Planning For Adequate Storage.
  4. #4 Not Including a Hand Shower.
  5. #5 Buying Cheap Plumbing Online or at a Big Box Store.
  6. #6 Forgetting about Towel Bars & Hooks when Space Planning.

What do you pick out first when remodeling a bathroom? ›

Select your vanity.

Most contractors will not begin work on your project until all the materials have arrived so this is a priority. If you hired a bathroom remodeling contractor, have him help you with the process of selecting your bathroom vanity.

What colors make a small bathroom look bigger? ›

So what colors make a bathroom look bigger? According to basic design principles, light colors such as white, crème, pastel blue, gray or yellow will visually expand a room, while dark colors such as a deep red, green or brown, will make a room feel smaller.

What is the easiest bathroom floor to install? ›

If you are looking for the easiest bathroom flooring to install, you should consider vinyl tile, water resistant laminate flooring and the rigid core engineered wood as they are of high quality and relatively easy to install.

What is the most reliable RV toilet? ›

Our pick for the best RV toilet is the Dometic 310 Series Standard Height Toilet. Its high-profile design provides a taller seat height, and it can be fitted with a hand sprayer. It's sturdy, easy to flush, and comes with equipment that makes installation easy.

Is the toilet flange in an RV the same as in a house? ›

Re: RV toilet floor flange

I got one that swivels so I could be a little less precise. However, the RV toilet mounting holes are the same as the china bowl in your house, one on each side!

Is it cheaper to fix a toilet or replace it? ›

The national average price for repairs is $60 to $200, with most people paying $125 on average to replace a fill valve on a slow-running toilet. This price fluctuates up or down depending on the amount of work and parts involved.
...
Toilet Repair Price.
Toilet Repair Cost
Average range$60-$200
Low-end$50
High-end$3,900
1 more row
28 Mar 2022

Are all RV toilets the same size? ›

Many different sizes of RV toilets come installed into RVs and are available for purchase separately to replace the old one or add on if needed. The typical dimensions of an RV toilet are 14.75 inches wide, 19.25 inches tall, and between 12 to 16 gallons of water capacity, depending on your chosen model.

Are most RV toilets interchangeable? ›

Sure, house toilets and RV toilets have the exact same use – to get rid of waste. But they do not work in the same way and are not interchangeable.

Are bathroom upgrades worth it? ›

According to Remodeling's “Cost vs. Value” 2022 report, a bathroom remodel can recoup around 53% to 58% of the cost put into the project. The biggest factors of a bathroom remodel that can increase a home's value include updating worn-out items, modernizing fixtures, and creating a more functional space.

Is it worth it to upgrade bathroom? ›

To put it simply: For a gut bathroom renovation, the answer is usually yes. In 2022, the study reports, the average full bathroom remodel costs $26,574, for which homeowners can expect a return on investment upon resale of roughly 60 percent — about $15,944.

How long does it take to install a new toilet? ›

The time frame for fitting a toilet varies from one to four hours, depending on your level of DIY experience. Any new toilet installation requires prior preparation and, essentially, working backwards from removing an old toilet.

Can Rvers use truck stop showers? ›

Can truck stop showers be used by anyone? Truckstop showers were made for truckers, but anyone can use them. It's nice to know that you have a place to stop if you've been on a long trip heading into a new state or are just going on a road trip. Truck stops aren't just for truckers, so don't be scared to purchase one.

Can you use RV shower while driving? ›

The good news is that you can use the RV bathroom while the vehicle is in motion. Because the electrical systems are in action while the car is on the road, you can use the bathroom and flush with the water pump as normal.

Does the shower water in an RV Go to the black or GREY tank? ›

Gray Water Tank

Again, this is where runoff water from your sink or RV shower is held. In large travel trailers and fifth wheels, there may be two gray tanks. It's important to note that the drain into this tank is small. Take every precaution to ensure food particles do not go down the drain.

What is the best flooring for RV? ›

The best replacement flooring for RV is vinyl. It's a versatile material, and you can find vinyl tiles, sheets, and planks with simple installation systems. Vinyl is durable and water-resistant. It's easy to clean, which makes a significant difference in high-traffic areas.

Should you glue vinyl plank flooring in an RV? ›

Since you are using planking, I would not recommend gluing it as the material will expand and contract and needs to “float”. Otherwise you will get splits or heaves in the seams. Once you find the best flooring material, make sure you leave a 1/4-inch gap around the edges for expansion and contraction.

Can you put vinyl plank flooring in an RV? ›

Vinyl plank is a great choice for RV flooring because it's easy to install and easy to clean.

What uses the most water in an RV? ›

It may surprise you to learn that on average, approximately half of all water usage takes place in the bathroom. While showers and baths are an obvious source of water consumption, there is a far bigger culprit in the bathroom – the toilet.

How long does 100 gallons of water last in an RV? ›

Two people boondocking can make a full 100-gallon water tank last for about four weeks, perhaps up to five… This is each person taking a shower once per week, and doing it as a “Navy-style” shower. This is using the water tank for cooking, showering, cleaning, flushing toilet, and brushing teeth.

How long can water sit in RV fresh water tank? ›

Two weeks is the simple answer to how long to keep fresh water in an RV tank IF you aren't using the water and refilling during that time. When water sits unused in a tank, it can become unsafe and therefore undrinkable.

What is considered high mileage for a used RV? ›

According to Meta Camper, anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 is miles is considered to be a lot for a used RV. But the mileage isn't the only thing that should be considered when shopping. For example, a Class A motorhome that's less than 10 years old with under 50,000 miles isn't a good sign.

Can an RV last 30 years? ›

The average motorhome can last for anywhere between 10 and 30 years. Where you motorhome lands in this range will depend on any incurring damages and maintenance. Working continually to keep your motorhome in good condition will help it last for a longer amount of time.

Are RV walls interior bearing load? ›

Unlike a sticks and bricks house, RV interior walls aren't load-bearing. Like a passenger vehicle, the main support comes from the wood or aluminum frame that makes the skeleton of your coach. The exterior walls act as secondary support for your roof.

How thick is the plywood on RV walls? ›

1/2" or 5/8" is sufficient for almost everyone, but some construction trailers will use 3/4". Some tool trailer builders remove thin plywood from a "new" trailer and replace it with thicker plywood. This is also a good opportunity to add insulation if your work style requires it.

What kind of plywood is used on camper walls? ›

Composite plywood is the kind of plywood used in RVs. It comprises different types of wood pressed together. The outcome is a large sheet, where the inner layers are made of cheap wood. The wood paneling is made strong by ensuring the wood grains of the boards used are perpendicular.

What is the average lifespan of an RV? ›

The short answer is that the average lifespan of an RV is around 20 years or 200,000 miles, whichever comes first. But the answer isn't quite that simple. That number can vary depending on the class of your motorhome, how well you take care of it, and a few other factors.

How long should a camper last? ›

What is the average lifespan of a travel trailer? At a minimum, your travel trailer needs to be able to last for 10 years. You might be able to prolong its longevity and add about two to five years by taking good care of it. However, some travel trailers can last up to 30 years with proper usage.

Is remodeling an RV worth it? ›

So if you want a personalized and modern look in your RV, you should consider a renovation. And even though the trade-in value on your rig may go down, if you have a high-quality renovation, you may be able to sell it for a good price to a private party.

How do you update a bathroom without gutting it? ›

Paint Your Wall Tiles – Painting your wall tiles is one of the easy bathroom upgrades you can do without demolishing your bathroom. To accomplish this, you can easily buy paint that is specifically used on tiles at your local hardware store and apply it over your old tile color for a newer and fresher look.

How many years do RVs last? ›

The short answer is that the average lifespan of an RV is around 20 years or 200,000 miles, whichever comes first. But the answer isn't quite that simple. That number can vary depending on the class of your motorhome, how well you take care of it, and a few other factors.

How long do RVs hold their value? ›

Brand-new RVs start losing value as soon as they're driven off the lot and continue to lose value throughout the first year rapidly. The RV depreciation rate increases at a steady rate after that until your RV hits double digits in age. Once an RV is ten years old or older, its value drops more rapidly.

What is the average cost to update a bathroom? ›

A bathroom remodel typically ranges roughly from $6,000 to $16,000 with a national average of $10,788, or about $70 to $275 per square foot, according to the latest data from home-improvement site Angi.

What is the cheapest way to redo a shower? ›

The budget choice for remodeling the shower is going to be between acrylic and fiberglass. There are prefabricated acrylic panels that can be applied quickly and easily to the shower walls. If you're replacing tile, you'll first have to remove all the tile to ensure you're attaching the acrylic to a smooth surface.

When remodeling a bathroom What should I pick first? ›

Whether you are demolishing sheetrock or simply repainting, you always want to start at the top of the room. Remodel your ceiling first, walls second, and floors third so you can prevent damage to your new components.

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