Installing a Sound-Proof Wall in an RV for Privacy and Sanity
One of the necessities when we considered our RV remodel was to install a privacy wall between the open bathroom and bedroom in order to provide a less public setting anyone taking a shower, for privacy for the parents in the bedroom at night (ahem) and quiet during working hours in the office in the rear of the bus. We also needed additional storage for the kids’ clothing in the bathroom area – hanging storage was at a premium and we were about to remove the large closet where the office would be.
Our particular RV floorplan had an L-shaped bathroom countertop forming a partial barrier between the bedroom and the bathroom with the toilet closet forming the other wall which butted up against the bedroom nightstand.
The main problem in our design phase was that nothing lined up across the room – the offset was an approximately 8″ and the overhang on the bathroom countertop presented an additional challenge. There was a door on the bedroom side of the bathroom cabinet. Also, on the ceiling above the intended doorway is the primary air conditioner for the bathroom, bedroom and office areas, with the other two units both being in the front of the bus. In order to build a wall straight across the room, we would have to get creative! Enter graph paper, a sharp pencil and wine, people…don’t forget the wine.
Our Challenges Installing an Interior RV Wall
In addition to the location and placement of the wall, we needed to consider other issues such as making the awkward curved flooring transition work, allowing for the use of the ceiling AC unit in the newly closed off space and and ensuring proper ventilation for the bedroom and office areas. Also, the overhead cabinets above the bed would have to be re-sized and moved to make them centered above the window and bed and to make room for the wall. Electrical wiring had to be considered – 12V as well as 110V lines had to be preserved and potentially extended.
We also had to relocate the Intelli-Tec lighting panel and several electrical receptacles in order for them to work in our new design. A cabinet door on the side of the bathroom cabinet unit would be blocked by the construction of a wall so we needed to consider the lost space and how to utilize it. In addition, we had to lose the nightstand on the right side of the bed in order to make way for a wall. Don’t worry though – all these extra door and drawers got recycled into our daughter’s craft desk!
Once we’d laid out our lines – literally, we used blue painter’s tape on the floors, ceiling and cabinets to mark the division line – we determined the required changes would allow for a narrow hanging closet, an ironing board storage slot and an in-cabinet laundry hamper. In addition, we would gain privacy in both the bedroom and the bathroom and we would be able to keep the roof A/C unit in the bedroom. Here’s how we did it…
How To Build an Interior Wall on an RV
The first stage after measuring, marking and contemplating all the consequences of ripping out the existing finishes, was to start removing things – we took out the nightstand and moved the overhead cabinet to the back of the bus (also resized and centered it) and removed the carpet and tile from the floor, and exposed the runs of electrical wires that would have to be concealed. Now it was time to actually build a new interior wall on this motorhome!
The wall was built using basic frame and paneling construction over 1×3″ lumber. Using the measurements taken after the flooring material was removed, the panel was constructed off-site, then brought on board and scribed to fit precisely. Because of the ceiling A/C unit, the top off the wall would have to be cut to shape around the leading edge of the unit – no biggie, but something to consider if you have obstructions on your ceiling.
Because we wanted a sound-deadening (if not soundproof!) wall for our bedroom, the inside of the wall is lined with a heavy-duty, dense rubber material usually used for deadening sound and heat around the generator and engine block. We also ran electrical lines through the wall to allow for outlets on both the bathroom and the bedroom sides of the wall, as well as wiring for the lighted mirror that we installed on the bathroom wall. The Intelli-Tec panel and thermostat sensor were relocated to the new bedroom wall. The doorframe was trimmed out with a specialty piece made by Foretravel for door jambs that keeps doorframe square in the wall.
Building a Lightweight, Sturdy, Sound-Deadening RV Door
The door itself is 30″ wide and was constructed of 1’x3″ pine, reinforced with aluminum stock, rubber-lined and finished with walnut paneling to match the rest of the rig. The door handle is a simple screen door latch with lock. A piano hinge allows the door to swing into the bathroom space and a brass door stopper was installed at the base of the bathroom wall to prevent the new door from banging into the mirror on the wall behind it.
The wall was attached to the side of the bathroom cabinet using screws through a batton cut to match the offset of the countertop overhang. This left a space below the countertop level less than 2″ in width in which we store our small ironing board.
We utilized the lost space in the back corner of the bathroom cabinet by installing a through-counter laundry hamper. On the other side of the bathroom, we were able to install two narrow hanging lockers for our kids’ clothes and a bottom cabinet with a shelf for shoes and boots.
This was not a small change, I’m not going to lie. It took a lot of planning, good design, excellent craftsmanship (Thanks, Foretravel!) and thinking. And wine. The additional level of privacy and sound proofing enabled by the wall have contributed greatly to our overall quality of life and the long-term livability of this RV, and we have no regrets!