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How to Maintain or Replace RV Doors

Door Repair, RV Travel, Travel Trailers

Owning an RV is different from a house. The RV door is sealed all the way around, and takes a beating not only from the elements, but also from the winds on the road. Gravel, items kicked up by tires and more can make your doors fail.

With maintenance, your doors will last more than a lifetime.

For this article, the term RV (recreational vehicle) applies to all shapes, sizes and makes of RV’s- travel trailers, motor homes, etc.

Inspection:

Visually inspect the seal around the door. Some models were built with rubber gaskets and have hinges attaching them to the RV.

Inspect the hinges and rubber gaskets. If they need replacements, sites offering vintage parts replacements are the best place to look. Some RV repair shops may carry them as well- call them first.

Open and close the door- it should move smoothly. Closing the door should take no effort, slamming or “there’s-a-trick-to-it” to close it. If it does, consider replacing the hinges or the door itself.

If the door is damaged so badly it can’t close safely, it needs to be replaced. Take into account that if that is indeed the case, check the surrounding wall for possible repair needs as well. Fix the wall first, or you’ll never get a door to fit.

If the door needs replacement, you will need:

  • Screwdriver or socket wrench- drill driven is fine
  • Butyl tape or rubber gasket
  • Set of hinges (if your RV uses them)
  • Door
  • Pen and paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Scraper- a plastic paint scraper is fine
  • Tarp and weatherproof tape
  • Drill with bits for metal
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Step One:

Before removing the door, write down the year, make and model of your RV. Research to find out if the door is still being manufactured. If it is, shop for the best price. If not, check out sites listed below for custom made doors.

It’s probably not going to be cheap, depending on the age and type of RV you have. Check with more than one site.

Speak with sales associates or read their information on measuring your old door or space so your door will fit properly. If you need to remove the door to measure the hole, do it, measure carefully and replace the door without using butyl tape. Tape a tarp over the door to keep the RV safe from the elements.

Step Two:

With the new door unpacked and assembled according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it’s time to take the old door off.

Using the screwdriver or socket wrench, remove all screws and bolts holding the door on. Set these aside.

Remove all the old putty, stuck on rubber, etc. from around the door hole. Butyl tape needs to adhere to the metal. You won’t get a proper seal from setting the tape over old putty.

Step Three:

A helper at this stage is a wonderful and priceless thing. Working slowly, apply the butyl tape all the way around the hole in the RV. Once the door is tightened down, the butyl lasts for years and is waterproof.

Step Four:

Read the manufacturer’s advice about mounting your new door. Most RV doors are similar- if the manufacturer suggests different steps, by all means take them.

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Lift the door into place and attach the screws and bolts. If the new door’s screw placements don’t match the old door, you’ll need to pre-drill new holes for the new screws/bolts.

Mark a new place at each of four corners, and drill/insert a screw. Mark and drill new screws on each side of the first screws.

Attach the hinges, and check to see the door opens and closes properly. Attach the frame using the rest of the screws.

Adjust the hinges/striker plate to ensure the door opens and closes easily. Test the lock to make sure it works easily.

Maintain your new/old door:

Using silicone, general oil or the substance the manufacturer suggests, lubricate the hinges, striker plate and lock at once or twice a year. Check the gaskets or butyl tape once a year.

Keep the door clean and use a UV protective sealant. Products are available for metal, aluminum and vinyl doors.

Find vintage and custom-made doors at these websites:

http://www.vintagetrailersupply.com/Entrance_Doors_s/10.htm

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/product/phillips-screen-door-latches/8358

http://www.all-rite.com/rv-products-i-5.html

http://www.rvshop.com/Doors-Custom-_c_1325.html

Instead of replacing the entire RV because the door doesn’t work, replace the door and save buying a new rig.

If you’re selling an RV that needs a new door, replacing the bum door with a new one will increase the RV’s value and will help it sell faster.

Source: Staff Article, “How to Install an RV access door hatch,” Do It Yourself website,