Add Shelves to RV Cabinets In 6 Easy Steps

The cabinets seemed so perfect when we were at the dealership looking at our dream RV. Then the kids started using them and we found out that the space wasn’t working for us. Sound familiar? We all know that space and weight are major factors in an RV. So we decided to add shelves that are high quality and light weight, plus they will stand up to kid abuse. Want to learn how to make the most of your space too?

Here is how we changed our kids room from this:

To this in 6 easy steps:picture showing kids space after we add shelves to RV cabinets

Prep Work to Add Shelves to RV Cabinets

Our kids broke their drawers, so out they came. The closet bar was too high for them to reach, so we took it out too. We wanted the space to be easy for the kids to use so they can put their things away and keep them organized. Figure out how you want to use your space. I like to draw out simple plans with how a project will look in the end. Don’t worry about artistic ability, my six year old can probably draw better plans. These plans are just to help you understand how you will divide the space.

Take everything out of the space you want to add shelves to, then take measurements of every place you want to add shelves. Now you can put together a list for my favorite place to shop; the hardware store. Keep in mind our supply list may differ from yours because this is custom work.

We are staining ours to help prevent moisture damage, plus it looks so great. If you can’t bring a sample of the wood with you, just take a close up picture with your phone of the cabinets. Although we have all these tools, they are packed away in storage. Luckily for us my father-in-law and a friend let me use their tools. I bet you are wondering what the easy steps are so you can get started on your own cabinets, first though we will need some supplies and tools.

Supplies Needed

  • 3/4″ Square Stock
  • 4′ X 8′ Fiberglass Panel
  • 1/2″ & 1″ Brad Nails
  • 1 Tube Clear Silicone Caulk
  • Small Can of Wood Stain to Match Cabinets

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Tools We Used

  • Tape Measure
  • Brad Nailer (& Air Compressor to run it)
  • Table Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Tin Snips
  • File
  • Straight Edge
  • Pencil

We are frugal and wanted to do this upgrade without breaking the bank. Therefore we decided not to pay $2.85 for three feet of 3/4″ square dowel. Instead we bought 2×1’s that were six feet long for a dollar each and cut them in half. Extra work, but for us worth it for the savings. The one part we didn’t want to go cheap on was the fiberglass panel. The hardware store has less expensive paneling, but the fiberglass is lightweight and strong.

Also don’t be afraid to reuse some of the old materials if you can. My mother-in-law re-used the old drawers in her craft room. We are using the closet rod to hang our son’s stuffed animal holder. So how much did the project cost us? I will break it down for you below, first let’s get to those six easy steps on how to add shelves to RV cabinets.

6 Easy Steps

1. Removal of Old Hardware

2. Cut & Stain Square Stock

3. Measure & Cut Fiberglass Panel

4. Attach Square Stock to Fiberglass

For larger shelves, put cross beams in and attach with silicone and brad nails.

5. Install Vertical Posts

After you have double checked the fit, just attach the posts with silicone and long brad nails. Make sure you are not shooting nails into any electrical or water lines. The posts in each corner mean that the weight from the shelf is resting on the floor.

6. Add Shelves


This is the perfect time to touch up the added shelves. We also used a little stain on a rag to touch up all the worn spots around the trailer. Allow the silicone to dry before placing items on the shelves. Now we have shelves that make it easy for the kids to put their toys and clothes away.

Cost to Add Shelves to RV Cabinets

Our costs came in even cheaper than we expected. My father-in-law had brads, so we didn’t have to buy any. I already had silicone caulking and we used some scrap wood to cut square stock from. Which means it only cost us $39 to add shelves in our travel trailer! Even if you had to buy all the supplies, it would only cost around $62.50. We bought a few wire shelves to add above the top bunks and they cost almost thirty dollars for just two shelves! We did some other mods to the trailer last year which were also very inexpensive.

  • 48′ of 3/4″ Square Stock Wood= $4 (if you want to use square dowels it will cost $46)
  • Small Can of Wood Stain= $5
  • Waterproof Silicone Caulk= $6.50
  • Fiberglass Panel (4′ X 8′)= $32
  • Brad Nails (5/8″ & 1 3/16″)= $15

Final Thoughts

The kids space had been driving us crazy for quite some time. Now it fits our needs perfectly. The kids can actually put their clean laundry away and the books are accessible. After the project is over, we have extra square stock and fiberglass panel. So not only were we able to redo the kids room, but we also put up a custom shelf for office supplies, DVD’s, bathroom products and put in a divider in a kitchen drawer. We hope you enjoyed the article and it helps you add shelves to your RV cabinets. Don’t forget to share this article if you found it helpful.


The information provided in this article is for entertainment purposes only. Chris worked in the trades and is pretty handy with tools. If you are not handy, it might be better to just hire someone to do this project for you (if you want Chris to do it for you, just email us we might be near you at some point). Anyways, this article in no way is legal or professional advice and shouldn’t be construed as such. For our full legal page, click here.


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