If you’re an adventure-seeker who’s always dreamed of hitting the open road in your own custom camper trailer, then this guide is for you! With a little bit of know-how, some elbow grease, and the right tools, you can build your own camper trailer and hit the road in style.
Are you tired of paying for expensive camper rentals or cramped tents on your camping trips? Do you want to take your adventures to the next level by building your own custom camper trailer? Look no further, because we have all the tips and tricks you need to build your very own DIY camper trailer!
Before you get started, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. First, think about the size of your camper trailer and how it will fit your needs. Will you be camping solo or with a partner or family? Will you need a lot of storage space for gear and equipment? Once you have a rough idea of the size and layout of your camper trailer, it’s time to start gathering supplies.
Step 1: Plan out your design and gather your supplies
Before you start building, it’s important to plan out your design and gather all the necessary materials and tools. Here are some key things to consider:
- Size and weight: Decide on the size and weight of your camper trailer, taking into account the size of your vehicle and the types of roads you’ll be traveling on. A good rule of thumb is to keep the weight under 1000 pounds if it is going on your truck-bed. If you are towing the trailer and using a trailer from a salvage Camping trailer, but sure to check all equipment. You can also purchase a trailer from Home Depot or Harbor Freight and license it for the road. This may incur fees from your local DMV.
- Layout: Consider the layout of your camper trailer, including the sleeping area, kitchen, and storage space. If you are not familiar with RV layouts, take some time reviewing builds on YouTube, or online RV dealers. Once you are familiar with your own needs, you may find a better layout. When we first built our camper van, we included a fully functioning sink with drain. After a few months in the camper we realized we never used it and just poured the grey water out as needed. Once we realized it we recovered the space and added in a wardrobe in the location.
- Materials: You’ll need a sturdy frame, sturdy walls, roofing material, and insulation. You’ll also need hardware like screws, bolts, and hinges. If you are using a fix-me up trailer, or a DIY trailer from the hardware store, they are a great place to start. Having all the pre-built safety gear that comes on those trailers will make your build safer. Keeping weight in mind as you build will be the biggest challenge. When we build the frame, we use 1×1’s and 1×4’s for most of the framing. On the outside of the frame we use .25″ full sheets of plywood. We never use any type of OSB as it wicks water very easily.
- Tools: Some basic tools you’ll need include a drill, saw, hammer, nail gun and measuring tape. The more power tools you have the better. If you have a table-saw it will make your work faster, but you can also use the battery powered toolsets from the big box stores. They work great but lose charge very quickly. The air powered nail gun we used in our builds saved many hours of labor.
Once you have your design and supplies ready, it’s time to start building!
Step 2: Build the frame
The first step in building your camper trailer is to construct the frame.
For the frame of your camper trailer, you’ll need some sturdy 1×4 lumber and 1×1 posts. You’ll also need plywood for the walls, roof, and floor, as well as screws, nails, and other hardware to hold everything together. You’ll also need a set of saws, drills, and other tools to cut and assemble the frame and panels.
Start by cutting the wood for the frame using your saw, and then use your drill to screw the pieces together. Make sure to use sturdy wood and screws, as the frame will be the backbone of your camper trailer. Build out the frame as a skeleton using the 1×1 post across the corners and every 16 inches to frame the walls. Use the 1×4 boards to attach to the 1×1 post on bottom, middle and top.
Use the 1x4s and 1×1 posts to create a sturdy, square-shaped frame, and then attach the plywood panels to the frame using screws and nails. Make sure to measure and cut everything carefully, and use a level to make sure everything is square and level. Once it is locked in place, you can use caulking to fill in all seams.
As you work on your camper trailer, remember to take your time and double-check your measurements and cuts.
Step 3: Add the walls and roof
Once the frame is built, it’s time to add the walls and roof. Cut the wood for the walls and roof, and then attach them to the frame using screws and bolts. You can also add insulation at this stage to keep your camper warm and cozy. We recommend using foam insulation as many other types will allow for moisture to build up between the wall and the interior.
Next, build the walls, roof, and floor of your camper trailer. Again, use plywood panels and screws or nails to attach them to the frame. For the roof, you’ll need to cut and attach rafters to create a slope, and then attach the plywood panels to the rafters. We used 1×2 boards for the roof and mounted it in a bowed fashion to provide the slope.
Step 4: Add the finishing touches
Paint the outside with an outdoor paint or a bedliner that can handle the elements.
Now it’s time to add the finishing touches to your camper trailer. This could include things like windows, a door, a kitchen, and storage space. You can also add fun and functional features like a fold-out bed, a solar panel, and a propane stove.
We like to keep it simple and use a port-a-potty, a propane camping stove and a fold out cot.
You can also add flooring, and other interior features to make your camper trailer feel like home.
Step 5: Hit the road!
Once your camper trailer is complete, it’s time to hit the road and start your adventures! You’ll love the freedom and flexibility of having your own custom camper, and you’ll save money on rentals and campsites. Happy camping!
A well-built camper trailer will provide you with years of enjoyment and adventure, so it’s worth taking the time to do it right. And don’t forget to have fun and let your creativity shine! With a little bit of effort and a lot of enthusiasm, you can build the camper trailer of your dreams. Happy building!