It’s one of the most often used parts on your RV. Your entry door(s), that is. There are many ways to make your RV door work better for you. Check out these RV entry/exit door tips and hints.
Add a door latch
RVers who travel with small children often wonder: What if the toddler opens the RV door and falls down the steps? What if one of the children opens the door and the dog escapes? These problems can easily be solved by installing an additional door latch.
The challenge with adding a latch is that most RV doorframes are quite narrow. Too narrow, in fact, to accommodate a deadbolt or many other locks. We’ve made our RV door better by adding a sash lock to the door and frame. A sash lock is normally used to secure double-hung windows. This lock is perfect for RV doors because it only requires two small screws for each of the two components.
You’ll want to think carefully before permanently attaching the sash lock. Place it higher than your toddler can reach, but not so high that an adult or mature child struggles to open the lock. (In an emergency situation, quick escape is vital.) So, ask family members to stand at the door and demonstrate their arm’s reach. Then you’ll know where to install the sash lock.
Replace the standard exterior lock
We quickly learned that our RV’s lock was not unique to our rig. A neighbor accidentally locked himself out of his RV and asked if he could use our keys! I was shocked as I watched him unlock his RV door with them. We immediately researched products to replace the standard RV exterior lock.
For security reasons and peace of mind, we installed an RVlock brand keyless lock system on our RV. There are several different brands to choose from on Amazon.
I like not having to worry about lost keys. We simply use a keypad for effortless entry through our RV’s door. We even have remotes! I like that we can unlock the RV door remotely, especially when dashing from our truck to the RV. No more fumbling with keys in the pouring rain.
RV door screen protection
We love the fresh air that comes through our RV’s screen door. We don’t love that a dog or a small child can easily push through the screen! There are several different methods for protecting your RV’s screen door.
- Plexiglass. Some folks cut plexiglass to size and then mount it directly to the lower half of the screen door with screws. You can buy plexiglass at The Home Depot or Lowe’s as well as other hardware stores. Most also carry plexiglass cutting tools—useful if your door requires a non-standard plexi size.
- Lattice. Your local hardware store may also carry lattice. Facebook friends didn’t want to lose any air movement coming through their doorway by using plexiglass. Instead, they cut lattice to fit the bottom half of their RV’s screen door and attached it directly over the interior of the screen. Not only does the lattice prevent dogs from tearing the screen, but none of the fresh air is blocked.
- Decorative screen grate. Lippert, Camco, and others have metal grates that fit over the RV’s screen door. These may be more costly than the DIY options mentioned but are great for folks who don’t feel comfortable with DIY projects. This one from Lippert requires no additional hardware. It slips into the existing door channel.
If your RV’s entry door must be slammed in order for you to close it completely, you need to read this article! The door or door latch may simply need to be realigned. Take the time to make the necessary adjustments. Your RV neighbors will thank you!
Another way to make your RV’s screen door better is to install a push bar. Push bars come in a variety of styles and prices and are usually horizontally attached at level where you normally push to open the door. Push bars enable you to open the door from the inside without exerting pressure on the screen. Here are some examples of push bars.
I wish RV manufacturers installed peepholes into their entrance doors. I haven’t seen one yet! We looked into buying and installing an after-market peephole but decided to go with something easier and less expensive, too.
We bought a Blink video doorbell. We did not purchase the Sync Module 2, so the live view and two-way radio are activated only when the device detects movement, or the doorbell is pushed. It works great!
There are many, many similar products with a variety of features, but this one works well for us. I feel safer knowing who’s at the RV door before opening it. Maybe you will, too.
As with almost every RV component, your RV door should be checked and maintained regularly.
- Seals. Examine the seals all around the doorway. Clean the seals with dish soap and warm water. Dry with a microfiber cloth. Then treat the seals with 303 Aerospace Protectant. This will protect the seal from UV rays and help prolong the life of the seal. Follow directions carefully.
- Hinges. Clean your RV’s door hinges using a clean, damp rag. Dry thoroughly. Adjust, tighten and/or lubricate the hinges as needed. (Use a dry lubricant, so dust and dirt won’t be attracted to and stick to the hinges.)
How have you made the most of your RV entry door? Tell us in the comments below.
We made two upgrades to our doors. First off we replaced the windows. The new ones have glass that matches the rest of the windows in the trailer and has built-in shades. IMO they look much better from the outside than the original clear, textured glass, plus you can see out with the door closed. Second, I made black canvas panels with rod pockets top and bottom for the bottom half of the screen door. The panels attach to the door frame using tension rods. This protects the screen from our dog and provides some privacy. I would like to swap out the cylinder locks with keypads, but they are kind of pricey. Also, I’m not terribly worried about it. Most other campers leave all kinds of nice stuff sitting around unattended that would (hopefully) entice thieves more than breaking into our trailer.
“You can buy plexiglass at The Home Depot or Lowe’s as well as other hardware stores. Most also carry plexiglass cutting tools—useful if your door requires a non-standard plexi size.”
Home Depot doesn’t offer the service, but most Lowe’s stores DO cut plexiglas/acrylic sheets to size – so no need to buy any cutting tools whatsoever. They’ll only cut straight lines and only up to a certain maximum size, but I cannot imagine any RV door lower half requiring anything larger than they could cut. This is, by far, the easiest way.
But if you ARE cutting your own, you don’t need any specialty tools – all you need to do is turn a utility knife over and use the back edge of the blade point and score along a straightedge 5-8 times on BOTH sides, then carefully snap at the scored line. You can then use a sanding block with fine grit to smooth the edges (and you may need to do this step anyway if you have Lowe’s cut it).
Thank you Gail for the maintenance reminders!
When we bought our new 2018 Tiffin DP, the door HAD to be slammed in order for it to catch the second latch and even then it might not latch all the way. Per the dealer, their standard answer for everything was, “it’s per design!” There is no way that the door would stay together for long if it had to be slammed that hard every time. After I disassembled the assembly, I found that there was no adjustment. I got on the door manufactures website (PTL) and found an adjustable unit that they called “move-a-bolt.” After a phone call to them and speaking to a very helpful/friendly employee, they shipped it to me Free of charge! After installation, it works PERFECTLY!! I hate when people slam RV doors. They’re simply not designed for that type of abuse.
I installed a push bar to my screen door with great success. It has been very successful in protecting my screen. I did install a second one much lower on the door for small grandchildren. It makes it easier for them to open the door and, since I have a full screen door, protects the lower portion of the screen.
Thank you, Gail! Maintaining RV seals cannot be encouraged too much. Thanks again!
She mentioned using 303 for UV protection. I’ve just been using my rubber seal spray. It has UV protection. I don’t see the difference, keep the rubber plyable.
We actually have a peep hole in our RV and find it useless. When someone comes to your RV door they are below you on the ground awaiting the door to be opened. All we see is the sky.
One of the best features we’ve done to the rig overall is to add friction hinges to our doors. When you open them, they generally stay where you put them unless the wind is really, really strong. Lippert offers them, I know, as we bought our first set from their booth. Second came from Amazon, I think. 2-pack for $25, right now. You really only need one per door. https://www.amazon.com/Lippert-2020102629-Friction-Hinge-Entry/dp/B08R7VZRXQ
1- If your door is stiff, it may be by design. Friction hinges are deliberate feature to allow the owner to place the door at any position (subject to strong winds). They should not be lubricated.
2- I love our push bar on the screen door as it keeps people from pushing on the screen – but you may have to remind people the bar is NOT designed to be a pull bar to close the door. Use the raised plate next to the door lockset.
3- the door bulb seal has limited compression space right at the door latch. Your latch may be properly adjusted but still won’t easily latch. Our brand new replacement door requires extra pressure to fully close. Yes a slam provides this pressure, but so does firm steady push on the latch mechanism from outside or pulling the raised metal plate next to the latch inside. I am seeking a way to accelerate the relaxation of the bulb seal at the latch without damaging the ability to still seal the closed door.
4- almost the first thing I did with our travel trailer was change all the lock cylinders to use the same non-master key – and there are something around 100 variations in that key line so the odds of a neighbor’s key working in my locks are small. When we purchased a second much smaller travel trailer for shorter travel, I changed all of its cylinders to the same key as our larger trailer. Still 1 in 100 odds and very convenient for us. Plus I now had extra keys so I can leave a safety spare in the car and give one to a trusted caretaker.
I think a video doorbell, accessible via the internet while away from camp, is a great idea. Thanks.
I installed plexiglass panels in both top and bottom of our screen door. On hot days the top one is left in so the door can be open and let the light in but not the heat. Most times just the bottom one is in. Being able to open door on hot days makes for a more open feel. I use little screen door window tabs to hold plexiglass in. Bought at any hardware store.