In a small trailer like ours, everything must be multi-purpose. It was surprising to us therefore that the fridge and freezer doors should be made of heavy dark wood - sapping the light out of our small kitchen area and providing no utility! They had to go - and for under $27 we replaced them with magnetic dry-erase doors!
This is a really simple but effective upgrade to the trailer. The magnetic dry-erase boards are so useful, we use them on a daily basis. They wipe clean easily with a dry paper towel (and maybe some kitchen cleaner if the writing has been up for a week or more) and help us stay organized and remember what we need to buy when we go shopping!
Furthermore, the bright, reflective white surface adds a lot of light to our trailer. In such a small space, this has made a big difference!
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cost: $26.92
- Difficulty: Easy
- Tools Required: Small hand saw, sharp knife
We researched a number of different options for what we could use as the whiteboard surface for the fridge - even looking at getting some thin sheet steel and an adhesive whiteboard liner. But the cheapest option turned out to be a 24in x 36in dry-erase whiteboard from Walmart that was just slightly larger than our fridge door - perfect for $17.96! Obviously you'll need to measure your doors to make sure you get dry-erase boards the right size - they're easy to trim down though.
Although the doors look thick and chunky, most of that sticks out from the fridge-freezer itself. The doors are held in by thin pieces of backing wood that slide into grooves in the fridge and freezer door openings. By removing the original doors, we can slide our new dry-erase board into place. With the fridge door open, the black trim can be pulled back from the top.
Once the trim has been removed, simply slide the door all the way out. It has a tendency to stick top or bottom so make sure to keep it straight and vertical as you slide. It's a little on the heavy side - glad we're removing it from our RV!
With the old door removed you can see the silver foil lining of the fridge itself behind. We're going to put our dry-erase board back in where the old door was.
Now it's time to start cutting down the dry-erase to fit. Ours had an aluminum frame all around it which needs to be removed. I was able to pry the corners off, but found it easier to use a screwdriver to help remove the frame - there's no screws, only adhesive, but it's stuck on pretty well.
Be careful when doing this, as the edges of the metal surface on the dry-erase board are very sharp!
With the frame removed, you can use the old door to score lines on the back of the dry-erase board with a sharp knife to get it exactly the right size.
After trial and error, I found the easiest way was to cut it in two steps. First, cut through the backing cardboard and pull this out of the way. Then use the knife to cut through the metal by running the knife along the same score line repeatedly from the back.
At first I tried using scissors, but although they could cut through the metal without any problem, I found they left a wrinkled edge and it was generally more difficult. My advice is use a sharp knife for the cleanest and easiest cut.
The original slot that the fridge door slid into is quite narrow. I found it to be a little bit narrower than the thickness of the cardboard and metal laminate on the dry-erase board. Put the dry-erase board face down on a flat surface and use your fingers or a small round object (like the end of a screwdriver) to compress the edges all the way around - just to make it a little thinner.
With the board cut to size and crimped around the edges, it should slide back into the groove on the fridge where the old door was. If it's too tight, then crimp the edges a little more. We found it best to have two people - one at the top of the door and one at the bottom. This helps make sure it slides straight in. Once it's all the way in (make sure it goes under the trim on the hinge side), then you can snap the black plastic trim into place.
For the freezer door, the process is exactly the same. We found another (even cheaper) 17in x 23in magnetic dry-erase board at Walmart for $8.96. This one had a black wooden frame rather than aluminum, but the process to remove it was very similar.
Much like the fridge door, the old freezer door can be slid out by removing the black plastic trim with the door open.
The process is then exactly the same as the fridge door - cut the board down to size, crimp the edges and slide it into place.
We put the old doors in storage in case we ever wanted to put them back in again - nothing was damaged with this modification, so it'd be easy to add them back in if we ever sold the trailer.
This was a really simple upgrade, but one we wanted to do as soon as we saw the original fridge and freezer. We use it on a daily basis for shopping lists, weekly meal plans, designs / sketches for other ideas we're thinking about, and much more.
Update (April 30th, 2019)
The dry erase boards have been working really well for us - probably our favorite mod, but also one of the cheapest! We've been using it for meal planning as well as keeping track of our travel plans. Although we had just been drawing the grid on with a dry erase pen, it gets messy over time. So we've "upgraded" our board by installing this 1/8" grid tape - no more rubbing out the lines with your hand!
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