Is your RV’s exterior color fading? Don’t like the color of your RV? Suppose you’re facing the dilemma where you want to change or repaint your RV’s exterior. In that case, you’re probably wondering how to paint RV exterior fiberglass.
You can paint RV exterior fiberglass by using fiberglass paint. The entire process has a few key steps that you must follow before and after painting. The RV exterior needs to be cleaned, waxed and primed before painting. After painting, you need to wax it again for a shiny finish.
Painting the RV exterior is a straightforward but time-consuming process. It will take a day or two to finish the entire task. Doing the paint job at home will save the cost of service and labor. All you need is some fiberglass paint, waxing paper, denatured alcohol, and a few household items to do this simple job.
We have compiled everything you need to know about painting your RV exterior. Follow the step-by-step guide below to give your RV a makeover.
Which Paint to Use for RV Exterior Fiberglass
Before you learn how to paint RV exterior fiberglass, you need to know which paints to use for the RV exterior.
Almost all RV exteriors are of fiberglass material, so you need to find high-quality fiberglass paint. It is more expensive than standard paint, but it is more durable and has better protection.
Paints made of acrylic, epoxy, polyester, or polyurethane are the most suitable choices. They provide a coating that can endure all weather far better colors made of melamine or oil.
If you use standard paint, it will wear quickly and can’t offer the same shielding. In the end, you would have to repaint, and it’s more trouble than worth.
Fiberglass paints are available in a vast array of colors. There are several types of finishing, such as gloss, high gloss, matt, etc. Choose which type of paint you prefer.
Paint Brush or Paint Gun for Painting RV Exterior?
It’s better if you choose the tool of painting before you start painting. Both hand brushing and paint guns have merits and drawbacks.
No matter which option you pick, you need to patient and cautious. Don’t forget to wear a mask before you start painting!
Some people are not eager to use paint guns and feel more comfortable with hand painting. Using a paintbrush is more straightforward in the sense that you would only need to buy brushes.
However, it’s a time-consuming choice. It will take you a while to paint the entire RV exterior. The paint job will not be smooth in all areas and can also be uneven. Painting the roof with paintbrushes is also a complicated process.
On the other hand, paint guns ensure a more refined quality of work. It looks more professional as the paint will be smooth and even. It also takes less time than hand painting.
How to paint RV exterior fiberglass with a paint gun? If you have experience with paint guns, it will be better as the paintwork will be smoother.
If it is your first time, then take a moment to experiment and use it one something else before painting your RV exterior.
They’re more expensive than paintbrushes. If you don’t want to buy a new paint gun, you can buy a second-hand one or rent it.
For rented or second-hand products, clean them with acetone before using. It will remove any leaked colors.
How to Paint RV Exterior Fiberglass (step by step)
Before you start painting your RV exterior fiberglass, you need to make some preparations. You can’t paint the RV without cleaning it properly.
The cleaning process is quite extensive but also vital for the painting procedure. There are some materials you need for this process. They can be found in most outdoor or craft shops.
Remember, before you start painting your RV, you must cover your face and nose with a mask or cloth.
The Materials You Need
- Automotive Sponge
- Fine grit wet sandpaper
- Palm sander
- Denatured Alcohol
- Painter’s tape
Choose a Place to Paint
You need to pick a place where you can clean and paint the RV exterior fiberglass without hassle. The shadowy areas with good air circulation are the most appropriate spaces. Avoid places with direct sunlight.
Use your garage or driveway for this occasion. Park your RV in that space and gather all the necessary materials you need like soap, sandpaper, denatured alcohol, primer, etc. That way, you can save time from looking for the next tool.
Clean the RV Exterior Fiberglass
One of the fundamental steps of painting RV exterior fiberglass is washing the exterior with soap water. Your RV exterior probably has a considerable layer of dirt and soot due to years of use.
It’s not easy to wipe the whole RV, but it is necessary. You need to spray the outside of the RV with soapy water. It needs to cover the entire vehicle, including the roof.
More used RVs will take longer to clean but thorough wiping is essential. There may be a lot of stubborn bird poop on the roof but scrub it all down.
Then use an automotive sponge to wipe down the dirt. As RVs a massive vehicle, it may take you an hour or two to entirely scrub down the dirt build-up.
After the scrubbing, wash the RV with water. Then wipe the water with microfiber cloths.
Rub the Exterior with Wet Sandpaper
Polishing the fiberglass exterior with wet sandpaper will help it become smooth after the washing. Primer and paint can stick better on a smoother surface.
Put fine grit wet sandpaper in the palm sander and rub down the entire RV. However, you don’t have to spend a long time doing this activity. Spend about an hour to polish the whole vehicle.
Make sure to allocate the same amount of smoothing time on each part. If you spend a long time on one part and neglect others, the paint will be uneven. The paintwork of your RV will look shabby.
Wipe with Denatured Alcohol
Now you need to rub the RV exterior fiberglass with denatured alcohol. Pour some alcohol into a clean cloth or towel and wipe the RV.
The reason behind wiping with denatured alcohol is that you need to remove any streak of grease that wasn’t cleaned on the previous steps.
Denatured alcohol cleans grease much better than ordinary alcohol in this regard. Try to use this type of alcohol for the job. But if you can’t find denatured alcohol, you can use the standard one.
Cover with Painter’s Tape
In this step, you need to conceal your RV exterior parts, which won’t be painted with painter’s tape. Protecting any area that you won’t paint is essential.
The glass parts such as windows, windshields, and headlights must be covered. Since you won’t be painting tire rimes, doorknobs, and other small features of the external RV area, you need to cover them as well.
Painting around these details will take precision and immense concentration. It would be time-consuming as well. Small splats of paint will still taint them if you don’t protect them with painter’s tape beforehand.
Put on Primer
Many people forget this stage of painting RV exterior fiberglass. You should never skip this as the primer smooths the RV exterior fiberglass surface. The primer fills out the small holes and other bent places.
You need the primer if you want the paint to set evenly across the entire vehicle. It also helps to dry out the paint quicker. The paintwork also lasts longer if you apply a primer beforehand.
Make sure to choose a latex, polyurethane, or epoxy-based primers. If you use the same brand of primer and paint, it will give you the best outcome.
The whole RV exterior needs to be covered in primer. Don’t apply the paint until the primer has completely dried off. The drying time maybe a few hours. Be sure to check the manual for more information.
Painting the RV Exterior Fiberglass
Your RV is cleaned, primed, and ready to be painted. Now you are about to paint RV exterior fiberglass.
This process has two parts, and both are equally important. Some people choose to hand paint, and some prefer to use a paint gun.
Choosing the right type of paint is crucial, but you need other tools and materials as well. Below is the list of items you need.
The Materials You Need
- PaintPaintbrush/ Paint gun
- Wax for RV
- Fine grit sandpaper
- Cloth or towel for wiping
If you’re using a paintbrush, ignore the first step and start from the second one. If you’re using a paint gun, start from the first step.
Paint Gun Cleaning
The interior of the paint gun needs to be cleaned before filling it with paint. Use an acetone-soaked cotton cloth to clean any paint fragments thoroughly.
If you don’t properly clean it, the previous paint will mix with the new solution and mess up the colour.
Create a Paint Solution
Make the paint solution for your preferred colour. Follow the given manual by the paint package.
You need to paint the RV exterior in long fluid motions. Move the same way as you applied your primer.
Be mindful of dripping paint, especially when using a paint gun. Long smooth strokes can help to avoid dripping. Try to paint as even as you can.
After you finish painting the whole RV, wait for the paint to dry. It will take much longer than the primer. Maybe even up to 24 hours.
Check the color tone and paintwork quality after it has dried completely. If you want to add more coating, you must wait after the paint has properly dried.
Wax the RV Exterior
The last step is to apply wax finishing on the RV exterior paint job. Waxing the RV after painting it has many benefits.
The uneven areas can be fixed by waxing them. It also adds a shield of protection over your RV exterior fiberglass. It makes the RV look glossy and shiny as a new vehicle.
Use RV fiberglass wax, fine sandpaper, and a soft cloth or towel. Rub some wax on the fabric. Remember to read the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual.
Don’t rub too hard for a long time. Polish the exterior in a circular motion. You want a clean finish.
After waxing, remove all the painter’s tape carefully. Your RV now looks brand new! Now you know how to paint RV exterior fiberglass.
While painting an RV exterior may look easy, there are some precautions you must take before painting them. You need to follow some rules to make sure the paint lasts longer as well. Below are some such directions.
Metallic Roofs: Some RVs have metallic roofs. Those roofs are exempt from the above painting procedure. Metallic surfaces need different treatment than fiberglass ones.
Cover Face: You must cover your face and nose before you start painting or cleaning. Paint fumes have chemicals that can cause damage if inhaled for a while.
Since the painting process takes a while, you should wear a mask or cloth over your nose.
Wash Regularly: The RV exterior needs to be cleaned regularly to avoid build-up of dirt, grease, or bird poop. The longer you don’t wash it, the more difficult it will be to remove them.
Park in Shadow: Always park your RV in a shaded place in the garage or wherever. You also need to follow this rule when you’re on the road. UV rays will wear off the exterior paint much quicker.
Wax the Exterior: Some people prefer to apply a coating of wax after every wash. It gives the paint layer extra protection. It increases the durability as well.
Now you know how to paint RV exterior fiberglass in easy steps. You can now paint your RV without confusion and hassle.
Pick the right paint to ensure a durable coating. Let the primer and paint dry completely before doing any more work on the RV. Using suitable materials and patience is the key to a long-lasting paint job.
It is a simple task that requires patience and caution. Breaking down the entire procedure into smaller steps helps the errand look less daunting. Go through the steps carefully, and be sure to take your time for each step.