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How to Repaint Your RV's Exterior

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You love your reliable old rig! It’s your home away from home and when you walk inside you just feel at peace. When you walk outside however, the old girl is definitely leaving something to be desired. She’s well loved, has seen many miles on the open road, and shows it! Taking an RV to a professional to have it repainted can get very expensive due to the size. Not to worry! Here’s how to repaint your RV’s exterior on your own so that you can keep some of that cash in your pocket!


You’re going to need some supplies before you get started. Make sure you pick up the right items the first time so you won’t have to stop in the middle of the project to get something you missed.

  • Automotive primer

  • Automotive paint

  • Automotive clear coat

  • Oil based primer (if you have plastic trim you want to paint)

  • Paint removal and buffing tools

  • Paint gun and compressor

  • Tape and other protective materials

  • A dry Swiffer with unscented cloths

Now that you have everything gathered up, it’s time to get down and dirty! Let’s get started prepping the outside of the RV!

Getting it Ready

Before you slap on the paint you have to prep your RV’s exterior surfaces. It can be pretty tempting to skip this step and get right to the paint but if you do, you will find that the paint won’t go on as easily and you’ll have to repeat your efforts again soon because it won’t stay on for long either. Follow these steps to make sure your rig is ready to accept your paint job and keep it once it’s there!

  1. Remove all cover plates and hardware from the surfaces.

  2. Sand any peeling paint and residue off the surface and remove any stickers or decals.

  3. Buff the entire rig with light sandpaper, including any areas under where the plates and hardware were, so you have a smooth surface that’s ready to embrace the paint!

  4. Wipe down the areas you sanded and buffed to remove any dust left behind. Using a Swiffer is a great option for this to make it easier and quicker.

  5. Cover areas you don’t want to get paint on such as trim pieces and windows.

Now your rig is all set and ready for paint! A few more things to consider before you start painting will be the area and the weather you paint in. If you’re in an area where there is a lot of dirt, you may want to move the rig so that the dirt doesn’t end up in your paint. If the weather is calling for a windy day, it’s probably best to hold off so that it’s not blowing things into your paint job, or if it’s windy enough, carrying overspray to other things like your tow vehicle, neighbor’s car, the cat, etc.

Primer & Paint

In order to get a great finish you’re going to need a paint gun. Brushes won’t give you the finish you want and spray paint from a can is never a good idea on the outside of a vehicle. You also want to ensure that you’re getting automotive paint and primer! House paint won’t stand up to road debris and it won’t give you a very good shine. Here is the step-by-step guide to priming and painting:

  1. If you have any plastic pieces or trim you plan to paint along with the siding of the RV, make sure to prime them with an oil based primer first!

  2. Prime the entire outside with an auto body primer using the spray gun. You may need more than one coat. Ensure that the entire area is covered with primer when you’re finished.

  3. Clean the spray gun thoroughly before adding paint.

  4. Spray on light coats of paint, drying for a few hours in between each coat until you get the consistency and color you’re looking for.

  5. Thoroughly clean the gun again.

  6. Spray on at least two coats of clear coat, allowing a few hours to dry in between.

Your rig should be looking stellar now! You won’t believe how much newer a few coats of paint can make it look! Now get out there and show off your hard work with a road trip!

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