how to paint rv exterior fiberglass

A Guide on How to Paint RV Exterior Fiberglass

Peter Wade

How to paint RV exterior fiberglass? This is necessary expertise, as knowing this may save you hundreds of dollars. There could be various reasons for changing the paintwork—the exterior paint may have worn out, the color of your RV might not be trendy anymore, or you may just want to give the exterior a personalized touch.

If you can do this at home, it’s possible to save some money on workshop servicing  and labor costs. Follow this guide if you want to give your RV a brand new look.

Preparations for Painting the RV Fiberglass

The tools and materials required for fiberglass painting are available in the market. You will need fiberglass paint, waxes, painter’s tape, palm sander, and a few more things along with plenty of patience.

The most important thing is to make sure you have the standard-quality fiberglass paint, which costs more than an all-purpose but ensures a professional coat and longevity. Try to get a paint containing epoxy, acrylic, or PU because it offers a better all-weather resistant coating than paint containing oil or melamine.

Choose the paint in gloss, high-gloss, or matte, as you like. Then, proceed on with these steps.

Clean the Exterior

The first preparatory step of how to paint RV exterior fiberglass is cleaning the exterior to free it from dirt and dust. Spray soapy water everywhere on the RV and rub with an automotive sponge. Then, wash with normal water and wipe with microfiber towels. The roof could have gathered an inch of dirt and grime buildup due to years of traveling. So, it may take a few hours to clean everything.

cleaning rv exterior
Clean with Soapy Water.

Polish with Wet Sandpaper

This clean surface needs a little rubbing with sandpaper. Use fine grit wet sandpaper through a palm sander. There is no need to spend hours sanding the exterior. Its only purpose is to smooth down the washed, clean surface a bit for the primer and paint to adhere better to the surface.

Roughly, one hour is enough to sand the entire surface. Try to spend the same amount of time on each spot, or else one part will be less even than another.

Use Denatured Alcohol

The final cleaning ritual is to pour some denatured alcohol on a clean piece of cloth and wipe the RV exterior with it. This substance is excellent for removing the last streak of grease left on the surface. For this particular job, denatured alcohol works better than standard alcohol.

Use Painter’s Tape

The final part of preparation is covering all the parts where paint won’t be applied. You must cover the headlights, windows, and windshields. Don’t forget about the small fixtures such as doorknobs, tire rims, and other details where you won’t apply the paint.

Apply Primer

This is a can’t-miss step of how to paint RV exterior fiberglass. Many people skip this, which is a mistake. Applying a primer smoothen the exterior surface by filling out the small imperfections and pores. It ensures that the paint sets evenly on the surfaces and dries quickly.

paint RV exterior fiberglass
Apply a High-quality Primer.

Applying a primer helps with increasing the paint’s lifespan. Choose a primer based on latex, epoxy, or polyurethane. Using the paint and primer from the same brand is likely to give the best results.

You have to apply primer on the whole exterior and cannot use paint until the surface is completely dry. Drying may take a few hours or follow the manufacturer’s recommendation if you are not sure.

A Guide to How To Paint RV Exterior Fiberglass

Getting the right fiberglass paint and priming the RV are important, but there are several other parts of the jigsaw. You will need to collect the following items.

Items You’ll Need

  • A paintbrush or a paint gun
  • Acetone

Process for How to Paint RV Exterior Fiberglass

After cleaning the exterior thoroughly and doing the groundwork, follow these steps. However, you should choose a well-ventilated and well-lighted place to do the work, but don’t do it under the direct sunlight.

You can use either the paintbrush or the paint gun to put the paint on. Using a brush is an easier but slower process. It’s also much harder to get a uniform finish. A paint gun is obviously a faster, easier option that can provide a smoother, professional finish. It’s the better option if you know how to use it.

Start Painting

Start applying the paint from the front, and use a long fluid motion to stop dripping. Paint drips are a real problem when you are using a paint gun, so be careful to make sure that the paintwork is as even as possible.

Paint RV Exterior Fiberglass

When you are done, wait until the RV body is completely dry. Paint takes longer than primer to get dried. Wait at least 24 hours or follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. After that, you can decide whether or not to settle with that or apply another coat of paint.

Do the Waxing

The next step is applying a wax coating on the paintwork. It’ll create a protective layer for the paint and give the exterior a glossy look. Purchase RV wax for fiberglass, fine-grit sandpaper, and a microfiber towel or a soft piece of cloth.

Sand the uneven areas with the sandpaper. There is no need to do extensive rubbing or spend hours. You just need to even out the small paintwork spots that look uneven.

RV exterior fiberglass painting
Apply the Wax as a Finishing Touch.

Pour some wax onto the towel and polish the exterior in a circular motion. Using a polisher with a soft foam waxing pad will make the job easier and quicker. Then, remove all the painter’s tape and the job is done.

The Final Words

A DIY How to paint RV exterior fiberglass project sounds overwhelming but not complicated if you break that down into several small steps. Use the right tools and quality products to make the job simpler and last the paintwork for a long time.

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