Let’s face it – stock RVs are so 1999. Nowadays, it’s all about those fancy, custom paint jobs, and Scooby Doo-style murals. You may be wondering how to (or if you even can) paint an RV. Good news!
You can absolutely paint RV trailers. While it will be a bit of a project, there’s nothing stopping you, aside from money and time.
So without further ado, let’s get into the details!
How Much Does It Cost?
This is a tricky question, as there’s a lot of factors. First and foremost – are you planning to hire a professional or do it yourself? Professionals can get expensive (obviously) but that price tag comes with a benefit – they do this for a living. That means you don’t have to learn or risk screwing up!
On average, painting an RV or trailer costs between $10,000-15,000, with smaller vehicles costing less. That means this is a big project – so here’s everything you need to know so you can plan accordingly.
This is one of the more time-consuming bits of repainting your RV. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, you need to strip the decals if they’re relatively (15-) years old. You’ll also want to lightly sand and then power wash the exterior of your RV and let it dry. This will help the primer stick to the surface and prevent grime from getting under your paint.
After this, you’ll want to tape-off the windows and other areas that you don’t want paint on. While some of these aren’t technically necessary, it’s important to remember that each of these steps is industry-standard for a reason. These preparations are designed to make painting easier and less likely to damage your RV.
On that same note, because this is the most time-consuming step, it’s also often the most expensive. Some professionals have added $3-5,000 extra just to prep the vehicle. So doing this yourself, if able, will save you a good chunk of cash.
Paint can get spendy, as I’m sure you know. The primer and paint costs you experience will change based on the type of paint that you purchase.
Paint can range in cost from roughly $35 a gallon, to $100+, so your costs will vary depending on your choice. Some people swear by Behr’s Marquee and Ultra paint lines, though I can’t personally vouch for them.
On the other hand, some people online insist that spray paint will do the same job for a fraction of the price. While I’m not personally sold, it’s an option! Most importantly, a much cheaper option – one that can cost you below $1,000 for the whole deal. It’s important to remember though that you get what you buy when it comes to paint.
Skimping on paint quality, while often tempting, can lead to further issues down the road. You’ll be super excited this year when you take your newly painted ride out on the town. But next year? You could potentially have stripping paint and all sorts of ugly issues.
Number Of Colors & Custom Designs
Along the same line of thought, the number of paint colors and coats that you apply will also affect your total cost. On average, a secondary (or tertiary) paint coat will add roughly $1,000-2,000 to the final cost. This is affected by a few other factors, especially if you’re paying a professional to do it.
Complicated designs or details will generally end up costing you a pretty penny. If you’re not artistically inclined (like myself) then you should certainly consider asking a professional in your area for a quote. After all – screw up the paint job and you get to redo it, which also costs money.
If you’re hoping to have your RV painted in its entirety, expect to have a few added costs. Slide-outs and other gadgets that don’t come on most RVs will generally add between $300-1,000 to the quote from a professional. Of course, if you’re doing this yourself, you have no such weaknesses! All it’ll cost you is extra time and paint.
Location (If Paying A Pro)
The area in which you’re looking to hire a professional will greatly alter the cost you’re quoted. After doing some research online, I found wildly different costs quoted for similar jobs. The only real difference? They were in different parts of the country.
One person was quoted $10,000 dollars for a three-color paint job. Another had one color, and needed the RV to be prepped – that bill was $4,000 more. On average (since these are the same size RV, 33 feet) they should have both cost roughly the same.
The first person needed objectively less work (but more paint), while the other had a great deal more work and a less complicated paint job. The only difference I could find was that the more expensive quote came from an area with only one person offering that service.
What If It’s Just A Trailer?
Unfortunately, trailers often cost roughly the same (per square foot) to paint as RVs do. This is primarily because the methods are the same – the only difference is the size. This means that an average 20-foot trailer will cost less than the average 33 foot RV total. You’ll be looking at between $1-5,000 for the trailer and $10-15,000 for the RV. Your mileage on this, of course, will vary based on the factors listed above.
Painting an RV or trailer is a big project, but one you can certainly do on your own with the right time and tools. Costs will vary on the size of the thing you’re painting, color/decal number, paint type, and the preparation needed. But, as always, there’s no shame in paying a pro to get it done right the first time if you’re unsure.
Do I Have To Paint My RV Or Trailer?
If the cost listed above turns you off, fiberglass is a more affordable alternative to paint. It won’t heat up in the summer, is generally pretty darn light, and best of all – it’s a lot cheaper. You can potentially save upwards of $3,000 with a fiberglass alternative to paint.
What About Wrapping?
Wrapping your RV is another cost-effective alternative. It can cost as little as $12-15 per square foot, saving you thousands. An A-Class RV paint job can run upwards of $50,000, while a wrap on the same vehicle will cost you below $10,000.