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RV Full Body Paint: What It Is and What It’s Worth

When you first look at RV’s they might all look pretty similar. However, as you get to know them a bit, you will start noticing a few different finishes. Most RV’s use a fiberglass gel coat material on the exterior that is usually white, with adhesive decals for design. Secondly, you may find some RVs with painted-on shapes for design, but only in a few areas. Lastly, you will find RV’s that have detailed designs and colors all over. These are full-body painted rigs.

We have had RV’s with all finish types and know the pros and cons of each. In this article lets do a deep dive into RV paint.

What Is the Difference With Full Body Paint

RV full-body paint is a premium exterior finish typically found on higher-end rigs. Instead of relying on decals or other materials for the designs on the structure, talented artists paint them. This creates a crisp and clean look. In addition to the paint, the RV gets a clearcoat similar to what’s on your car on top of it all.

Manufacturers often have color schemes and patterns that customers can pick. However, you can get a custom paint job if you’re willing to pay a more premium price.

Some of the most popular brands offering full-body paint include Entegra, Vanleigh, and Tiffin. However, it’s also available to upgrade specific models from manufacturers like Keystone and Grand Design.

It’s essential to know that some manufacturers have “partial” full-body paint. This combines decals with a layer of clear coat. While it may look similar, it’s not as polished as a full-body paint job.

Pro Tip: Don’t want to DIY your own RV remodel? Check out these 9 RV Remodeling Companies to Avoid the DIY Renovation Headache.

un painted motorhome
This is a luxury motorhome before paint, doesn’t look very fancy at all!

Full Body Paint vs Other Exterior Options

Full-body paint is usually an optional upgrade unless you purchase a luxury RV. As a result, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons between it and other exterior options like decals.

Pros of RV Full Body Paint

While it will cost extra, full-body paint for your RV has several benefits. Let’s look at a few reasons to consider upgrading to it when purchasing your rig. 

Appearance 

Our Mobile Suites and Bigfoot RVs had decals that were fading. They looked horrible, and we had to remove them. However, when you choose full-body paint, you don’t have to worry about this. The color is more resistant to UV damage and lasts much longer than vinyl decals.

You have many more color options with paint as well. You will find all colors of the rainbow in RV paint, but most decal rigs are white, tan or grey with decals. This is because white tan and grey are the most common colors of the fiberglass gelcoat.

In addition, there’s more flexibility regarding the designs and color options. Most manufacturers don’t provide much room for adjustments or modifications when placing decals on rigs. If you want something different, you’ll have to do it after you purchase the RV.

teal RV paint job
Want a teal RV? Its going to have to be paint.

Higher Resale Value

Another significant incentive for full-body paint is that it provides a higher resale value. This is mainly because the rig will maintain a like-new appearance compared to standard decals. Buyers will like the sharp and smooth look and be willing to pay extra for it.

You may plan to own your RV forever, but that’s not the reality for most owners. You will likely part ways with your precious camper eventually. By choosing full-body paint, you’re more likely to get a better return on your investment.

Extra Fiberglass Protection

While many consumers love the look and quality of fiberglass RVs, they can be very delicate. Luckily, full-body paint protects against bugs, road debris, and other gunk that can get onto your camper. This makes it easier to keep it clean and look good for years. 

RV decals and full body RV paint
We had to remove the front RV decal on this RV and replace it with our own. The swooshes on the side, however, were painted along with the lower color. They still look great 20 years later!

Cons of RV Full Body Paint

While full-body paint has many benefits, it’s not perfect. Consider the disadvantages before you decide whether it’s right for you.

Cost

Because full-body paint is a rather intricate process, it’s not cheap. When available, it can add thousands of dollars to the cost of your camper. Unfortunately, this is one of the most significant reasons why many people don’t choose it. While they may love how it looks and its benefits, it’s simply outside their budget. 

Repair Complexity

A significant disadvantage of full-body paint is the complexity and costs associated with repairs. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to experience scratches, dents, and other blemishes on an RV. Many times older paint that sits in the sun will crack or check as well. When you choose full-body paint, it takes more expertise to repair them.

Workers may need to paint larger surface areas to create a smooth, polished finish. Finding the perfect color to match may be more complicated than standard colors. As we’ve seen lately, product shortages or backorders could cause significant repair delays.

Maintenance

While the surface may look suitable, you’ll need to maintain it. If you want the paint to retain its luster and vibrant colors, you’ll need to care for it. This means keeping it clean by washing and waxing it regularly.

In addition, you’ll want to be mindful of where you’re storing it. While it is more resistant to the weather, it’s not invincible. Continuous sun exposure requires a UV wax to prevent damage. Sometimes, even just heat will cause problems. Here are some images of sun and heat damage to the paint on RV’s age 15-25 years old.

How Much Does Full Body Paint Cost for an RV?

The cost of full-body paint on an RV can vary significantly. It largely depends on the quality of the paint and the size of your rig. However, you should expect to pay from $8,000 to $10,000. It’s typically only available on higher-end RVs or as an optional upgrade.

If you decide later that you want full-body paint for your RV, it’s possible to do it aftermarket. However, it will likely end up costing you more usually between 20 and $30,000! . Workers must remove decals and coatings before preparing the surface and painting.

People who want to give their RV a fresh look may opt for a cheaper alternative; vinyl wrap. Depending on the size and complexity of the wrap, these can range from $1,000 to $10,000. However, you’ll typically apply them in a fraction of the time it would take to paint the RV.

How to Care for Your RV’s Full Body Paint

If you want to keep your full-body paint looking new, you must wash it regularly. If you’ve never done it, washing an RV can be a physically demanding job. Many owners will pay a professional several hundred dollars to complete it for them. However, it’s possible to do it yourself if you have the correct tools and space.

You’ll need sponges, rags, and the right cleaning agent. Generally, you want to use a mild detergent rated for automobile paint. Use soft rags and sponges to clean the paint and remove gunk without scratching the paint job.

After letting it dry, you’ll want to apply a coat of protective wax. This helps prevent the sun and other weather elements from fading or causing damage to the surfaces.

Finally, checking with the manufacturer or painter for special care instructions is a good idea. Using the wrong products or materials could cause issues with any warranties.

Pro Tip: Check out our guide on How to Wash and Wax Your RV Like a Pro to keep your paint looking as good as new.

Is RV Full Body Paint Worth It?

We think so. After owning non-painted RV’s, the paint is so much nicer and cleans easier. RV full-body paint isn’t cheap but provides an incredible look for your camper. Don’t be surprised if others stare at your camper when you pull into the campground. RVs with this paint option stand out and look sharp. If you can afford it, it can be a wise upgrade. Just ensure you take the correct steps to care for it so it lasts.

What kind of aesthetic upgrades would you like to make to your RV? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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