Can you paint a pop-up camper canvas?

In today’s article, we will explain: Can you paint a pop-up camper canvas? We will not only teach you how to paint your pop-up camper canvas but also tell you how to properly clean and maintain it. 

Can you paint a pop-up camper canvas?

Yes, you can paint a pop-up camper canvas. In fact, with our guide, it will seem so easy to paint your camper that you will be wondering why you haven’t done it before. Still, there are some things to consider and it is our duty to warn you that this may not be the best idea (for everyone).  

It is not normally recommended that you paint a canvas of a pop-up camper because the paint applied can warp and crack, especially if your canvas retracts. However, if you just can’t stand to look at the old canvas colour anymore, you can try painting the pop-up camper with acrylic or fabric paint. Still, consider the fact that you might not end up with a perfect finish on your camper canvas once you have painted it!

The first step to paint a pop-up camper canvas

The first step to paint a pop-up camper canvas is to properly clean it! Here are a few things that you will need:

  • A soft dry brush
  • A small tray
  • Mild detergent
  • Clean rags
  • A hose
  • commercial camper mould cleaner (optional).

Here’s how to thoroughly clean your pop-up camper canvas, and also a few tips to keep it in pristine condition: 

  1. Brush off dirt or debris such as bird droppings, soot, or fabric dust. Keep it clean daily, to prevent dirt from adhering to the surface. Dirt and moisture are two of the culprits behind canvas surfaces’ greatest enemy: mould.
  1. If you wish, pack the camper only when it is dry. If you must pack wet due to rain, open it again immediately after returning home and allow it to dry completely.
  1. Never store perishable food or wet items inside the caravan during storage. These perpetuate mould and rot, and they can spread to the entire camper including the canvas.
  1. Wash the canvas caravan with a very mild dish of detergent or soap in flakes of water and, if necessary. Mix the detergent in a little bit of solution by adding 1 tbsp. of soap for 1 gallon of water. Use a soft cloth to wash the camper in small sections. Do not let dry soapy water on the surface. Rinse immediately with cool, clear water from a hose. Let the caravan dry completely before putting it away.
  1. Keep any detergent or commercial cleaning products away from the canvass. This material is not intended for cleaning products. Brush to remove any traces of dust or daily dirt. The inclination of the canvas to a corner during use, so that the water does not pool if it rains. Pack away completely dry, not wet.
  1. Keep food, bug spray, leaves, and personal hygiene items such as hair spray away from the canvas camper. These things stick to the surface, then collect dirt and moisture. Some foliage has acidic properties that stain and break the protective surface.
  1. Keep in mind that a tarp cannot protect more than its own hard shell and it impedes the flow of air, allowing moisture to accumulate inside.
  1. If a problem with mould occurs, clean the canvas only with a commercial mould stain remover sold at your camping supply dealer. These are designed not to damage the protective coatings on the surfaces.

How to clean mould and mildew off your pop-up camper canvas

Of course, you cannot proceed to paint your pop-up camper canvas if it has mould and mildew! Pop-up campers are a great luxury to have when you like to go camping in the wilderness but don’t want to use a tent. They are compact and easy to carry. 

  1. Prepare the area by cleaning the dirty spots on the camper with a moderately stiff bristle brush and removing any excess dirt that may be on the canvas walls. If dirt stains remain, use a cloth and mild dish detergent mixed with water. Do not apply the soapy water directly to the canvas, apply it to the cloth first, then use the cloth to scrub the area until it is clean.
  1. You can choose to use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to kill mould and mildew in your pop-up camper. Hydrogen peroxide is the stronger of the two but can sometimes discolour the canvas. The vinegar will remove any odours from the mould and mildew but may take multiple applications.
  1. Using vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, apply the substance directly to the mould and mildew. Let the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide sit for about 15 minutes.
  1. Brush the area with the brush. Use the cloth and rinse with water to remove excess vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. You may need to repeat this process to completely remove mould or mildew stain, especially deep, stubborn mould or mildew.

Here’s how to actually paint a pop-up camper canvas

To paint your pop-up camper canvas, follow our guide step-by-step:

  1. Clean the canvas thoroughly. If it is retractable, fully extend it. Scrub the canvas with a scrub brush and cloth detergent mixed in water. Rinse thoroughly with a hose. Repeat the operation if necessary. Allow the canvas to completely dry before proceeding to the next step.
  1. Sand the entire surface of the canvas. This will loosen the deep dirt and will also provide a better surface for the paint to adhere to. Rinse the canvas with the hose and allow it to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
  1. Spray the canvas with acrylic or fabric paint. Take care to apply the paint lightly and evenly and to avoid over-saturating an area. You want to avoid trails, drips or heavily cured paint anywhere on the canvas. Allow the paint to dry completely before proceeding to step 4.
  1. Spray the canvas with a waterproof sealant to seal in the paint and help retain the colour. Allow the canvas to dry completely before retracting or moving it.

How to choose the right paint for your pop-up camper canvas?

For painting pop-up camper canvas, we recommend Sher-cryl, a product specially designed for this type of material. It stands out for its total adherence to canvas and for its 100% flexibility once dry.

The canvas to be painted must be completely free of dirt and grease. Clean thoroughly with solvent or degreaser. Once the surface is clean, we must dilute the product with 40% universal solvent (VERY IMPORTANT) and apply it in very thin layers (30 minutes between coats). 

We recommend the application of Sher-cryl by spray, although it can be applied perfectly with a very short nap roller. We do not recommend applying by brush because it tends to leave more layers than the product requires and could crack the enamel.

Applying more product than necessary would only be detrimental to the final result, detriment to the final finish. Apply a thin coat and repeat the operation after 30 minutes. Once the surface is covered, do not apply any more paint. Once the product is dry, (4-5 hours) you can roll up and unroll the canvas as many times as you want.

The bottom line

Now that you know how to paint a pop-up camper canvas, we wish you good luck and don’t hesitate to contact us with more questions or details about the colour that you choose!

FAQ on Can you paint a pop-up camper canvas?

How to remove paint stains from a pop-up camper canvas?

To remove paint stains from a pop-up camper canvas apply a cleaning solution to the stain. A mixture of hand soap and dish soap makes an excellent paint cleaner, especially on fresh stains. If you’re working with a dry stain, use hairspray or rubbing alcohol to remove the paint.

What type of paint is used to paint plastic?

To paint on plastic you can use spray or aerosol paints that are the most recommended, however, you can also use oil, oil and acrylic paints. Use good brushes for this, preferably non-drip. Lastly, apply a universal sealer or hairspray for a great finish.

How to clean a camper canvas?

To clean a camper canvas use mild soap and a large amount of water. Do not use glass cleaners that contain solvents or alcohol to wash them, nor do not use cloths or brushes that could scratch the camper. Dry cleaning is also strongly discouraged.


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