Can you paint the outside of a caravan?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you paint the outside of a caravan? We will explain how to prepare and paint your caravan step-by-step. 

Can you paint the outside of a caravan?

Yes, of course, you can paint the outside of a caravan. It is common that after a certain period of time, the external paint of a caravan, which is usually white, tends to gain a yellow shade mostly due to exposure to sunlight. 

In this case, it is possible to carry out a restoration that consists precisely in painting the external surface of the caravan. So let’s see, through the steps of the following guide, how to paint the outside of a caravan.

When is the best time to paint the outside of your caravan?

If you own a practically new caravan and just wash it with water to make it look good, you can skip the paint. Plus, decals can peel off easily from a new vehicle, so do it quickly. Remove them with a scraper and then clean, this will serve to standardize the surface of the vehicle and prepare it for possible subsequent painting.

If the exterior of your caravan is damaged or if you have made repairs that have left visible damage, a painting would be welcome. Make sure the area where you are going to paint is clean and free of dust.

The ideal is to paint in a shelter from the weather and the wind but if you have no choice then you should be careful not to paint in windy weather as the wind blows up dust and dirt nearby and you don’t want to especially not that they adhere to your new paint. Wind can also cause excess paint to spill out more.

Steps to paint the outside of your caravan

  1. Cleaning is always the first step. The purpose of washing is not just to make the vehicle clean, but to polish it thoroughly to ensure the best paint result. You should do a high-pressure wash of the whole vehicle (even the roof) and let it dry completely.
  1. Remove any stickers. Start by sanding down the areas where the decals peel off with a heat gun or decal pad. This can be quite difficult depending on the age of your trailer and the type of pavement so don’t waste too much time. 

The decals are easily removed from smooth coatings, but if you have a corrugated-coated trailer, you can simply repaint them. It is enough to polish the stickers that have been exposed to the sun a lot to obtain an optimal surface.

You can also remove them with a scraper and paint stripper which will allow you to clean the surface at the same time.

  1. Prepare your vehicle for painting. This is a very important step for all painting projects. It is necessary to remove the parts of paint which are peeling but also all the debris and residues. 

These preparations are necessary so that your paint can adhere well to the surface and have a uniform and smooth appearance. Then perform a good sanding with a soft grain paper to uniform and roughen the surface, especially if it is glossy.

  1. Disassemble. If you take the trouble to remove the parts that you don’t want to paint before starting your project, you will be able to save a lot of time and it will make your job easier.

 Some parts such as the wiper or the side protection strips can be removed and you can take the opportunity to find faulty ones and replace them.

  1. Cover well. Next, you have to seal the corners and edges of the windows using a paintable sealer. Before you even start painting, protect windows and other trim pieces that you don’t want to paint on by using strong tape. Be careful to cover the windows and rubbers, but also the remaining cavities of the wipers and front or rear lights.
  1. Sand and smooth once more. If the coating of your trailer has dents, be aware that they will be reinforced by the paint. So take the time to arrange and smooth them to obtain an adequate surface for painting and guarantee a beautiful result.
  1. Fix what needs to be fixed. If there are any repairs to be made, do so before painting and make sure everything is clean and even. If this is a new recreational vehicle and the exterior is still in good condition, you can clean and sand it first. 

In any case, to avoid having to redo the paint, make sure that your vehicle is in good condition and that it does not require any work after application.

  1. Use a primer. Some trim pieces, especially plastic ones, need to be sprayed with a primer before painting. You can spray the entire trailer with a paint sprayer and compressor to apply the primer, but it can also be applied by roller. It is best to start with an adherent primer to be sure the paint will hold onto the various surfaces of the vehicle.
  1. Choose well and apply the paint. The important thing is to cover the surface well and apply the number of coats necessary to achieve the finish and colour you want while ensuring the durability of the paint. 

Exterior latex paint will do very well in the case of a trailer installed permanently in a campsite while an alkyd-based paint will give a more resistant finish for a caravan or a trailer used on the road.

How to apply the caravan paint?

You can use a roller or a sprayer arming yourself with tape and masking paper to protect the vehicle and achieve a more even finish. Protect the ground with a tarp and always start with the roof downwards. If you are simply looking to cover up the damage to the vehicle, use a sprayer from a distance of about 30 cm.

With caravans, you have plenty of choices and you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to design. You can start with a neutral colour that you spray or spread with a roller all over the vehicle. You should let dry the required time depending on the product used and then you can then add the colours you want. 

Sometimes to get a dark colour you need to apply several coats, but it is very important to let each coat dry for a few hours before applying the next. Use good quality fresh paint masking tape.

Final thoughts

Lastly, but not less important, when painting the outside of your caravan add your personal touch. Let your paint dry and then afterwards you can decorate your trailer as you wish.

If you need advice on all of your painting or decorating projects, you can contact us. We will be more than happy to answer any additional questions you may have on the content. 

FAQ on Can you paint the outside of a caravan?

Can you paint the interior of a caravan?

Yes, you can paint the interior of a caravan, just like you would paint its exterior. Just make sure you clean it first, sand, apply a primer then the first layer of paint. 

How to paint without leaving traces?

To paint without leaving any traces start by painting the edges, with a round brush. Divide the area into imaginary square meters. Distribute the paint well on the roller (using the grid) and paint in strips over the first square meter. Pass the roll in one direction and the other of this square meter.

Can you paint the caravan ceiling?

Yes, you can paint the caravan ceiling. It can seem trivial and easy to do the job, however, professionals will tell you that many precautions must be taken to protect the floor and walls, to prepare the surface before painting or to avoid having to spend three or four coats of paint. 


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