Hubby wants to repaint fading RV decals. Wife worried!

Hubby wants to repaint fading RV decals. Wife worried!

Dear RV Shrink:
rvshrinkI need help quick. My husband thinks he’s Rembrandt. Our motorhome decals have started to fade and crack. He got a bid last year in Arizona to have them removed and replaced for just under $4,000. With sticker shock in his eyes he began surfing the web for other options.

All I have heard for months are methods others have used to fix the problem. Some people paint over the decals, some remove and buy new decals, some remove and leave them off, some remove and repaint them, some spend $15,000 and have the whole rig painted professionally.

My husband has decided to remove and paint them back on. This all sounds realistic, but my husband is a retired accountant, not a sign painter. I’m afraid we might be traveling down the road looking like the many graffiti-painted train cars we see passing on the rails. Can you convince him this is not the way to go? —Painted Lady in Lordsburg

Dear Painted Lady:
You wrote the wrong guy. Like your husband, I think I’m Rembrandt. I thought about being Van Gogh, but I just couldn’t get into the ear thing. I can’t tell you the best method because I am still in the experimental stages. Like your husband, I hate to spend big bucks on vanity vehicle exterior makeup.

I think it is great when people take the road less traveled — break out of their mold and try something bold. It sounds like your husband has done his homework, learned from others’ mistakes, and now is ready to make some of his own. It is not that earth-shattering. If it looks bad you can always remove it.

After going through the same web search process, I decided to remove my decals with an eraser wheel, lightly wet-sand the ghost area, mask it off with good automotive detail tape and spray it with One Shot sign painter’s enamel. This paint has been used to put millions of boat names on fiberglass sailboats, so I thought it might work fine on my motorhome.

By next year I can tell you how it holds up. So far it looks better than factory. It can’t be any worse than those cheap vinyl decals that come standard. The hardest part is masking all the swooshy decal patterns. Use 1/4 inch professional masking tape to make the close radius turns.

Another option is to park your rig overnight near the Chicago rail yards and see what you get. It could be really cool. —Keep Smilin’, RV Shrink

##rvt748

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8 thoughts on “Hubby wants to repaint fading RV decals. Wife worried!

  1. Donna

    I ordered new decals for my 2004 Winnebago and we put them on ourselves. It looks good. That cost about $200 but did not have to replace all of the decals.

  2. Laura C.

    What about having it wrapped? I’ve seen cars that have been wrapped and they look great. Anybody know how costly it is or how long it lasts?

  3. RV Staff

    From Roger Marble:
    After 7 years I needed to replace the vinyl. It was pronounced “defective” from RV Company but since it was out of warranty I was on my own. I also got sticker shock with a quote for removing the crumbling vinyl.

    The killer is the labor hours. If the owner can take his time and carefully remove the old vinyl he can probably cut half of the cost of the job.

    Painting new “swooshes” can be done but a very close inspection of the condition of the fiberglass surface is called for. It may be learned that the Sun exposure has also damaged the surface of the coach where there was no vinyl to “protect” the fiberglass, so simply painting the “swoosh” may be ok but then he may discover the rest of the side of the coach needs to be painted next year.

    While I have a shop and equipment to paint the side of my 23′ Class-C, it definitely was not easy as I needed scaffolding to get the height needed. Weather has to cooperate too.

    The owner may be able to have a full repaint done at lower cost if he does all the prep work of vinyl removal, RV trim removal, cleaning, washing with wax remover and sanding with appropriate grit paper. He just needs to work closely with the paint shop.

  4. Greg

    Oh, I REALLY like the let-it-be-tagged idea. The problem I see is that they wouldn’t use sign-painter paint, just low-quality rattle-can stuff. Wouldn’t last….

  5. PennyPA

    I’m thinking of tracing the decals then removing them and painting inside the trace lines….could almost be a “paint by number” situation….OR hiring an artist from the local high school to do the same thing.

  6. Ken S

    If the decals are just faded, before I’d paint them I’d try putting 10 coats or so of ZEP Wet Look Floor finish on it and see how it looks. I’ve done both my Class As with it and it has done wonders for faded decals and paint and lasts at least 2 years with no yellowing.

    1. Gene

      We bought a used RV and one side has moderate sun damage to the paint. Thought I would try your idea, did you use it on much of the body as well as decals?

      1. Debra

        I used Zep on my class C and the fiberglass and decals look great. It didn’t work on the metal cab though. It cracked and peeled and was very difficult to remove with Zep floor stripper. Also be careful not to get it on windows, mirrors or in crevices around moving parts like doors which it can glue shut if you’re not careful.

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