By Nanci Dixon
Like many RVs with decal graphics, our motorhome had started to show signs of age after only four years. The decals were cracking and some were peeling. I was so proud of our still fairly new RV, that I just matched the paint and carefully painted in the cracks. That was NOT a good idea. Beyond being unbearably time-consuming, the rest of the decals continued to fade, crack and peel while my paint remained bright and shiny!
The decals were no longer available. The coach manufacturer had been sold and sold again. We hired our son to remove the decals. Now, at least we couldn’t see the decals cracking and peeling, but the process was not friendly to the exterior fiberglass. We debated our options and decided to have it repainted with full-body paint rather than buy another motorhome to begin our full-time journey.
After that decision, we did a lot of walking around campgrounds snapping photos of designs we liked, going to sales lots to see what was current, and, of course, did tons of research online. We looked into body wraps, too, but considering we were planning to keep the motorhome for a long time, we didn’t want peeling and fading to happen with body wraps later. There was a limited guarantee.
Finding a paint shop
First, we Googled “RV custom paint” and that brought up a good-sized list. Turns out there are a number of places across the country that do full-body RV painting. The first thing we learned? This would not be cheap.
We began calling around and found that some shops had a year wait and some painted the RVs for manufacturers. Those were the easiest to decide on since we just needed to see the RVs that they had painted on the sales lots. That helped eliminate several based on quality and price point.
We also learned that some painted the sides of the slides while others didn’t. Some charged more for a second coat of clear coat. Some charged more for removing the old decals and some didn’t. Some replaced all the weatherstripping and slide seals and some did not. Some seemed to have an attitude and others were friendly and helpful. I actually made a spreadsheet with all the different options.
We decided on Precision Painting in Bremen, Indiana. They do the paint for Entegra as well as some of the Jayco line. Unfortunately, they no longer do many custom paint jobs, at least on older rigs. They are way too busy painting the new ones! We agreed on a ballpark price and set up a time to take it in. In the meantime, I “noodled” designs and things I liked over photos of our RV. It was really going to be a custom paint job!
The day came and we drove the motorhome from Minnesota to Indiana and sat down with the designer. Unbeknownst to me, I had brought ideas that were too close to existing RVs. Apparently, every paint job is copyrighted and the designers can’t replicate them. She worked on her computer and started showing us designs over photos she had taken of our RV. I could say “swirl less” or “swirl more”, “I like that!” or “I don’t like that!” Note, my husband promptly fell asleep in the comfortable chair and the designer and I continued to work on the design.
When the design was complete from every angle, my husband woke up to help with paint colors. There were hundreds to choose from! We could look at some RVs in process of being painted and done.
We went home and waited for the final plans. We received a digital image about a week later, made a few tweaks and both signed off on it.
Painting in progress
We were delighted that she sent photos in progress!
Picking it up in a snowstorm!
Fast forward to our retirement on December 31st. We picked up our drop-dead beautiful motorhome in a snowstorm on January 2! We were what you’d call “happy campers!”
Would we do it again?
Absolutely! We got compliment after compliment on it. Even though two years later we upgraded to diesel, I wouldn’t hesitate to have a rig custom painted. Did we recoup our investment? Only a part of it in resale, but we had the satisfaction of a beautiful eye-catching coach unlike anyone else’s.