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


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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.

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?


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….


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.

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.