Paint over gelcoat? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-01-2016, 11:09 AM   #1
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Paint over gelcoat?

Some of the best and most durable finishes I've seen on fiberglass have been on Coach House motorhomes and Leer camper shells. Both of these have an exterior gelcoat but are painted after the gelcoat is lightly sanded and prepped. I believe in both cases there is also a clear coat applied. Out of curiosity how much would a trailer manufacturer, e.g. Casita, Escape or Bigfoot add to the cost for this kind of paint job?
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:19 AM   #2
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Some of the best and most durable finishes I've seen on fiberglass have been on Coach House motorhomes and Leer camper shells. Both of these have an exterior gelcoat but are painted after the gelcoat is lightly sanded and prepped. I believe in both cases there is also a clear coat applied. Out of curiosity how much would a trailer manufacturer, e.g. Casita, Escape or Bigfoot add to the cost for this kind of paint job?
I dont know the cost but I did my own on a Compact J. I used Tremclad paint and a small foam roller. It came out very professional looking.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:25 AM   #3
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I don't think any of the three manufacturers will paint, they're not setup for it. You'd have to check with them to make certain though.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:33 AM   #4
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Hi Steve,
I may be wrong but I am petty sure none of the most common manufacturers like Scamp are going to start offering custom paint applications. That is a pretty big investment and a whole new can of worms on their part.
All of the painted FGRV's I have seen have been painted aftermarket. Auto body shops will do it for you, or you can tackle it yourself. Many folks use the roller method. If you have used a sprayer before, you can even get an automotive finish yourself. I bought a gallon (4L) of automotive single-stage paint for $400 canadian (that's what? $20 US?) . I painted my whole Boler 13ft and had 1/3 of the can left. I'm cheap so that worked for me.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:34 AM   #5
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Assuming they were set up for it, about how much would it add to the cost of the trailer; $500, $1000, $2000, ? Painting a molded fiberglass trailer after it was already built would definitely be a chore.

Edit - Come to think of it, Oliver once offered to paint their trailers at the factory. The samples that I saw in Quartzsite, AZ were black and red as I recall. Does anyone know how much they charged extra?
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:42 AM   #6
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Assuming they were set up for it, about how much would it add to the cost of the trailer; $500, $1000, $2000, ? Painting a molded fiberglass trailer after it was already built would definitely be a chore.

Edit - Come to think of it, Oliver once offered to paint their trailers at the factory. The samples that I saw in Quartzsite, AZ were black and red as I recall. Does anyone know how much they charged extra?
The gell coat on the HC1 is approx around $500 .00 extra for half the trailer to make almost any color but no gell coat can be made in a metalic finish.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:43 AM   #7
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Edit - Come to think of it, Oliver once offered to paint their trailers at the factory. The samples that I saw in Quartzsite, AZ were black and red as I recall. Does anyone know how much they charged extra?
That was actually colored gel coat. I saw those trailers too when Jim and Evon Oliver came to the Oregon Gathering years ago and brought several Oliver owners with them.


Here's a picture of the black one:
http://oliver.hewus.com/Trailer/Othe...40468.JPG.html
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Old 05-01-2016, 01:20 PM   #8
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That was actually colored gel coat. I saw those trailers too when Jim and Evon Oliver came to the Oregon Gathering years ago and brought several Oliver owners with them.


Here's a picture of the black one:
Hewus' Oliver Travel Trailer: P1040468
Thanks for the correction Donna D. I just assumed they were painted.
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:54 AM   #9
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Hi, people are paying a LOT of money to have their trailers painted or re-gel-coated...the only reason to paint a gel coat is if it is seriously compromised. Otherwise that's kind of the gold standard for coatings.

The little foam rollers do a very nice job (watch out for tiny bubbles!) -- you can either "tip" by gently brushing over the surface of a rolled paint until all the tiny air bubbles are popped, or keep rolling gently until they're gone...it makes a pretty nice finish.

You can buy VERY expensive paint, or basic auto paint...people have painted these with Rustoleum enamel, various marine enamels, the rubberized "undercoating" or "truck bed lining" paints (Durabak has many lovely colors, that can be mixed to make thousands of possibilities). It takes about a gallon of paint and somewhat less primer to do a 13 - 16 foot trailer. I'd figure on one coat of primer and two of paint.

It is very labor intensive, and shouldn't be undertaken lightly. It's best if you pull out all windows, take off all trim, all lights, etc. and get that primer and paint under all the edges. You need to do a LOT of sanding, before and between coats, a lot of wiping down, and making sure the cottonwoods aren't "blowing" their fluff when you do this. If you can get it under cover, inside a garage or something, so much the better.

We refinished our 1973 amerigo (from dark brown with flaws and nearly 80 patches) to rustoleum marine white just in time to avoid those cottonwoods and their airborn mess. (We did all the work outside, in our driveway, between rain and windstorms here in The Great North Wet, starting with one window area and moving on window by window, then filling in the areas between. It came out quite well, surprisingly so, to me.

Someday we'll post photos...

Oh, and instead of putting in the rubber window spline, that decorative trim that supposedly keeps the screws "dry" but hadn't, we carefully cleaned out and painted all the channels black, right over the screws and all. Funny how the paint sticks even to the butyl rubber sealant that oozes around the edges of the screws. And if it comes off, we can touch up easily.

BEST

photo is of the old paint job. ANY photo of a white amerigo looks a lot like ours does now. Haven't gotten innovative...just enjoying the standard look for a while.
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:29 PM   #10
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Thanks for all of the comments. I have no intention of painting my Bigfoot. The finish still looks near new and shiny after about 10 years. Perhaps mostly due to it being covered or stored inside most of its life. But after just waxing my '07 F250 with a Leer camper shell and the Bigfoot I had a good opportunity to see the differences in finish. All are about the same age and same color except the Leer shell is a bit older having been on my earlier F250. The finish on the Leer shell is by far much nicer and has held up the best. If I were to buy another trailer and most likely will not I would pay more for one with the finish comparable to the Leer shell. I have no idea what techniques they use for painting but it's that much nicer looking.
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:41 PM   #11
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It's because the trailer is finished with Gel Coat, the Leer was painted and probably has a clear coat over the paint. Two different solutions.
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Old 05-02-2016, 03:19 PM   #12
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It's because the trailer is finished with Gel Coat, the Leer was painted and probably has a clear coat over the paint. Two different solutions.
That's sort of my point. After looking at a video of Leer's manufacturing process it seems that all of their fiberglass shells have a base gel coat to which they lightly sand after it is removed from the mold and apply a finish coat of paint and several clear coats. I think this is the same process that Coach House uses on their MHs, which have a molded fiberglass exterior. The resulting finish looks great. But you're right. it's probably cost prohibitive for manufacturers to do this on our small travel trailers considering their overall cost.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:16 PM   #13
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That was actually colored gel coat. I saw those trailers too when Jim and Evon Oliver came to the Oregon Gathering years ago and brought several Oliver owners with them.
Sorry Donna, they were actually painted. I've seen both of them many times at the factory. (The red one is currently back there now for renovation.) They were experimenting with that idea in 2007 and early 2008 but quickly abandoned it due to the extra labor required. I have a picture of a blue one also (top shell only).
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