How do we paint Elephant Skin? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-16-2017, 09:51 PM   #1
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How do we paint Elephant Skin?

Hey all! I've got elephant skin on the walls and ceiling of my Playpac and it's in great condition, structurally. It's well adhered and no rips.

But it's dreary. Decades held in bondage as a hunting cabin has taken some of the sunshine out of my little rescue. What to do? Clean it, sure... But then what?

I got some really good primer made to adhere to glossy surfaces and my initial thought was to spray that (with a paint gun) and then spray a top coat with a high quality gloss latex, because that is a flexible paint.

But it just occurred to me that maybe I should use the spray dye that is used for vinyl automotive seats.

What do you all think? If there is already ample thread on this then please accept my apologies for cluttering our forum and I would be grateful for a link.

Thank you Peeps!
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Old 07-16-2017, 10:10 PM   #2
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Oh! And while I'm at it, what is a good tape for the elephant skin seams? One of my strips of tape had lifted (glue dried out) and a good many of them never had any tape. They are starting to curl just a bit and I want to run a strip of tape along them all for good measure to hold them flat for eternity.

I was thinking if running all the seams with a strip of Gorilla tape, because that seems to stick forever to anything. Never tried it on a ceiling in a hot box though.

What sticks forever without sagging down in the summer heat of an enclosed trailer? I'll be spraying a coat of paint or dye over it all once it's prepped so color is no object.

Thank you for your experience fellow campers!!!
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Old 07-17-2017, 05:55 AM   #3
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If you're painting, you can ditch the tape. Fill the seams with latex caulk. Some have suggested dabbing with a crumpled rag to approximate the texture of the Ensolite. Then you'll have a smooth seamless interior and no more tape issues.

I can easily see Gorilla tape making a mess later.
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Old 07-17-2017, 06:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
If you're painting, you can ditch the tape. Fill the seams with latex caulk. Some have suggested dabbing with a crumpled rag to approximate the texture of the Ensolite. Then you'll have a smooth seamless interior and no more tape issues.

I can easily see Gorilla tape making a mess later.
Well you must be into stamped concrete or crafting either way that's a great idea with making the elephant skin texture in some filling material. On the seams that butt up together and are stapled to something that should work great because there are already held flat.

There are some seams where the elephant skin overlaps rather than butts. On some of the overlap the top layer is starting to curl off the bottom a bit so I will need a way to hold that down, so the thinking about tape may still remain for those spots. I have the same worry about the Gorilla Tape. If it does fail it will be a disaster and I'll have to pull the skin. If it works though it does seem really tough.

The more ideas the better the camper!
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Old 07-17-2017, 07:59 AM   #5
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We primed our ensolite with Kilz indoor/outdoor, then painted with 3M Interior/Exterior (it comes in cans as well as the spray paint). It comes in a variety of colors. This is our third summer camping since we painted it, and it hasn't lifted, peeled or chipped.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:32 AM   #6
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We primed our ensolite with Kilz indoor/outdoor, then painted with 3M Interior/Exterior (it comes in cans as well as the spray paint). It comes in a variety of colors. This is our third summer camping since we painted it, and it hasn't lifted, peeled or chipped.
Great feedback. Thank you!
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:30 PM   #7
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Just a little update here. I tried the Gorilla tape to hold down the curling seams of the ensolite. Did not work. It was lifting within the half hour. Tore it off.

Then I tried insta grab construction adhesive like is used to install tub surrounds in a house. WORKED AWESOME. Happened to use Loctite Power Grab. There were also sections of huge sheets separated from the fiberglass after I got the kitchen cabinets out. This stuff glued it all right down in place right away. It stays flexible but grabs and holds immediately. Then I used it to fill the seams where the original tape was missing. I used a plastic squeegee on some larger gaps and it just worked perfectly.

Now I have the first coat of Bullseye 123 Plus primer rolled on and it's starting to come together. One more coat of primer and then I'm going to top coat it with some exterior gloss Sherwin Williams Dimensions (mildew resistant) in Picnic Green. Yep.

I'll try to remember to update with the results of that.

Later Peeps...
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:42 PM   #8
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I am no expert, but my (admittedly limited) understanding of primer is that one coat should do the job of providing a good substrate for the top coat. What advantage do you see in a 2nd coat of primer?

Picnic Green... yeah, no lighter than that, because Pistachio might have made you hungry all the time.
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:48 PM   #9
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I am no expert, but my (admittedly limited) understanding of primer is that one coat should do the job of providing a good substrate for the top coat. What advantage do you see in a 2nd coat of primer?

Picnic Green... yeah, no lighter than that, because Pistachio might have made you hungry all the time.
Agree. The only reason I could see for a 2nd primer coat would be as extra stain blocking, but the Bullseye is a stain blocking primer already, and it's not covering anything dark in this case.
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Old 08-08-2017, 11:45 PM   #10
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Primer also helps fill in some of the small voids better than a top coat will. Some ensolite can be more heavily "textured".

Having done a lot of painting in my day, I felt that when I did mine, a second coat of Kilz would have gone a long way in making my top coat go on easier and go further.
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Old 08-09-2017, 07:28 AM   #11
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Perhaps, Roy, but Kilz has very little build. The big advantage there is it's oil based, so it sticks to just about anything. Your point is well taken with the Bullseye, since it's thicker. That must have been one stinky job, applying Kilz in such a confined space. Hopefully you had adequate ventilation or a mask.
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:14 AM   #12
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If I had kilzed it with oil base I bet one coat would have done it. The primer I used is water based and, although it didn't fisheye in the vinyl, it did try to and left a lot of very thinly coated speckles, so to speak. I want it locked down before I put the top coat on so a second coat it will have to be. It's the first time using this primer and my thought process was that a water based film would have more flexibility after it cured. The substrate ensolite is quite flexible. I am happy with how it's performing for me. I am asking it to adhere to a pretty slick surface. Cured, it's tight on the surface so I'm still getting a lot of the elephant texture, which I like.
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Old 08-22-2017, 08:05 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
If you're painting, you can ditch the tape. Fill the seams with latex caulk. Some have suggested dabbing with a crumpled rag to approximate the texture of the Ensolite. Then you'll have a smooth seamless interior and no more tape issues.

I can easily see Gorilla tape making a mess later.


I'm doing the same and having a hard time with matching the ensolite texture any suggestions
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Old 08-22-2017, 08:07 PM   #14
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Any suggestions on how to match the elephant skin texture I'm having a hard time
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