Gone Outdoors

How to Paint a Fiberglass RV

by Jay Kurz

Fiberglass is a strong, lightweight material that can be finished with a fiberglass paint called gel coat. Gel coat is made of a fiberglass resin that is pigmented to match any color. Gel coat has a very thick consistency. To apply it to your recreational vehicle requires a gel coat spray gun.

Wearing a respirator, sand the entire surface of your recreational vehicle, using a palm sander and coarse-grit sandpaper. Thoroughly scuff the entire surface to remove any shine in the paint. Go back over the entire surface with fine-grit sandpaper until the surface is smooth.

Clean the surface using clean rags and acetone. Remove any grease or dust that remains on the surface. Grease and oil can cause bubbles to form in the gel coat.

Tape all the windows and trim on your RV using painter's tape and thin plastic. Also tape off any rails or exposed metal.

Add gel coat and hardener to the gel coat gun as directed in the manual. The gel coat gun will internally mix the gel coat and hardener while you are spraying. If the gun is not an internal mixture gun you will need to manually mix the gel coat and hardener before adding it to the gun. This can be done using a small bucket and a stir stick.

Apply the first coat of gel coat in a heavy mist. Spray as consistently as possible to avoid any runs. Begin on the roof and work your way down. Let the first coat begin to get tacky before applying the second coat.

Apply the second and final coat, continuing to spray as evenly as possible. Cover the entire surface so there are no thin spots in the gel coat. Let the gel coat cure until it is hard and cool to the touch.

Wet sand the entire RV using super fine, wet sandpaper. Clean the surface with clean water.

Apply two coats of boat wax to the RV surface. Buff the wax with an electric buffer. This adds a protective layer over the gel coat and will make your RV shine.

Items you will need
  • Respirator
  • Palm sander
  • Coarse-grit sandpaper
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Rags
  • Acetone
  • Painter's tape
  • Thin plastic
  • Gel coat
  • Methyl ethyl ketone peroxide (hardener)
  • Gel coat spray gun
  • Small bucket
  • Stir sticks
  • Boat wax
  • Electric buffer


  • Wear a respirator when working with fiberglass materials.

About the Author

Jason Kurz has been a published writer for eHow.com and Trails.com for less than a year now. Kurz attended Kent State University of Ohio for Computer Aided Design.