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"How to paint motorhomes and old aluminum caravans"


Q. I want to give a really old caravan a tidy look. It is aluminum and also partly painted with emulsion paint or similar. I would like to use a gold acrylic paint for most of it. Would this be okay over an all purpose metal primer?

Jennifer P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
hobby - Winchelsea, East Sussex, UK


A. If the emulsion is water-borne (mixes with water), then remove it mechanically (sanding, etc.) or chemically with acid based paint stripper (it will bubble up in a few minutes). Why acrylic? Just wondering...was the surface primed? Either way, use a very good aluminum primer or wash primer with phosphoric acid to etch into the aluminum--use a very thin coat, spray or brush. Use whatever kind of paint you want except epoxy (if it is for outdoor use), epoxy will crack and look ugly--too brittle. Polyurethane and enamels "give" with the weather the best and you can clear coat it with acrylic if you like.

Bill W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.


Q. Swift caravan repaint? Hello, I have a 22 ft swift caravan and I am living in the U.K., can you advise me if it is possible to repaint the exterior or my caravan and what products are best to use, we tried with normal metal paint last year, but now it has began to peel. Any help will be gratefully received.

Julia M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
caravan owner - norfolk UK

May 28, 2013

Q. I would like to repaint my 1994 Ford motorhome; could you please advise me on how to go about it?
Many thanks.

Frances McWilliams
- St Annes, England

June 12, 2013

A. I've done some work in the past doing auto body work, 80-90% of that time and effort is put into surface prep. When paint starts to peel and bubble, it's due to bad surface prep most of the time.

So, to do it right you're going to have to strip everything down to bare metal, fill and fix any blemishes, dents, and imperfections, prime it, and paint it.
There are thousands and thousands of different primers and paints for metal. I suggest you get friendly with an auto body paint supply store and see what they advise you to get. Most auto body places I know of would be happy to do it for you, but not so much with the advice.

Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Boone, North Carolina, USA

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