Category: Trailer Renovation

The Paint Job Part 2: Painting Our Vintage Travel Trailer on a Budget

After we decided on the paint job design (see part 1), it came time to start painting! We had read of people who had spent $1000+ on automotive-quality paint jobs, we wanted to find an option that would be less expensive, durable, and still look good.

Nick all geared up and ready to paint!

Up to this point, we had already:

  • Cleaned and repaired the aluminum skin (siding) – including replacing a piece on the front of the trailer that was in bad shape. Also replaced a lot of the underlying framing.
  • Removed all of the windows, doors, and other parts of the trailer we didn’t want to paint.
  • Cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned some more! The prep work took more time than the actual painting did. TSP, water, and sponges. Over and over.

After looking at various paint options (most of which cost a lot of money), we decided to use Valspar Tractor and Implement paint. It was relatively inexpensive, gets a lot of good reviews for its durability, and we could order it on Amazon – yes!

To begin, we put down two coats of gray primer and let it dry over several days.

Primer coats complete

Primer coats complete

The next step was to paint the entire trailer white. We chose to add enamel hardener to make the paint job even more durable as well as adding mineral spirits to thin the paint for use in our paint sprayer. We probably only needed two coats, but decided to go with three coats of white.

White coats complete

White coats complete

Next, we needed to tape off the scallop shapes. I created a cardboard arc that I used as a stencil to draw each of the arcs on the side with a pencil. We thin used very thin painter’s tape – since it was only 1/8″ wide, it was able to curve more than typical painter’s tape. We filled in the space between the lines with wider tape. To avoid the blue color bleeding under the tape, we brushed on a thin layer of white on top of paint edges.

All taped up and ready for the blue!

All taped up and ready for the blue!

Now it was time for the blue paint! Because we wanted our own custom color, we mixed one gallon of the white paint and one gallon of the “Ford Blue”. We tried several ratios, and the 1:1 was not only a lighter blue color we liked, but it would also make it easier to remix if we needed more paint in the future. We did three coats of the blue as well.

Blue coats going on

Blue paint going on!

Paint job complete! (We later also decided to paint the trailer tongue and bumper with black tractor paint as well)

It was tons of work, but well worth it! If doing it again, I would probably use a different paint sprayer – ours left a bit of the dreaded orange peel texture on the trailer – but it’s only noticeable if you get up close.

In total, we spent $365 on all of the cleaning and paint supplies (not including the tongue and bumper). We’re hopeful that it will hold up in the years to come!

Paint job complete!

Paint job complete!

Here’s some more photos of the trailer once we put everything back together:

The Paint Job Part 1: Choosing a Design

We went through some pretty awful ideas when brainstorming how to paint the exterior of our trailer. Designs like these:

Awful paint job ideas
Ugh, right?! We felt constrained by the long horizontal lines, and we wanted to do something a bit more out of the box. Here what we were starting with:

After hours creating mockups that we hated, we finally did what all great artists do and decided to take inspiration from others (aka steal). So off we went to Pinterest and saw several trailers using the scallop design. YES! That was it! Now we just had to pick a color:

Color ideas

I wish we could say we settled on the blue color because of some deep meaning – like reminding us of an adventure on the ocean waves, or floating on the clouds in our family sky-mobile. The decision came down to much more practical reason.

We didn’t want the paint job to break the bank, and had read good things about using tractor paint (very durable). Unfortunately, the paint we were looking at didn’t have very many color options and the last thing we wanted was the trailer to look like a farming implement or a hunting lodge. So we mixed a gallon of white paint with a gallon of “Ford Blue” and ended up with this:

Final Trailer

Given the options we started with, we’re happy with how it turned out! Although those polka dots would’ve been rad 🙂

Next week we’ll share about the painting process and what we used to get the end result without breaking the bank.