A person lays in their black travel trailer hot from the sun.

This is the Worst RV Color

There are many RVs on the road today, and it’s sometimes hard to distinguish them. Manufacturers don’t often take care to individualize RV models, especially with exterior paint choices.

White is the dominant color of choice. Unless you have invested several hundred thousand dollars in a luxury vehicle with a broader color palette, your rig may look like your neighbor’s.

Have you ever wondered why? Let’s look at some of the reasoning behind monotonous RV paint jobs.

A person lays in their black travel trailer hot from the sun.

Why Are RVs Painted the Way They Are?

No one has a straight answer to that question from any RV manufacturer. However, there are several educated guesses as to why RVs are usually white and may have a few swooshes of muted color.

One hypothesis is that designers in the 1990s thought the swoosh patterns broke up the ample clunky white space of a massive RV, and now they’ve been doing it for so long that no one knows how to change it up.

Another observant RV owner noted that most swooshes are vinyl decals, which are easier to apply and much less expensive. This may have been a solution for some manufacturers to ‘fancy up’ the white behemoths. 

Still another conjecture is that swoops were put on RVs to distinguish them from semi tractor-trailers and buses. This seems a little ridiculous, but we are not here to judge!

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What is the Worst RV Color?

White is not so bad on a RV when you consider the alternative: black. Everyone knows that the color black absorbs heat. In addition, the definition of black is the absence of light.

Why would anyone design an RV that is painted black and will soak up the heat? Why would they cover interior furnishings like the seats, beds, and cushions in black material, where they will look gloomy and dark and, when exposed to the sun, will absorb more heat than their lighter-colored counterparts?

We will probably never know, but there are very few black RVs, except Class B camper vans.

A black class B camper van drives down a dirt road through the woods.

Are Black RVs Hot? 

In a word, yes. Black RVs collect more heat because they absorb rather than reflect the heat, as white RVs do.

There are a few other things to consider, though. Many RVs have metal exteriors, so even white metal vehicles will get hotter than white fiberglass RVs. Black RVs can collect more heat than those with lighter colors.

Why Are Most RVs White?

The first reason is most likely that white is the cheapest color to paint on vehicles. So to keep expenses down, RV manufacturers paint almost all their models the same color.

Secondly, white is a color that reflects UV light and heat. Anything they can do to alleviate the heat during summer camping trips is beneficial to their customers.

The third most likely reason most RVs are white is that most manufacturers of RVs build them in Elkhart, Indiana. No matter the manufacturer, most are within 20 miles of Elkhart, where one idea might spread to almost all RV industry leaders.

Another consideration is that the color white is evident on the road. Maybe RV designers considered the exterior color to be a safety issue. Many think white looks cleaner and more classy than a colorful (or black) recreation vehicle.

A white motorhome parked next to the beach on a warm, sunny day.

How Do You Paint An RV Exterior? 

If you are painting a fiberglass RV, the job can take a few days. You’ll want to repair any cracks in the fiberglass, letting them cure before advancing to the next step.

Then you would spray on a heavy coat of primer, again with a curing process. Then spray the layer of paint containing epoxy, polyurethane, or acrylic onto the vehicle.

For metal exteriors, many RVers use marine epoxy or deck paint, while others swear that acrylic latex paints will work well. Before the paint is applied, you must remove all decals and power wash the vehicle, then tape off doors and windows. 

Can You Spray Paint An RV? 

In the 1990s, there was a trend to spray paint RVs with murals and landscape scenes, making each rig unique.

However, some looked like graffiti artists had tagged the RVs with their insignia.

Spray-painted vehicles are no longer popular, but some owners still like to put their mark on their RV. Now, it’s not unusual to put a “wrap” around an RV.

What Is An RV Wrap? 

Just as it sounds, a wrap is a large vinyl graphic or decal that can encompass the entire vehicle. It’s what businesses put on their delivery vans, using the space as advertising with a logo, image, and marketing information.

Private RV owners can put wraps on their RVs and even change them out whenever the mood strikes. They may use the wrap as an artist’s canvas with designs or graphics.

Many use the canvas for advertising their website, business, YouTube channel, or social media information. Still, others use wraps to showcase a landscape or destination.

Is a Black RV Worth It?

We have never been a fan of black-colored vehicles because of the heat factor, and an RV in that shade could generate high temperatures, especially in hot climates.

Some owners may insist that the dark color is sleek and classy, but no bragging can change the fact that you’ll expend more energy trying to cool the rig down.

Only you can decide what you are willing to give up if your heart is set on purchasing a black-colored RV.

What color would you want to paint your RV?

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