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RV Wraps: Better Than Repainting Your RV?

RV Wraps: Better Than Repainting Your RV?

Due to a combination of age, damage, exposure to the elements, or poor maintenance, sometimes RVs need a paint job. Or do they? It turns out that painting your RV is not the only option to rejuvenate its appearance. Today we’re looking at RV wraps.

What is an RV wrap and how much does it cost to wrap an RV? Are there different types of vehicle wraps? What other types of RV graphics are available?

In today’s post, we’ll touch on full wraps, custom RV wraps, and simple vinyl graphics. Whether you’ve got a motorhome, van, 5th wheel, or travel trailer in need of some TLC, we’ve got you covered! (See what we did there?) 😉

What Is an RV Wrap?

An RV wrap consists of vinyl graphics or decals that are applied to a rig. 

Vinyl wraps can cover the entire exterior of an RV or vehicle. They can also be smaller graphics that you choose to add to your RV’s design.

You can even have customized designs professionally installed to advertise a business or to offer a unique artistic expression.

A Harvest Hosts 5th wheel parked in a field displaying the Harvest Hosts logo on the RV

This vinyl wrapped 5th wheel advertises Harvest Hosts! (Photo credit: Harvest Hosts)

How Much Do RV Wraps Cost?

RV wraps can vary in cost by a wide margin depending on what you want. Overall, however, they can be a cost-effective way to change the exterior appearance of your RV, especially when compared with the cost of a paint job.

Quality RV wraps and decals can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more. You can pay for a decal on either side of the RV, for example, or you can have the entire RV wrapped with a completely custom design. 

So, you can get high-quality vinyl decals at various price points depending on what you want. You can get a few decals, a quarter-wrap, half-wrap, or full wrap. 

For reference, to fully wrap a rig the size of our 43-foot diesel pusher, we’d be likely looking at between $12,000 and $15,000 or more, depending on whether we chose a standard design or something completely custom. Remember, though – that’s for a FULLY wrapped 43-foot RV.

A half-wrap on a 24-foot Class B or Class C RV might typically cost somewhere in the vicinity of $1500.

A half-wrap on a travel trailer between 25-30 feet long would be more in the range of $2000-$3000 if you’re wrapping both sides. Wrapping the ends of the same travel trailer could add somewhere around $500 per end.

On the other hand, you could wrap just the front and back of a Class A motorhome for around $1500. Windows and slide-outs would likely run about $200-$250 each.

These prices offer you a general idea of the cost of wrapping an RV, but in truth, the cost will vary not only with the size and type of rig you’re wrapping but on the design as well.

What kind of RV Wrap Designs Can I Get?

In terms of designs, the possibilities are endless, including your own custom design.

You can choose to have a single decal applied to a particular portion of your RV, you can have the entire rig wrapped, or you can do pretty much anything in between. 

But the possibilities are truly endless where the wrap designs themselves are concerned. Got a logo you’d like to display? Have a vinyl graphic made. Or promote a campaign or call attention to an event or business enterprise.

Want to DIY a few RV decals? Not a problem. Choose or customize your design, have the graphic made, and get to work applying the decals.

If you want a full vehicle wrap, the sky’s still the limit! However, professional installation of large decals or wraps is highly recommended.

Vinyl graphics applied to Tom & Caitlin Morton's truck and truck camper advertising their "Go North" expedition to Alaska

Tom & Cait Morton applied vinyl graphics to their truck and camper, calling attention to their fantastic 15,000-mile “Go North” expedition through Canada & Alaska to the Arctic Ocean. (Photo credit: Mortons on the Move)

Advantages of Wrapping vs Painting an RV

There are several advantages to wrapping an RV (partially or fully) as opposed to having the rig painted. Let’s take a look at the benefits of wraps.

Cheaper

In general, it can be considerably less expensive to wrap an RV than to have it professionally painted.

There’s a huge amount of labor involved in prepping a vehicle of any type for a new paint job. Cleaning, sanding, and priming are all time and labor-intensive tasks. And if your RV already has decals (as many do), those will need to be removed or covered before painting. 

If your entire RV needs to be either painted or wrapped due to damage or age, then the rig will need to be properly prepped regardless of whether you choose to wrap or paint.

Fully wrapping an RV is far more expensive than a partial wrap or simply having some decals added to your RV’s design.

Even with all of that considered, wrapping an RV (partially or fully) does tend to be less expensive than the process of painting an RV.

Easily Removed/Replaced

RV wraps or decals are more easily removed and replaced than paint. In fact, you can change the look of your RV by simply changing the decals, while re-painting would be a far more challenging process.

Easy to Personalize the Design

It’s a fairly simple process to have a personalized design custom-made for your RV. 

Additionally, should you decide to change the design in the future, it would be far easier to do so with decals or a wrap than it would with paint.

RV Wraps Can Protect the RV’s Finish

A quality wrap can actually protect the original paint. Vinyl wraps can protect the rig’s finish from the sun, scratches from road debris and branches, and other potentially damaging factors.

Wraps are Easier to Repair

You can repair or replace RV decals and you can repair or replace small sections of large RV wraps without needing to replace the entire wrap. 

Repairing damaged paint can be far more complicated, depending on the location and the condition of the paint.

Disadvantages of RV Wraps

There are a couple of distinct disadvantages of RV wraps. Let’s review those briefly.

Quality is Essential

If you use low-quality decals, you could end up with a poor look, or decals that don’t hold up to exposure to the elements.

A worn, peeling decal of the number "3"

Vinyl decals or wraps of poor quality may not hold up to the rigors of weather exposure and travel over time, leaving decals that peel and look worn and messy.

Not only can poor-quality vinyl look bad, but it can also fail to protect your RV’s finish. 

The quality of the installation of an RV wrap is important as well. While it’s possible to DIY a vinyl graphic, it’s easy to do it poorly. 

And a large RV wrap really needs an experienced professional installer for the job to be done right.

Damage to Wraps Can Result in RV Paint Showing

Another potential disadvantage of an RV wrap is that if it’s damaged or scratched, the paint under it can show through the damaged areas, leaving your RV with a poor appearance.

How to Best Protect the Finish of Your RV

Whether you’ve got a new or old RV, a new paint job, or a new RV wrap, the very best way to take care of your rig’s finish is to keep it clean and protected. If you already have a wrap or decals, check out our post on how to protect RV decals and keep them from fading. If they’re in such bad shape that they need be taken off completely, we’ll show you how in our post on removing RV decals.

Using quality products to wash and wax your RV will protect your paint or your wrap from fine scratches from road dirt, salt, and other debris. 

We have a full post on the 5 best RV wash and wax products worth checking out. We’ve got lots of products listed in that post for keeping your rig ship shape. 

Two of our favorite wash and wax products are these from Meguiar’s:

Meguiar's G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash - 1 gallon
  • ONLY ONE STEP: Designed to both clean and condition your car in one easy step
  • ADVANCED FORMULA: Cleans without stripping wax protection
Sale
Meguiar's G210516 Ultimate Liquid Wax, 16 oz, Black
  • IMPROVED FORMULA: Improved formula delivers a glossier finish, increased protection and more water beading action in one easy step
  • EASY TO USE WAX: Easy spread on and wipe off application – even in full sun

In 2019 our rig got some attention when we had the roof radius and end caps of our 2005 Newmar Mountain Aire repainted. If you’d like to take a look at that process, check out our YouTube video!

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Grace

Friday 2nd of September 2022

Wondering if wrapping a dark colored RV to silver or white will bring down the heat inside? Does the wrap act as efficiently as the light color paint?

Thanks for all your great tips.... love your articles and am learning a lot on key topics!

TheRVgeeks

Friday 2nd of September 2022

That's a great thought, Grace! Lighter colors are so much better at reducing heat. We can feel it on our RV, where the dark paint is hot and the light-colored sections are considerably cooler. We'd bet wraps are the same.

Steve L

Friday 2nd of September 2022

That's good information. I would like to emphasize how important the quality of vinyl is. My work wraps business vehicles and we learned our lesson years ago that inexpensive vinyl is not worth it to the customers or company. So, if anyone does get a wrap make sure that company is using high quality vinyl whith max UV protection built in. Furthermore you might add the link from your previous article about protecting decals. As you will want to still add protection to make that high quality vinyl last longer. My 2c.

TheRVgeeks

Friday 2nd of September 2022

Thanks so much, Steve! Great input!

Ken M.

Friday 2nd of September 2022

I was watching one of those reality TV car fix-up shows the other night and for a race-car they were building they used a wrap on a car for its finish instead of paint because they said a wrap was much lighter than paint. If that is true (considering not everything on a reality show is true!) then an advantage of a wrap over paint would be saving some weight increase.

TheRVgeeks

Friday 2nd of September 2022

Thanks for the info, Ken! Who would have thought that paint was so heavy?!

Big AL

Friday 2nd of September 2022

On Super-C RV's, a person must be aware that if you chose to highlight your business or even some activities, (ie your race team). You can be subject to Commercial Truck laws. Road taxes and permits, along with weigh stations will now apply to you,(CDL License, Log books, Time logs of driving hours), and your RV. Hard to believe, but every police person may have a different interpretation of these laws! The Morton's could be subject to these rules with their wrap in some jurisdictions.

Big Al

Friday 2nd of September 2022

@TheRVgeeks, Those same Commercial Vehicle Regulations can apply to truck and trailer combos. If you advertise any business or product, (I've heard of people getting stopped because they had product decals, of products they used) you can fall under those Regs.

TheRVgeeks

Friday 2nd of September 2022

Thanks for the info, Al! Great to keep in mind.

Delta Lima

Friday 2nd of September 2022

Just last night on Motortrend Channel, a car restorer used a new process called “paint-wrap”. Turned out pretty good and was said to reduce prep work like a wrap

TheRVgeeks

Friday 2nd of September 2022

That sounds cool! Good timing! 😄

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