RVs are exposed to all sorts of elements like rain, snow, heat, dirt and debris that can damage the exterior over time. Ceramic coating is a solution to help protect your RV and keep it looking like new. But how much does it actually cost to ceramic coat an RV?
Many factors influence the cost of ceramic coating an RV, including the size of the RV, professional vs DIY application, the number of coats applied, and the quality of the ceramic coating products used. Typically, professional ceramic coating services range from $2000-$5000 for a full exterior coating, while DIY kits can cost between $50-$300 depending on the quality.
What Is Ceramic Coating
Ceramic coating is a liquid polymer that is applied as a spray onto vehicle surfaces. The coating chemically bonds to the surface it is applied to, forming a protective barrier. Ceramic coatings create an ultra-smooth finish that makes cleaning easier and prevents contaminants like dirt, dust, tree sap and bird droppings from bonding to the RV exterior. The coating also offers protection from scratches, oxidation, and fading caused by UV exposure.
What’s the Average Cost of Ceramic Coating?
Professional Ceramic Coating Services
Hiring professional detailers to ceramic coat your RV is the most expensive option, but provides the highest quality and durability. Professional coating services will charge based on the size of the RV and how much of the exterior will be coated.
For a full exterior ceramic coating of all sides of the RV, including the roof, prices typically range from $2000 for a small camper van up to $5000 for a large Class A RV. Partial coatings just on the front cap or hood of an RV can cost $800-$1500.
Professionals have training in properly prepping surfaces, using high-end ceramic coatings, and applying multiple layers to maximize durability. This results in the best protection and shine that can last 3-5 years with proper maintenance.
DIY Ceramic Coating Kits
For the DIYer on a budget, ceramic coating kits allow you to coat your RV yourself at a fraction of the professional cost. However, results may vary depending on your skill level.
High-end DIY ceramic coating kits from reputable brands cost $150-$300 depending on RV size. These offer user-friendly applications with decent durability when applied properly.
More budget-friendly options are available in the $50-$120 range. The products are easier to apply, but maximum durability is reduced to 1-2 years.
DIY kits only coat a portion of the exterior, not the whole RV, keeping costs down. Thorough surface preparation is still required even with DIY applications.
Here’s a table containing coating costs of different size RVs:
|DIY Coating Kit
|Small travel trailers under 20 feet
|Midsize Class C motorhomes 20-30 feet
|Large Class A motorhomes over 30 feet
Factors That Affect Ceramic Coating Cost
There are several factors that determine the final cost of ceramic coating an RV:
Larger RVs have more surface area requiring more coating product and longer application time. Class A motorhomes over 30 feet cost the most, while small camper vans require the least ceramic coating product for full coverage.
Full Exterior vs Partial Coating
Coating just the front hood area or rear cap costs less in materials and labor time versus coating the RV’s entire exterior. A full coating provides maximum surface protection.
Professional vs DIY Application
Professionals charge more for their expertise delivering a higher quality coating result, while DIY costs less but requires effort and skill.
Number of Coating Layers
Multiple layers are applied by professionals to increase durability. DIY kits often only include enough product for 1-2 coats. More coats means more product used and longer application times.
High-end ceramic coatings from reputable brands hold up better against abrasions and UV damage compared to budget products. However, the professional-grade coatings come at a higher cost.
Lengthier warranties usually indicate a higher quality ceramic coating product that will last longer. Professional coatings often come with 3-5 year warranties while DIY kits may have shorter or no warranties.
Professional Ceramic Coating: Pros and Cons
Hiring professional detailers experienced in applying ceramic coatings will provide the highest level of protection and shine for your RV. Although the most expensive option, professional ceramic coating services use top-of-the-line products and techniques to deliver outstanding results that far exceed DIY jobs.
Surface Preparation is Key
Proper surface prep before applying the ceramic coating is crucial. Professionals thoroughly wash the RV exterior to remove any dirt and contaminants. Degreasing agents are used to eliminate oily residues. Compounds may be used to polish and remove any existing oxidation or scratches in the clearcoat. This vital prep work allows the ceramic coating to properly bond to the surface.
Professional Products Used
Professional ceramic coating installers use high-end ceramic coating products from reputable brands like Cerakote, Opti-Coat, and Gtechniq that cost up to $150 per bottle. The polymers in these products are designed for superior resistance to abrasions, UV rays, corrosion, and extreme temperatures.
Multiple Layers Applied
Applying 2-3 layers of ceramic coating creates increased durability and longevity compared to just a single layer. Professionals have the expertise to properly prep between coats and build up the thickness of the protective ceramic layer.
Warranties Provide Peace of Mind
Reputable professional installers will offer multi-year warranties of 3-5 years to guarantee the performance of the ceramic coating. This provides peace of mind that the coating will last and protect your RV for years to come.
Professional detailers are trained in special techniques like keeping the spray gun the ideal distance from the surface when applying the coating. They use tools like infrared lamps to properly cure the coating after application. This expertise ensures an even, smooth coat across the entire RV exterior.
DIY Ceramic Coating: Pros and Cons
For RV owners looking to save money, DIY ceramic coating kits provide an affordable way to protect your vehicle without paying for professional labor. However, there are some definite drawbacks to consider.
Affordable But More Challenging
DIY ceramic coating kits are sold online and in auto parts stores ranging from $50-$300. The products are designed to be easy for beginners to apply with basic household tools like microfiber cloths and a sprayer. However, some level of skill is still required to apply the coatings properly, especially on a large surface like an RV. The finish may not be as flawless as a professional job.
Surface Prep Still Critical
As with professional coating, preparing the RV surface properly before application is key and should not be skipped. The area must be washed and contaminant-free for the ceramic coating to bond correctly. This step takes some time and effort.
Fewer Coats Applied
Most DIY kits only include enough ceramic coating product for 1-2 layers on a full RV exterior. Professionals use multiple coats to increase longevity. With fewer coats, the protection may not last as long, especially under harsh conditions.
DIY ceramic coatings may come with shorter 1-2 year warranties versus the 3-5 years offered by professional installers. This shorter warranty period reflects the reduced durability compared to professionally applied coatings.
Imperfect Finish Possible
Applying the coating smoothly and evenly takes some skill, which amateurs may lack. The finish may have imperfections or uneven spots, detracting from the appearance. Professional results are difficult to replicate.
How to Maintain Your RV Ceramic Coating?
Whichever application method you choose, maintaining your RV’s ceramic coating properly is key to maximizing longevity and protection. Here are some tips:
- Use only automotive soap or low-alkaline wash products to clean the RV exterior, as harsh chemicals can damage the coating.
- Avoid abrasive pads, instead use microfiber cloths when washing.
- Apply a topcoat booster every 2-3 years for professional coatings, or annually for DIY applications. This rejuvenates the slick protective layer.
- Immediately remove sap, bird droppings, or other contaminants to prevent etching or staining the coating.
- Avoid automatic car washes, as the brushes can scratch the coating.
- Follow any maintenance guidelines provided for the specific ceramic coating product used.
Ceramic coating provides a big benefit to RV owners by protecting the valuable exterior paint from damage caused by road grime, UV rays, scratches, corrosion, and more. While professional application provides the most stunning, durable results, DIY ceramic coating kits allow RV owners to realize many of the same benefits at a fraction of the cost in dollars and effort.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs and Answers
How long does ceramic coating last on an RV?
With proper maintenance, a professionally applied ceramic coating will last 3-5 years, while a DIY coating may last 1-2 years.
Does ceramic coating prevent rock chips?
Ceramic coatings provide protection against light surface scratches, but won’t prevent damage from larger impacts like rock chips. Applying paint protection film is recommended to protect against chips.
Can I apply ceramic coating over decals/graphics?
Ceramic coatings should not be applied over decals or vinyl graphics, as they can impact adhesive and cause peeling. Mask off these areas before applying the coating.
Will ceramic coating fade my RV’s paint?
A true ceramic coating will not cause any fading or discoloration of the RV’s base paint color. The coating is transparent.
Is the maintenance hard after ceramic coating?
Maintenance involves just regular washing with special care to not use harsh chemicals. An annual topcoat is ideal for DIY coatings. Simple practices preserve the coating.
Do I need to buff or polish my RV before ceramic coating?
Light polishing is recommended to remove any existing defects in the clearcoat and prepare the surface for bonding. Heavily oxidized or damaged paint may require professional correction before coating.