Painting the interior of a vintage Airstream

Vinyl Walls

Vintage Airstream walls are a sad textured vinyl. But strangely enough, when painted white they kind of take on the effect of faux leather. I think they look quite awesome now. I had no doubt the only color I wanted to paint the interior was a fresh white. We ended up using Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser from Jasco to both clean and prep the vinyl walls for painting. This removed the stickiness on the walls (gross) and made the paint adhere better. We used two coats of Valspar Signature Satin in Snowbank. The painting of the vinyl walls was pretty time intensive. I probably painted 6 or 8 times for a couple hours each. All of the contortion to reach the nooks and crannies will make you sore in places you have never been sore before. So that’s a big reason why it took me so long. I ended up using a narrow roller for most of the vinyl. For the trim I used a 1.5″ brush.

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Plastic End Caps

I know a lot of people advise painting the end caps with spray paint since it’s a plastic piece. But I figured since no one was going to ever be touching the ceiling that regular latex should stick just fine. So I used a narrow roller and rolled on Valspar Signature Satin in Snowbank. It’s been on for a few months now in extreme heat and looks just as great as the day I painted it. On the other hand, I sprayed the bathroom end cap with Valspar Project Perfect Spray Paint in White Satin as I wasn’t sure how the latex would do in a moist environment. Also, a word to the wise: wear goggles, a respirator and a plastic poncho. The paint went EVERYWHERE.

 


Pressboard Walls

I covered the pressboard divider walls with Paintables Pressed Tin Effect Wallpaper (which I painted white) from Home Depot. These walls can’t really effectively be painted with latex paint as it just scrapes right off.

Read more about the wallpapering process here.

 

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Cabinets

I removed the cabinet doors and sprayed them with Valspar Project Perfect Spray Paint in White Satin. I also sprayed the cabinets and metal trim as well. Unless you go up and start scratching at the metal trim it actually is staying on nicely. Our dog even scratched at the trim and nothing came off. Make sure to cover anything in the trailer you don’t want sprayed as spraying inside a tin can causes paint to go EVERYWHERE. The finish was nice and matched my Ikea Haggeby kitchen cabinets very nicely.

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Tambour Doors

The overhead cabinets were all brushed with two coats of Valspar Signature Satin in Snowbank. I taped off the metal bars where you lift the cabinets and left them the original yellow and rose gold. Once the paint dries you’ll have to press along the seams of the tambour doors to unstick the paint that will have dried onto the backside of the cabinet. After a few times of opening and closing the doors it should open smoothly like it did before painting.

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Trim

All of the metal trim was painted with Valspar Project Perfect Spray Paint in White Satin. I also sprayed the underside of the tambour cabinets in the sleeping area with this. Unless you go up and start scratching at the metal trim it actually is staying on nicely. Our dog even scratched at the trim and nothing came off. Make sure to cover anything in the trailer you don’t want sprayed as spraying inside a tin can causes paint to go EVERYWHERE.

 


 

Sheena

Sheena

Sheena is a free-spirited adventurer who designed and renovated a 1975 Airstream in 2016 and travels the US with her husband and mohawk-sportin' poodle. She's a business owner, self-taught carpenter, blogger, yogi, professional photographer and a lover of the outdoors and healthy living.
Sheena

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8 Comment

  1. Hi! You guys have done such an incredible job on your airstream!! I am planning to start renovating a travel trailer soon, but don’t have much experience with renovations like this. The previous owners painted directly onto the vinyl of cabinets and counters with a paint brush and there are paint strokes and probably just a single coat because I can still see the vinyl underneath (they didn’t do a very good job!). How do you recommend I paint over it? And for painting the ceilings (some sort of fabric?) and bottom of cabinets (still vinyl, untouched with paint), is it better to paint with a roller or to spray paint? Thank you!

    1. Sorry for the slow reply! I removed the paint from the previous owner with a little electric Mouse sander from Black & Decker. The ceilings and walls are a vinyl and we painted ours with a little narrow paint roller made for smooth surfaces. The cabinet doors I spray painted to avoid roller or brush marks. The tambour doors I brushed the paint on because it was impossible to get the spray paint into all of the grooves. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂

  2. How are your tambour doors working after having been painted? Does it effect how they work?

    1. For some reason all of the doors opened just fine after painting except the ones under the beds. I had to spray some lubricant in the seams and now they function just fine. Makes me think they already had issues even before they were painted.

  3. Brianna Holmes says: Reply

    Great post! I’m about to be renovating and air stream soon, how many cans of paint/spray paint did you use? 🙂

    1. Good question! I need to add that to the post. 🙂 We used 2 gallons of paint for the skin and I estimate it took 15-20 cans of spray paint all told. I coated most things 3 times since a lot of what we were covering was very dark “wood.”

  4. How did y’all decide on these products? We were told bulldog primer directly on the vinyl and plastic endcaps was the way to go. Just wondering if y’all had heard this from a different source.

    1. Mostly I was worried about getting a low VOC paint since it’s such a tiny space and was concerned about off gassing with all of the heating and cooling fluctuations of the interior. I can say we’ve lived in here for 4 months and have had zero issues with the paint peeling. There was also a period of time it sat in the summer heat. All’s good! 🙂

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