The Nautical Reason Most RVs Are White

The Nautical Reason Most RVs Are White

I’ve often wondered why most RVs are white. 

sea of white RVs
sea of white RVs

And I just recently found out that there’s a nautical reason why most RVs are white. You see RVs are basically just boats on four wheels and out of the water.

Most RVs are white for the same reason most boats are white. For practical reasons. We all know white deflects direct sunlight, keeping whatever is ensconced inside cooler. This is especially helpful for RVs parked out in the sun while you rest inside. This cuts down on your cooling needs helping you save on fuel and energy consumption.

Since most RVs are white for the same reason boats are white, we’ll base our list on the nautical reasons why white is the most popular color for RVs.

Most RVs Are White To Maximize Your Cooling Efficiency

It’s a fact that white deflects heat coming directly from the sun. Boats are white because of this reason and so are RVs. They are white because most of the time they are directly under the heat of the sun whether parked or in transit. This also helps you with cutting down on air conditioning and ultimately your costs while operating your RV.

white RVs under tents
white RVs under tents

Other cost-saving methods you can employ are putting in place highly reflective stickers or parking under the shade during the day. You can also have a moveable tent that you can unfold so you always have shade with you wherever you go. Even in the middle of the desert. You’ll just have to get that elbow grease out though, and a strong back to put it up and take it back down every time you stop or go.

White Increases Your Visibility At Night

Most RVs are white for visibility purposes. This is extremely important whether in transit or while stationary.

An RV traveling at night is a big moving object that might not easily be spotted by vehicles coming from behind it or while crossing an intersection. The potential for disaster is extremely high in situations like these. Reflective stickers and additional lights on the sides and behind should help cut down the risk of these vehicular accidents from happening. 

You wouldn’t want anything happening to your RV at night, would you? After all, it’s not just a big piece of machinery that transports you and your passengers from point A to point B, it’s also your home on wheels.

And, you wouldn’t want to go stumbling in the dark trying to find your RV when you camp out under the stars. The reflective white color stands out in the dark with the help of the ambient lighting.

How’s that for visibility?

White Paint Cuts RV Production Costs Down

Most RV owners already know that opting for a differently coloured RV means adding a few thousand dollars extra. An RV is a big vehicle. Painting it requires more coating material than what you would use for two to three cars.  

Off the production line, white as a base color helps cut down on the manufacturer’s costs. The amount saved is passed down to you, the consumer.

painting a surface white
painting a surface white

When it’s time to have your RV repainted, white as a base coat is relatively, a more cost-effective and readily-available color to buy in any hardware store. 

This cuts your paint-related costs down.

White Does Not Oxidize

Most RVs are white to combat the effects of rust and oxidation. As most RVs spend a lot of time outside, exposed to the elements, the need to keep it aesthetically pleasing is of high importance. RVs are mostly made of the same material as boats so it only makes it logical to use the same paint.

If you do see any stains, you can easily wipe it off with industry approved coat cleaner and make your RV look brand new again.

White Opens Up A World Of Customization Ideas

Custom RV
Custom RV

There’s a reason why most painters prefer a blank white canvas before creating their masterpiece. It opens up a whole world of possibilities in terms of creativity.

The same rule applies to RV owners who want to customize their vehicles. That’s a big amount of space that you can dress up however you want to. You can put big reflective stickers on it or paint some sections in the color you like. You can also add swooping designs like most production RVs today to make it look like it could go faster. 

White Has Positive Psychological Effects On RV Owners

White has a soothing effect and is good for your peace of mind. After all, that’s what you set out to do, right?

Against a green forest backdrop and a light blue sky, your RV will stand out without being too obvious or distracting. It relaxes you without even trying.

RV green background
RV green background

This is perhaps the most important reason why RVs are white.

What Other Available RV Colors Are Out There?

Now, although most RVs are white, it’s not a hard and fast rule that it should remain that way or you should settle for one in that hue. There are other colors available in the market, and they do have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some examples and what to expect:


Bronze RV
Bronze RV

Bronze colored RVs look classy. They’re mostly used on type A class RVs. It’s a perfectly clean color that just seems to add value to the vehicle. You will have to fork out some extra money for it, though.


Silver colored RVs were actually the norm in the 60s and 70s. Take for example the Airstream. It looks classy without any paint slapped onto it. It looks industrial which people seem to like as well. The only problem is, once rust and oxidation sets in, you’re looking at a ruined masterpiece. 

Airstream RV
Airstream RV

Replacing panels by cutting and welding is going to reveal the handiwork. It’s best to apply a thick coat of protection before driving out.

Another issue that could arise is the highly reflective surface becomes a road hazard due to the glare. So, you might want to temper that with a few strategically placed pieces of tarp on the side and back of your RV.


Black RV
Black RV

Black can be a very sexy color for an RV. Celebrities use this color. But then again, they aren’t really driven at night which is where it becomes a real road hazard. The RV just seems to disappear in the darkness which could lead to a scary experience with other cars on the road.

Unless you put a lot of lights to illuminate the vehicle, you might also end up lost trying to get back to your parked RV at night. 


You don’t see a lot of blue RVs out in public or on the road. Maybe because blue is such a tough color to pull off for such a big piece of machinery. Dark blue evokes images of farm tractors or trains and light blue just looks a bit sickly and outdated.

Blue just seems to make the RV owner a bit indecisive. It’s not as sexy as the color black and not retro cool enough as Mustard Yellow or Silver. This is why, although there are options to pick this color out, not too many RV owners like it.


red RV
red RV

If you’re looking for attention, this is the color to choose for your RV. Problem is, you might get mistaken for an emergency vehicle.

Everywhere you go, people are going to look. You’ll have strangers coming up to you, asking questions about your RV. You also won’t have any problems getting spotted at night as vehicles following you or coming from either side naturally put on the brakes at the sight of the red paint.

With the added attention comes a few run-ins with highway and local law enforcers. Pick red at your own risk.

Mustard Yellow

Perhaps one of the most hated colors today because it just looks so dated. Can you believe this used to be the popular choice for RV owners back in the day? Check out old Winnebagos and you’ll know what we mean.

Winnebago RV
Winnebago RV

Related Questions:

How Should You Customize Your White RV?

Most people aren’t content with having a plain white RV. Nowadays, most RVs have scoops/swathes of paint along the side to give it a more unique appearance. But that still gives you the same style as most RVs of the same brand. You can paint it or put decals/stickers on it for further customization. 

How To Make Your White RV Stand Out From A Sea Of White RVs

One of the most frustrating experiences RV owners share is getting lost when trying to find their own RV amongst other parked mobile homes of the same brand & model. There are ways to get about that through personalizing your RV. The most effective is having a unique flag mounted while it is parked.

How To Keep Your White RV CleanWhite paint will always look dirty after it’s been subjected to the elements. To keep your white RV clean, add a layer of wax as a protective shield. This helps keep excessive dirt from sticking and once parked, you can easily clean the dirt and grime with car paint cleaner, a hose, and a wet cloth.

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