Do you need to paint a school bus?

When Painting a School Bus Conversion, Here Are 3 Options

Do you need to paint a school bus? Are you in the middle of a school bus conversion and trying to decide if you can paint your bus yourself? Well today, I am going to tell you 3 options for painting your skoolie. We choose option #3 and painted our bus for under $200 and do not regret that decision at all.

 Before I get to explaining the painting project, let me catch you up on what’s been going on with Bus #2 .

Jeff has started working on the outside of the bus because around this time of year it rains. The ground gets damp, and then the snow begins to fall. Jeff says that we go from the “rainy season” (autumn) straight into winter. The ground does not dry out until late April. As you can see in the pictures below, the bus is parked in our yard. This will be a muddy, slippery mess once the rainy season starts.

Are you converting a bus into a RV or a tiny house? Here are 3 options for painting the school bus.Click To Tweet

Option #1 – Take it to an auto body shop that paints cars.

This was going to cost around $2,000. There had to be a more economical way!

Option #2 – Take the bus to a place that repairs RVs/campers.

This option was going to cost around $1,600. That sounded better but we decided to look into other options. If we took option #2, I was going to have to give up some cute décor inside the bus. Now ladies, you know that having to sacrifice the cute and pretty things was just not an option I liked. So… Option #3 was a must find.

Option #3- Paint the Bus – DIY Style

Jeff and I looked over several websites and we found this site.  Total cost would be under $200. Now, this option sounded like a winner to me.

There were a few things that had to be done before Jeff could start painting the bus.

Do you need to paint a bus cover the windows

1. Jeff had to cover up the windows that we no longer wanted to use.

He started by gluing Styrofoam insulation to the windows using Liquid Nails. Next, he measured the windows and cut Trim Coil Metal Siding to fit each window. (The siding comes in a roll and can be bought at your local home improvement store.) Jeff glued the siding onto the foam with Liquid Nails and then used 1/2 inch self-tapping metal screws to secure the metal siding in place around the edge of the window.

 Do you need to paint a bus rear prep

He even covered up all the glass on the back door and the holes where he removed some of the lights.

2. He washed the bus with a pressure washer.

3. Jeff used an electric sander to sand all the rust and rough spots.

4. Finally, Joshua and Jeff removed all the reflectors that needed to be replaced. Then, Jeff spray painted the bus black in spots.

Now just imagine my face, when I woke up the next morning and saw black spray paint all over the bus! It looked like a graffiti artist painted the bus after drinking a six pack. I was quite surprised!

After breakfast, I politely asked my husband to explain, “WHY DID YOU SPRAY BLACK PAINT ON THE BUS!” Of course, his sweet reply was the bus would rust if it rained and he would have to sand it again.  To which, I ever so calmly said, “OHHH, spray painting was a great idea!”

Do you need to paint a bus using spray paint?

5. Now that the bus was ready to paint, we had to decide on the colors.

I came up with what I thought was an ingenious idea, which was to have the children enter a contest for the best bus paint design. I drew the bus, printed it off with instructions, and handed them out to the children. Let’s just say they didn’t think it was such a good idea. Bummer!!

Therefore, Jeff and I sat down and searched the internet for RV colors. Also, we looked at several designs of skoolies. I wanted something with stripes and swirls. Jeff wanted simple and easy. Well, I had to give in because I was not the one painting the bus.

However, Jeff is a sweet guy and said that he would put one stripe on the bus just to entertain me. Aww… I told you he was a sweet guy and great at compromising too!

So, I got out my colored pencils and set to work coloring our bus! We decided to go with blue, tan or almond, and a gold or copper stripe.

Skoolie Paint Job
This is the right side of the bus. I left the stripe white because we hadn’t picked the exact color.  The back of the bus is going to be solid blue.

  Here’s How to Paint a School Bus DIY Style

Jeff called  several different stores before finding one who had the paint we needed. The next day, he left to go get the paint. Around 3:00, he returned with NO paint. He had driven to several stores and no one had what he needed; even though, they told him on the phone that they carried the product. Finally, at the end of the day, he talked to a lady in a town over an hour away and she said that she could help him the next morning.

Jeff left early, hoping to get home by lunch, so he could get coat number one on the bus before dinner. Didn’t happen! He got to the store and the clerk had trouble mixing the paint. After 2 hours, he had the blue and almond but they were having trouble with the gold. Jeff called and explained the problems he was having and I suggested to just get a grey paint for the stripe. If we didn’t like the grey stripe we could just paint over it with blue.


Do you need to paint a school bus with oil based paint

Just look what color he came home with! See the color on the bottom of the can on the right!!

What color does that look like to you?!?

Let me tell you, I was told it was Heritage Gold. I said, “OH HECK NO! That is SCHOOL BUS YELLOW!” Yep, I bet you thought the same thing!!

Jeff said that he honestly didn’t think I was going to like it but he was just tired of the clerk continuing to mix the color wrong.

After the day Jeff had, I did what any wise woman would do. I just sashayed my bottom right up to the house and started fixing dinner. (shaking my head and talking to myself all the way to the kitchen)
After dinner, Jeff and I went back outside to the bus where we agreed that the stripe would look much better black, which is the color Jeff suggested in the beginning. I had to admit I was wrong when I suggested gold or copper. Well, that suggestion just cost us $30! Ugh!
The next morning, Jeff washed the bus again. Then, wiped the entire bus down with paint thinner. He decided to just go to Lowe’s and get an oil based exterior paint in BLACK for the stripe.


Do you need to paint a school bus with almond color
Here is when you need to decide if you are going to use a paint sprayer or roll the paint on with a roller.  Jeff chose to use a roller and a good paint brush. After lunch, he started painting the almond color.
Do you need to paint a school bus with a roller
The next day, he painted the blue.
When Jeff finished painting the blue, there was some comments made by family members that it resembled a prison bus.
Truthfully, there are days I feel like a warden, so traveling/living in a prison bus would make me feel right at home!!
Do you need to paint a school bus almond and blue front
The following day, he marked off the stripe. He decided to wait a few days before painting on the black stripe.
After being sick for several days, I walked outside and saw this sitting in our driveway…..
Do you need to paint a school bus final side

It is so pretty!!!

Jeff took the “Blue Bird” letters off and painted them black and came up with the design on front of the bus. He did an amazing job, don’t you think?

Here is a before picture.


Do you need to paint a school bus before photo

       Here is the after picture.

Do you need to paint a school bus after photo

What do you think about our bus paint job? Click here to share your thoughts on our FaceBook Page.

Wow! We are pleased with the results for the money we spent. Jeff wanted me to tell you all that this paint is extremely hard to paint with and it does bubble up. Because he was painting the bus outside, bugs were attracted to the paint and got stuck in it. He removed them and touched up the spots the following day. Also, Jeff said that if we had taken option #1 or #2 the paint job would have a professional look. We both agreed for the price difference, we were pleased with the results.

What option would you have chosen? Please tell us in the comments below.

If you are thinking about turning a school bus into an RV and want to paint it yourself, Jeff is available for questions. Just comment below and you will get an answer the same day.

Do you need to paint a school bus?
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