Hot Tin Roof? Paint It White… or maybe not.

I have been looking into painting Alice’s roof white to help reflect some heat.

This is what I have learned so far.

The Airstream Factory put on prefinished white panels on the roof starting around 1999.

I contacted Airstream, because sometimes it is best just to go straight to the source, and they replied back quickly. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Airstream? I really hope that someday we can take the time to tour the factory.

If the image is hard to read this was the comment I left on their Frequently Asked Questions page:

I am wondering if you still install the white roof panels on your newest Airstream models? What year did you start putting the white roofs on Airstreams? Also, what sort of product is used to paint it white? Is it a rubber coating or is it s special paint?

Thank you for your time,


This is what they replied:

Email from Airstream

If I had known it was that easy to ask a question to Airstream Customer Service, I would have been emailing them directly more often. As it stands I will do my best to keep the direct emails to them to a minimum. I don’t want to end up on their email SPAM list.

I am kicking myself for not asking more because on the AirForum many members have reported a chalky residue that drips down the side of the Airstream after a hard rain or a wash. Replys to such comments usually state that you need to buff and seal the white coating to keep it from chalking.

This sounds like a lot of work and maintenance. But maybe that is because from my perspective right now; where we are so deep into reno that adding maintenance to our to do list is a bit soul crushing.  Adding waxing to the ever-growing to do list is a bit daunting.

On the other hand the idea that we can make Alice more efficient in any way, is always appealing, especially if it is as seemingly as simple as painting the roof white.

From the AirForums:

trevisgardne started a thread “Paint Roof White” where many AirForums members sounded off with good information. This thread is where I learned of the Airstream factory installed roof paint chalking. In that thread, these are just a few of the brand mentioned when it comes to painting the roof after market.

GlenCoombe started the thread “Airstream One Wears A White Hat” and he used marine paint by Interlux.

Like many other subjects on the AirForums, there are lots of opinions and many different product suggestions. No one product or application seems to be the best. And some people say painting the roof won’t make much of a difference at all.

So like everything else with our Airstream reno, more research is needed. I rely heavily on the AirForums for much of my information. I know that the people on the forums are good people who want to help. I trust them. I also read as many blog posts and watch as many YouTube videos on whatever subject we are researching at the time too. That said, knowing that I can get info straight from Airstream, if I have exhausted all research methods and still have no idea what to do, really is a big relief.

Whatever we decide for the roof, it is not anywhere near the top of the priority list right now. The painted roof was a bit of a rabbit hole, but now that I am in it I can’t help but search for the best solution. Maybe I should get back to focussing on the garage sale I am trying to organize!

If you have any links to helpful resources on painting Airstream Roofs, please share them in the comments. Just like the old jingle with the shooting star rainbow from NBC, “The More You Know!” the better.

2 thoughts on “Hot Tin Roof? Paint It White… or maybe not.

  1. Bill Grant

    Just for the record, I have a 2000 Excella with a white roof and no chalking. Weather it helps or not, I have no idea.
    Good luck

    1. Meg Post author

      @Bill thanks! That’s great hear. I thought it strange that if this was a common problem we would have heard more about it before. Maybe it has to do with the area of the US those Airstramers live in?


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