Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Painting the Just Right Bus

Last month we took on one of the biggest cosmetic changes to our Petunia: a paint job! This is something we've been planning to do since we bought the bus. We knew that it wasn't an essential step to living in the bus though so it was put at the end of the list for the last two years.

When we bought the bus in March, 2013 we had to remove all of the paraphernalia that made it look like a school bus which is kind of a funny idea considering everything about it looks like a school bus. This included the stop sign, the bar the swings out from the front and the lettering on the front, back and sides. We roughly sanded off the words and put a spray of metal primer on top to prevent rusting and this is how our Petunia looked for about a year.





When we found out we were going to show the bus at the Tiny House Conference in April 2014, we had some major work to finish up on the inside and simply didn't have the funds or the time to paint the entire outside. To make do, we painted a blue stripe down the side and the forehead black to cover up the rough spots.



The Tiny House Conference 
 Photo by Christopher Tack 



The Tiny House Conference 
 Photo by Christopher Tack 


This fall we finally had the time and funds to take the plunge into painting. We gave ourselves 5 full days around Thanksgiving to get to the task, but as with most things, it ended up taking about 3 weeks. 

We started by washing the bus, a large task that took essentially an entire day of scrubbing. We did not sand the bus before painting, many do, but we were simply too lazy and didn't want to take the time. Plus, I didn't sand before applying the blue stripe last year and it's still holding up like new.






The years of grime that built up on the roof



Then, we threw down a new layer of caulk on the roof seams. We're lucky to never have experienced a roof leak and want to keep it that way. We were sure to use paintable silicone caulk so that our paint would cover it up easily.


The caulked seams and our first coat of roof paint


Washing the back of the bus

After we washed the bus, we took the time to remove all of the lights, reflectors, mirrors, the front grill, the water heater (we were without hot water for 3 days, ugh) and any other attachments that could come off. They all got a scrub and the metal parts were sanded and spray painted before reattached. We were careful to cover any holes left to ensure no water got in if it were to rain (which it did, a lot).



Then the taping began, and if I never see blue painters tape again it will be too soon. We went through 5 rolls of the stuff and I reused as much as I could throughout the process. To this day I'm finding little wads of tape stuck to the bottom of my shoes and the dog's feet. 

Tip: Don't skimp on painters tape. It rained a lot during our progress and the off-brand stuff peeled right off and had to be reapplied but the "good stuff" held on and worked great.



After almost 2 days of prep, we started painting the roof. We choose to use Hy-tech Bus-Kote paint on the roof. According to the hy-tech website, Bus-Kote is a "bight white, acrylic elastomeric, insulating ceramic, waterproof coating designed specifically for Buses and recreational vehicles. This high build rubber like coating waterproofs, insulates, soundproofs, beautifies and protects with a ceramic shield that expands and contracts with varying hot and cold temperatures plus resists thermal shock. Bus-Kote offers superior mildew resistance and ultraviolet ray reflectivity." 

Now, there's some confusion about hy-tech products. Hy-tech insulating beads are tiny ceramic beads that you can mix into most paints for their insulating properties. Bus-Kote is a premixed acrylic elastomeric paint that contains the hy-tech beads. It is not just white metal paint with beads in it. 

We splurged the $40 per gallon and are glad that we did. It's thick, like warm cream cheese, and goes on nicely with no drips. It does take several coats though, we ended up doing 3 coats on the roof and 4 around the windows to cover any streaks. The paint is matt and rough so it doesn't really look like shiny car or RV paint but it still looks nice when we were all done. Plus, the thickness that it dried on my fingers after painting around the windows really helped me envision how it helps with insulation.


My awesome dad came over to help paint. Thanks dad!


We removed some of the reflective strips from the back of the bus but just painted over others.


Christmas Ads covering up the windows that we blacked out
First coat of basket on the roof- see the streaks?





The hy-tech paint takes at least 4 hours to dry and can't be applied less than 4 hours before sunset so we were only really able to get 1 coat on the first day and 2 the second day. The morning of the second day we backed the bus up into full sun to help dry out the condensation that formed on the roof over night. The bus-kote directions were very clear that surfaces should be dry before applying. While our coats of roof paint dried we started painting the sides with harbor blue ace-oleum, ace-hardware brand rustoleum metal paint.



Metal paint is oil-based and very different than the bus-kote. It's drippy and sticky. I perfected a technique of using a peanut roller to put on a very thin coat in a 3-4 foot section and then went over the entire section two more times with an empty roller to catch any drips. Every single screw and rivet had a drip after the initial pass but very few got by using this triple check method.

Tip! Between coats of oil-based paint, wrap your brush and roller in a grocery back and stick them in the freezer. Pop them out a few minutes before your next coat and you avoid having to wash the roller/brush out until the very end. This method works for months but it doesn't work with water based paint, they will just freeze.







Because the metal paint is so thin, it only took 1 gallon of paint to do 2-3 coats on the entire bus. A peanut roller with medium nape provided the best application to make even layers but I did use a brush in places where the roller simply couldn't reach.
Final coat on the bus' forehead



After finishing up painting the roof with bus-kote, we applied a single coat of the hy-tech flexiclear. I highly recommend using this clear coat on top of the bus-kote. There was about a week that went by between the two due to school and work. A few spots on the roof got dirty and it took some serious scrubbing to clean them before the clear coat went on. Once the clear coat was on though, the roof and around the windows were much easier to just wipe clean. It also gives the paint a nice shine.


A scrub and spray paint for the eyelashes
To do the front of the bus we opened the hood and it made it much easier to paint in the oddly shaped cracks and crevices







Painting the black bumpers along the side was my least favorite part of the bus. They required the most taping and I had to use a brush for the whole process. Metal paint is not fun to apply with a brush as it's easy to streak and run. It took 4 coats to paint the bumpers.


Add caption
Before we left on our trip my parents came over for a day to help with some odds and ends, including putting all the reflectors, lights and mirrors back on the bus. My mom helped remove all the tape from around the bus' windshield and gave it a much needed wash.




After about three weeks of work, our bus was finally painted! At the end of this post is a tally of everything we bought to complete the job. It ended up costing us about $315 versus $2700 to have it done professionally. That's a savings of about $2400. Frankly, the paint job could have come out much worse and I would still be satisfied. Overall though, we're incredibly pleased with how it looks. 

It's still shocking when we come home and our dirty old yellow bus is gone, replaced instead by this beautiful blue and white Petunia.

















Things we already had:
Paint Brushes
Some paint rollers
Black Rustoleum paint
3 rolls of painters tape
2 flimsy paint trays


Things we had to buy:


Bus Kote Roof Paint: $146.94- 3 gallons, used all 3
Flexiclear Paint: $56.83 - 1 gallon, used about half
Harbor Blue Metal Paint-$29.99-1 gallon, used entire gallon
Gloss White Metal Paint- $11.52- 1 pint, used about 2/3 pint
Rollers- $12
Painters Take - $12 - 2 rolls of 1" 
Mineral Spirits - $15 - 1 gallon
Nicer Paint Tray - $8
Paintable Silicone: $21 - 3 tubes
Total Cost:$313.28



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tiny House Magazine- Issue 24

I'm happy to announce the December issue of Tiny House Magazine, issue 24 is here! This month marks the two year anniversary of THM and we're so proud to be a part of it. In my monthly column, "The Cozy Kitchen", I show you how to make my Grandma's famous "Anytime Crepes". With just 5 ingredients, they're so good and simple you can literally enjoy them any time, day or night! Plus 66 pages of other tiny house information for you to enjoy over the holidays!

Save 25% on any issue you order using the code 25FOR5 for the next 5 days! You can get your issue by clicking here.




Sunday, November 23, 2014

The First Ever Tiny House Calendar!

The first ever Tiny House Calendar is here! It features photos of a beautiful tiny home for each month of 2015 so you can enjoy Tiny Houses all year long. Our bus is featured in both July and August so hopefully we'll be seeing you next summer!

An 8x11" version is available for $14.99 or you can get an 11x17" for $24.99. To purchase click here: http://www.createphotocalendars.com/Store/Tiny+House+Calendar-4263418873



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tiny House Magazine- Issue 23

I'm happy to announce the November issue of Tiny House Magazine, issue 23 is here! This month features some really great articles including my monthly columns "The Cozy Kitchen" where I show you how to make squash soup on the grill! Below is a short excerpt from this month's column:

"To celebrate our friends in the cold white north I thought a cozy, homey soup would be appropriate for this month’s recipe. Cooking indoors will help provide some ambient heat from your stove and oven to keep your family toasty and your tiny homes smelling delicious. For those of us in tiny homes in the south, cranking up the oven when it’s 80* out can result in also cranking up the air condoning.  So, for those of you who are still in the grilling weather but holiday mindset I present to you: barbeque squash soup!


This soup, prepared either on an outdoor grill with side burner or on an indoor stove/oven, would make a delicious meal on its own or as a side dish for your next Thanksgiving feast. It uses minimal utensils and appliances and doesn’t have to cook for hours to be tasty. Some alternative cooking methods could include cooking squash in a microwave or cutting it into cubes and frying in a pan. Some chopped Andouille sausage would also add a hearty bite for those who prefer their meals to be consistently omnivorous. Enjoy!"

Soup on the Barbie anyone? 

You can get your issue here! http://goo.gl/OBHMO3



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fellow Bus Conversions Page

We just launched a new page on our website where we will share links and pictures of fellow bus conversions, both completed and in progress. If you'd like to be included all of the info is on the site. Check it out in the sidebar or by visiting http://www.justrightbus.com/p/fellow-bus-conversions.html





Thursday, October 30, 2014

Calling all Bus Nuts, Skoolies, Bus Converters and anything else you call people who live in buses!

This post is going out to everyone who reads this blog that is building or lives in a converted school bus.

Our bus wouldn't be half of what it is if it weren't for the inspiration and encouragement of our fellow bus friends. I decided to create a page on our website to act as a catalog for future bus nuts that will be dedicated to sharing the links and info of other bus conversions, completed or in progress, so that others can continue to be inspired and fascinated by the ingenuity that is the skoolie community.

If you would like your bus to be included on this page please email the following information to JustRightBus@Gmail.com

All of the requested information is optional. Don't include any information you don't want public on this page.


  • The name of your bus and website/page, 
  • Your Name(s)
  • The Make, Model Year of your bus
  • Your home state and/or city
  • 1 or 2 Pictures of your bus


I'll make the page live once I get a few people who are interested.



Friday, October 17, 2014

The Cozy Kitchen

I have a very exciting announcement.  Starting this month I will be writing a regular column in Tiny House Magazine called "The Cozy Kitchen". Each month I will share tips and tricks to cooking in a tiny home as well as a recipe. The October issue of Tiny House Magazine, #22, was just published. To get this month's  magazine including my first column of "The Cozy Kitchen" along with my Tasty Turkey Burrito Recipe, click here:
http://goo.gl/Rt1dsf