Which is better: fibreglass or aluminium RV? (pros and cons)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Which is better fibreglass or aluminium RV? We will discuss the pros and cons of both materials, and help you decide which is better for you. 

Which is better: fibreglass or aluminium RV?

When deciding which is better, fibreglass or aluminium RV, we have to discuss the following criteria:

  • Durability;
  • Convenience;
  • And water leaks;

So, let’s begin! The main advantage of an aluminium sheet RV is that you can practically choose your own design, as it is easier to manipulate compared to a fibreglass caravan which is manufactured based on a pattern, but in the long term, an aluminium or steel sheet is not so convenient.

The main explanation is that the fibreglass caravan is much stronger and in the event of a car accident if the fibreglass caravan is damaged it is much cheaper and easier to repair, compared to an aluminium sheet which after spending a lot of time and money repairing it can look “patchy”.

Another important point is the durability of the caravan: a fibreglass one will remain in excellent condition even after 20 years if it is well-maintained. On the other hand, aluminium sheets can twist, desolder, oxidize, etc.

Regarding water leaks, the aluminium sheet RV is more prone to leaks, since it is not manufactured in a single piece, like the fibreglass houses. Another advantage of being manufactured in a single piece is that the fibreglass hut can support up to 250kg on its awning without being affected.

And although it may seem incredible, a fibreglass caravan weighs half that of an aluminium one. On average, a fibreglass camper weighs from 40kg to 60kg depending on its size. Which translates to saving gas.

All these are factors that should be taken into account if you are about to buy a caravan or RV, as it will help you analyze and choose the material that best suits your needs.

Pros Aluminum RV

One of the main advantages of an aluminium RV is that you will usually be able to buy it for less than a fibreglass model, which makes it the ideal model if you are new to this or are on a restricted budget. And although the exterior is covered with aluminium, the structure of the RV is made of wood, just like a static caravan for example.

Plus, if you travel a lot of miles to get to your destination (or if you move from place to place often), your aluminium trailer will be less prone to cracks.

If water infiltration occurs, it will cost you less to repair it because the aluminium sheet does not rot (like fibreglass), on the other hand, the latter is much more expensive.

On that note, aluminium siding panels are easy to replace, but replacing smooth or polished aluminium generally requires the expertise of an automotive technician. Aluminium cladding is lighter than fibreglass, so the caravans can be transported by vehicles with a lighter towing capacity. 

The lightweight aluminium provides the option of purchasing a larger caravan than one with fibreglass cladding which increases the weight. Aluminium siding is generally less expensive than fibreglass and has better breathability, reducing condensation and mould growth inside the RV. Painted aluminium siding typically lasts longer than fibreglass laminated siding.

Pros Fiberglass RV

The advantages of a fibreglass trailer are numerous. Much lighter than the aluminium models, it will be more easily transportable by an SUV or even a family vehicle with good towing capacity. Their more aerodynamic shape and more compact size make them more manoeuvrable models and offer reduced fuel consumption.

On an aesthetic level, they can have certain advantages over models made of aluminium sheets, such as the fact that their paint will not peel, which is not the case with aluminium coating for trailers.

If you regularly travel with your caravan to areas with adverse weather conditions, the fibreglass coating withstands hail better than aluminium, as it resists dents. Laminates over fibreglass are prone to discoloration and flaking. 

Fibreglass provides better insulation than aluminium, so the interior of the caravan will better keep warm in cold weather and stay cool in hot periods. Since fibreglass surfaces are smoother than aluminium, doors and windows generally seal more securely. 

Although fibreglass siding is more expensive than aluminium, many RV owners find its durability, beauty, and ease of cleaning worth the higher price.

Why choose an aluminium RV

Aluminium RVs are generally less expensive than fibreglass RVs. This is a big advantage for new trailer owners and young families who want to learn about caravanning.

Also, the exterior coating of the aluminium trailer is more resistant to cracks than fibreglass. This is certainly another big plus if you plan to hit the road with your trailer. Seasonal campers, however, will see very little difference to park trailers or stationary trailers.

In the event of water infiltration, it is generally less expensive to repair the aluminium trailer, because the sheet metal does not rot (but be careful, the wooden structure inside the trailer rots during infiltration. water).

As for them, fibreglass trailers often have an aluminium structure (wall studs) that does not rot. But when water infiltrates, fibreglass is much more expensive to repair.

Obviously, water infiltration can be avoided with regular maintenance of your trailer to ensure its durability.

Why choose a fibreglass RV?

Generally less heavy than the aluminium trailer, the fibreglass trailer can (depending on its size and model) be towed by most SUVs and family van-type vehicles.

The fibreglass trailer also offers a more aerodynamic shape, a very practical aspect for nomadic travellers. Its profile, much more attractive than the aluminium trailer, facilitates movement on the road and promotes a certain fuel economy. A significant advantage if you like to drive a lot to explore new landscapes!

Finally, in the opinion of many caravanners, the fibreglass trailer is more aesthetic than the aluminium trailer. And unlike aluminium, the paint on fibreglass (similar to the paint on an automobile) does not peel and provides a more modern appearance.

Aluminium or fibreglass RV: The bottom line

Beyond the advantages of the two materials, when choosing an RV or caravan you must take into account several other factors such as the traction capacity of your vehicle, the amenities and the desired comfort as well as your budget. 

That being said, always keep in mind that no matter what material you choose, regular maintenance of your trailer is what will keep it in good condition for longer. Because a successful vacation starts with a well-maintained RV!

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions on the content.  

FAQ on Which is better fibreglass or aluminium RV?

How long do fibreglass trailers last?

Fibreglass trailers last around 10  years, however, the lifespan of a caravan will largely depend on how well you maintain it!

Is polyester less heat-transmitting than aluminium?

No, polyester is not less heat-transmitting than aluminium. In fact, polyester has a better thermal insulation coefficient than Aluminum, a conductive material that is more influenced by temperature changes, something that, however, should not worry us excessively.

Do I have to replace the entire sheet to repair an aluminium roof?

It depends on whether it is a scratch or a strong blow or a “break”. In most cases, however, you will have to replace the whole sheet. This is why people prefer polyester since it is easier to repair, as it is chemically bonded.

Are polyester motorhomes heavier or lighter than aluminium motorhomes?

Polyester motorhomes are generally less heavy than aluminium ones. However, the smooth aluminium cladding has a much more attractive finish and is therefore still used today, especially in mid-range and high-end vehicles.

References

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