What causes RV fibreglass delamination?

In this article, we will answer the following question: What causes RV fibreglass delamination? We will explain what RV delamination is, how it affects your RV and how to prevent and repair it. 

What causes RV fibreglass delamination?

RV delamination occurs when the layer of fibreglass, laminate, or gel coat on the exterior of your recreational vehicle begins to bubble, tear, or peel away from the shell. This coating is used to protect your RV from the elements, but the elements can tear your protective coating over time.

RV fibreglass delamination is a bad sign and it usually means that there is moisture under the protective fibreglass layer that loosens the materials of your RV.

Since fibreglass is cheaper and lighter, many RV and trailers are made from these materials. In the event that your motorhome is made with fibreglass materials, the exterior coverings glued to your motorhome may possibly suffer from delamination.

Delamination of a fibreglass boat, RV, or motorhome simply occurs when the outer protective coating begins to loosen from the walls or deck and moisture enters inside.

When this happens, there are risks of mould or structural damage that can make these motorhomes unsafe. Fixing and preventing this kind of situation becomes very expensive after a while, so letting the situation get worse can lead to disaster.

More often than not, you will immediately see the delamination of an RV. The delamination appears on the exterior of the recreational vehicle and looks like large bubbles that appear on the paintwork. It can also look like a sagging canvas on the walls.

The delamination of your RV can also look like a corrugated plastic coating on the exterior of your RV. It can also be soft or soft to the touch.  When this happens, you’ll usually want to get it fixed fairly quickly. Ignoring this problem will only exacerbate the process.

How does delamination affect an RV?

Delamination can loosen your RV’s exterior skin and trap moisture between the exterior and interior walls. These walls are usually made of wood and then some other strong metal or plastic frame, so there are dangers in letting this moisture infect your interior.

Mould, for example, is a big problem when it comes to the delamination of RVs. Moisture trapped between the exterior and interior walls of your RV is an ideal breeding ground for mould, which eats away at RV wood and can cause allergies or, worse yet, medical side effects for you and your family.

Even if mould does not grow, moisture can also start to deteriorate the strength of your RV by wearing down the fibreglass frame and exterior. This can make the motorhome unstable and ultimately its structure will not be strong.

Plus, chipping your exterior robs you of your protection against the elements like wind or rain. Well, it’s not very nice to see. Your RV will start to look like it’s falling apart.

How much does RV delamination repair cost?

Repairing RV delamination is more expensive the longer you let the problem last. Often, moisture and mould not only affect exterior walls but also interior wood, materials, fabrics or furniture. This moisture can even force you to replace almost anything in your RV if you let it grow or get soggy.

These costs can run up to over $ 3,000 just to replace interior furniture or wood floors and carpeting after water damage or mould. Completely redoing the peeling exterior cladding could cost you much more…

DIY kits to fix the peel yourself can cost anywhere from $ 250 to $ 500, but not knowing exactly how to do it yourself can only halt the process and cost you more down the road.

Can we prevent RV delamination?

It is recommended that the RV owner prevent delamination by using sealant annually to seal or repair any cracks, openings or dents on the exterior of the RV.

This will prevent moisture from seeping into these cracks and causing delamination.

In addition, sealing cracks will help prevent future leaks or possible detachment of your protective fibreglass coverings. Most recommend LAP sealant, which is not too expensive and can be used by any RV owner.

However, once delamination has occurred, it is much more difficult to seal it again. You will then have to pay someone to fix it or buy a kit and do it yourself.

Finally, storing your RV in a dry, covered area when not in use can protect it from the elements and prevent delamination from occurring sooner.

What is the typical lifespan of an RV roof?

RV roofs are supposed to last at least ten years, but by taking preventative measures and applying a new coat of protective paint every two years, you can try to extend that lifespan up to twenty years.

RV roofs are made of fibreglass, rubber, aluminium and other materials.

Different sealants can be used on each type to prevent damage, peeling or delamination of the roof. Since the roof of your RV suffers the most damage from the elements, delamination may be more frequent there and be more difficult to spot when it occurs.

Keep your roof clean after using it on a long trip and store it in a dry, covered place when not in use.

Also, watch for any cracks or potential openings for leaks or peeling and seal them immediately!

How to restore shine to RV Fiberglass

Fibreglass is a lightweight, strong compound that works well for the construction of RV and car bodies. It is made up of polyester plastic that is reinforced with layers of fibreglass cloth and an outer layer (usually 15 to 20 mils thick) of the gel layer. 

The gel coat is also a polyester plastic that contains the colourant and is polished to a high gloss. Time, especially sunlight, damages and dull the surface over time. With a little work, colour and shine can be brought back to your motorhome. 

Things you will need:

  • Eye protection
  • rubber gloves
  • electrical orbital damping
  • composite polished fibreglass
  • Soft cloth
  • bucket of water, detergent
  • Sponge
  • Wax

Steps to follow:

  1. Wash all surfaces with water and detergent. Rinse the RV well. Make sure it is dry before continuing.
  2. Apply the polishing compound with a soft cloth. Use the orbital pad to polish the gel coat. Move the buffer in a circular motion, pressing harder at first and then increasingly lighter until high brightness is achieved.
  3. Apply a layer of wax on the polished surface. The wax will not only improve the shine but will also preserve it so this process does not need to be repeated very soon.

Conclusions

Repairing a delamination exterior panel on a motorhome requires a bit of care and precision. Care must be taken not to damage the outer panel, which aggravates the damage already present. 

Delamination is caused by one of two things. One of them is that the panel was not glued correctly at the factory. If you own a motorhome under warranty that is delaminating, return it to the agency for proper repair. The other cause is a water leak that breaks the bond between the fibreglass panel and the wood underneath.

Please let us know if you have any comments, tips or questions about the content. 

FAQ on What causes RV fibreglass delamination?

What does RV delamination look like?

RV delamination looks like a bubble, tear, or peel away from the shell. This coating is used to protect your RV from the elements, but the elements can tear your protective coating over time.

What causes fibreglass delamination?

Delamination is caused by one of two things. One of them is that the panel was not glued correctly at the factory. If you own a motorhome under warranty that is delaminating, return it to the agency for proper repair. The other cause is a water leak that breaks the bond between the fibreglass panel and the wood underneath.

Is RV delamination bad?

Rv delamination is bad because it can loosen your RV’s exterior skin and trap moisture between the exterior and interior walls. These walls are usually made of wood and then some other strong metal or plastic frame, so there are dangers in letting this moisture infect your interior.

References 

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