Fiberglass or fiber-reinforced plastic with a gel coat finish makes up the majority of RV exteriors. These materials are light, dependable, and long-lasting, critical for a vehicle intended to travel great distances. Gel coat is a synthetic resin-based product that is applied to the fiberglass to coat and protect it. The fiberglass gel coat is less than 1/32″ thick and adheres to the fiberglass immediately. Your RV’s beautiful sheen comes from the gel coat. However, after time, that gleam will fade, making your RV appear old and worn out.
What Causes an RV Gel Coat to Lose Its Luster?
Your RV’s gel coat becomes hazy, chalky, and even yellowed with time. This is due to the natural oxidation process. Oxidation occurs when oxygen in the air undergoes a chemical reaction. Oxidation can be seen in the form of rust on iron. The browning of fruit is also a sign of oxidation. The gel coat on your RV will eventually deteriorate in the same way, especially if it is exposed to the elements. The sun is particularly harsh on your RV’s gel coat.
How to Restore the Glow of Your RV Gel Coat
You should be conscious as an RV owner that keeping your RV’s finish may be ignored. It takes a long time to wash and wax an RV. On the other hand, maintaining the shine is critical if you want to keep your RV looking beautiful and maintain its resale value. Removing any oxidation on the outer surface is the finest approach to make your RV seem glossy and new again. After that, you should apply a couple of coats of wax designed specifically for fiberglass gel coatings.
Your RV should be washed and waxed once a month at a vehicle wash. Between the elements and the gel coat, the wax will form a protective coating. However, the wax will wear off with time, and the gel coat will be exposed to the elements once more. As a result, regular oxidation removal and a fresh coat of wax are required.
To begin, determine what type of RV you’re attempting to restore.
Not all RVs are created equal; they come in a wide range of exterior materials and finishes. The following list will assist you in determining which oxidation removal products, polishes, and waxes are best for restoring your RV.
#1- Fiberglass Gel Coat
- This is the most prevalent RV exterior design. Fiberglass with gel coat is used on everything from the most affordable motorhomes and trailers to the most expensive motorhomes and trailers. The color of a fiberglass gel finish RV will most likely be white or cream.
- Decals, striping, and lettering are common on these RVs.
- Some paint may be present on a fiberglass gel coat RV, such as at the bottom of the body or on the stripes. Over time, the fiberglass gel coat will appear blotchy, hazy, and chalky.
#2 – Fiberglass or aluminum corrugated
- RVs with corrugated sides can be either textured or smooth-sided.
- These are the cheapest travel trailers and toy haulers available.
- RVs made of corrugated fiberglass or aluminum are often white, although you can paint them any color.
- Vinyl decals and inscriptions abound on these toy haulers and vacation trailers.
#3 – Completely Painted
- Like a car, these RVs have a full two-stage paint job. A color paint coat is applied first, followed by a clear topcoat.
- Fully painted RVs are the most expensive, with high-end Class A motorhomes being the most prevalent. They are the rarest sort of RV.
- The simplest to wash and wax are motorhomes that have been fully painted. Like a car, they can be washed and waxed.
#4 – Aluminum Finishes (Naked and Coated)
- This is extremely unusual, and Airstream trailers are the only ones that depict it now.
Aluminum trailers from the past are composed entirely of bare metal. These can be polished as desired. All modern Airstreams, on the other hand, have a transparent coat over the aluminum. These, like automotive paint, require regular maintenance.
Removing Oxidation from RV Fiberglass Recommendations
For eliminating oxidation from RV fiberglass, mild abrasive polishes are an excellent choice. Light scratches, surface stains, and worn paint can all be removed using these. Keep in mind that polishes do not provide a protective finish and must be followed up with wax. On the other hand, Waxes and polishes are only effective on fiberglass RV exteriors with light to moderate oxidation.
Hand buffing removes oxidation from RV fiberglass.
- All you need is a little elbow grease and some polishing product to recover oxidized RV fiberglass.
- Use a non-scratch kitchen scrubby sponge to apply the polishing product.
- Work the polish into the surface with your hands until there is no longer resistance.
- Allow time for the polish to dry and haze.
- Finally, using a clean, dry cloth, remove the haze to expose the gleaming surface beneath.
- Finish it up with a good marine or RV wax. Apply the wax with a clean, dry cloth, dry it to a haze, and then polish it to a lustrous sheen.
Using a Power Buffer to Remove RV Oxidation
Not only would using an electric power buffer save you time, but it will also make you feel less stressed and put less strain on your body. Remove the oxidation from significant parts of your RV with an electric power buffer and polish. Similarly, remove oxidation from your rig’s nooks and crannies using a kitchen scrubby sponge and polish.
The power buffer can be used to polish your RV gel finish as well as eliminate oxidation. It can, however, be used to apply wax and polish your RV to a bright gloss. Use a wax that is designed to protect an RV’s fiberglass surface. You can also use marine wax, which is designed for boats.
Extreme Fiberglass Oxidation Restored
As an RV’s fiberglass ages, it can be damaged in ways that even professional products couldn’t repair. Wet sanding is utilized to repair the damage in this scenario. This is time-consuming and necessitates meticulous attention to the smallest of details. Soak sandpaper in a solution of 600 grit to 2,000 grit for 24 hours. Place the sandpaper on a foam block after that. Sand the fiberglass surface until it is silky smooth. After sanding, apply a high-quality, super-duty finish. For the desired impact, you may require repeated applications.
During intense oxidation, strands of fibers may appear on the surface. If this is the case with your RV, try pulling the fibers away from the surface with a pair of tweezers. If this happens, the fiberglass in your RV is eroding. If this is the case, you have two options: a professional RV paint job or a DIY RV paint job. The second option is to re-gel coat the fiberglass surface. Painting and gel coating both take roughly the same amount of time and money to complete. Gel coat, on the other hand, will stay longer and produce superior overall effects.
Imprinting occurs when you can’t remove the fibers away from the surface with tweezers. Wet and dry sandpaper and a padded sanding block are used to correct this irregularity. After the irregularity has been straightened off, apply paint or a new layer of gel coat.
Washing Tips for RVs to Prevent Oxidation
Wash your fiberglass RV once a month to help prevent oxidation. A “wash and wax” product for RVs is a good option. This will make the task easier and prevent dirt, filth, and oxidation from accumulating.
It’s also a good idea to wax your RV at least once a year to keep it looking shiny and protect the finish. If your used RV has significant oxidation, you should apply a fiberglass restorer in addition to washing and waxing it.
Fibreglass Maintenance for RVs
Extremes in the environment, such as the scorching sun in the desert, air pollution, high humidity, and parking under a tree, can harm the surface of your motorhome or travel trailer. If you’re worried about your RV’s finish, keep it out of the sun when it’s not in use. It’s best to keep it in a garage or beneath an RV cover if at all possible. This keeps the gel coat from oxidizing due to UV radiation.
Products to Consider
Here are reviews of the products we recommend for removing oxidation as quickly as possible.
In a three-step process, Meguiar’s RV Fiberglass Restoration System helps restore fiberglass and gel coat. An oxidation remover, a polish, and pure wax are all included in this package. Light oxidation, scratches, stains, and water sports are all removed using the oxidation remover. The polish restores color and produces a deep, swirl-free shine. In addition, the pure wax will assist in improving the color and maintain your finish for a long time. It’s designed such that each bottle is 16 ounces, giving you extra coverage for your RV.
- It has an oxidation remover that removes oxidation, stains, scratches, and other issues.
- It has a high-gloss varnish that will shine on your RV.
- Its pure wax shields your RV from the elements for a long time.
- It may leave behind white and swirly streaks.
Meguiar’s One-Step Compound is a highly effective oxidation remover applied by hand or by machine. The mixture was created specifically for fiberglass and gel coat surfaces. In just one step, it achieves a high-luster shine. It removes serious oxidation and scratches, stains, and water sports, as well as restoring paint color.
- Heavy oxidation on fiberglass and gel coat is removed.
- Only one step is required.
- It’s possible to utilize it by hand or with a machine.
- Scratches, stains, and water spots are removed, and the paint color is restored.
- It’s a one-step product that saves time but doesn’t always produce the same results as a multi-step system like MEGUIAR’S RV Fiberglass Restoration System.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Removing Oxidation from RV Fiberglass
Q1: Is it really necessary to wax my recreational vehicle?
Ans: You do. If your RV is completely painted or covered in aluminum, you should use a decent grade auto wax. If your RV has a fiberglass body that has been gel coated, you should use a specifically developed wax for gel-coated fiberglass. As an alternative, certain RV wax products come in a two-in-one package, which contains both mild polish and wax in the same bottle. These are suitable for surfaces that have been lightly oxidized.
Q2: Is it really necessary to use a Marine or RV Grade Wax?
Ans: Yes, you absolutely should. RVs and boats are both primarily constructed of fiberglass and gel coated for durability. So, certainly, these are the things that are suited for your trailer or motor coach.
Q3: What kind of Electric Power Buffer should I use on a Fiberglass Gel Coat recreational vehicle?
Ans: When waxing an RV, you can use a random orbital buffer with a high operation rate. Fiberglass gel coat is a strong substance that requires high speeds and a great deal of friction to achieve a satisfactory outcome.