Let’s talk about an issue some RV’ers experience: RV side panel delamination.
RV’s built within the last twenty or so years all have a similar construction of long smooth fiberglass panels which are bonded to the luan plywood and insulation layer which forms the interior surface. This methodology does away with the aluminum siding that was often very problematic from both a water and a damage standpoint.
The adhesive between the panels adds some additional strength to the panels as well as significant decreases in labor at the factory when building your RV. These smooth panels also aid somewhat in the fuel mileage by reducing drag, and allowed for some modern designs that weren’t buildable before.
While this laminated panel construction technique changed the industry, as withanything that is left outside in the elements for a long time, it did create a new kind of problem for RV’ers when the bond fails and the panel starts to delaminate.
This is especially true for hot climates like we experience here in the Dallas Texas area, and extreme cold climates like the mid west.
How to spot RV delamination early
If you spot bubbles or blisters forming on the sidewalls, this is a clue to you that the luan plywood under the outer fiberglass layer is breaking down or the glue bond is somehow failing, allowing it to pull away from the wall structure.
Delamination is further accelerated by moisture seeping into the wall and destroying the integrity of the luan plywood underneath.
I addition to moisture and extreme temperature, lots of flexing in the wall structure can also lead to the adhesive failing or cracks developing. Flexing to a certain degree is unavoidable, as all RV bodies will experience some flex when travelling, however extremely uneven roads, off roads, certain campsites roads etc will put more flex on the body than it is used to. Always inspect your RV walls for cracks after each trip to catch any potential delamination early.
RV Delamination and your RV Insurance coverage.
Most of the time delamination is not a covered peril under your RV Insurance policy because it is caused by water intrusion which is usually a result of sealant neglect. By that we mean, that the RV owner, or previous owner neglected to routinely re-seal the RV which is an unglamorous but vital part of RV ownership.
RV delamination a huge, costly problem that most people don’t realize until it is too late. Roof inspections and resealing are very important operations that help to prevent un-necessary delamination. We can help you with this service here at Coach Specialists of Texas.
How To Fix Cracks & Delamination Problems
Typical RV owners will not be able to, or want to do this themselves at home. Although like auto restoration, I’m sure there are some people who can perform this repair at home. Some RV body shops might suggest cutting out the affected area of outer fiberglass and removing the damaged luan plywood underneath and replace the plywood with new substructure and then re-glue the fiberglass panel back in place. However doing so will leave a very visible finished repair unless covered by some new decal graphics.
We have seen people try to fix cracks and delamination with fiberglass patches, layering a couple strips of new fiberglass over the crack and smoothing with body filler. This will not work. Once the RV is driven again any distance, the cracks will re-appear.
You might be able to check with your manufacturer to see if this problem is somehow covered under their warranty. In some instances, RV manufacturers have issued warranty programs when cracking situation have been determined to be a design problem, and they stood behind their product.
If You Spot Delamination Or Cracks
This should be a huge red flag if you’re shopping for a used RV of any make or model. Inspect the body VERY Carefully for cracks and delamination. If you detect any area where you feel the fiberglass has pulled away from the inner structure, keep shopping for a different unit.
In some instances structural integrity of the whole RV could be compromised. The wall skin supplies some of the strength of the entire wall. Picture it like your house without the outer skin being attached to the studs. The house would be weakened to the point of collapse.
If buying a used RV, the cost of replacing a sidewall could end up being more than the total value of the RV. As the delamination gets worse the value of your investment will rapidly decrease.
Unless you’ve managed to secure a deal good enough that you can still get the damage repaired and not be spending more than a different but similar RV would cost, the best choice is to keep shopping for a different RV.
If you suspect that your RV is showing early signs of delamination, DO NO DELAY! Call us or click below and get a free, no obligation quote to have your RV repaired. Please note however, that for a complete estimate, we might need to view the actual RV in person.