Posted on: 16 October 2015Share
The fiberglass siding your RV is a relatively durable material, but a collision can result in major damage. Even worse, you may not even realize there is damage until after some time has passed. The following guide can help you understand the most common forms of collision damage on a fiberglass RV, and ensure you know the proper steps to take to fix the situation.
Delamination: The Hidden Damage
Fiberglass siding is usually installed over and bonded to a backer of polystyrene and plywood panels. A collision, even a minor one, can cause the polystyrene foam to crack or crumble. This creates an air pocket between the fiberglass and the plywood. Over time, moisture collects in this pocket, which causes the fiberglass to further pull away from backer boards. The result is sagging or bubbling siding.
Even obvious damage, such as cracked fiberglass siding, can lead to further delamination damage later. If the crack isn't repaired properly, water will seep into it and cause the same delamination process.
The Problem With Quick Fixes
Some repair shops attempt to fix small patches of delamination or cracks in the fiberglass with a patch. For delamination, the blistered area is cut away and a skin of fiberglass is applied to cover the spot. A similar fix is sometimes used on cracks, or a caulk may be used in an attempt to glue the crack closed. The issue with both of these fixes is that there isn't a proper bond between the siding and the backer, so moisture will again seep in and the delamination will spread. These attempted fixes are also obvious, so they aren't an attractive option.
Correct Repair Options
There are two options that provide a long-lasting and permanent fix. The first works on delamination bubbles, but it isn't suitable for cracks or large areas where the fiberglass has pulled completely away from the backer. In this method, a bonding agent is applied between the fiberglass and the backer. Pressure is then used to push the fiberglass back into place, where it is then held until the agent has completely cured. These repairs can be almost invisible in areas with only small bubbles, but minor dimpling may show if the delamination area was larger.
The other option is more extensive, but your RV will look like new. This is for areas with major collision damage, such as cracks or fully peeling away fiberglass. The old fiberglass is removed completely. The polystyrene and plywood backer boards are repaired or replaced as necessary, and then new fiberglass is applied. Contact a local RV body shop like Chehalis Collision Center to decide which repair method is best for you.