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RV Delamination – What You Need to Know

RV Delamination – What You Need to Know

RV delamination is surprisingly common, and routine maintenance is essential. By the time you notice an issue, the problem could already have progressed significantly.

Today we want to help you be more aware of delamination in RVs and give you tips to prevent and fix it.

Let’s get started!

What Is RV Delamination?

Delamination is when the fiberglass or gel coat layer on an RV separates from the backing material. The backing layer used in RVs is typically a lightweight plywood or luan material. This damage can start as a tiny blemish and develop into larger and larger cracks.

Moisture or water can seep in and speed up the process. 

What Causes RV Delamination? 

RV delamination often occurs due to one or more exterior seals failing, perhaps from lack of maintenance. These seals protect your RV from water leaking into your RV and causing expensive damage.

RV seals usually wear down from exposure to extreme weather. Over time the seals become brittle or flaky and peel away from the RV.

How to Spot Delamination on Your RV

One of the first signs of delamination is bubbling in your walls. You might also spot small cracks on your exterior that appear to be stress fractures in the material. These cracks can signal that moisture has entered your RV, and the delamination process has started. If you don’t spot this and repair it quickly, the problem will continue to grow.

The walls of your RV may start to bulge, and the small cracks will become much more prominent. These spots will typically become soft bubbles in the outer layer of your fiberglass.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix RV Delamination?

If left untreated, the cost of RV delamination grows exponentially as the damage worsens. Your best bet is to treat the problem at the first sign of symptoms. There are some DIY kits for $100-$300. These can be an excellent option for minimal repairs. 

However, you may need to call in professionals, and even minor repairs can cost well over $1,000 and require exterior wall replacement. Depending on how extensive the damage is, your RV could be a total loss.

Many RV insurances and warranties don’t cover delamination as it often results from a lack of owner maintenance. Not only will your RV be severely damaged, but you’ll likely be on the hook for the entire repair bill.

How Do You Stop Delamination?

The best way to stop delamination is to prevent it from starting in the first place. Prevention means being on top of the maintenance. Inspect your RV’s seals frequently while using your vehicle. 

If your RV spends most of its time in extremely hot or wet conditions, inspect every few months. However, if you’re in a more moderate climate, an inspection at the start and end of each camping season should suffice.

Inspecting your seals isn’t enough to prevent RV delamination though. You must also fix any issues you find. Cracks or broken seals provide opportunities for moisture to enter your RV. Addressing them is essential to preventing and stopping delamination.

What to Do If You Spot Delamination on Your RV

Putting off a delamination repair is one of the worst things you can do for your RV and wallet. Let’s look at a few things you should do as soon as possible after spotting RV delamination.

Find and Seal the Leak

The first step is to find and seal the leak. Moisture will continue entering your RV until you resolve the leak. Clean all of your seals before resealing them properly. Ensure the materials have an excellent surface to stick to and that you’re able to provide the best possible protection for your RV.

Check for Additional Damage and Mold

Delamination may be the first visible sign of a major problem hidden within the walls and under the carpet of your RV. It’s likely something’s been going on for a while now.

Inspect the area for any additional damage or mold. You may have to replace the carpet, furniture, or even subfloors. Mold and other damage from moisture can be hazardous and cause health issues. 

Get a Professional Repair Estimate

Know when a problem is beyond your skill or expertise. Make sure you correctly address the situation and prevent it from worsening. A professional can tell you whether you can repair this yourself or should seek assistance.

Can You Fix RV Delamination Yourself?

There are DIY RV delamination kits available. These kits usually address smaller fiberglass issues resulting from delamination. However, even though they’re for a small project, they’re not necessarily cheap. They can range from $100-$300, and larger jobs will require more expertise.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes to repairing delamination. Attempting to do a professional repair without training or the correct tools and materials will likely result in a much more expensive future repair.

Act Fast with RV Delamination

While we hope you never experience the dreaded feeling of discovering RV delamination, we hope now you’re better prepared. Delamination isn’t an issue that will heal itself, and you shouldn’t wait on doing repairs. Take action immediately to prevent further damage to your RV. If you’ve ever discovered delamination on an RV, what was the repair process like for you?

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