Legal and Privacy Statement
Many of the calls we receive from RV owners start with something along the lines of, “…my fiberglass RV has a bubble on the side…”
While there is some validity to the statement, including the fact the owner is dealing with a serious problem, therein also exists a misnomer. While the majority of motorhomes and campers are manufactured with a thin layer of fiberglass sheeting, technically called Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) it is only a small fraction of the overall construction.
In general, most pleasure boats, including runabouts, wake boats, ski boats, and sail boats are made from fiberglass, but most RVs are not. To make a fiberglass boat, chopped fiberglass strands are combined with polyester resin (different than epoxy) to create a structure that forms the hull and deck. The wall thickness of the hull and deck are relatively large compared to FRP, and capable of structural support of engines, masts, and running gear. Metal and wood can be imbedded in the fiberglass to strengthen specific areas, or to create mounting points.
RVs and camping trailers on the other hand have a steel frame supporting the running gear, onto which a wood, aluminum, or steel stick frame is mounted. The stick frame is infilled with insulation and skinned with layers of plywood, and finally a thin fiberglass sheet (FRP) is bonded to the outside to form the exterior finish or siding. It makes sense that many people therefore consider it a “fiberglass RV”, as the fiberglass is the most prominent visible feature.
The RV wall is really a composite structure, and fixing water damaged RV walls is therefore not “a fiberglass repair job” as one might fix a damaged boat or Corvette body. Products such as boat repair resins, fiberglass repair kits, or autobody filler are usually not the right choice for fixing wavy and delaminated campers and motorhomes.
This is one reason why RV repair shops shy away from making repairs to water damaged walls. They are good at fixing awnings, heaters, and refrigerators, but may lack an understanding of structural bonding and composite repair processes. While damage may be so severe that repairs are not an option, many times delamination can be addressed with simple tools, moderate skills, and the right materials.
Additional info can be found at
Is a Motorhome, Camping Trailer, or RV, made of fiberglass?
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