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Delamination happens when the layers of a composite RV wall begin to come apart. The main cause of delamination is a leak that allows water into the wall. Typically this happens at windows, vents, lights, roof lines, etc., where caulking is sometimes the only barrier to outside elements.
Age, workmanship, vibration, maintenance, and environmental exposure are factors. Most cases of delamination occur when the water breaks down the glue used in the manufacture of the plywood backing, and results in the plies of the plywood separating. Usually this happens in isolated segments, but can happen throughout the entire panel.
Delamination of the side wall is a common maintenance issue associated with recreational vehicles (RVís). Many RVís are manufactured with a bonded composite wall system consisting of interior paneling, styrofoam insulation, wood or aluminum framing, mahogany plywood, and an FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) outer skin.
This type of wall system has the potential to provide a long service life, low weight, and a reasonable cost. However, a few variables in the equation have led to widespread problem that occurs when moisture (water) is allowed to penetrate the inside of the wall.
The body of RVís are inherently not water tight, as compared to a boat or an automobile. Most modern boat hulls are formed from a continuous and thick layer of fiberglass cloth impregnated with polyester resin, similar to a bathtub. Motor homes however, are constructed from the materials listed in the preceding paragraph that are bonded together, followed by cutting numerous holes in the wall, which are then sealed with an inexpensive, low-tech caulk.
It is almost inevitable that the caulk fails due to age, shrinkage, vibration, poor workmenship etc., allowing moisture to enter the wall. In many caes it appears that the mahogany plywood is not designed to see moisture (exterior grade), and therefore the glue holding the plywood together looses its bond and the plies separate and swell.
Repaing delamination is possible in many cases. The leader in RV wall repair is Composet Products L.L.C. They offer a number of repair options as well as videos and technical information on their website. see link below
The fiberglass skin has pulled away from the wall structure. In this case the plywood backing delaminated with the fiberglass skin remaining bonded to outermost ply of the plywood.
It is fairly obvious that the plywood has delaminated. Typically this can be fixed using Composet SLVô rebonding epoxy.
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What is RV Sidewall Delamination?