A lot of RV owners out there are pretty hesitant when it comes to fixing their RV’s fiberglass. They tend to bring their RVs to a repair shop without even considering the possibility to fix the fiberglass themselves. In fact, not many people are aware that repairing the RV’s fiberglass can be satisfactorily and comfortably done on their own.
If you are a proud owner of an RV, or interested in getting one, you should give RV fiberglass repair a try. Not only will it help you respond to any damage to your RV instantly, but it will also save you quite a lot of money and efforts in sending your RV to an RV mechanic. This post will walk you through necessary steps in restoring the shiny look of your RV fiberglass.
Why you should learn to repair your RV fiberglass
For many people, RVs are their homes. And apparently, no one wants to live in a house with cracks and holes. Like the majority of an RV’s exterior consists of fiberglass, there will undoubtedly be tons of repair work to be done to keep your RV new and running. Think about scratches, cracks or delamination that can occur before you know it.
Therefore, at the end of the day, learning to repair your RV fiberglass will pay off. It will cost you some money to invest in several repair tools, but in the long run, you will save quite a lot of time and money. If you are still having cold feet about fixing your RV fiberglass all by yourself, check out the next part of this article which entails everything you need to repair your RV fiberglass effortlessly.
What you will need for your repair project
As mentioned earlier, to fix your RV fiberglass you will need to invest in repairing tools. Because fiberglass is a type of reinforced plastic material, you will need the right tools for the job. So aim for quality, not quantity.
Here is the list of essential items that will help you tackle most issues with your RV fiberglass like a repair pro. The list is divided into materials, tools and miscellaneous items for your easier reference.
- Resin: Regular polyester fiberglass resin works just fine.
- Fiberglass fabric
- Resin catalyst
- Hardener Kit
- Adhesive fillers
- Disposable pots for mixing
- Application syringes
- Mixing sticks/tools
3. Safety items:
- Have good quality protective gears that include safety glasses, one or two pairs of work gloves and dust masks. Tiny fibers can easily get into your eyes or lungs, so make sure you stock up all of the necessary protective gears. Wearing long sleeved shirts or coveralls will help, too.
When you have laid hands on all of the above, it’s time to start the repair job. The good news is fiberglass repair complete tool kits are readily available, which means you can opt for the all-in-one toolkits instead of buying separate items. But be noted that all-in-one packages will be more pricey.
How to repair your RV fiberglass
There are a few principles when it comes to repairing your RV fiberglass. The first principle is that although the repair parts will differ from the original parts, you should try to match your repairs with the original parts as much as you can. Aim for exact measurements and avoid overdoing it.
The second principle is that there are two types of fiberglass repair namely structural repair and cosmetic repair. As the name suggests itself, structural repairs refer to fixing more severe damage to your fiberglass such as holes. Cosmetic repair, on the other hand, refers to smaller repair work for less severe damage such as polishing.
Since a structural repair is always followed by a cosmetic repair, we will first address the structural repair. Although it sounds like a daunting task, you will be able to overcome it by following our instructions properly.
Step 1. Inspect and identify the problem
When you search for the way to repair your RV fiberglass by yourself online, chances are you will find that the first recommended step is to jump right into the task and clean the surface. However, the first and foremost step to be taken is to inspect the problem. You need to determine which type of damage you are dealing with, whether it is a hole, a crushed core, fracture or delamination.
You will also need to pay much attention to the scope of the damage as well. There may be underlying damage, which cannot be seen easily. Once you have managed to identify the problem, use a marker to quarantine the damage if needed.
Step 2.Prepare the surface
After identifying the damage, you can decide to either repair or replace the damaged parts depending on the severity of the damage. Either way, you will need to remove the damaged materials and prepare the surface for the next step. When pulling off the damaged material, make sure to remove as little material as possible, so you won’t end up ruining more parts. Do not rush this step but gradually remove the material instead.
Once the damaged material has been removed completely, you must next clean the surface to get rid of unwanted dirt and foreign materials. You can use a razor blade to clear the surface and wipe with acetone. Acetone is very useful in getting rid of oil, grease, dust or other contaminants. Afterwards, you can start sanding around. Once sanding is done, the whole surface must be cleared up thoroughly. Any remaining dust and dirt should be removed as well.
Step 3. Patch the repair materials
When the surface is ready, you can proceed with pre-cut patch materials to fit the repair area. You should rip off or safely cut the mat with appropriate measurements. Afterwards, start mixing your resin following the manufacturer’s directions in a disposable mixing pot (a plastic cup or a paper bowl works just fine). When you have mixed it correctly, you are ready to do the patchwork.
Start by putting resin all over the bonding area so that a film of resin is formed across the entire area. This will strengthen the bond. Next, lay the prepared fiberglass fabric onto the repair area. Use a paint brush to saturate the resin into the glass. Add another layer if needed but pause every other layer to debulk the patch as much as you can. Continue adding repair patches until all previously removed fiberglass fabrics have been properly replaced.
You can add one final surfacing layer to cover the whole area and wait for the resin to cure. Once the resin has cured, start sanding it down to smoothen the surface. Check and follow the directions of the resin manufacturer with regards to curing. Once the layer has dried up, you can sand and paint to add more colors to your RV fiberglass.
Finally, make sure you inspect the patch to see if things have been restored to their original forms.
While it seems that repairing your RV fiberglass by yourself is a lot of work, it can be done with ease as long as you follow all of the steps above properly. The best part about it is all the fun and freedom you’ll find in customizing your RV without spending a huge amount for an RV mechanic. I am sure that after a couple of repair jobs, you will be amazed at how skilled and experienced you will become regarding fiberglass repair, and not just for RVs but other vehicles as well.