If you're new to the world of RVs, then you may not be particularly familiar with delamination issues. Sadly, this is a problem that can become all too common on newer RVs with fiberglass sidewalls. In addition to being unsightly, a vehicle with delaminated fiberglass can ultimately suffer from structural damage and require challenging repairs to correct.
What Is Delamination?
As the name implies, this problem occurs when the outer fiberglass covering (or "sidewall") becomes detached or delaminated from the inner structure. On most vehicles, this internal structure consists of layers of wood and styrofoam for support and insulation. As the fiberglass separates, it creates air pockets that may allow moisture to infiltrate the structure and cause additional damage.
Recognizing delamination is easy: look for bubbles, waves, or other clear signs that the outer fiberglass wall has separated from its underlying substrate. If the problem hasn't yet progressed to a significant degree, then you may only find small bubbles or ripples in hard-to-notice places. Because of this, it's important to thoroughly inspect the entire vehicle if you suspect a delamination issue.
Why Is Delamination Dangerous?
In addition to being unsightly, delamination poses a severe hazard to your RV. The fiberglass sidewalls on your RV help to protect the underlying wood from moisture, which can ultimately cause rot. Delamination is almost always initially caused by moisture making its way past seam seals. Still, once the problem takes hold, it can progress quickly by allowing even more moisture into vulnerable areas.
If left untreated, a delamination problem can completely ruin the underlying structure of an RV. Fixing delamination that has progressed this far may require extensive repairs, including removal of the fiberglass sidewall and custom replacement of the inner wood/insulation layer.
How Can You Address Delamination?
Fixing minor problems begins by locating the original source of water intrusion so that you can effectively reseal it. In some cases, you may then be able to spot repair the affected area using specialized kits. Note that this is only possible if the damage is minor, and it may not provide a long-term solution.
In most cases, you will want an RV repair shop to address any apparent sidewall delamination. Not only will experienced technicians be able to determine the best way to undertake durable, long-term repairs, but they will also fully reseal the original problem area. Using a professional to fix your delamination issue can be the difference between a permanent repair and a costly recurring problem.