The majority of RV exteriors are fiberglass with a gel coat finish. Fiberglass is lightweight and durable, which is important for a motorhome or trailer.
What is Gel Coat?
Gel coat is a synthetic resin used to coat and protect the fiberglass. It’s very thin, and bonded to the fiberglass surface. Gel coat is what gives an RV it’s shiny finish. Unfortunately, over time, that glossy shine will dull, and that can make your RV look like a junker.
How Does Gel Coat Get Dull?
Over the years, the gel coat will become cloudy and even yellowed. This is due to the process of oxidation. Rust is an example of oxidation. It’s a chemical reaction to oxygen in the air. Oxidation will eventually dull the gel coat on your RV. This is especially true if your RV is exposed to the sun.
Make Your RV Gel Coat Shiny Again
Keeping the shine is important, if you want to keep your RV looking good. The way to make your RV look new again starts with removing the oxidation on the fiberglass exterior. That should be followed up with a coat of wax made for fiberglass gelcoats.
Wash your RV regularly with a car wash, then wax it. The wax forms a protective shield between the elements and the gelcoat. But the wax will eventually wear off, and the gel coat will be once more exposed to the elements. This requires regular removal of the oxidation and a fresh coating of wax.
How to Remove RV Oxidation
Polish with a mild abrasive is a good choice for removing RV oxidation. This will also remove surface stains and light scratches. Remember, polishes are not a protective finish, and will need to be finished with wax. However, polish and wax will only work on fiberglass with moderate oxidation.
Hand Buffing RV Oxidation
- A little elbow grease and polishing compound are all you need to restore oxidized fiberglass.
- Apply the polishing compound with a non-scratch scrubby sponge
- Work the polish into the surface, polishing until you no longer feel resistance.
- Let the polish dry and haze over.
- Wipe off the polishing compound with a clean dry cloth.
- Finish it with a good RV or marine grade wax. Apply with a clean dry cloth, allowing the wax to dry to a haze, then polish to a shiny finish.
Using a Power Buffer to Remove RV Oxidation
An electric buffer will save you time, and stress on your body. First, use the electric buffer with polish to remove the oxidation from large areas of your RV. Follow up with a scrubby sponge to remove oxidation from the nooks and crannies.
Next, use the buffer to apply wax, and then buff your RV to a bright shine. Always use wax formulated to protect the fiberglass. Marine wax for boats can also be used.
Preventing RV Oxidation
Extreme environments, such as the desert sun, extreme humidity, air pollution, and parking under a tree can damage the surface of your RV. Keep your RV out of the sun when not in use, or if possible, keep it under an RV cover or in a garage. This will prevent UV rays from the sun oxidizing the gel coat.
Wash your RV every month if possible, to prevent oxidation from building up. Using and soft, long-handled RV washing brush and “RV Wash and Wax” is a good choice. This will keep grime, as well as oxidation from building up on your RV.
Waxing your RV once a year is also recommended. If your used RV shows serious signs of oxidation, use a fiberglass restorer first, in addition to washing and waxing it.