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How to Remove Oxidation from RV Fiberglass

Removing Oxidation from RV Fiberglass
Written by Mira

Any RV owner knows that RV’s are great and fun, but they also require some maintenance and attention.

If you have an RV fiberglass, one of the problems you’ll deal with is the oxidation. In a nutshell, you only need a bit of abrasive polish and some wax for getting rid of oxidation from the RV. However, the process should be made meticulously so that you don’t skip any essential steps.

Are RV fiberglass common?

The majority of RV exteriors are made out of fiberglass or some fiber reinforced plastic that has a gel coat finish. The materials are both lightweight and long-lasting, which counts for a vehicle that should take used for many years to come.

You can protect the fiberglass with a coating gel made with synthetic resin-based products. The fiberglass gel coat isn’t thicker than 1/32,” and it’s bonded straight to the fiberglass surface. It’s fundamental for making your RV shine brightly. However, as time goes by, the shine fades away, rending your RV old looking

What are the causes of the RV gel losing the shine?

Even if you take good care of it, it’s only a matter of time until the RV becomes chalky, cloudy, and yellow-tinted. The oxidation process is the leading cause.

Oxidation is a chemical reaction that happens due to oxygen in the air, and rusted iron is the most common example. When your fruits turn brown, oxidation is the cause of it. It’s the same for the gel coat on the RV, especially when you’re exposing it to the elements on a regular basis. It may sound surprising, but the sun is unforgiving with the gel coat of your RV.

Is it possible to make the RV gel-coat shine once again?

If you’re a dedicated RV owner, you already take good care of your RV regularly. You cannot skip washing and waxing your RV. However, it’s not going to be enough for keeping your RV shiny and beautiful looking.

Removing all oxidation on the exterior of your RV is fundamental, but you also need to apply several coats of wax to give it back its beautiful shine.

Washing and waxing your RV once a month is part of a natural process. The wax creates a protective coating between the gel coat and the elements, but it’s going to wear off after some time. The gel coat will no longer be protected against the elements, and you need to remove the oxidation again.

Do you know the type of RV you own?

It’s evident that RVs aren’t the same, and there are various materials used for the finishes and exteriors. You must know the precise type of RV exterior so that it’s easier for you to choose the oxidation removal products and waxes for coating.

Here are the materials used most often:

  • Fiberglass gel coat

It’s definitely the no.1  type of exterior for RVs. It’s used for both affordable and expensive models, and it’s easy to recognize since it’s white or cream most of the time.

A fiberglass gel coat for RVs can come with paint or stripes. It does become chalky, hazy, and blotchy after some time, requiring constant maintenance.

  • Corrugated fiberglass or aluminum

The corrugated RV may present a smooth side or textured corrugation. It’s the cheapest option for RV, and it’s typically white. You can also find exteriors painted in any color.

What are the most effective ways to remove oxidation from RV fiberglass?

When it comes to removing oxidation, polishes made with a mild abrasive are a solid choice. They can also eliminate shallow scratches, weathered paint, and surface stains. However, finishes aren’t protective, and you need to wax the color as well. Waxes and polishes work only to some extent for fiberglass RV exterior.

Here are the most reliable methods of removing oxidation:

   1. Hand buffing

Hand buffing is a reliable method to restore oxidized fiberglass, and you only need a polishing compound and elbow grease for the job.

  • Use a non-scratch scrubby sponge for applying the polishing product
  • You should use your hands to work the polish into the surface. When you don’t feel any more resistance, it’s time to stop
  • Let the polish dry
  • Get a clean and dry cloth for wiping off the haze. You want you to let the shiny surface come to life
  • Use RV grade or quality marine wax for the final touch. Grab a clean, dry cloth for waxing, and let the wax dry to a haze. You need to polish it off for the shiny finish we all love.

   2. Power buffer

When you don’t have the time nor the patience, you should get an electric buffer. It’s not strenuous and gives you speed while working. The electric power buffer is excellent for polishing and removing oxidation from an RV.

You also need a kitchen scrubby sponge and polish for getting rid of the oxidation from the tiny crannies and nook. It’s safe to use the power buffer for applying the polish and removing the oxidation from the RV. On top of everything else, it’s reliable for applying the wax and buffing the surface for the perfect shine.

Look for a wax made for protecting the fiberglass surface on the RV, with marine wax being a reliable option as well.

What to do in case of extreme fiberglass oxidation?

The fiberglass of your RV will age after some time, and even professional products won’t be able to reverse aging. Wet sanding is the solution, though. It does require your attention and plenty of care for all the details.

Here’s how to do it properly:

  • Soak sandpaper (600 to 2,000grits) for 24hours straight
  • Put the sandpaper on a foam block
  • Start sanding until you feel the fiberglass smooth
  • Use heavy-duty polish for the final touch. It may take you several applications until you get the shiny finish back.

Side note: Should you have to deal with extreme oxidation, expect several strands of fibers coming to the surface. Grab a pair of tweezers for pulling the threads apart from the surface. You no longer deal with oxidation, but with erosion.

There are two options: you either call a professional for RV paint, or you have the fiberglass gel-coated again. Both solutions take their toll in terms of money and time. But the gel coat will last for a longer time.

One last piece of advice

It’s better to stay safe than sorry. Therefore, you have to prevent the buildup of oxidation, and washing the RV monthly is the most reliable option. Look for the “wash and wax” products made for RVs, as they keep dirt and grime under control.

You can also wax the RV once a year for protecting the shine or use a fiberglass restorer for severe oxidation cases.

Environmental conditions, such as air pollution, extreme desert sun or humidity, and even parking under a tree may affect the surface of your RV. Keeping the RV away from the sun when not in use and storing it in a garage or under an RV cover are the most comfortable ways to protect it against oxidation.