Two years ago I noticed the side wall on the back corner of our 11 year old RV starting to bubble up. When I pressed on it the wall panel would move in an out. This was a classic sign of RV delamination.
After months of planning I dedicated a warm summer week of my life to repairing the delamination. The final outcome was better that I expected.
In this article, I’ll walk you through my process to repair the delamination on my RV. I also share my top delamination repair tips and tricks that really helped make my outcome a successful one.
Let me start by answering a few questions you may have:
Can you repair the delamination yourself?
YES. If you have the desire, patience and basic DIY skills to do so.
Is this a difficult project?
YES. You shouldn’t underestimate the complexity of this project. Once I was ready to start, it took me 7 full days to complete.
How much does it cost to fix the delamination?
The basic cost of materials came to around $200, but I was able to buy just about everything I needed on Amazon. What is not included in that cost are the scrap pieces of wood I used, my tools (clamps, etc.) that I already had, plus countless hours of my time.
What do I need to fix the delamination?
For the delamination repair portion of the project you’ll need:
- Epoxy Resin and Hardener
- Plastic Syringes
- Plastic Tubing
- Mixing Cups
I put together a delamination repair kit to help you get started.
You may already have some of these other items. If not, you can pick them up at your local hardware store.
- Clamps (lots of clamps)
- Scrap wood for bracing
- Rubber gloves
- Wedges and shims
- Plastic Sheeting
- Basic tools
Additional materials needed to reinstall and reseal trim, compartment doors, windows are not included here. The need for these other materials will vary from project to project based the location and extent of delamination on your RV. I had most of the materials I needed on hand like Butyl tape and various sealants.
I am only going to address the delamination repair itself in this article. Additional removal and reinstallation of windows, compartment doors, and trim will certainly be required for most repairs.
Delamination Repair Process
There’s a lot of planning that needs to take place prior to starting a project like this. I would say that the planning is the most important part of this project. So it’s important to get it right the first time. After injecting the resin, you’re unlikely to get a second chance.
Here are some things to consider carefully:
- Where will you park your RV during the repair?
- Can you cover your RV (if it rains)?
- How and where will you inject resin?
- How many areas will you treat?
- How will you brace each area?
- When will you do the repair? (you’ll need a string of warm days)
- Do you have everything you need?
Develop a Bracing System
You’ll have to develop your own method for bracing your repair area. I used 2x4s and smaller pieces of scrap wood secured with wooden wedges (which I made out of scrap).
For me, developing a bracing system was the part of the project that required the most thought. I did not have a nearby structure like a tree or wall to use. Instead I had to use elements of the RV itself to create a brace.
Create an Epoxy Injector
I taped a length of plastic tubing to a skinny pole that I had laying around. Then I taped the end of the tube to the syringe with aluminum tape (which seemed to work the best).
For a pole you could also use a wooden dowell, broken golf club shaft or something similar that will allow you to guide the injector tube deep into the delaminated area.
Delamination Repair Process
Here are the general steps I followed to repair each delaminated area. You're process may be slightly different depending on the location and extent of your delamination.
Identify the delaminated areas and assess the extent of the damage. You may have to treat separate areas in multiple applications. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to treat smaller areas and let it cure before moving on.
Mark the areas with painter’s tape so you know where to inject. It will be difficult to tell which areas are delaminated when you are close.
Gain access the area behind the delaminated panel(s). Remove edging, trim, compartment doors and windows necessary to get behind delaminated surfaces.
There may be areas where multiple layers are delaminated. Test each area and layer to determine where you can insert your injector.
Mix epoxy with hardener in a small batch (4-6 ounces)
Load the injector by placing the end of the tube in the mixing container and pulling epoxy into the syringe
Inject epoxy into the delaminated area while slowly pulling the injector out.
Press down on surface immediately after injecting to spread and bond epoxy to sides
Apply a temporary clamp if possible
Repeat until the entire section is treated
Clamp the section securely and let it stand until cured (15 to 24 hours)
Repeat for all areas of delamination (may take several days)
Reinstall and reseal all trim, windows, doors
Tips for a successful outcome
Throughout this process I applied a few tips and tricks that helped make my repair successful. So I’ll share them with you.
- Work from the bottom up clamping as you go
- Mark the area to be treated with blue painter’s tape
- Cover the area with plastic and painter’s tape to protect the surface from dripping epoxy or spill over
- Inject above the area to be treated so the epoxy drips down into the area you’re treating
- Apply pressure after each injection to spread the epoxy before it has a chance to collect near the bottom
- Use the pumps designed for your epoxy system to ensure you’re getting the perfect ratio of resin to hardener
- Mix small batches of epoxy (enough for about 2 injectors) to prevent premature hardening in the mixing container
- Do not reuse injector across multiple days to avoid clogging. Assemble a new injector each day.
- Have plenty of wedges ready while clamping (you’ll always wish you had more)
- Perform a dry run of the injecting and clamping prior to injecting the resin in each section to validate your clamping method and make sure you have all of the materials you need. It may seem tedious but you'll be glad you did.