Fiberglass roof restoration - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-31-2020, 11:59 AM   #1
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Looking
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Fiberglass roof restoration

Well we didn't end up with a trailer (we had considered Bigfoot), instead we ended up with a fiberglass MH so I hope I am still welcome here I have some questions about fiberglass roofs and I thought who better would know than fiberglass RV owners?

The unit was stored outdoors in the Arizona sun and the roof is quite faded and a bit chalky. There is also peeling of some sort of clear coat around the edges where the roof blends into the walls and there is a 4" stripe of graphics tape around that edge. I am looking at Dicor fiberglass roof clean & prep followed by their fiberglass RV roof coating. I thought I would do that first, then follow up the penetrations and around the edge with Eternabond tape. I am not sure if I should do the Eternabond first or last, I did consider that the Eterna bond may adhere to the prepped surface better than it will to the topcoat so maybe do the tape first?

Also wondering if the old sealant should be removed from the penetrations first, or just cleaned and the new applied on top. The roof is one piece and there is a seam where the front cap of the RV attaches, probably at the back as well but not sure. There doesn't appear to be seams at the side walls, just that 4" wide graphic tape.

Looking forward to any advice on this from people familiar with fiberglass roofs.
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Old 11-01-2020, 12:33 PM   #2
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The chaulky residue is from the gelcoat breaking down. You can buff and polish the surface then put a UV protectant over it which should give you several years, or you could have it painted to get more life out of it.
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Old 11-01-2020, 02:10 PM   #3
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The chaulky residue is from the gelcoat breaking down. You can buff and polish the surface then put a UV protectant over it which should give you several years, or you could have it painted to get more life out of it.
Hi Eric, yes I am thinking about painting it. If I go this route do you think it would be best not to buff and polish first as won't that make the paint less likely to adhere?
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Old 11-01-2020, 07:32 PM   #4
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Hi Eric, yes I am thinking about painting it. If I go this route do you think it would be best not to buff and polish first as won't that make the paint less likely to adhere?
Of course you would want to apply paint to a surface that has no polish applied to it. Every paint can will tell you the surface must be fully cleaned first which means stripping off any type of polish.
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Old 11-02-2020, 06:56 AM   #5
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Yeah if you paint it you would wash then use a grease/wax remover and then sand the surface. Then you need to wash and degrease again for best paint adhesion. For paint you should look into some of the marine paints like Total Boat or Interlux. They are a little more expensive but offer a better finish.
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:12 AM   #6
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Once painted, always painted. It would be a last resort for me. The “peeling clear coat” is puzzling me. If the fiberglass has been previously painted (common with laminated RVs, less common with molded fiberglass), it makes sense.

If it’s unpainted fiberglass gelcoat, there nothing to peel. It could be some kind of floor wax that some fiberglass owners use in lieu of traditional marine waxes. It can be removed with stripper.

There’s a lot that’s uncertain about the type of construction and finishes we’re dealing with here. Pictures might help.
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:39 AM   #7
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Once painted, always painted. It would be a last resort for me. The “peeling clear coat” is puzzling me. If the fiberglass has been previously painted (common with laminated RVs, less common with molded fiberglass), it makes sense.

If it’s unpainted fiberglass gelcoat, there nothing to peel. It could be some kind of floor wax that some fiberglass owners use in lieu of traditional marine waxes. It can be removed with stripper.

There’s a lot that’s uncertain about the type of construction and finishes we’re dealing with here. Pictures might help.
Thanks Jon, I believe it is clear coat that the entire coach was covered with and may have only extended a short ways past the graphic decal around the top edge. I thought about the paint being a constant maintenance item, so your personal recommendation would be to restore the fiberglass and keep it protected after that? One good thing is that I am keeping it indoors, the only time it will see the sun now is when on a trip.
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Old 11-07-2020, 07:20 PM   #8
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OK here is my plan, let me know if it all makes sense. First I am going to remove all the Dicor (?) around the penetrations and the front and rear cap joints. Then I am going to restore the gelcoat with Meguiar's #57 one Step Compound with a high speed buffer followed by a good quality wax.

I will run the buffer along the peeling clear coat edge and try to feather it in, if that doesn't work I will add another 4" graphic decal over the top of the peeling one once I am finished (although probably before wax). I will replace all the Dicor with more of the same but for the long, straight cap joints I will use Eternabond. I will probably do the sealants after restoration of the surface but before wax for better adhesion.

Fortunately the rig will live indoors and I can leave the roof penetrations open while I work without worrying about the weather.
Any comments or advice much appreciated.
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Old 11-07-2020, 09:41 PM   #9
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Meguiars 57 ain't gonna work. I tried repeatedly on a 5 year old Escape with some oxidation on the sides where water (condensation) persistently dripped. You need 3M Perfect-It Gelcoat Heavy Cutting compound. You can call them for some specific advice too. Love Meguiars- yet their products for fiberglass are just not as good IMO. Also- you must use a rotary vs. orbital or dual action- and with a wool pad. This is an art and I finally threw in the towel after a LOT of effort using Meguiars 49, 57, another compound from a professional as well as Barkeepers Friend. Wish I'd spent the $400 way earlier. Two guys with 3M and various sizes of polishers then wax then polish did the trick.
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Old 11-08-2020, 09:44 AM   #10
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Meguiars 57 ain't gonna work. I tried repeatedly on a 5 year old Escape with some oxidation on the sides where water (condensation) persistently dripped. You need 3M Perfect-It Gelcoat Heavy Cutting compound. You can call them for some specific advice too. Love Meguiars- yet their products for fiberglass are just not as good IMO. Also- you must use a rotary vs. orbital or dual action- and with a wool pad. This is an art and I finally threw in the towel after a LOT of effort using Meguiars 49, 57, another compound from a professional as well as Barkeepers Friend. Wish I'd spent the $400 way earlier. Two guys with 3M and various sizes of polishers then wax then polish did the trick.
hmmm, thanks for the info, I'll look into that product. The reason I chose the Meguiar's is because of this guy's video:
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Old 07-25-2021, 02:06 PM   #11
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Updating this thread as I have now done a lot of research and learned some new info about my roof as well. The top radius was NOT a decal but paint with clear coat. I needed to reseal the radius edge where it tucks into the channel so I decided to repaint the radius at the same time. I sanded it all down, fixed a damaged area that had been patched with silicone then repainted with base coat/clear coat with activator. (see pics) Now the only thing left is the dull, chalky gel coat on the rest of the roof. I tried a bit of Meguiar's #50 and it did clean up and put a kind if dull shine on it. I don't know how much of the original gel coat is left but the surface has that rough feeling where you can see and feel the fibers below the surface but none are exposed if you know what I mean. This makes me a bit leery of using any kind of aggressive machine and compounds for fear I will break through what is left of the gel coat.
I an not concerned with how it looks as it is not visible, my main objective is to stop further deterioration. Either a Marine wax product on a regular basis or on another long thread here I have been reading about Zep floor wax which people are having pretty good results with and it seems to hold up much longer than the fiberglass wax products.
2 things that differ in my case from most of the trailers, my rig is stored indoors now and only sees sun and weather when on road trips, and my roof is constructed of very thin sheet fiberglass unlike the molded fiberglass trailers. The Zep idea appeals to me as it may last quite a long time unlike the waxes that require frequent applications.
Note in the pic where the antenna lays down it is still shiny.
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Old 07-25-2021, 02:54 PM   #12
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More thoughts I had, clear coat is an option as well. A drawback to the floor wax is the body paint on the radius edges, they would need to be taped off and treated separately with automotive wax. If I buff and wax the roof then I could just use the same wax that I use on the sides everywhere, could do this if clear coated as well. I don't know how that floor wax would do on the automotive paint I used on the roof radius, it was a lot of work and the paint was not cheap so I'd hate to ruin it.
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