Here is a step-by-step guide showing how I repaired the sidewall delamination on my RV. I learned many things during this project that I believe will help you get an acceptable result.
Before we get into it, I’ll caution you to have realistic expectations. Don’t expect like-new results. Removing and repairing the entire sidewall is the only way you’ll restore your RV sidewall back to new condition. The best you can hope for is to achieve an acceptable looking result and stop any further damage.
Two years ago I noticed the side wall on the back corner of our 2007 RV starting to bubble up. Several areas on the left rear of the motorhome were bulging. Some worse than others. When I pressed on the wall panel it would move in an out. This was a classic sign of sidewall delamination.
Once the bulging started, the affected area grew as the sidewall got pulled away. I watched as the bubbling got worse each year. A large area near the roof line rain gutter was the most affected.
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.
With the amount of effort involved I was happy with the result. In addition to what you can see though, several repairs and improvements were also made to reseal and secure all seams.
Some bubbling may remain in areas that were difficult to fill and clamp. I still have some areas that I couldn’t treat or that simply look uneven when the sun hits it a certain way. It’s a result I’m satisfied with for now. If you’re ok with an imperfect result, then continue reading.
Let me walk you through my process to repair the sidewall. I’ll 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.
Tips for a successful delamination repair
I developed several tips and processes while repairing the delamination on my RV that I’ll explain and demonstrate in this video.
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. 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).
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
Identify the dealamitate 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
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
Load the injector with epoxy by placing the end of the tube in the mixing container and pulling epoxy into the syringe.
Inject epoxy into the delaminated area
Press the syringe to release the epoxy while slowly pulling the injector out.
Press down on surface immediately
Press down on the treated area immediately after injecting to spread and bond epoxy to sides.
Apply a temporary clamp
Secure the treated area with a temporary clamp until the final clamp can be placed.
Repeat for entire section
Repeat the previous steps until the entire section is treated.
Clamp the section securely
Clamp the entire treated area and let it stand until cured (15 to 24 hours).
Repeat for all areas
Apply the same process for other areas of sidewall delamination around the RV (may take several days).
Reinstall and reseal all trim, windows, doors
Reinstall any panels, trim, windows and doors removed prior to treatment. Reseal them after install.
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.
Since publishing this article and video, several others have emailed me sharing their successful results. So, as you can see, it is possible to repair areas of sidewall delamination.
Don’t wait too long. If you notice delamination starting on your RV, it’s best to get on it as soon as possible. The longer you wait the worse it will get.
Best of luck with your project. I hope these tips help you get started.