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Anyone use ZEP on the outside walls of their RV


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We parked beside another 5th wheeler this past fall. He had a 2004 unit and said he had fully cleaned the unit, then used ZEP the bought at Home Depot to apply five coats. He said it didn't require buffing and was very easy to apply over the gel coat including the decals. His unit looked brand new. The ZEP is a floor product available through Home Depot, and other locations on the internet, but when I checked, there are numerous products. I'm wondering if anyone else has used this product, and can give any details on the specific product to use? I plan on getting our unit ready for full time use this May, and want to be sure I use the correct one.

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My dad had a local do his 20 year old Bounder and from 5' away it looked better than new. Our rig is showing it's age and was thinking about doing this.

 

Stole this from the net.....

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This process is for older RVs that have lost their shine and no longer respond to conventional wax.

 

Restoring the finish of an older RV using ZWLFF:

 

Materials:

-Zep Wet Look Floor finish (Step 3) (available at Home Depot)

-Bar Keeper’s Friend (powdered)

-TSP (Trisodium Phosphate, powdered)

-3M scrubbies (white, fine)

-Microfiber rags (white or laundered)

-Latex gloves

 

Preparing the surface is the most important part, since anything left on the surface will be sealed under the ZWLFF acrylic coating, and improper prep can also result in peeling/flaking later. I repeat: The prep-work is the most important part! Do not try to cut corners here. The cleaner your RV is, the better your final results will be.

 

Step 1: Start by washing your RV well as you normally would, making sure to include the roof, and rinsing well from the top down.

 

Step 2: You now want to remove any and all stains, soiling, oxidation, and chalkiness from the surface. Dip a white 3M scrubbie into water and then liberally sprinkle Bar Keeper’s Friend (BKF) on it. Scrub the surface of the motorhome, rinsing the scrubbie and re-applying the BKF often. Do small areas at a time, rinsing well with water and a sponge as you go (Rinsing well is important to remove all BKF residue. I used a "flow-thru" brush attached to a hose to rinse the BKF residue thoroughly).

 

Step 3: Next you want to make sure that there is absolutely no remaining wax on the RV, since any residual wax can cause the ZWLFF to peel and flake. Mix up a bucket of TSP (1/2 cup) in water (2 gal), and use it to wash the entire RV again. You can use it with a carwash brush, a sponge, a pressure washer…anything you would normally use to wash your RV. Rinse well as you go, then rinse again and let it dry completely (again, rinsing well is important to remove all TSP residue). You should now be left with a clean and smooth (although dull) wax-free surface. Congrats, the hard part is done!

 

Step 4: Now comes the easy part. Shake the ZWLFF well, and pour some into a shallow container (a pie pan works well). Fold a microfiber rag to about hand-sized, dip it into the ZWLFF (trust me, use gloves!), and squeeze out the excess. How much/how wet? You want it more than damp, but less than dripping. Now simply wipe down the surface of the RV with the wet microfiber rag. Don’t try to apply a heavy coat or try to “rub it in”; just wet the surface (imagine wiping off a layer of dust with a damp rag). It really doesn’t matter whether you wipe horizontally, vertically, or in circles, and don’t worry about overlaps; ZWLFF is very thin/watery and you are just trying to “moisten” the surface. Work your way all the way around the RV. The thin coat of ZWLFF will dry very quickly; long before you’ve gone all the way around it will be dry and you can immediately start on the next coat.

 

That first coat will likely look really bad; streaky, blotchy, shiny in some places, dull in others…don’t panic. Each additional coat will start to even it out and build up a deep layer of shine. By coat 3, you will be grinning ear to ear. And coat 4 (or 5?) will be the icing on the cake. Not only will your RV shine like it hasn’t shined in years, it will be a deeper color as well*. Even old, faded graphics will have a new lease on life! All for less than $30 total!

 

*Note: This procedure will slightly change/darken the color/shade of your RV.

 

Things (I learned) to keep in mind:

 

-Don’t use new colored microfiber rags until they have been laundered, as the color may bleed.

 

-Don’t try to “over-apply”, or try for a heavy coat, or you will get runs. The thinner, the better. Remember, you’re just trying to “moisten” the surface with each thin coat, nothing more. If you are getting a lot of runs, you’re applying it too heavily.

 

-Be careful around window frames, locks, latches, etc., as the ZWLFF is very watery and will have a tendency to gather and cause runs. ZWLFF dries fast, so keep an eye out for any runs and give them a quick wipe before they start to “set up”.

 

-Some older, deteriorated graphics may “bleed” color onto the rag and surrounding areas. If you notice any bleeding during the BKF or TSP stage (steps 2 and 3), then give a quick wipe of ZWLFF across the graphics prior to step 4, which will seal them up. Then go ahead and apply the ZWLFF to the entire RV (including the now sealed graphics) as per step 4 of the tutorial.

 

-After each coat, go around and open/operate all hatches, locks, catches, etc. The ZWLFF acrylic coating can sort of “glue” them closed.

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There have been a number of posts about using ZEP on www.rv.net. However, not so much here.

 

As you can see from the previous post, it's an involved process. Some folks swear by the results, but others don't.

 

IMO, I'd only use it on an RV whose paint has oxidized. I'd never put ZEP on a "typical" RV.

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We applied Zep to our 1999 Bounder and it looks as good today as it did a year and a half ago when we applied it. Everywhere we go folks comment on how great our coach looks. Proper prep and application is key to success and longevity. Many who have had bad results shortcut or did not prepare or apply properly. Chuck

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I did this procedure as previously described on the Fiberglas roof of our American Eagle motorhome. The roof looked very good, (almost like new) and did so after 2 years. Practically stopped the black streaking after a rain. Do not get the stuff onto anything you do not want to coat. The effort and cost was well worth it.

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I used Red Maxx Pro a number of years ago on my fiberglass end caps. it has held up surprisingly well. It is the same thing as ZEP and comes off easily with their floor stripper, np. Makes it easy to correct mistakes or redo's. here is my writeup on my success: http://rvhousekeeping.blogspot.com/2011/06/making-outside-shine.html#links

 

Good luck.

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I use this process on a 12 yr old gelcoat with painted graphics. Lasted 3 yrs first time. Just stripped and redid it this past fall.

 

Yes it's an effort but after trying most everything out there to clean and wax nothing brought back that nice shine.

 

No worries as to getting this on another vehicle applying by hand as I did. That would be impossible. ?

 

If you clean and reapply before it starts to go bad it works.

 

There would be no concern to repaint since it can be removed with stripper and the surface would be sanded and prepared anyway.

 

But no way I'm repainting a trailer this age for $15k ?

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I used a product called Poli Glo on the outside of an Alfa 5er and it brought it back to life. Many coats required but after removing the oxidation with their product and applying the finish coat, I was pleased with the results. I found that it smelled remarkably like Johnsons Liquid Floor Wax, which I am familiar with. Did not try Johnsons.

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My dad had a local do his 20 year old Bounder and from 5' away it looked better than new. Our rig is showing it's age and was thinking about doing this.

 

Stole this from the net.....

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This process is for older RVs that have lost their shine and no longer respond to conventional wax.

 

Restoring the finish of an older RV using ZWLFF:

 

Materials:

-Zep Wet Look Floor finish (Step 3) (available at Home Depot)

-Bar Keeper’s Friend (powdered)

-TSP (Trisodium Phosphate, powdered)

-3M scrubbies (white, fine)

-Microfiber rags (white or laundered)

-Latex gloves

 

Preparing the surface is the most important part, since anything left on the surface will be sealed under the ZWLFF acrylic coating, and improper prep can also result in peeling/flaking later. I repeat: The prep-work is the most important part! Do not try to cut corners here. The cleaner your RV is, the better your final results will be.

 

Step 1: Start by washing your RV well as you normally would, making sure to include the roof, and rinsing well from the top down.

 

Step 2: You now want to remove any and all stains, soiling, oxidation, and chalkiness from the surface. Dip a white 3M scrubbie into water and then liberally sprinkle Bar Keeper’s Friend (BKF) on it. Scrub the surface of the motorhome, rinsing the scrubbie and re-applying the BKF often. Do small areas at a time, rinsing well with water and a sponge as you go (Rinsing well is important to remove all BKF residue. I used a "flow-thru" brush attached to a hose to rinse the BKF residue thoroughly).

 

Step 3: Next you want to make sure that there is absolutely no remaining wax on the RV, since any residual wax can cause the ZWLFF to peel and flake. Mix up a bucket of TSP (1/2 cup) in water (2 gal), and use it to wash the entire RV again. You can use it with a carwash brush, a sponge, a pressure washer…anything you would normally use to wash your RV. Rinse well as you go, then rinse again and let it dry completely (again, rinsing well is important to remove all TSP residue). You should now be left with a clean and smooth (although dull) wax-free surface. Congrats, the hard part is done!

 

Step 4: Now comes the easy part. Shake the ZWLFF well, and pour some into a shallow container (a pie pan works well). Fold a microfiber rag to about hand-sized, dip it into the ZWLFF (trust me, use gloves!), and squeeze out the excess. How much/how wet? You want it more than damp, but less than dripping. Now simply wipe down the surface of the RV with the wet microfiber rag. Don’t try to apply a heavy coat or try to “rub it in”; just wet the surface (imagine wiping off a layer of dust with a damp rag). It really doesn’t matter whether you wipe horizontally, vertically, or in circles, and don’t worry about overlaps; ZWLFF is very thin/watery and you are just trying to “moisten” the surface. Work your way all the way around the RV. The thin coat of ZWLFF will dry very quickly; long before you’ve gone all the way around it will be dry and you can immediately start on the next coat.

 

That first coat will likely look really bad; streaky, blotchy, shiny in some places, dull in others…don’t panic. Each additional coat will start to even it out and build up a deep layer of shine. By coat 3, you will be grinning ear to ear. And coat 4 (or 5?) will be the icing on the cake. Not only will your RV shine like it hasn’t shined in years, it will be a deeper color as well*. Even old, faded graphics will have a new lease on life! All for less than $30 total!

 

*Note: This procedure will slightly change/darken the color/shade of your RV.

 

Things (I learned) to keep in mind:

 

-Don’t use new colored microfiber rags until they have been laundered, as the color may bleed.

 

-Don’t try to “over-apply”, or try for a heavy coat, or you will get runs. The thinner, the better. Remember, you’re just trying to “moisten” the surface with each thin coat, nothing more. If you are getting a lot of runs, you’re applying it too heavily.

 

-Be careful around window frames, locks, latches, etc., as the ZWLFF is very watery and will have a tendency to gather and cause runs. ZWLFF dries fast, so keep an eye out for any runs and give them a quick wipe before they start to “set up”.

 

-Some older, deteriorated graphics may “bleed” color onto the rag and surrounding areas. If you notice any bleeding during the BKF or TSP stage (steps 2 and 3), then give a quick wipe of ZWLFF across the graphics prior to step 4, which will seal them up. Then go ahead and apply the ZWLFF to the entire RV (including the now sealed graphics) as per step 4 of the tutorial.

 

-After each coat, go around and open/operate all hatches, locks, catches, etc. The ZWLFF acrylic coating can sort of “glue” them closed.

Ever use it on the roof? Wondered if it could be used on the roof after it was cleaned well? Know it won't shine like the sides because of the rubber surface, and the stains from years of mildew, but wondered if it would seal or should NOT be used. Hadn't seen this mentioned in any reply.

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Five years ago I used ZEP wet look floor finish on my front end cap that had faded to a matte finish. Previously I had tried to restore the shine by machine buffing with various grades of rubbing compounds and waxes with little success. The floor finish was a revelation and two years ago I applied it to the entire 5er. To say I am happy with the results would be an understatement. It IS labor intensive, especially the surface prep. DW and I went over the surfaces twice with Mr Clean eraser pads and TSP to remove any old wax and road grime. The application of the floor finish is quick and easy. After three years I stripped the front cap with ZEP stripper and reapplied the finish. Very easy to strip, maybe 15 minutes total and a quick rinse and dry was all that was needed before the re-coat. In my opinion it is the next best thing to having the rig clear coated and certainly much less expensive. By the way, the "Poly-Glo" product is simply a very expensive way to buy the same stuff.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Came across using Zep floor wax on coach and was interested enough to give it a test try...did 2x4 area back of coach and was impressed. So did the whole coach. Did clean with bar keepers friend.....did not use TSP.....but did wipe down with water and clean towels. Well I was impressed with results. Here are three pictures of results....look to left of stove vent for sun reflection...b4 and after....even the stripes have better shine even though they are dis colored. 

 
WOULD NOT  RECOMMEND on coach that does not have oxidation...did my tow that had no oxidation have found no difference. 
 

Wax was the easiest to apply, as I put wax on with a swifter mop and clean shop towel, didn't use ladder to apply...all from ground level. Five coats...apply time with wax drying three hours. 

 
 
Edited by Trucken
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First thing I offer is that this is an indoor floor product.  We have seen several RVs that looked great for the first couple of years.  Then the surface starts to craze and even flake.  At this point it looks horrible.  The solution is to strip the finish and reapply.

Final conclusion is I will not use it on my RV.

Ken

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I used it on our 1996 Truck camper. But it did have the fiberglass sides. Scrubbed it down with Barkeepers friend. Then used a microfiber cloth. Dampen it and wipe the surface with it. You only want to rib it on less is more on this. First coat dries it will look bad. I'm talking about you will be asking your self why did I do this. But no fear, second coat does not help much. But again dampen the cloth. You want to just wet the surface and be sure to wipe up any drips before they can dry. Third coat looks better but don't stop there. 4th you will think its done but go for the 5th coat. And it will look great.

As for it looking bad and cracking in a couple of years. It does not do that here on the east coast. Or better yet in west Tn. But out west or south Fl. Yes it might do that, but the ones I have heard about. Was the ones that stopped after three coats. Everyone that did the 5th coat. There still happy even after 10 years.

One guy I will try to look it up. Did his Corvette in this. Last time I read about it (Done in 1999) He had stripped it back down. And re-coated the car 3 or 4 years ago. And he does live in South Tx.

If your unit has the fiberglass panels. This stuff works great and brings it back to new looking again. Now I would never put this on my painted 5th wheel. But then again its clear coated. I will be putting boat wax on it next week. And doing the paint on roof coating. Unit is a 2012, and plan on it lasting us as long as we need a 5th wheel.

Also will try to get pics of a 1995 Freightliner FLD120. Guy did the Red Devil floor #3 (That is what I used) Seen it a few weeks ago. And it still has the gloss shine on it. And he washes it in the Blue beacon washes 24 times per year.

 

Pete

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2+ years in Florida and it looks as good today as the first day it was applied. Most who criticize using ZEP have never used it, have "heard" of problems or report on cases where the preparation was not done properly and the ZEP failed. Those of us that have done everything correctly, see no issues and lots of benefit. Chuck

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I did our '95 Coachmen Class A with Red Max Pro acrylic finish (which was actually private labeled ZEP 3), and the only failure after a year was a relatively small area that started to peel on the rear cap where my prep was probably inadequate. I redid that area, and the coach still looked good when I sold it four years later.

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I have a thread on IRV2 Class A forum asking for thoughts about applying Zep to our very damaged 3M film. 

The 1st owner of the coach looks he had it detailed with a gent that did not know the proper usage of a buffer. We had some of the black paint knocked off of the edges of basement handles, and when you looked at the front of the coaches 3M film, you could see the swirls of the buffer in a few areas. When we bought the coach in 2010 from consignment at Holland Motorhome of then San Diego, the Service Manager called and talked with 3M about the condition of our film. Took a few pictures, and sent it to them. He was honest about how it looked like it had been hit by an orbital buffer with compound. So 3M did not authorize the removal and replacement of the film (Which I understood, as it had not been properly taken are of...). The Service Manager said that the harder outside layer of the film, had been removed completely in some locations, and compromised in others. So the film has always been softer on the outside layer. 

For the 7 years we have the coach, I've stripped the area with a good washing of Dawn detergent, and applied multiple coats of paste wax, which seemed to fill in he finer surface scratches. While on the road, I used Protectoral on it to remove bugs, and also sort of replenish the wax finish. 

But I'm thinking of stripping it again, and apply Zep coats to it, to see how this might hold up. Probably test a small area first, to see how it adheres and reacts with the softer surfaces of the film. If good for a few months, the strip it again, and apply three coats. 

Any opinions on this, yah or nah, would be appreciated:)! (Hearing the success of it going over decals well for some of you, was good to hear.)

Best to all, 

Smitty

 

 

 

 

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  • 3 months later...

Getting ready to do something to the exterior of my Spacecraft. Built in 2013 and mostly only washed so far. Did start with the Orange bottle stuff a couple times. Have done the front cap at least once and the rear doors probably only once. By the time I got those done climbing up and down the ladder I couldn't even thing of attacking the sides. It's only 42 fool long, right? I had touched on this post a while back and am thinking of trying the Zep, but then I found this stuff. "Original Bike Spirits" . I just got a new motorcycle and have been using the Honda Pro cleaner polish and protectant  Have used it for years and it works great. The can is getting near empty and was looking for a place near work to pick up some more. Found the Original Bike Spirits and checked out their MSDS sheet to find the product is made by the Zep company. Maybe I should buy a case and just spray and wipe like I do on the motorcycles. Pretty sure I don't want to do the 5 coats that I read about above.

Will be at the Spacecraft factory the first of October and they are going to allow me to use some of their rolling scaffolds to make the job easier. Anyone want to do a Spacecraft tour, please stop by and grab a rag.

 

Rod

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