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fiberglass siding chalking


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It is pretty common to see chalking in older fiberglass RVs and boats, and I respectfully disagree that it means the gelcoat has worn away.  The gelcoat is simply oxidizing over time, and that is the source of the chalking. As long as you don't have fiberglass strands exposed on the surface, you still have gelcoat. 

Remedies for chalking range from really intensive processes like wet-sanding the finish, to the more common (but still time consuming) process of using some type of polishing compound and a buffer. 

A popular product is Meguiars Oxidation Remover  To be clear this is still plenty of work, but many folks have gotten great results with a product like this.  Most manufacturers of paste wax will offer something similar. The trick is to work in small sections, and if you are using a buffer not to run it too fast or run it dry. 

Edited by mptjelgin
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2 hours ago, mptjelgin said:

The gelcoat is simply oxidizing over time, and that is the source of the chalking.

Early on, that is true but once the fiberglass begins to actually chalk, it needs to be refinished. And the products that you suggest actually remove the surface of the present gelcoat and so speed the loss of it. That is exactly what I did that caused ours to need recoated. 

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2 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Early on, that is true but once the fiberglass begins to actually chalk, it needs to be refinished. And the products that you suggest actually remove the surface of the present gelcoat and so speed the loss of it. That is exactly what I did that caused ours to need recoated. 

Our experience with two gelcoated fifth wheels has been different than yours. We had a Mobile Scout for ten years and now a Hitchhiker for nine years.  Both had minor chalking and both benefited from using this type of oxidation remover without obvious damage and certainly without the need to have the gelcoat replaced. 

There is a wide range of available options between doing nothing and needing to replace the gelcoat. Hopefully the OP will find something that works for them. 

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I had an Alfa that did that and since it wasnt an expensive trailer due to its age and we wanted to improve the appearance, mostly because we bought from an elderly couple that had left it in a storage lot in Bullhead City for 3 years without any care or maintenance.  I tried all kinds of different approaches but found the most successful was to remove the decals, most on the sun side were cooked away anyways, and then I applied Poli-Glo.  It was some work but when I finished it, it was a satisfactory result for what we were looking for.  I was shiny, and easier to keep clean and good looking.

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23 hours ago, Kirk W said:

The chalking of fiberglass usually means that the gelcoat has all worn away and the best answer is to have new gelcoat put on. 

Kirk, that sounds like it could get spendy. I was hoping there was a product to just use like wax., but that would be a lot of work also. what's involved with reapplying gen coat?

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20 hours ago, George the greek said:

what's involved with reapplying gen coat?

It is sprayed on, much like paint. I only had a small patch that was past the point of rubbing it out like others suggested no longer worked so I got a spray can from an RV supply store and did that area myself. The problem area was not easily seen and so I chose to try it and it seemed to hold up for the 2 additional years that we had the coach, but it didn't look as good as original. Our coach was an orphan so talking to the manufacturer wasn't possible so instead I spoke with a fiberglass shop that had done some body work on our coach several years before. As they suggested, my home repair was starting to degrade in the 2 or 3 years that we had the coach before we downsized. If we had not been thinking of replacing the coach I think we probably would have bit the bullet and just had the RV painted with auto paint like they use now as it holds up best.

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1 hour ago, Kirk W said:

It is sprayed on, much like paint. I only had a small patch that was past the point of rubbing it out like others suggested no longer worked so I got a spray can from an RV supply store and did that area myself. The problem area was not easily seen and so I chose to try it and it seemed to hold up for the 2 additional years that we had the coach, but it didn't look as good as original. Our coach was an orphan so talking to the manufacturer wasn't possible so instead I spoke with a fiberglass shop that had done some body work on our coach several years before. As they suggested, my home repair was starting to degrade in the 2 or 3 years that we had the coach before we downsized. If we had not been thinking of replacing the coach I think we probably would have bit the bullet and just had the RV painted with auto paint like they use now as it holds up best.

Thanks Kirk for the great explanation. I'm leaning  on just leaving it as is. 

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All I can say is not all sidewalls and end caps are made the same so no one method will work every unit. It depends on the quality of the materials used when it was built. If the sidewalls were never cleaned and waxed from new then you will never get them to a new condition no matter what you to it. 

Denny

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