Do you feel embarrassed every time you roll into a campground or RV park because your motorhome’s fiberglass is no longer as shiny as it was once? You can breathe life into your dusty and hazy-looking motorhome by learning how to remove oxidation from RV fiberglass.
Oxidation is a natural phenomenon that tends to increase every time we drive our RVs. You do not need a professional RV detailer for this. I will share with you how to remove nasty oxidation from your motorhome’s fiberglass body.
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Things You Need to Remove Oxidation from RV Fiberglass
Removing oxidation from a fiberglass surface is a straightforward project. However, I would like to emphasize that its success depends on the oxidation’s level of severity.
For example, if the oxidation is due to deep scratches that penetrate deep into the motorhome’s bare metal, no amount of RV fiberglass oxidation remover may be sufficient to save your RV. A new paint job or the reapplication of a fiberglass surface is the only solution.
Having said that, you should be able to manage mild to moderate surface imperfections causing the oxidation.
You do not need a high-pressure power washer to remove oxidation from fiberglass. However, it is one of the most crucial tools to prepare the surface before buffing, polishing, and waxing.
You see, your motorhome’s surface can have dirt, bird droppings, squashed bugs, small rocks, tiny twigs, and other particles. If you do not remove these objects, they can scratch the fiberglass during the compound and polish application processes.
There are portable power washers you can buy at an affordable price. You can check out Sun Joe’s SPX3000.
Removing surface contaminants with a power sprayer is often not sufficient. You will also need a cleaning agent that dissolves grime and grease, ensuring a spotless fiberglass surface.
If you are on a tight budget, I recommend making a warm soapy solution. You can mix a cup of dish soap with a gallon of warm water, which should be enough to give your motorhome a thorough cleaning.
People who want a more comprehensive cleaning can try Chemical Guys’ Mr. Pink Foaming Car Wash.
Although polishes and waxes come with their applicator pads, a microfiber towel will still come in handy for wiping the surface.
A microfiber cloth will not scratch the surface and leave behind swirl marks or streaks. It can also absorb wax and oil, perfect for hand-buffing your RV’s fiberglass surface.
Chemical Guys offers a dozen professional-grade microfiber towels at an affordable price.
Orbital Polisher or Rotary Buffer
Polisher tools come in at least four types: orbital, random orbital, forced rotation dual action, and rotary. I recommend an orbital polisher because its motion mimics hand movements when buffing or polishing a surface.
It is more suitable for mild oxidation because of its lower rotational speed compared to a rotary buffer. Plus, it is inexpensive and comfortable to use. With a vehicle as large as a small bus, this will come in handy when working throughout your motorhome.
The WORX WX856L is an example of an orbital polisher/buffer.
If you want a sturdier and more powerful polisher, I recommend getting a rotary buffer, like the DEWALT DWP849X. This hand tool is perfect for addressing moderate to severe fiberglass oxidation. Its weight alone is enough to apply pressure against the surface.
My only concern with a rotary buffer is that it spins at higher speeds, causing more friction and generating more heat. If you are an absolute newbie, you might end up burning some sections of your motorhome.
Buffing your RV fiberglass is the first step to removing oxidation. A rubbing or buffing compound is abrasive, similar to sandpaper. It smoothens the surface, chipping away scratches’ leading edges to minimize their ability to cast shadows and give the illusion of oxidation.
The Turtle Wax T-241A is an excellent example of a buffing compound for lightly oxidized surfaces. If you need a heavy-duty buffing compound for severe oxidation, I recommend the No. 7 Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound.
An automotive polish continues on the work of a rubbing or buffing compound. It gives your motorhome a mirror-like finish, making you feel proud every time you drive into an RV park or campgrounds.
Some polishes are also abrasive, but not as much as a rubbing compound.
For an RV, I recommend Meguiar’s M4516. Its unique formulation will bring out the best in our motorhome.
Wax & Masking tape
A wax is always a must-have whenever addressing oxidation on any surface. Waxes give your motorhome that look you want.
More importantly, waxes add a protective layer on the fiberglass surface. They protect it against future bird droppings, dirt, twigs, bugs, and other objects.
For those who want a showroom-shine on their RV, I suggest getting a carnauba wax, such as Mothers California Gold. For after surface protection, one can try a synthetic wax like the Meguiar’s D15601 Synthetic X-Press.
Steps to Removing RV Fiberglass Oxidation
Step 1. Park your motorhome in the correct place.
Like any automotive detailing project, I suggest parking your motorhome in a shaded area. Placing it under direct sunlight will bake the polish and wax quickly, making it difficult to buff.
Be careful when parking your vehicle under a tree. You may have bird droppings, insects, and other critters ruining your RV oxidation removal activity.
Try to park your RV in a well-ventilated area without powerful winds that can blow debris, dust, and dirt onto your motorhome.
Step 2. Clean your RV thoroughly.
Give your motorhome a thorough power wash. I recommend using a high-pressure automotive washing system to blast contaminants on your RV’s surface. While an ordinary garden hose will be sufficient, it will require more elbow grease.
Wash it with a warm soapy solution. You can also apply a foaming solution, the kind car washers use. Cover every square inch of your RV with the soapy solution. Rinse your motorhome well and dry it.
If you do not know how to use a pressure washer, here is a fascinating video from The Home Depot.
Pro Tip: Having problems removing a stubborn stain? Try rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits.
Step 3. Mask areas you do not want to polish and wax.
Removing oxidation from fiberglass requires protecting non-fiberglass sections. For example, you do not want to scratch your motorhome’s headlights, taillights, chrome accents, badges, moldings, and other surface features.
Go around your vehicle and cover these parts with masking tape. Detailing compounds are abrasive. They can cause swirl marks and other surface imperfections if you do not protect these areas.
Your orbital polisher or rotary buffer also spins at incredible speeds, increasing the risk of leaving burn marks on your motorhome.
Step 4. Buff your RV.
Apply a buffing compound onto your motorhome’s fiberglass using an applicator pad. Spread the buffing agent over a small two-by-two-inch section and start buffing.
Ensure the buffing pad sits flat on the fiberglass surface, alternating your movements between left-right and up-down motions. Work your way throughout your motorhome’s fiberglass surface.
If you only have minor oxidation on your RV’s fiberglass, use a microfiber cloth instead. It is gentler than a rotary buffer.
Achieve a hazy look before wiping the surface clean and dry with a microfiber cloth.
Pro Tip: Do not tilt the buffing pad because it can concentrate heat on one area, ruining your motorhome’s fiberglass.
Step 5. Polish your motorhome.
Polishing fiberglass RV is not that different from polishing any other vehicle. Its principal purpose is to give your motorhome a mirror-smooth finish.
Get the yellow foam pad and apply a polishing compound. Use the orbital polisher to spread the polish in small 2×2-inch square sections, combining up-down and right-left movements.
Repeat this process for the rest of the motorhome, ensuring you apply firm and even pressure on the polisher.
Pro Tip: Use the orbital polisher’s weight as a pressure applier for the pad. It also minimizes wrist strain.
Step 6. Apply wax.
Waxing is an essential step to comprehensive RV fiberglass restoration.
I recommend using liquid carnauba wax because the shine it produces is a lot better than synthetics. The only issue is that the effects do not last that long.
Apply the wax on an applicator pad and spread it on the fiberglass surface using a circular motion. Let it dry for a couple of minutes until it turns hazy or cloudy. Wipe the waxed surface with a microfiber cloth.
Restoring your fiberglass RV to its showroom condition is a breeze if you know how to remove oxidation from RV fiberglass. It is an inexpensive endeavor that lets you reap unparalleled rewards. Going on a road trip should be a pleasant cruise for you and your family.
Did you find this tutorial helpful? If you do, I would appreciate it if you can share it with friends and acquaintances. They might need it, too. Additionally, your thoughts and comments are more than welcome.
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