Your RV’s siding can handle a lot of damage. It is meant to after all; the siding is the first line of defence against anything the elements have to throw at your vehicle. It might endure a scratch here, a chip off the paint there, but this minimal damage is easily addressed.
So if you are examining the RV and you find an entire hole, what are you supposed to do? It could be a pinhole break or a major gash- either way, it needs your attention. So what is the right way to approach this gaping problem?
The way to fix a hole in your RV’s siding is to find the right material that will fit with your RV’s composition. Pay attention to if you have fiberglass or aluminum on your vehicle, and shop for your materials accordingly. Then, you’ll apply a filler, sand it down, and paint over the spot where you repaired it.
How To Fix A Hole In RV Siding
Fixing a hole in your RV’s siding is, thankfully, a fairly easy task. Obviously, the larger the hole and more extensive the damage, the more work you have cut out for you.
Assess the situation first to see how deep the hole is. You will also want to see if there is more than one (from heavy hail, for example). Finally, take a look around to see if the siding has cracked anywhere.
Cracks can easily grow into larger issues, so seeking them out is crucial. Cracks will usually only occur in fiberglass sidings. If you were hit by something especially powerful, you should check for all possible damages.
While this project isn’t terribly difficult, it’s best not to rush it. If you’re not careful, you can wind up making the hole larger. Or worse, you could injure yourself in the process. Wear gloves to avoid hurting yourself on the aluminum, or from getting tiny fiberglass particles on your skin.
Determine Your Siding
First, you need to step back and see what kind of siding your ride has if you don’t already know. If your RV is newer, the odds are good that it has fiberglass siding. Fiberglass is best at getting that smooth, polished look that RV manufacturers favor for their exteriors.
Fiberglass is made of microscopic bits of plastic and glass fibers. It saw early uses as far back as the late 1800s, and is very durable. You might have heard of fiberglass being used in insulation– this is because it is great at keeping heat in. Even without the use of your onboard heater, a fiberglass exterior will keep you just a little warmer than aluminum.
RV manufacturers these days love fiberglass as it’s also a little safer than the traditional aluminum. It doesn’t conduct electricity, and magnets won’t stick to it. That’s a good thing, because magnets can interfere with the interior electronics of your RV.
Aluminum is what you’ll usually see on older models. The classic Airstream trailers are usually aluminum, and are what a lot of people think of first when they picture a classic camper. Airstream, in fact, has been making their trailers with aluminum since the 1930s.
Like fiberglass, aluminum isn’t magnetic. It’s malleable, making it easy to curve around the shapes of an RV, giving manufacturers plenty of creative freedom in their shapes. It is also rustproof, meaning it doesn’t need any additional treatments before it’s road ready.
However, it does have a distinctive sheen that will let you know that it is aluminum. Usually, magnetic siding will be ‘striped’. You’ll be able to see lines in the siding where it was put together in panels.
Fixing A Hole In Aluminum RV Siding
One benefit of aluminum siding is that it is fairly easy to repair or replace. It’s not quite as dangerous as fiberglass, but you should still be cautious around sharp, ragged edges.
- If your RV has aluminum siding, you can easily find alumium sheets or siding at hardware stores or RV specialty shops. You can cut it yourself if you have the tools, or have it cut in the store, depending on if the location offers that service.
- Cut the siding large enough to cover the hole completely on all sides. You want to leave a few inches of space all around the hole.
- Before you apply the patch, make sure the area is clean. Wipe it down with warm soapy water and let it dry down completely. If there’s paint in the area, it might be in your best interest to scrape it off. This means the caulk will stick to the siding itself, and not just the paint. That ensures a long lifespan for your fix.
- Use auto body filler to fill up a large hole and allow it to cure or set as needed. Follow the manufacturers suggestion on the packaging if you’re unsure.
- Finally, apply the patch with a strong caulking material. Apply even pressure and wipe away any excess that gets squished out when you lay the patch.
If your siding has a lot of holes, or especially large ones, consider just replacing it instead. It could be more worth your time than adding dozens of small patches.
How To Fix A Hole In Fiberglass RV Siding
As previously mentioned, fiberglass siding is messy and hazardous. It’s made of very tiny glass shards, which aren’t the kind of thing you want to be breathing in or getting on your skin. Wear a mask, gloves, and goggles when you repair holes in fiberglass siding.
- Tidy up the area of any extra fiberglass with a wet rag or tweezers, collecting any broken hunks of fiberglass. If there are pieces of debris in the hole, carefully remove all of it using your tweezers or a small knife. Just be sure you are not using a cooking knife to prevent microscopic fiberglass shards from getting in contact with your food.
- Find a foam insulation that expands on contact if the hole is considerably deep. Use this to fill in the hole, giving it time to fully set before proceeding to the next step.
- Use an auto body filler on top of the foam insulation to seal it in, and allow that to dry as well.
- Autobody shops will likely have fiberglass that you can purchase for the sake of repairing damage to vehicles. You’ll want to use this to smooth out the edges and make the area where you filled in the hole blend in better.
- After everything is set and dried, you’re welcome to sand, prime, and paint the area. Doing this is the final step needed to help the afflicted area fully blend in. If you’re really handy with it, it might look like nothing even happened there.
How Do You Repair Holes In The Walls Of Your RV?
If you have a hole on the interior of your RV, that’s a different but not impossible to parse story. Some holes might be shallow enough to use just a bit of wall spackle and paint, just as you would in a standard home.
Just as with the outside, you’ll need to put into consideration the type of construction your vehicle uses for its interior walls. Most commonly you’ll run into wood or metal, but there are a variety of possible materials.
A hardware store will usually have the materials you’ll need to patch the hole, like spackle, epoxy, fiberglass filler, among others. Simply fill the hole with your material and follow the manufacturers instructions for how long you should allow it to cure.
If you are dealing with a very large hole, a drywall mesh can be applied to the area to keep it uniform and smooth.
Whenever you apply your fix, make sure to sand down the area and repaint it to make it blend in with the rest of the wall.
Holes in your RV siding are never a welcome sight to see. If your vehicle has come into some damage, the first thing you should do to fix it is find materials that will work with your RV’s construction.
If you have fiberglass, look for a fiberglass filler and contact-expanding insulation. Aluminun will need a new ‘patch’ to cover the area. After you’ve filled the hole and smoothed out the surface, either with auto-body filler or your aluminum sheet, you’re more or less finished.
Holes in your RV siding are unpleasant, and potentially worrying. However, they’re actually not much to stress about. They’re a minor issue at most, one you can remedy with just a few simple steps.