If you read Facebook RV Groups at all or any RV Forums you will see many articles or questions about delamination. Many of us know little about the issue but maybe would like to know more or you need to know how to fix it.
I recently chatted with Andrew Newton of Composet Products L.L.C. Composet offers a product for fixing delamination. I asked Andrew about delamination and what causes it. Here are some of the questions and his responses.
What is delamination?
Many RV walls are a “composite”, meaning different materials are bonded together in layers. Typically, a thin fiberglass sheet forms the outer layer, followed by luan plywood*, Styrofoam, and an inside panel. Framing elements are also incorporated into the wall. The materials are glued together creating a composite structure. Delamination occurs when the bond between one or more layers fails. This happens in isolated segments, or throughout the entire panel.
Why does delamination occur?
In many cases a leak forms allowing water into the wall. Typically this happens at windows, vents, lights, roof lines, etc., where caulking is sometimes the only barrier to outside elements. Age, workmanship, vibration, maintenance, and environmental exposure are factors. In my opinion, most delamination occurs when the water breaks down the glue used in the manufacture of the luan plywood and results in the plies separating.
How can you spot delamination?
Look at the wall from an angle and check for bulges. Most sidewalls are not perfectly flat, so this can be tricky, however, the bulge will be worse when the wall is in direct sunlight due to the de-bonded materials expanding at different rates. Next, tap lightly on the wall with a plastic screwdriver handle, solid areas and delaminated areas sound different.
How is delamination fixed?
The most comprehensive way to fix delamination is by replacing the entire wall, requiring major reconstruction. Sometimes sections of walls are cut out, with a seam or joint created where the patch panel is installed. I have seen cases where the layers are re-bonded one at a time. Another process, developed by our company, Composet Products L.L.C., utilizes an injection process to saturate the affected area with a proprietary catalyzed composite bonding adhesive, followed by clamping. Every situation is different with your expectations and budget guiding the definition of a successful repair.
*Luan or Lauan plywood is made from the wood of the Lauan tree from the South Pacific Rim. Lauan wood is usually referred to a medium-grade Philippine mahogany. This produces a very lightweight wood that is softer than most softwood plywood. The surface finish of Luan plywood is very smooth, mostly without defects. The small defects that are found are filled and sanded smooth with the surface. However, because of these defects, Luan is generally only used for projects that will be painted.
Luan is typically only manufactured in 1/4 inch thickness, although you can find it as thin as 1/8 inch at times.
Next week, I will go over the process of repairing delamination using the products that Andrew’s company offers. It is an inexpensive kit that fixes a very expensive repair.
If you need more information or want to learn more about how to fix delamination, contact:
Composet Products L.L.C.