Skip to Content

Should I Buy a Camper With Delamination?

Should I Buy a Camper With Delamination?

Delamination is a common problem that campers face with aging due to water leakage or moisture trap inside the camper’s walls. It is a gradual process destroying its overall structure.

Therefore, while purchasing a used camper, you should check for any signs of cracks, bulges, or pulling apart of fiberglass layers. 

Should I Buy a Camper With Delamination? In general, you should not buy a camper with delamination problems because it is an expensive and complicated problem to repair. Moreover, despite the fixing of water leakage, interior wooden parts of the camper will continue to deteriorate due to residual moisture resulting in an overall collapse.

Should I Buy a Camper With Delamination?

Delamination of a camper is a structural problem due to the weakening of the wooden part of the sidewalls resulting from water infiltration.

Its walls have 3 layers bonded together to form a single unit. The exterior side consists of a lightweight, weather-resistant, and durable fiberglass or aluminum sheet.

At the same time, the interior side has similar construction with a decorative layer. Finally, a layer of plywood sheets and styrofoam between both walls gives the wall a solid structure. 

When water or moisture enters the walls due to leakage in roof sealant, it degrades the internal wooden structure. They begin to bend and develop cracks with time.

It will appear as a slight bulge or air bubble initially and lead to the overall deterioration of complete sidewalls and roof structure.

Its outer layers can start to pull apart due to the weakening of their bond with interior substrate layers. It is also a silent destroyer because fiberglass layers hide it. You will be able to know it when it has already done the damage.

However, you should avoid purchasing a trailer with this problem despite its lower extent as it will aggravate with time resulting in total structural collapse

Weak structure

A wooden or polymer-based insulation layer in the middle of the wall panels is not durable and prone to damage by moisture or dents when something hits the trailer.

Delamination causes these structural components to deteriorate and reshape. It results in a clumsy overall body that is unable to bear the air resistance and harsh weather conditions.

To resolve this problem, mostly you have to replace those parts to strengthen the camper structure.

Delamination makes the Camper look ugly

Delamination causes plywood sheets to deform, resulting in a small crack on the outer surface that starts to spread.

Other visible points can be soft bubbles and chalking of paints at the spots with this problem.

As a result, its smooth and uniform look vanishes, and it turns into an ugly-looking vehicle with cracks, bloats, smudges, bulges, and faded spots on its surface. This is also a common issue with Azdel trailers.

Expensive to repair

It starts with minor water intrusions and ends in severe damages to wall panels, roof, and spots on flooring.

Delamination and its effects are very expensive to repair completely and mainly require replacing sidewall panels.

If it has not reached a severe level, it can cost $500 to $1000 to repair the delamination problem. If you replace wall panels, you will require a considerable sum of tens of thousands of dollars.  

Increased molds and fungal growth

Damp and closed, poorly ventilated places provide a conducive environment ideal for the growth and spread of the fungus.

In addition, moistened plywood panels in the middle layer provide those spots for mold spores to settle and grow.

Moreover, this hidden source of disease will be recognized when you see any symptoms on the outer surface and peel it to reach the inner layer. 

Difficult to repair

The source of the delamination problem is the sandwiched wooden layer between outer fiberglass sheets.

Therefore, to repair it, you have to pull apart all sections and layers of wall panels. If the problem is in the initial stages, you will need to dry out the moisture from wooden areas.

If it has reached severe levels, you need to replace the sheets. Then, join all layers using glue and apply the sealant on all joints to avoid water seepage.

This whole job is tedious and time-consuming to perform. Moreover, you need to hire the services of experts or professionals for efficient repair activity.

Loss of warranty

If the delamination results from the owner’s negligence to reseal the joints with sealant, the manufacturer will not provide the repairing cost.

It is because of the increased chances of its occurrence and high maintenance costs involved with the severity of the problem. Therefore, the entire repair cost of thousands of dollars to replace wall panels will be your responsibility.

No insurance coverage

Due to the increased frequency with the aging of campers, insurance companies don’t provide coverage for these problems.

Therefore, it is not worthwhile to opt for a trailer with this problem as it won’t provide safety insurance for you and your family.

Poor resale value

It will become a liability for the owners. They will have to invest a handsome amount in repairing it before selling it.

Otherwise, nobody will be willing to take it for free. Therefore, you should not purchase an old camper with cracks and deformed sidewall panels as it won’t pay back the investment.

Why do people buy delaminated campers?

Often people purchase delaminated RVs because of meager costs due to associated problems and inadequate market response regarding their resale.

Moreover, the severity of the damage to the trailer often remains hidden, and an inexperienced purchaser won’t be able to assess its extent and repair cost involved.

Owners with this structural problem often assure that they have fixed the water leakage that is its root cause.

This assurance usually works and persuades the buyer to accept the deal lower than market value. However, it would be a severe problem needing costly repairs and an increased overall investment amount. 

What are the possible reasons for Camper delamination?

The problem starts when something like hailstorm or road stones hit its roof or side walls, causing a dent in the inner surface.

This problem further increases with time and results in small cracks. These cracks allow moisture to enter and interact with the wooden parts causing delamination.

The most common is water leakage in the side walls through the roof or other joints at windows and ventilation points.

In addition, it can be a result of the wear and tear of sealant at joints over time.

Therefore, experts recommend resealing the joints on an annual basis. Furthermore, periodically inspect it before and after storage for any such issues.

Poor bonding or using an inappropriate bonding material between the layers of wall panels can also result in such problems.

In addition, all layers start to pull apart due to jerks and harsh weather conditions due to a weaker bond between outer fiberglass layers and internal styrofoam or plywood substrate.   

How to identify the delamination of a camper?

To closely check for signs and symptoms of the delamination problem, inspect the sidewalls for inadequate lighting or sunlight. Also, check near windows, joints, and any vents on the sidewalls and roof of the trailer.

Check the areas of sidewalls that are not smooth or have bubbles, cracks, or waves. Press those areas for any soft spots or porous spots.

Softly tap those areas for hollow sounds. In the presence of these symptoms, thoroughly inspect the nearby places to assess the severity of the problem.

Thoroughly inspect the sealant layers for any signs of cracks. 

How to repair the delamination problem of a camper?

Repairing minor delamination damage is relatively easy and inexpensive with the help of available kits.

Those kits contain bonding material injectable using syringes to attach the fiberglass and internal substrate layers. As a result, it will cost only a few hundred dollars.

While in case of water damage to the inner layers, you need to replace the complete wall panels or substrate wooden parts depending upon the severity of the problem.

Doing this yourself can lead to a half solution as it requires special tools and expertise to repack the layers.

Therefore, go to a repair shop for an effective and efficient solution. It can cost you around a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.  

Related Articles:

How to repair the front of a Camper?

Why you should not buy a camper without a Title?

Examples of Small campers that can be pulled by a car

Average price of Roadtrek 190