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Topic: RV Exterior Care

Presenter: Stephen Scott

Routine maintenance of your RV will result in greater pride of ownership and resale value.

Roof types: Fiberglass, rubber, metal, and TPO (thermoplastic Olefin).

Fiberglass roof: Don't use AJAX or Comet; or laundry detergents. Too abrasive and wil scratch the surface, and too caustic. In general, if it's under your kitchen sink it's not an appropriate cleaner. Protectants are recommended. Problem with any roof cleaning is that all the debris scrubbed off tends to run down the sides -- so need to keep the sides washed off as you clean the roof. Also keep in mind the roof can become a very slippery place, so it's essential to take care not to fall. Tips: Without regular care and mainenance, fiberglass will begin to show signs of oxidation in 4 to 12 months.

Rubber roof: Mild soap and water. Use a car wash soap -- not one that has additives as in "wash and wax" products. Comet, Spic-Span, AJAX all okay. Soft Scrub also okay. Medium bristle brush. Bleach can be used, but take all precautions and don't use more than 50/50 solution. Don't pour it directly on -- use applicator, and do not permit it to run down sides. Don't use petroleum distallates (oil based), e.g. mineral distillates. Tip: Do one section of the roof at a time, and do it during overcast days to avoid rapid drying. "Two bucket" method uses one bucket of cleaning solution, with the second reserved for fresh water. Minimizes runoff. Note: UV protection is not required for rubber roofs. Most warranties are 10-12 years for the material, but not for the installation, substrate, or sealants. Chalking or streaking is normal, as heat, moisture and sunlight bring fillers upward to the roof surface. Black spots are actually mildew, mod and algaie that will be found in damp environments, mixed with dirt or dust. The key is to keep the roof clean so that mold and mildew can't form. Can be carefully removed with bleach (but be careful of use -- always use applicators, so that it will evaporate quickly, and not run down sides.)

Unpainted metal roofs: Soap and water, 409, Black Streak, medium bristle brush. Recommends against waxes and UV protectants.

TPO Roof (New material type!) -- stands for "thermoplastic olefin. Soap and water okay, but AJAX, Comet et al should not be used. Medium bristle brush is the stiffest that can be used here. Silicone sealants don't bond with TPO or rubber roofs. UV protectants are not needed or recommended.

Sidewalls and caps. Most common is fiberglass reinforced plastic -- gel coat finish. Soap and water with soft bristle brush is okay. Don't use Comet, AJAX types. Black streak remover can be used, but it should be diluted so that it won't take wax off. Carnuba waxes are recommended, with liquid or spray-on types being every bit as good as the paste wax types.

Tips: Divide into sections, perhaps doing one fourth of the job monthly, so that every four months the whole coach has been cleaned. RV covers are a great investment, and they work. Tools of the trade are worth their cost. Don't buy a $2 bag of rags from Walmart -- get quality towels. "Microfiber" towels recommended. Expensive, but can be washed and re-used almost indefinitely.

Awnings -- vinlys and acrylics, plus metal hardware. Again, mild soap and water or awning cleaners with up to medium bristle brush. Keep them clean and keep them dry. If your last use was in the rain, when you get home open it to let it dry out before storing the rig. Scotch Guard is a good fabric treatment for awnings. Tip: Spraying a silicone spray to dry type lubricant on awning hardware arms and mechanisms keep them in good, smooth working order. Don't use WD-40.

Other surfaces:

Decals and tape stripes. Always use non-abrasives -- best with soap and water. Waxes are okay if approved for vinyl and plastic. Minimize exposure to direct sunlight; and while stored rotate vehicle. Decals are well known for not lasting much beyond the warranty period. Only fix is to replace the decals or replace with paint. [Note -- from personal experience limit exposure to high powered washing jets, 'cause that can tear off decals.]

Windshields and glass: Most glass cleaners will do. Minterals in water cause spots. 50/50 vinegar and water makes an excellent spot remover. Best towels are paper towels. Long handled squeegees work well -- and some have scrubbers that can remove bugs as well. Don't forget wiper blades. Wash them, and treat them with protectant. Tennis balls often used to keep wiper blade off of window.

Tires and wheels: Rubber tire cleaner and protectant is recomended. Wheels cleaned with Windex, and rub with the grain. Stubborn marks removed with metal cleaner.