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When it comes to camper siding, there’s debate about which is the best material.
There are pros and cons to aluminum and fiberglass camper siding, just like there are pros and cons to buying new versus used. There’s no one-size-fits-all, and you have to make the best decision for your travel style and budget.
Let’s take a closer look at these materials and how much camper siding repairs can cost. Let’s dive in!
What Are Camper Exterior Walls Made Of?
These two materials have been in use for decades and are the tried-and-true choices of most RV manufacturers.
You’ve probably seen the corrugated aluminum camper siding of a Cherokee travel trailer or the laminated fiberglass camper siding of a Grand Design Solitude at every campground you’ve visited.
Can You Repair Camper Siding?
The easiest camper siding to repair is corrugated aluminum. This is because you can replace a single panel instead of an entire wall.
Should you need to replace smooth aluminum, it’s possible, but it will be expensive since you’ll need to purchase an entire segment of the shell.
Unfortunately, if you need to repair fiberglass camper siding, the process will be much more difficult and expensive. It’s not a DIY project but rather a project for a professional.
Since the lamination process occurs in a factory, you’ll need to make an appointment at a local dealership or return the RV to the manufacturer to get the work done.
Camper Siding for Repairs and Renovations
The RV industry has four main types of camper siding: corrugated aluminum, smooth aluminum, laminated fiberglass, and molded fiberglass.
Very few options come with a molded fiberglass shell, but dozens of models come with the other three types of camper siding.
Corrugated aluminum looks wavy. This is in contrast to the smooth aluminum of an Airstream. It’s the cheapest material for camper siding.
Usually, these RVs have a wood frame, fiberglass or foam insulation, and aluminum panels on the exterior. Entry-level travel trailers – generally the most lightweight option – tend to have corrugated aluminum camper siding.
The other type of aluminum camper siding has a smooth finish. Wally Byam chose to use this time of material when he started Airstream in the 1930s. Airstreams have an aluminum shell, an aluminum frame, and spray-on insulation.
Since there’s no wood in the construction, unlike corrugated aluminum options, there’s very little chance of rotting. These travel trailers are more expensive but tend to hold their value.
Fiberglass siding is either laminated or molded fiberglass, and motorhomes have this smooth, shiny fiberglass exterior and higher-end fifth wheels.
These exteriors don’t dent as easily as aluminum camper siding. They have an aluminum frame, laminated fiberglass walls, luan wood, and foam insulation.
Popular egg-shaped travel trailers like Scamp and Casita come with molded fiberglass siding. The fiberglass shell comes in two sections and is sealed together. There’s no frame, as the fiberglass shell is strong enough to hold the camper.
The fewer seams mean less chance of water damage. But these travel trailers are usually much smaller and more expensive than the traditional aluminum camper siding options.
Keep in Mind: Are Fiberglass Campers Better Than Other RVs? If you don’t want a bulky RV, you may want to consider a fiberglass camper.
How Much Does Camper Siding Cost?
Depending on the size and type of material, costs will vary, just like the cost of RVs.
You can spend $30,000 on an entry-level travel trailer or $200,000 on a Class C motorhome. The cheapest camper siding has aluminum corrugation.
As mentioned above, you can purchase a single panel instead of an entire wall, saving money and time during installation and repair. If you can get by with replacing just one 10-foot panel, the material might cost $30-50.
If you need to get a segment of your Airstream repaired, it will cost over $1,000. You’ll be calling a professional if you notice delamination on a laminated fiberglass camper.
The material and labor will cost you well over $1,000. The same is true for a molded fiberglass shell. Repairs will require a professional and will be very expensive.
What Type of Siding Is the Most Durable?
Fiberglass camper siding is more durable when compared to aluminum siding. Although aluminum siding is more lightweight, it also dents much easier.
Plus, aluminum campers tend to have more wood in the frame, which can lead to rotting. Delamination can be a problem for laminated fiberglass RVs, but when compared to their aluminum counterparts, they last longer.
Upgrading Your Camper Siding Can Be a Game Changer
If you’re looking to upgrade your camper siding, options are available. They may not be the most affordable, but you don’t have to trade in your old RV for a new one just to make it look pretty.
Consider how much the repair materials and labor will cost and decide if upgrading is worth it. It could possibly be a game changer and save you thousands in the long run.
Have you ever had to repair camper siding before? Did you do it yourself or leave it to a professional?