Owning a recreational vehicle (RV) invokes a sense of freedom and relaxation like no other. According to the Pennsylvania Recreational Vehicle and Camping Association, America is home to as many as 30 million RV enthusiasts and currently 1 in 12 households report ownership. That’s about 8.2 million households!
Among households who have never owned an RV before, one in six say they’d like to purchase one in the future. For those who already own RV’s, one third of them say they’re looking to purchase a second one.
This means the the U.S. has a definite interest in RV living and renting for vacation and recreation. It also means that million of owners are on the lookout for tips and tricks to address maintenance challenges and for the best metal polish for a recreational vehicle.
What’s on the Surface?
Not all recreational vehicles are made alike. Some, like the well-known Airstream, are fully aluminium with no coating to intervene between the owner and a good polish job. Other RV’s are fiberglass finished with a gel coating. This thin layer of paint needs a bit more care and attention than simple aluminum. The gel coating can sometime oxidize easier depending on the types of conditions it’s exposed to.
Consider the predicament of bug splats. Insects on a recreational vehicle cannot be avoided and they’ll need to be addressed on a regular basis. Leaving them can actually make a good polish job that much harder. That’s because the acid from the dead insect remains can actually lead to an intense oxidative process on your RV’s surface. This could lead to stains and marks that are hard to remove.
The best bet for maintaining a good RV shine is to stick with a versatile polish system that can both clean and wax any type of surface – including gel coated surfaces. A good metal polish with an array of features and uses that span the spectrum from metal to gel coated surfaces is your best choice.
Steps to Getting that Great RV Shine
A good shine with any vehicle begins with a good cleaning. Washing your RV should be done as often as needed and definitely on a regular and consistent basis. For those living in harsh weather conditions, such as the arid desert or the cold and snowy northern states, should strive to wash an RV regularly and often enough to keep serious surface damage at bay.
Having a sufficient water source handy is essential, but this isn’t always possible for those who don’t live in a residential setting that accommodates it. Those in condos or apartments will need a way to handle regular washing even without a constant source of water. For this, a versatile polish or polish system that both cleans and waxes to a high shine can come in handy.
Next, you’ll need to consider pads and waxing equipment. A regular speed orbit polisher will help with buffing away swirls and discolorations even on gel coated surfaces. Find pads that are gentle enough to treat your metal surface kindly, yet still strong enough to weather the storms of the polishing process.
Most recreational vehicle polishing jobs can take a day or more to complete. You’ll need enough pads and cloths to get the job done without having to waste time cleaning them or heading to the store to purchase more.
Beyond polishers and metal polish, you’ll also need to consider maneuvering equipment, like scaffolding or ladders. Most RVs are quite high up, and you’ll need a way to take your polishing efforts all the way to the top of the vehicle for smooth and consistent results. Also, you’ll need a good shine on the tires, so a suitable tire conditioner and cleaner should be on deck as well.
Finishing up the Job
After cleaning, the best way to preserve a good polish is to remember to seal the job. If you’re using a polishing system, the last polisher in the series should be the best to achieve a high quality shine and seal the finish with a great top layer that will last. Be sure to check with the metal polish manufacturer or retailer to make sure that your polish contains the type of sealant (or sealant-like) qualities you’re hoping for before applying.
If Your Surface is Made of Fiberglass (and Not Metal)
If you’re like most RV owners, you’ve purchased a late model recreational vehicle (as opposed to a vintage for restoration or nostalgia). In this case, the surface of your RV is likely a gel-coated fiberglass rather than a metal. In that case, it may be good to consider the following.
A good fiberglass polisher will sometimes come with special language “marine use” on its label. That’s because like most late model RV’s, boats are made of a fiberglass surface. This means that what’s good for a boat surface is good for an RV surface that is not aluminum or other type of metal alloy.
The main challenge with a fiberglass surface is the same main challenge that comes with metal surfaces – oxidation. Oxidation on a fiberglass surface can cause similar types of fading and discoloration. The main goal is to get rid of the oxidation and restore the shine beneath it. All this without ruining the gel coating or disturbing the fiberglass structure.
Incidentally, some metal polishes are gentle enough to use even on a gel-coated fiberglass surface. The key is to make sure the pressure applied while using a well-working polisher is minimal and the pads used are soft and plush. This will keep the job at its simplest and will ensure that a good amount of maintenance can occur without stripping the surface or damaging it in any way.
What’s the best metal polish for your recreational vehicle?
Getting the best metal polish for your RV begins with a few of the details already mentioned. You’ll want a versatile polish or polish system suitable for a variety of surfaces, especially gel-coated fiberglass.
Also, your polish or polish system should be able to clean, remove oxidation, and shine in order to address all the polishing issues that can arise with an RV. Lastly, you’ll need a metal polish that’s gentle enough to prevent damage during the polishing process, but strong enough to give your RV an excellent shine.