The Last Details - RV Enthusiast Magazine

The Last Details

by | Mar 15, 2023 | Pro Tip, RVEXPERT

Having a clean RV isn’t enough — you also must now protect that finish
When we last met — a week ago within RVExpert — we offered up a number of tips for thoroughly cleaning your RV. This time around, we’ll touch on the more labor-intensive part of the equation: protecting that clean finish before you hit the road — and the bugs and debris that go hand-in-hand with road travel.

For most of us, a simple one step sealant with a mild polish is all that’s really needed. Paint protection (some call this “step waxing” or sealing) is usually the final step of the process. Using a dual-action orbital buffer with the correct pad will make a huge difference in the time to complete a project like this. There is a lot of surface area involved and, depending on what type of paint protection and polishing you are trying for, it could take anywhere from a few hours to a day or more if you are working alone. Products such as Griot’s Garage Finishing Sealant (griotsgarage.com), DuraGloss 105 Total Performance Polish (duragloss.com) or Rejex (rejex.com) can be used; all are available online and in some stores. They will all do a good job and last many months.

As noted earlier, this is not a fast or easy project — which is why many owners hire detailers to do it for them. If shopping for detailers, make sure you know what type of products they plan on using — and exactly what steps are involved. If one company is offering a multi-stage paint correction and sealing with a high-end product, expect to pay more than someone simply washing and waxing it with a short-life carnauba wax — the quoted $250 job that sounds good usually isn’t. Over the life of the RV, cleaning and polishing it will pay off both in enjoyment as well as resale value — so don’t overlook the importance of taking care of your RV.
the long side of an RV with the central area sectioned off by blue painter's tape
During the polishing and ceramic coating stages, we used painter’s tape to divide this coach into easy-to-manage sections. There is a lot of surface area on a motorhome or trailer; if you are working alone plan on spending multiple days to do an entire detailing job.
three containers of DuraGloss 105 Total Performance Polish on display
Duragloss 105 Total Performance Polish, available in a 16-ounce bottle, three-bottle pack or gallon container, is a synthetic polymer/wax formula designed to protect the finish against everything from bugs to bird droppings.
a hand holds a red Griot’s buffer with a surface pad from the same Griot’s Garage brand
To make the “clay bar” process easier we used a surface pad from Griot’s Garage on a Griot’s buffer. This buffer-mounted pad, along with its Speed Shine spray as a lubricant, speeds up the process greatly. This stage is done after washing and before polishing to remove all bonded debris off the paint.
Know, too, that although it’s not required, a clay bar step improves the whole job by removing bonded contaminants on the surface of the paint. You can use either an actual clay bar (available at most auto parts stores) or a clay bar mitt (by hand) or a pad that can be attached to the buffer. Make no mistake: This is an arduous process when done by hand — but after finishing the clay bar step, the paint will be smooth like glass. In fact, when the crew at Burlington Graphics Systems applies a vinyl wrap to a vehicle, they first clean it with a clay bar to ensure the greatest adhesion of the vinyl to the surface without any underlying issues.

If your paint is heavily oxidized and requires additional polishing (and you are comfortable performing this operation) you can really take the paint to a new level of clarity and shine with enough time and the correct products. Using a power buffer and a cutting pad along with a good polish such as Optimum Hyper Polish (optimumcarcare.com), buff a small area at a time, then remove the polish with a clean microfiber towel. Repeat this step until the entire RV is polished. If the paint is really scratched, it may require two stages of polishing to restore the proper gloss. Some of us also have had great success with Shurhold’s Buff Magic Compound (shurhold.com), which includes abrasive compounds that remove stains and oxidation. The abrasives break down and become ever finer as the product is used completely; excess material is then removed with a clean microfiber towel. It can be used on metal as well as fiberglass, gelcoat and Plexiglass.

close view of a container of Rejex High Gloss Finish
close view of a spray container of Griot’s ceramic 3-in-1 wax
lose view of a twist top container of Shurhold’s Buff Magic Compound
If you decide to use a long-lasting paint sealant instead of a more involved paint coating, there are several good products on the market including Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant (wolfgangcarcare.com) as well as Rejex. All of these are readily available online at most detailing suppliers and Amazon. Another good alternative to exterior paste or liquid wax is a good quality spray-on wax/sealant. This one from Griot’s Garage is easy enough to apply, so you may not mind doing it every few months.
Shurhold’s Buff Magic Compound includes abrasive compounds that remove stains and oxidation. The abrasives break down and become ever finer as the product is used completely. Owners of large RVs will need to buy the 4-pound jar.
close view of a container of Rejex High Gloss Finish
close view of a spray container of Griot’s ceramic 3-in-1 wax
If you decide to use a long-lasting paint sealant instead of a more involved paint coating, there are several good products on the market including Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant (wolfgangcarcare.com) as well as Rejex. All of these are readily available online at most detailing suppliers and Amazon. Another good alternative to exterior paste or liquid wax is a good quality spray-on wax/sealant. This one from Griot’s Garage is easy enough to apply, so you may not mind doing it every few months.
lose view of a twist top container of Shurhold’s Buff Magic Compound
Shurhold’s Buff Magic Compound includes abrasive compounds that remove stains and oxidation. The abrasives break down and become ever finer as the product is used completely. Owners of large RVs will need to buy the 4-pound jar.

For the best finish, however, you may want to opt for a ceramic coating — which is covered in this week’s accompanying tip from RVExpert.

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