The type of skin used to construct campers and recreational vehicles, or RVs, depends on the type of camper or RV and the quality of the design. RV manufacturers make camper skins out of a variety of materials, but fiberglass is widely popular because of its lightness, low cost and durability. Sometimes it's necessary to perform a do-it-yourself repair or replacement of the RV's cover, a project that's within the abilities of a moderately skillful handyperson.
- Strip the old skin off the camper down to the 2-by-4 inch studs. Replace damaged or warped studs as required; use a carpenter’s level to ensure all studs are straight. Attach a line on the exterior and pull it tight to the other end to assure alignment.
- Follow the adhesive manufacturer’s instruction for preparing the surface area. Use 60-grit or 80-grit sandpaper to eliminate rises or old adhesive on the studs. Use sandpaper to create a rough surface on steel or aluminum studs. This helps the adhesive create a stronger bond with the material. Wipe all metal studs, steel or aluminum, with a 99 percent alcohol solvent, or solution recommended by the fiberglass panel manufacturer. Wipe all studs with adhesive prep. Use the recommended adhesive to cover all the studs.
- Lift the fiberglass sheet into place with a hoist. Secure the panel to the studs with screws. Start inserting the screws in the top center; insert screws across the top of the fiberglass panel only. Pre-drill the holes; do not use self-tapping screws. Make the opening a slightly larger diameter than the screw head. Round out the holes before driving the head of the screws into the surface of the panel. This method protects the panel from developing a crack, which can expand due to movement of the camper.
- Release the hoist after inserting screws across the top of the panel. Allow the panel to fall flat against the wall. Install braces horizontally across the fiberglass panel. Start from the top and work to the bottom of the panel. Place a 1-by-4 inch brace every two feet. The bracing places pressure on the surface of the panel, which allows the panel to bond to the adhesive and studs. Apply the brace diagonally to use a single component to brace multiple fiberglass panels. Allow the bracing to remain in place overnight, or as long as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Use a router to shape fiberglass panels around edges and door and window openings. Insert screws into the fiberglass panel around all openings, along the bottom and ends. Pre-drill the panels as in Step 3 to ensure the fiberglass does not crack.