Melvin gave us his great recommendation for restoring the finish of your fiberglass RV. Never tried it but sounds good.
Recommendation by melvin b knowlton
I used to use Mop & Glo on the rubber floormats in my vans and pickups to keep them looking bright and attractive. Before that I used Future Floor wax, but it would get small cracks in it when flexed if you allowed it to build up.
Home depot has it all the time.
Zep is the same as red max i believe it is made by the same company just under a different name.
This has been posted before, but it tends to eventually get lost and covered up by newer posts. However, some have requested it again, so here it is. I do not recommend this for a newer MH with a good finish, or with full body paint and/or clearcoat that still shines and still responds well to conventional waxes and polishes. This process is for older RVs that have lost their shine and no longer respond to wax.
Restoring the finish of an older RV using Red Max Pro:
-Red Max Pro (Step 3) Low Maintenance Floor Finish* (available only at Lowes, about $16)
-Bar Keeper’s Friend (powdered)
-TSP (Trisodium Phosphate, powdered)
-3M scrubbies (white, fine)
- Microfiber rags (white or laundered)
* If you can’t find Red Max Pro #3 at Lowe’s, Home Depot sells the same product under a different name for slightly more money. It is Zep Wet Look Floor Finish (Step 3), about $25. (Both are made by ZEP.)
Preparing the surface is the most important part, since anything left on the surface will be sealed under the Red Max Pro acrylic coating, and improper prep can also result in peeling/flaking later. I repeat: The prep-work is the most important part! Do not try to cut corners here. The cleaner your RV is, the better your final results will be.
Step 1: Start by washing your RV well as you normally would, making sure to include the roof, and rinsing well from the top down.
Step 2: You now want to remove any and all stains, soiling, oxidation, and chalkiness from the surface. Dip a white 3M scrubbie into water and then liberally sprinkle Bar Keeper’s Friend (BKF) on it. Scrub the surface of the motorhome, rinsing the scrubbie and re-applying the BKF often. Do small areas at a time, rinsing well with water and a sponge as you go ( I used a "flow-thru" brush attached to a hose to rinse the BKF residue thoroughly).
Step 3: Next you want to make sure that there is absolutely no remaining wax on the RV, since any residual wax can cause the Red Max to peel and flake. Mix up a bucket of TSP (1/2 cup) in water (2 gal), and use it to wash the entire RV again. You can use it with a carwash brush, a sponge, a pressure washer…anything you would normally use to wash your RV. Rinse well as you go, then rinse again and let it dry completely. You should now be left with a clean and smooth (although dull) wax-free surface. Congrats, the hard part is done!
Step 4: Now comes the easy part. Shake the Red Max Pro (RMP) well, and pour some into a shallow container (a pie pan works well). Fold a microfiber rag to about hand-sized, dip it into the RMP (trust me, use gloves!), and squeeze out the excess. How much/how wet? You want it more than damp, but less than dripping. Now simply wipe down the surface of the RV with the wet microfiber rag. Don’t try to apply a heavy coat or try to “rub it in”; just wet the surface (imagine wiping off a layer of dust with a damp rag). It really doesn’t matter whether you wipe horizontally, vertically, or in circles, and don’t worry about overlaps; RMP is very thin/watery and you are just trying to “moisten” the surface. Work your way all the way around the RV. The thin coat of RMP will dry very quickly; long before you’ve gone all the way around it will be dry and you can immediately start on the next coat.
That first coat will likely look really bad; streaky, blotchy, shiny in some places, dull in others…don’t panic. Each additional coat will start to even it out and build up a deep layer of shine. By coat 3, you will be grinning ear to ear. And coat 4 (or 5?) will be the icing on the cake. Not only will your RV shine like it hasn’t shined in years, it will be a deeper color as well*. Even old, faded graphics will have a new lease on life! All for less than $30 total!
*Note: This procedure will slightly change/darken the color/shade of your RV.
Things (I learned) to keep in mind:
-Don’t use new colored microfiber rags until they have been laundered, as the color may bleed.
-Don’t try to “over-apply”, or try for a heavy coat, or you will get runs. The thinner, the better. Remember, you’re just trying to “moisten” the surface with each thin coat, nothing more. If you are getting a lot of runs, you’re applying it too heavily.
-Be careful around window frames, locks, latches, etc., as the RMP is very watery and will have a tendency to gather and cause runs. RMP dries fast, so keep an eye out for any runs and give them a quick wipe before they start to “set up”.
-Some older, deteriorated graphics may “bleed” color onto the rag and surrounding areas. If you notice any bleeding during the BKF or TSP stage (steps 2 and 3), then give a quick wipe of RMP across the graphics prior to step 4, which will seal them up. Then go ahead and apply the RMP to the entire RV (including the now sealed graphics) as per step 4 of the tutorial.
-After each coat, go around and open/operate all hatches, locks, catches, etc. The RMP acrylic coating can sort of “glue” them closed.
-You can also do the window frames (avoid the glass) and other painted metal areas; in fact, I did my entire Class C cab since, like the rest of my RV, it was also very weathered and dull. Came out great!
Maintaining the Red Max Pro finish:
Now that your RV looks like it has a new, clear coated paint job, you’ll want to maintain that new finish as long as possible, right? Well, good news. With Red Max Pro, that’s easy to do as well.
Most commonly used car wash soaps and mild detergents will not harm the Red Max Pro finish, so you can wash your RV as you always have. In fact, you’ll probably find that it comes clean much easier than before, as dirt, bugs, and debris seems to “float” right off quite easily. You do want to avoid anything with Ammonia in it, such as some window cleaners, since ammonia will remove the Red Max Pro (think “floor stripper”). The tire cleaner spray at coin-op carwashes has also been shown to remove RMP. Minor scratches or blemishes in the RMP finish can be touched up easily with a quick coat or two of RMP. Do not apply wax, as wax will interfere with any “touch-up” coats of Red Max Pro later on down the road, causing them to peel or flake.
And after 6 months to a year, if the finish starts to lose it’s shine, just give the RV a good wash job, let dry completely, and then give the RV a quick touch-up coat or two of RMP, wiping it on just as you did originally.
Disclaimer: This procedure worked wonders on my weathered, oxidized RV, using the products and steps listed above, and I have no regrets. Hundreds, if not thousands, of others have also used RMP with similar results. A very few reports have surfaced claiming "yellowing" or "peeling", but most, if not all, of those have been attributed to improper surface prep. However, these products are admittedly not designed or marketed for use on the exterior of RVs, and I make no warranty regarding their use or the long-term effects on your RV. Use at your own risk.
A few final notes:
Some people have voiced concerns about the chemicals used in the prep stages. Bar Keeper’s Friend (BKF) is similar to scouring powder, but much less abrasive. In fact, it is made for cleaning and polishing fiberglass. Used with the fine white 3M scouring pads, it is excellent for removing stains, oxidation, and chalkiness from fiberglass gelcoat without scratching.
Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) is indeed a very strong cleaner. While it works very well to remove wax from the RV, it can burn if mixed too strong or left on your skin too long. If you are not comfortable with the TSP, some have reported good luck using Dawn dish soap to remove the wax.
Ultimately, neither of these products (BKF, TSP) are required. What is required is to remove all stains, soiling, oxidation, chalkiness, and waxfrom the surface of your RV prior to applying Red Max Pro. Whatever methods you are comfortable with are fine, as long as they accomplish that.
If your RV still looks good, and still shines...then use a good quality wax. But if your RV has deteriorated and you are looking for a way to breathe new life into it, RMP is an option for you. Go ahead, Google it. Read up on it. Read about those who have actually used it. Then make your decision.
Thanks for posting this Swaycool. I have a question about the graphics. Since they are really deteriorated, should I try to remove them before I do this, or would that be a bad idea?
Kerri in AL :-)
If you have vinyl graphics that are faded as well, treat them as a separate area. Don't run your cleaners or RMP from the base color over the graphic or back onto the base color. It will smear the pigments and you won't like the result. Mask off the graphic edges and treat them separately with another rag or applicator.
Thanks for this advice, I did my old 1985 checkmate boat with this method and came out looking fantastic~! cant wait to get it out this weekend! I going to do this to my RV Travel Trailer now!
Thanks so much for the info on restoring the finish on my rv, I have been trying to find a way to do this for over a year now. I have a 1984 Winnebago Chieftain and I cleaned it good today and will be applying the Zep wet look finish tomorrow and I am very excited to see the results, Thanks again for info on this.
I finished applying the Zep Wetlook today , four coats and it looks great, this process really works well, but as stated pay more attention to prep than anything else and you will get a GREAT result. Several people in the park where we are now have commented on how nice our motorhome looks now and asked what I did, I am very pleased and would recommend this process to anyone.
If working on a metal surface, such as aluminum, a high silicone based car wax works wonders with very little effort. Such as "Once a Year Car polish" in the orange bottle, or Maguires or similar product.
I wanted to thank you for a awesome post my 78 minnie was dull and dusty lookinig
we used low abrasive comet instead of bar keep (didn't find any) and the zep wet look only took 3 coats easy to put on. and man does that baby look good. I just kept shaking my head could not belive floor wax made it look like that,,,lol again ty for the awesome post