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Topic: Aluminum vs Fiberglass TT

Posted By: Kyedog on 11/16/17 06:47am

I am in the market for a new TT. I have gone to RV show and several dealers. I have found a TT that I really like but it is aluminum. My current trailer is fiberglass. I am wondering what the quality difference is between fiberglass vs aluminum. The most obvious is that the aluminum can dent but what else. The pricing on the aluminum trailers are cheaper so logic tells me the quality is inferior to fiberglass. I do not want to make a mistake buying this trailer. I am planing on living in it for half the year and hopefully for the next 10 years. I generally travel 6 to 8 thousand miles a year..


Posted By: donn0128 on 11/16/17 07:05am

Astetics. The corrogated aluminum looks old, and is cheaper to buy, so it makes a cheaper trailer. Its also harder to clean and shine.






Posted By: Turtle n Peeps on 11/16/17 07:14am

They both have there plus's and minus's.

Aluminum can dent from hail. Fiberglass can delam. Aluminum framing even has it's good points and bad points. Pick your poison.

BTW cheap TT'ers are not meant to be lived in for long periods of time. There are only a few makes and models on the market that are meant for close to full timing or full timing and they are not cheap. Make sure you don't make a mistake.


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Posted By: Oasisbob on 11/16/17 08:13am

If given the choice I will take aluminum every time. Here is why. Aluminum is proven and easy to replace. Ever hear of aluminum delaminating? Nope. Seems every time the RV industry comes up with something new it is for them, not the consumer. The latest scam is frameless windows. How can that be a good thing? Go aluminum


Oasis Bob
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Posted By: TurnThePage on 11/16/17 08:37am

Trying not to drift off subject too much, but would like to point out that frameless windows actually do have a frame structure. It just doesn't show from the outside. The tech has been around for decades. I don't think you'll find one on an aluminum skinned trailer though.


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Posted By: ScottG on 11/16/17 09:31am

I've had several of each and I will never own another corrugated aluminum RV.
Way too hard to keep from leaking and dents and dings appear out of know where. And it's not a matter of maint. alone.
Some will say aluminum is cheaper to repair but that has not been my experience. A shop that specializes in RV bodywork can do undetectable repairs at a competitive price and ins. rates reflect that.
Besides, I don't buy vehicles based on what it costs to fix bodywork.
None of this is meant to be a slight to those that have alum. RV's. All RV's are built to a price point and those with alum body's fill a niche.


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Posted By: falconbrother on 11/16/17 09:46am

My motorhome was fiberglass. It started to delaminate and there's no fixing that for all practical purposes. It developed a small leak on the edge of the rubber roof. Hard to see but, good enough to trap water in the side and cause some delamination. When I started shopping for a new TT I looked at aluminum and bought aluminum. This is my second aluminum sided travel trailer and I've never had an issue. There is no perfect.


Posted By: DiskDoctr on 11/16/17 10:03am

Looks- smooth for fiberglass vs corrugated look for aluminum.

Both require care. We like the smooth fiberglass look, though it seems harder to keep clean and waxed.


Posted By: NanciL on 11/16/17 10:46am

My last two trailers were aluminum.
I washed them and waxed them once a year, and they looked as good as new six years later.
We make our decision on a new trailer by the floor plan and the cost.

Jack L


Jack & Nanci


Posted By: bobndot on 11/16/17 11:23am

Have had 3 or 4 of each. I prefer alum because its lighter and offers me more payload in my TV.
I have not found much difference in the cleaning and waxing of it with the products I use. It does take a little more time to re-caulk it due to the corrugated aluminum.
The aluminum can be repaired by any handy person using basic tools. Smooth sides will take more time, expense and a more experienced mechanic. A few dealers will tackle it many have to go back to the mfg.
If you plan to live in this for some time and you have a leak causing delamination, would you rather hire someone local to repair it on site and be done in a day or ship your trailer back to the mfg ? I have had an RV at a mfg for many months at a time loosing its use. It's your home and time.


Posted By: troubledwaters on 11/16/17 11:35am

I don't buy a home or RV contemplating how inconvenient it will be for me if I am negligent and don't maintain the roof and it starts leaking. I figure I am going to do my due diligence and perform the maintenance necessary to ensure it doesn't leak. Problem then doesn't exist in the first place.


Posted By: rbpru on 11/16/17 11:52am

It really come down to what you like. As shown each has it advantages and draw backs.

From the industry standpoint aluminum is old technology, well understood and lends itself to basic trailer designs. Fiberglass is a newer technology but still decades old. The big advantages are, it lends itself to more dynamic shapes, a so called "clean" look and offers a large easel for artwork graphics.

Aluminum dents and Fiberglass de-bonds, I have had both and the outside skin makes little difference to me. Floor plan is everything.

However, if you like snazzy, you are more likely to find it in a fiberglass trailer. If you prefer no frills and basic time honored construction, aluminum is hard to beat.


Twenty six foot 2010 Dutchmen Lite pulled with a 2011 EcoBoost F-150 4x4.

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Posted By: Bumpyroad on 11/16/17 12:45pm

do you live/travel/stay in hail areas? if so, do you like a cheese grater appearance on your RV?
bumpy






Posted By: lenr on 11/16/17 01:34pm

Don't assume that fiberglass has better assembly quality. They'really all thrown together.


Posted By: TurnThePage on 11/16/17 01:35pm

I can't prove it, but I think fiberglass walls block sound better. I can hear a gnat fart through my aluminum skinned trailer.


Posted By: NWnative on 11/16/17 02:41pm

I went with Aluminum.


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Posted By: Nunyadamn on 11/16/17 03:08pm

Personally, I had a fiberglass Class C before we bought the aluminum side travel trailer we have now. We live in AZ and the sun just bakes the fiberglass. It will eventually start to yellow white fiberglass here (anywhere hot or a lot of sun). I like the looks of the fiberglass, but it doesn't make sense for us here. I have a theory that the manufactures are starting to change the color to the off white because of this so it's much harder to notice. Either way, my aluminum side travel trailer looks nearly as good as the day I bought it. I don't stress about having it waxed every year like I did with the Class C. I know some people have issues with dents on the aluminum, but I have not had that issue. I keep my trailer in storage and I can tell you there are a lot of trailers in there that are fiberglass that are yellowing badly and have a lot of delaminaton bubbles - really big ones on some trailers. Everytime I see one of those or hear about it on the internet it makes me glad I went aluminum.


2014 Jayco Jayflight 32BHDS
2015 Ford F250 Lariat 4x4 Crew Cab 6.7L Powerstroke



Posted By: DutchmenSport on 11/16/17 03:22pm

I've had both. Never had problems with either.

Pick the one that appeals to you and tell all the nay-sayers who don't agree with your decision to go take a hike!


Posted By: ret usn on 11/16/17 03:29pm

I have been looking at a new Jayco TT it is aluminum framed and aluminum sides.I have had both and like both. I think it depends on what you like. I have had a fiberglass class a and 5th wheel and 3 aluminum sided TT.


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Posted By: Durb on 11/16/17 07:04pm

My neighbor has an aluminum sided toy hauler of questionable quality. The siding reacted (or rubbed) with the staples underneath and created a bunch of pin holes in the siding. I'm sure this is rare but none the less. Dabs of caulking and a lot of time to fix. There are fiberglass trailers that are not laminated but they are small and expensive.


Posted By: westend on 11/17/17 03:15am

TurnThePage wrote:

I can't prove it, but I think fiberglass walls block sound better. I can hear a gnat fart through my aluminum skinned trailer.
Generally, this would be true. Aluminum has a much higher resonance than fiberglass. A fiberglass sided trailer typically has the whole wall sections, including the insulation, bonded together. An aluminum trailer may have spun fiberglass that has settled within the wall frame, allowing an open space between siding and interior panel. What you have then, is a rigid drum.

Fiberglass delamination is much harder to repair than a failed frame in an aluminum sided trailer, from water intrusion. Wooden frames conduct cold and heat slower than aluminum. There is usually no quality difference between the two construction methods, it is more to the price-point and model designation from the mfg.

Buying a travel trailer based on the siding applied is not the correct goal, IMO. I would be more concerned about the floor's construction and the layout of the particular trailer.


'03 F-250 4x4 CC
'71 Starcraft Wanderstar -- The Cowboy/Hilton


Posted By: Ralph Cramden on 11/17/17 03:18am

ret usn wrote:

I have been looking at a new Jayco TT it is aluminum framed and aluminum sides.I have had both and like both. I think it depends on what you like. I have had a fiberglass class a and 5th wheel and 3 aluminum sided TT.




????

Jayco makes an aluminum sided trailer with aluminum framed walls?

What line / model is that?

It sounds like some salesman blowing smoke.


Posted By: bailer6334 on 11/17/17 06:23am

Aside from the exterior siding and I don't know if this makes a difference, but most Aluminum trailers I ever look at have wood framing and most if not all fiberglass trailers have aluminum framing. Both wood and metal framed trailers have good and bad points as well.


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Posted By: ret usn on 11/17/17 06:30am

The Jayco I have been looking at is SLX 265 RLSW and it may be wood framed after looking at their website. It is a 2017 left over for $18000.


Posted By: wrenchbender on 11/17/17 08:59am

If you are a plastic owner do not lower yourself to aluminum the upkeep is not worth the hasle


Posted By: Mike Up on 11/17/17 04:04pm

Kyedog wrote:

I am in the market for a new TT. I have gone to RV show and several dealers. I have found a TT that I really like but it is aluminum. My current trailer is fiberglass. I am wondering what the quality difference is between fiberglass vs aluminum. The most obvious is that the aluminum can dent but what else. The pricing on the aluminum trailers are cheaper so logic tells me the quality is inferior to fiberglass. I do not want to make a mistake buying this trailer. I am planing on living in it for half the year and hopefully for the next 10 years. I generally travel 6 to 8 thousand miles a year..


I won't buy a laminated fiberglass skinned trailer. Aluminum sided, stick and tin is all that I feel comfortable buying.

Laminated fiberglass sided campers always seem to delaminate from the glue failing, improper lamination, or from slight leakage. I've seen so many delaminate right on the dealers lot, being new. No way for me.

Plus laminated campers get condensation on the inside of the walls from the aluminum studs conducting the outside cold to the inside. And those aluminum studs are usually hollow (some put wood core into them) and hollow studs don't hold cabinet screws very well without loosening.

I camp at a lot of State Parks and by far, the majority of older campers are stick and tin (aluminum sided with wood framing). Usually only the newer campers are Fiberglass skinned laminated trailers.

BTW, fiberglass trailer are Olivers, Scamps, Casitas, not the Glued together Styrofoam/aluminum stud/Luan laminated campers you reference.

Quality wise, aluminum siding can be repaired very cheaply next to repairing the actual wall of a laminated camper. Also that fiberglass skin chalks badly in the sun and will eventually turn a nasty yellow. Aluminum siding can be painted fairly easy and can be maintained with automotive wax. Also slight leaks may not ruin the walls as they do with the glue in the laminated walls.

* This post was edited 11/17/17 04:23pm by Mike Up *


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Posted By: 6door74 on 11/17/17 04:35pm

I've been going back and forth with this question myself. I tend to be an aesthetics first person but don't want to make the wrong choice on this.


2006 E350 V10
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Posted By: Mike Up on 11/17/17 04:48pm

Durb wrote:

The siding reacted (or rubbed) with the staples underneath and created a bunch of pin holes in the siding.


I've had this happen in a few spots. It's really easy to fix and a none issue. Just like anything, you have to keep up with maintenance, if you ignore it, like your neighbor as it's very easy to spot, you will get holes. If the corrosion continues after you repair it once, pull the siding back and pull the staple.

Or if you do get a small hole, it's an easy fix as well with the right caulking and/or paint to make it blend in without notice. I've seen this done several time on pop up camper roofs.

I had my dealer fix this when I was having the camper pressure leak tested and re-caulked.


Posted By: rbpru on 11/17/17 10:27pm

If the OP is really concerned about aluminum vs fiberglass, rent one of each for a week or so. Then you will know the difference in noise, vibration and all the other quirks people seem to like or dislike.

My only concerns are dents vs. delaminations.

Fancy artwork and sculpted designs vs. traditional styling is of little concern to me.

Remember, the floor plan is everything, it remains when all else is forgotten. The DW usually calls the shots on that one.

Renting gives you a chance to evaluate a TT before you spend the big bucks.


Posted By: Bumpyroad on 11/18/17 05:30am

I think more important that the siding material is the roof, no rubber, and no wooden studding. do a search of this forum for horror pictures of wooden framed units that have had leaking problems. a total disaster. only if it is constructed properly should you be worrying about floor plan.

bumpy


Posted By: HappyCampers3 on 11/18/17 07:09am

Just completed our 13th season with the TT in our profile. All Aluminum skin and frame it has been very good to us. Even though HR is no longer around they made a good unit and we had very good support from our dealer.


Three Happy Campers
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2005 Holiday Rambler 30SKS


Posted By: TurnThePage on 11/18/17 10:04am

Residential homes are made of wood and often last over a hundred years. Just sayin'. Some of the best trailers have wood trusses. As with anything you own, if you don't take care of it, it might not last long. There's nothing inherently wrong with rubber roofs either, except that they may be more prone to punctures or rips. They're easy to repair if that happens. This particular subject usually boils down to manufacturing quality, not materials. There's plenty of threads around here to prove that those with no wood or rubber suffer show stopping leaks too.

The unfortunate reality is, as an owner you better expect to be doing inspections and preventive maintenance from day one. (Unless your favorite floorplan fits in one of those few trailers that don't have any wood or rubber, which totally eliminates the corrugated aluminum sided units)


Posted By: bakerkids on 11/18/17 10:05am

Mike Up wrote:

.

BTW, fiberglass trailer are Olivers, Scamps, Casitas, not the Glued together Styrofoam/aluminum stud/Luan laminated campers you reference.



This is what threw me when I opened this thread. I call those molded fiberglass, which IMO are a much better build and what I was hoping to read about. Horse of a different color.

I have a T@B, which is albufiber. I love the skin. She's 11 years old and looks new.


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Posted By: hvac on 11/18/17 10:24am

I guess we doubled down on Aluminium with our ATC 28 front bedroom. I mean top to bottom. So time will tell. So far the most trouble free rv ever.

* This post was edited 11/18/17 12:25pm by hvac *


Posted By: rbpru on 11/18/17 11:56am

The shell TTs are unique and generally receive good reviews. The same can be said for the Airstream's tube shaped. Also, cost becomes a factor.

However, I believe the discussion centers around composites and stick and tin. Aka. fiberglass vs. Aluminum.


Posted By: Trailering Texans on 11/18/17 05:03pm

Oh, this is like asking if Ford or Chevy is better. Each have their fans. We went with aluminum and spend about half the year in it. Don't believe the folks that say you need a special kind of rig to full time. Floor plan is the main point for me. Does it have the space you need for months on end? Is the bath easy to move around in? I love my walk in shower, never want one of those tub/shower deals again. Does the kitchen have enough storage space. Can you see the TV comfortably from your couch? If your spouse goes to bed before you, can you close a door and give them some privacy? Those are the things that make living nice. The roof will last those 10 years on most decent units. Then you will have to maintain the rest, just like on any home. Good luck.


Posted By: Vintage465 on 11/19/17 07:21am

I think I've read each post and what I haven't read is the structural durability that you get when you purchase a vacuum bonded aluminum/fiberglass coach. Because sheer(shear?)strength is compromised with a slide, I think this becomes very important factor when purchasing a coach with a slide. And even more so with a longer coach and multiple slides. A coach that is stick framed with a slide will not be nearly as strong or durable as a vacuum bonded aluminum/fiberglass wall. I would say that the vacuum bonded aluminum/fiberglass wall becomes exponentially stronger with brands from Northwoods and Outdoors RV because they actually use a 2" aluminum tubing when many manufacturers use 1-1/2". And.......everything everyone is saying true about repairs and maintenance. De-lamination would be a nightmare that I've not experienced and hope not too. But I have dealt with stick framed trailers sagging from one end to the other over time. For now, I'm really happy with my aluminum/fiberglass coach. I constantly monitor the roof, keep the coach covered and hope the de-lam gremlins don't gain access to my baby!


V-465
2013 GMC 2500HD Denali. 2015 Creekside 20fq w/450 watts solar. Retiring in 2021, then look-out road, here we come!


Posted By: proxim2020 on 11/20/17 08:53am

Either type of wall will provide you plenty of years of service. While each have pluses and minuses relative to each other, neither wall type is really ultimately better than the other. Really it just boils down to personal preference.

For fiberglass trailers, delamination isn't something that happens serendipitously. It's usually the result of a problem that has been long ignored; for example, a roof or window leak. The same type of problems will cause rot in the structure of aluminum sided trailers. While delamination can occur, it's not a rampant problem in modern trailers. Along with travel trailer, lots of 5th wheels, Class A's, and Class C's are all fiberglass sided.

If maintained properly then either type of trailer will provide years of problem free service. Being proactive with keeping the trailer weatherproofed will help prevent tons of problems down the road. As with any RV, if you neglect the maintenance then it will eventually fall apart.


Posted By: Mike Up on 11/21/17 09:19pm

proxim2020 wrote:

delamination isn't something that happens serendipitously. It's usually the result of a problem that has been long ignored;


I don't know if I agree with that. I've seen several different makes of brand new laminated wall campers on the lot with delamination. Brand new and waiting on the lot for a very short time and delamination already happening.


Posted By: proxim2020 on 11/22/17 07:32am

Which is one of the reasons why I said "usually". There are some cases where installation issues at the factory can cause delamination on a new trailer. If these issues are spotted then they can be fixed under the warranty period. However, from my experience, its more common for delamination to occur after several years of service. The more common root cause for the delamination is some form of water intrusion which allows the substrate to rot.


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