What Causes RV Decals to Fade & Crack?
Nothing looks better than a clean RV with shiny beautiful decals. But keeping the outside of an RV looking nice takes some care and maintenance.
Related Product: Clean and protect your RV by using 303 RV Wash & Seal.
Damaging UV rays from the sun, weather, debris from the road, and chemicals from waxes and cleaners are all things that can cause RV decals to fade, crack, and even peel.
The most common way to keep the paint job looking new on any vehicle, boat, or RV is to wax it once or twice a year.
But wax can actually be damaging to RV decals.
Here’s what to look out for and what you can use to protect the decals and graphics on your RV.
Petroleum Distillates & RV Decals
Wax is a great way to protect the exterior of an RV. It’s recommended to wax your RV once a year or twice if you live in it full time.
Many RV waxes have petroleum distillates in them.
Petroleum distillates are used in car waxes to help make it spread easier and to help clean.
The problem with petroleum distillates is they are bad for vinyl (which most RV decals are made of).
It can cause vinyl to dry out and become hard and brittle. Which is the reason for a lot of the fading and cracking you see on many RV decals and graphics.
They can also get behind the decal around the edges and break down the adhesive, which is how RV decal peeling happens.
Low quality petroleum distillates can even affect the clear gel coat on RVs and cause oxidization, making the exterior look dull.
How to Wax an RV and Protect the Decals
Not every wax has petroleum distillates in them, but most do.
You can find RV waxes that are distillate free, but they aren’t always the budget friendly option. Especially when you need to wax something as big as an RV.
Here’s how you can still use RV waxes even if they have petroleum distillates in them.
When you apply the wax, put it everywhere but on the RV decals and graphics.
Give a little bit of space around the edges as well so no wax gets behind the decal.
This stops the petroleum distillates in the wax from affecting the RV decals and it’s also a little less work for you since you don’t have to wax the decals.
To protect the RV decals use a vinyl safe protectant that’s petroleum distillate free like the 303 Aerospace reviewed below.
This will keep your RV decals and graphics looking nice without having to give up waxing the rest of the RV to protect it.
One thing to remember is that nothing can beat time and long exposure to the sun.
RV waxes and vinyl protectants are fantastic products that will help keep your camper looking nice for longer but the graphics may start to fade and even crack a little over time anyways.
It will happen a lot faster if your RV is stored outside and always exposed to the sun.
You should do what you can to keep your RV looking its best for as long as possible, but also understand that nothing looks brand new forever, especially if it’s something that’s used outside.
Best Protectant for RV Decals & Graphics
Since wax is a no go for RV decals and graphics you will need to use something else to help protect from UV rays and the elements.
303 Aerospace protectant is one of the best protectants on the market.
It’s safe to use on vinyl (RV decals), rubber, plastic, PVC, fiberglass, gel coats, and other sensitive materials.
Because it’s safe for gel coats you can use it on and around RV decals and graphics for extra protection.
303 products were originally made for rubber and plastic parts in the aviation and aerospace industry.
It’s one of the best products to protect against UV rays and it’s perfect for RVs, boats, and even lawn furniture.
You can use it on RV decals and the plastic trim to keep it from fading and cracking over time.
It even helps restore older RV decals that are starting to fade.
Best RV Wax
There are a lot of great RV waxes to choose from, but P-38-Q Pro RV wax is the one I’ve seen recommended the most.
It’s a carnauba and polymer resin based RV wax that is protective, long lasting, and has a high-gloss shine.
There are some petroleum distillates in it, which means it’s still not recommended for use on RV decals.
One thing P-38-Q does is remove oxidation, which is one of the main reasons RVs start to look dull over time.
For gel coated and fiberglass campers, this RV wax is a fantastic choice.
Have any questions about how to keep RV decals and graphics from fading, cracking, and peeling? Leave a comment below.