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Old 04-19-2016, 07:41 AM   #1
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Prospective RV'er. Aluminum or Laminate?

Hubby & I have been dreaming about retiring on the road in just 24 short months (we are Planners). Hubby is an engineer and I am a perfectionist. That makes for some exhaustive research.

We would LOVE input on Aluminum or Laminate.
We had all but decided Laminate was the way to go as an RV salesperson recently told us Aluminum is strictly for the budget-minded.
Then hubby read a lot of reviews about trailers that experienced


Feeling. Confused.

in Hebron Ky (just outside of Cincinnati OH)

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Old 04-19-2016, 08:04 AM   #2
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Aluminum is the original and old standby nothing wrong with it. The laminated in my opinion is the way to go. There were de-lamination problems when trailer makers first went to laminated sidewalls they have that worked out now. Most high end equipment is laminated. I believe the laminated is much easier to take care of. these are just my thoughts. My old winnie was laminated and my new TT is laminated.

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Old 04-19-2016, 08:52 AM   #3
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Aluminum is very prone to hail damage while laminate isn't. We had an Al trailer totaled from hail and our insurance adjuster scoffed at us and wanted to know why we bought aluminum over laminate. Haven't ever made that mistake again 5 trailers later.
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:57 AM   #4
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I'm not going to help.

After the last two of our RV's had delaminations due to water intrusion that we never knew about until we saw the delam, I'll never own a laminate sided RV again. I've completely rebuilt a couple of aluminum sided RV's in the past, but there's no way I could tackle replacing a sidewall.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:17 AM   #5
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There is maintenance involved with laminated RVs, but if you are willing to maintain it, there is no reason why it shouldn't last.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:18 AM   #6
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AL is less expensive, but more susceptible to hail damage. Hail damage is covered under insurance. Repairs are easier and much less expensive. It is more difficult to clean, but if kept under cover when out of use, a simple wash down with an extending RV brush a few times a year suffices. If you ever plan to add anything, wires can more easily be routed than because of the use of fiberglass insulation as opposed to the block foam.

FG is cleaner looking and easier to clean. Delam does not occur simply because of an inferior manufacturing process. It will occur if you have water intrusion, even on Azdel backed FG. Delam is not typically covered by insurance.

I have always gone with AL, mainly for financial reasons. It was cheaper up front and I have complete coverage with insurance. If I had FG and delam did occur, I wouldn't have been able to pay to have it repaired and couldn't afford the massive loss of value incurred by leaving it. I liked the assurance afforded by going with AL that, for no more than the cost of the deductible, I could be reasonably sure of my depreciation and condition the trailer would be in down the road. I also like to do modifications that I have found to be easier to do with stick and tin construction. My last trailer, I did heavily consider FG, though. The bulk of the FG trailers tend to be built to be easily towed, resulting in light weight and low CCC capacities. I found it easier to find a TT with stick and tin construction that was "overbuilt" with heavier axles and higher load range tires resulting in higher CCC. But, I have 4 kids and we carry a LOT of stuff, so this might not be as big an issue to you. I will add that my Mom had a Rockwood MiniLite that was a great camper. I maintained the seams for her and made sure there was never any possibility for water intrusion. I found that trailer to be very well made and it still looked new after 2.5 years or so of ownership. All clear as mud now???
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:22 AM   #7
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I have had both and prefer the look of the laminate. It is also easier to clean. Another thing to consider is that most aluminum sided trailers have wood frames. Laminates tend to have aluminum frames which results in lower weight.
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Old 04-19-2016, 10:40 AM   #8
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I really like the look of laminate but happy that I have alu. All of the dings and scratches that we have found from being stored at a storage lot can be easily fixed by taping off the area and getting a can of gloss white paint.

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Old 04-19-2016, 12:42 PM   #9
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This is just my opinion, but from what I've seen on dealer lots and at RV shows, aluminum sided trailers have usually been of poorer quality fit and finish. Laminate tends to be better built but not necessarily in every case. If you are a perfectionist, this will be important to you. It definitely affected my decisions.

There are better built walls than vacuum laminated out there but you'll be into a high end motorhome and 100s of thousands of dollars to get that construction.

Regardless of whether you go with aluminum or laminated, there's no such thing as a maintenance free RV so you'll need to be willing to put the time and effort into maintaining it. This forum is a great resource for gaining the knowledge to be able to do that.

Also, if I might add, you didn't mention anything about previous experience with a camper. If you don't have any experience with a camper (travel trailer, 5th wheel, motorhome or even a pop-up) I would recommend that you rent one for a week to make sure you'll be happy with the lifestyle before jumping into a purchase. Folks with RVs use them for many different purposes ranging from dry camping with no electricity in the woods or the desert, to a mobile hotel room with full hook ups.
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:27 PM   #10
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THANKS to all!

I feel TRULY indebted to all of you for taking SO much of your time to share your experiences and wisdom!
It's forums like this and ALL YOU FRIENDLY PEOPLE that lead us to believe that we want to BELONG to your Community!

I appreciate EVERYONE's input here!

Bama Rambler, it's hearing from people like you that make us "open" to continue considering the AL trailers.

Dustman - your point about AL being covered by insurance is an EXCELLENT point I never considered. Would delamination be covered under the mfr's warranty (if it happened during the warranty period)?

Itat ~ you make an EXCELLENT point about our purpose/experience. I grew up pop-up camping with my parents. Hubby grew up Airstreamin' it with his family. Neither of us have been camping as adults, though does it "count" if we spend our summer vacations at our lake cabin making fires, drinking beer, and eating s'mores? (Our lake cabin doesn't have heat or a/c, so an RV would actually be an "upgrade" in that regard!) We actually want to retire and spend an entire year on the road to see more of this great country of ours, especially our National Parks! How's THAT for jumping in with all 4 legs??

It sounds kind of crazy, even to myself, but what's the WORST that could happen (please don't answer that).

In Appreciation,
KyDustBunny, ready for this:

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