I came across an article which I’m reproducing here with thanks to the author. I have however replaced his references to Red Max Pro 3 with Zep Wet Look Floor Finish (ZWLFF). The process is working just great for us – we’ve done a trial one-third of the right side between the rear corner and the awning support leg, and it’s already looking great. We’ll finish the rest of the coach this week.
This process is for older RVs that have lost their shine and no longer respond to conventional wax.
Restoring the finish of an older RV using ZWLFF:
-Zep Wet Look Floor finish (Step 3) (available at Home Depot)
-Bar Keeper’s Friend (powdered)
-TSP (Trisodium Phosphate, powdered)
-3M scrubbies (white, fine)
-Microfiber rags (white or laundered)
Preparing the surface is the most important part, since anything left on the surface will be sealed under the ZWLFF 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 (Rinsing well is important to remove all BKF residue. 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 ZWLFF 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 (again, rinsing well is important to remove all TSP residue). 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 ZWLFF 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 ZWLFF (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; ZWLFF 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 ZWLFF 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 ZWLFF is very watery and will have a tendency to gather and cause runs. ZWLFF 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 ZWLFF across the graphics prior to step 4, which will seal them up. Then go ahead and apply the ZWLFF 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 ZWLFF acrylic coating can sort of “glue” them closed.