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Old 03-21-2023, 11:13 AM   #1
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Question Drywall Mud Skim Coat on Aluminum Walls - Terrible Idea?

Hi All! I am a first time poster but longtime reader. My wife and I are renovating our 2001 Safari 27' and just recently removed the carpet mouse walls. We are now having a hard time deciding what to do with the walls. Our first idea was to just use wall paper, but after reading the helpful posts on here, it sounds like this is not a great solution as it will not adhere to the aluminum. Our second option was to clean the glue and prime + paint, but the glue has proven very difficult to remove. We tried using acetone with a razor blade and it was SLOW.

Our friend (who also has an Airstream) suggested using a lite drywall compound to do a skim coat, and sanding it smooth. Is this a terrible idea? Will it crack and fall apart as soon as we start bumping down the highway?

Thanks!
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Old 03-21-2023, 11:30 AM   #2
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Not a good idea.
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Old 03-21-2023, 12:14 PM   #3
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The aluminum will expand and contract a lot more than the drywall compound, which is very stable. The result will be loss of adhesion.
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Old 03-21-2023, 12:24 PM   #4
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…And all that bouncing will crack the mud.

Could you sand off the glue then buff the aluminum? Maybe a series of fiber and fiber flap discs.
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Old 03-21-2023, 02:01 PM   #5
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Is this a terrible idea? Will it crack and fall apart as soon as we start bumping down the highway?
Yes, it's a bad idea. Yes, it will not adhere to the aluminum and flake/chip off. I don't think it would even take "bumping down the highway" just the heat/cold cycles inside the trailer.

You could spray a textured epoxy paint that was used in vintage trailers called Zolatone. We sprayed it in our trailer almost 15 years ago, it went over various surfaces (bare aluminumn, previously painted aluminum, plastic trim pieces) perfectly and still looks 'like new' today. I have also seen where it was sprayed over the vinyl wallcovering in a 60/70's trailer - it looked great! It's thicker than "normal paint" so would hide imperfections from the residual glue.

There are several different formulations, of Zolatone - the kind I am talking about is the '20 Series' meant to go on metal - it's what they use in industrial/marine/automotive applications - it's not cheap, but it's awesome!

Shari
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Old 03-21-2023, 02:47 PM   #6
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Drywall Mud Skim Coat on Aluminum Walls -- Terrible Idea?

Greetings Mtaggart! Welcome to the Forums as a poster!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mtaggart View Post

Our friend (who also has an Airstream) suggested using a lite drywall compound to do a skim coat, and sanding it smooth. Is this a terrible idea? Will it crack and fall apart as soon as we start bumping down the highway?

Thanks!
Dry Wall Compound does not like movement as others have posted. It will not take kindly to the large fluctuations in temperature in your Airstream, particularly when combined with the expansion and contraction of the aluminum. The vibrations of the first trip, even with perfectly balanced running gear and the smoothest of hitches, cracks and/or delamination would begin.

I live near the New Madrid Fault, and we have mild "tumblers", earthquakes that aren't sever enough to wake one when sleeping, but they are enough to crack Dry Wally Compound on any number of joints where the movement is concentrated.

I wish that I could make a suggestion for a solution, but I can't think of any. The adhesive residue needs to be removed before about anything else can be done. The one thing that did occur to me was the possibility of using one of those mild abrasive wheels designed to be mounted in a drill to remove decals from autos, but those are so small that it would be slow going with the interior wall surface of an Airstream.

Good luck with your project!
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Old 03-21-2023, 03:14 PM   #7
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Wall treatment

We stripped Zolatone and mouse fur from our ‘63 Overlander walls and I used a rotary sander and made circles. Kind of a hippie type vibe but it worked out OK. Covered the rough mill finish aluminum nicely. Sorry photo is wonky, I’m on old iPhone.
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Old 03-21-2023, 03:28 PM   #8
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That looks pretty cool to me!

SPP
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Old 03-21-2023, 05:19 PM   #9
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Walls

Thank you! Was actually fun to do.
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Old 03-22-2023, 05:51 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ChristyB56 View Post
We stripped Zolatone and mouse fur from our ‘63 Overlander walls and I used a rotary sander and made circles. Kind of a hippie type vibe but it worked out OK. Covered the rough mill finish aluminum nicely. Sorry photo is wonky, I’m on old iPhone.
Very good. Creative, harmonious, only cost is labor!
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Old 03-26-2023, 05:37 PM   #11
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In my opinion your best solution would be to strip the walls down to the aluminum and then polish, looks great and no need to worry about paint or other products coming off due to expansion and contraction of the aluminum. Its not to hard to strip using paint striper, let it sit for a bit and than carefully scrape off with a plastic scraper. Comes right off, just be patient. Good luck with your project.

Before and after striping the walls.

https://youtu.be/2cnM7EYRZGg

https://youtu.be/Ko3hlFuSLtc
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Old 03-27-2023, 10:42 AM   #12
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Something to consider, once you get the walls 'clean'.

There are sign outfits who do 'wraps' on trucks, cars, vans, and so on. They can do your interior in a plain color for not a lot of money. Best part is, if you want to change it, it can be redone in a similar amount of time.

I'm considering having the hood and roof done on my 20-year-old pickup where the clearcoat has failed, and have been checking with a few outfits as I get time.
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