Build a better mousetrap. That is an old saying that tells you when you invent a better product, you will get rich. Luan and fiberglass have been around for a long time in the RV industry but Azdel may be the better mousetrap. There are lots of benefits to using this material.
According to some RV manufacturers, Azdel is worth using as it is lighter, stronger, and resists mold, etc., than luan or fiberglass. The main drawback to using this material is that it is also more expensive than the other two options.
To learn more about this product just continue to read our article. It investigates Azdel to give you all the information you want to know about this product and how it is used. It just may be the next best thing in the RV industry for everyone to use.
This new RV wall material is made from thermoplastic polymers and chopped glass fibers. Then the two materials are fused together through a process called co-extrusion.
That process uses extreme heat to fuse the two products together to make what you see in the stores and in your RV. Once melded together the end result is a lighter, moisture-resistant, and stronger material called Azdel.
RV makers may like it because of its lightweight. That allows them to build a better RV or trailer and reduce the overall weight of both. That is if they use this material everywhere in those RVs or trailers this material is installed.
It is possible that Azdel only sees limited application at this time. And it may be a while before it is applied universally to all RVs and trailers.
To some people, Azdel is just fiberglass in another coat. It may have similar ingredients as fiberglass but it is not the same in the end. In some ways, the different construction method does make Azdel a little better than fiberglass.
But to other people, nothing beats a one-piece fiberglass exterior. They may be right on that application. It is hard to beat anything that is covered in one piece of material.
Where Azdel may have the advantage is that it is lighter than fiberglass and more moisture resistant. It could also be stronger but Azdel seems to be only applied to the interior of the trailer or between the fiberglass or other exterior RV material and the stud walls.
What makes Azdel so popular is that while it can still delaminate, due to the adhesives used to glue the parts together, it will not break down like Luan plywood can.
This material should be able to hold up better than both luan and fiberglass but it is not the perfect material yet.
This is comparing apples to apples as it is said that Azdel is a variation of fiberglass and has fiberglass as one of its ingredients. It may be the construction process that will make a difference between these two RV construction materials.
When it comes to construction, there is a lot more versatility when you use fiberglass. It can be molded and applied as a single piece vastly reducing possible leak sources.
Azdel seems to be made only in sheets like luan plywood and that increases the possible leak sources. Both can delaminate but often the source of that is the adhesive and not the construction material.
Some adhesives have a vulnerability to water and when exposed it can lose its grip on the wood and the siding materials. One advantage Azdel has over fiberglass is that it is probably lighter which helps RV makers produce a lighter yet stronger vehicle or trailer.
Owners have a better chance of staying under their weight limits when Azdel is used over other materials.
This is a better comparison as there are actual differences you can see and use to show how one material is better than another. Luan is good for an interior as it allows owners to decorate their RVs, etc., with just a screw.
Then Luan is cheaper than Azdel and that is about where the advantage to Luan ends. Azdel may be more expensive and harder to put screws and nails into but it is lighter than Luan and stronger.
Plus, Azdel does not rot, allow for mold and mildew growth like Luan plywood does. This should cut your maintenance costs somewhat and keep your RV, etc., healthier to live in.
It is possible that Luan is easier to install but once in place you still have to worry about the stress of travel on the plywood. Azdel should hold up better as it is a stronger material.
Azdel has more insulation prowess and rating than Luan plywood does but this may not mean anything as the sheets are very thin. Also, luan is not as strong as Azdel which means that you may have more maintenance issues to deal with than with Azdel.
While Luan is heavier than Azdel, that extra weight does not make it more durable than its competitor. Then the biggest difference between the two is that Luan can easily be damaged by water. This is something that does not take place with Azdel.
Then Luan adheres better to other materials than Azdel will. While Luan may need more repair work, it is easier to repair plywood than Azdel. It is a tough material to repair.
The bottom line for most RV manufacturers is what counts the most. This is why you see only a limited application of Azdelin in most RVs and trailers. You may only get one room lined with Azdel and then find Luan throughout the rest of the RV, etc.
The cost of using Azdel can be prohibitive for RV makers. It is hard to say when Azdel will be given a universal application on RVs, etc.
The answer to this is it depends on your viewpoint and your criteria that make any product worth it. To some people, Azdel is too difficult to work with making it not worth it to them to replace their luan interiors.
If you look at it from a health perspective, then yes, Azdel is definitely worth it as it does not allow for mold or mildew growth. It can’t stop it altogether but it certainly can limit those bacteria from growing inside your RV, etc.
Then if you look at it from a weight perspective. Replacing the heavier Luan with Azdel provides you with more weight allowance. You can bring more cargo along because the trailer or RV is lighter.
That fact can make Azdel worth the expense and with the lighter material, you will save on some fuel consumption. That savings may not be a significant amount but all savings help.
Usually, this construction material is used in select areas of an RV or trailer. You can find it under your roofing layer, on the front end cap under the fiberglass, aluminum, or other material.
Then you may find it on the roof and walls of your slide-out. When used for regular walls, you may find that it is used on both sides of the stud wall. This increases your R insulation factor as well as provides other benefits.
Those benefits include:
- Lighter than wood by up to 50%, yet it is 2x stronger than wood
- Provide better insulation, 3X the insulation value of wood
- Does not contain formaldehyde
- They are impact and puncture-resistant
- Sound and energy-absorbing create a quieter ride with diminished road noise
- Mold resistant
- Temperature and humidity change tolerant
Freezing, thawing, and humidity levels changing do not harm this material.
We need to clarify one point here. When you read the list of RV brands that use this construction material, be advised that their use is limited. These companies will use it but not for every wall, ceiling, or end cap.
They place Azdel in specific locations only and they do not use it in all of their models. You may have to ask to find out which specific models this material is placed in.
- Forest River in the following lines (Flagstaff, Solera, Forester, Sunseeker, Rockwood, R-Pod)
- Coachmen in the following lines ( Chaparral, Brookstone)
- Jayco – Jay Feather Micro series and behind the front diamond plate on the Hummingbird, Jay Feather, and White Hawk travel trailers.
- Lance Campers
- Nexus RV
- Prime Time
- Apex RV
- Heartland RV
- No Bo (No Boundaries)
- Renegade RV
- Work and Play RV
- East to West RV
This list is not exhaustive and the members may change at any time. It is best to simply ask the dealer about Azdel and if the model you like has it as a part of their construction materials.
This company is not on any list that shows which RV makers use this construction material. That does not mean they have not done it in the past nor does it mean they won’t use it in the future.
It just means that at this time the company is not using it for any of their RVs. Their absence from the many lists of RV makers who do use Azdel could mean that they were overlooked and not included.
The best thing to do is talk to your Intech dealer or the company directly and ask them. It is an expensive material to use so it is reasonable and expected that RV makers like Intech do not use it.
They may want to keep their manufacturing costs down and simply stick with the easier material to work with. After all, Azdel is difficult to install and if their staff makes a mistake it is difficult and costly to repair.
While the list above only mentions a couple of models that Coachman places Azdel, the company seems to have expanded its use of this construction material since that list was compiled. Here is another list of all the Coachman models that are said to have Azdel inside:
Brookstone, Chaparral, Chaparral Lite, Chaparral X Edition, Encore, Mirada, Pursuit, Sportscoach SRS & RD, Leprechaun, Prism, Cross Trek, Freelander, FE Liberty, FE Ultra Lite, FE Select, Adrenaline, Apex Ultra-Lite, Apex Nano, Northern Spirit, Northern Spirit XTR.
How much this company uses in each model no one knows until you ask or look at the brochures. Each model may get a different application and may only have a wall or two that has this construction material on it.
This company says that it uses Azdel on its truck campers and trailers. Their claim is that this material eliminates mold and mildew from inside the RVs and makes their products healthier to use and live in.
It is possible that Lance is using Azdel in its advertising, as one owner claimed, as marketing hype to boost their sales. We do not know if that is true or not but one thing is for sure, when Azdel is used, you are getting a superior RV, trailer, or truck camper.
The higher insulation rating should help you use less fuel for heating. Plus, it should also help you save on gas or diesel consumption. The savings may not be much but even a little bit helps and can add up over time.
The best answer is no they do not. It seems that Keystone wants to be a maverick and go its own way. We can say that as they do not seem to use a lot of Luan either.
Instead, Keystone created their own material called Hyperdeck and that is the product that they use for key areas in their RVs and trailers. This product may also be used in the other RV brands under the Keystone label but as far as anyone knows, Hyperdeck is what Keystone uses exclusively.
The rumor is that Hyperdeck is just Azdel under a different name. But that rumor has not been proven to be true. The only reason this rumor got started is the fact that other industries, like cars and appliances, all have the same product but place a different brand name on them.
The people who spread this rumor think this business concept applies to the RV industry as well.
According to Heartland, they made the move to use Azdel in 2017. They started applying it to a few of their models at that time. Why they switched may be because of patriotic reasons. Azdel is 100% American-made.
6 years later, the company says it uses Azdel in all of its models. The list we have may not be complete but here are a few model names to get you started:
Landmark, Big Country, Bighorn, Bighorn Traveler, Elkridge, Milestone, Cyclone, Fuel, Fuel 5th, Gravity, Road Warrior, Torque, Torque 5th, North Trail Ultra Lite, Mallard, Mallard Pathfinder, & Sundance.
Also, we are not sure of all their applications but the company does state they use Azdel in the sidewalls. How many sidewalls they place this material is anyone’s guess until you look to buy one of their RVs.
While we cannot speak for Grand Design specifically, there are some very good business reasons why this company did not make the switch. One is that installing Luan and Azdel are two completely different processes.
Luan is easy to install and the company already has all the tools, etc., they need. It would cost them money to switch processes and that is not always a good business move.
Another reason is that it is very difficult to screw and glue Azdel to other materials. The extra time it takes to install Azdel they could have built another RV. While Azdel has many benefits, the business end of the construction does not experience those benefits.
With the high cost of this product, that may be another reason Grand Design did not make the switch. They may be waiting for the costs to come down a bit before changing over.
Lighter, stronger, and more durable are great reasons to consider removing your luan plywood from your RV and installing Azdel. But while you get all the benefits mentioned earlier, it is still a difficult material to work with and repair.
It would be up to you to decide which is best for your RV situation. It would be nice to have fewer maintenance duties as well as be spared mold and mildew growth but is the extra cost worth the hassle? To some, it is worth it and they enjoy their new interior.