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When it comes to choosing an RV that is well-built and less likely to cause you trouble down the road, you may be wondering what the difference is between Azdel vs Luan. These two RV materials are commonly used across all types of RVs, but what do these materials consist of, and which one is the better choice for your RV?
So, when it comes to Azdel vs Luan, which option is better?
Azdel is widely regarded as a superior building material, it’s lighter in weight, more resistant to moisture, readily available as well as more eco-friendly and healthy compared to Luan. However, not all RVs can be made with Azdel, and Azdel is more expensive to work with, compared to Luan.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about both Azdel and Luan as materials and how they work in your RV. We will go over which material is newer and more popular, as well as what RV manufacturers use what material. Let’s get started and talk all about Azdel vs Luan now!
If you are only seeking particular information about Luan or Azdel, use the table of contents to navigate to the appropriate section below.
What is Azdel?
Azdel is a lighter-weight material used for insulation and stability within an RV’s walls, ceilings, and floors. Most of the time, Azdel is not used exclusively for all of the insulation needs of your RV. However, panels of Azdel are inserted into the walls, ceiling, and floors of your RV, typically between the exterior fiberglass and common foam insulation.
According to the website for Azdel composite panels, Azdel is “produced using a patented blend of polypropylene and fiberglass to create a strong, lightweight, quiet, weather and temperature resistant, odorless and environmentally friendly wall that will increase the life of your RV.”
When combined with other common RV materials, Azdel creates a more waterproof and soundproof barrier compared to other materials.
Azdel is not designed to be utilized on the exterior of your RV, though it has plenty of benefits over average RV materials. However, it cannot withstand the elements enough to be used in this way. It’s designed as a lightweight insulation in an era of lightweight RVs, making it a necessary and exciting innovation for all RV manufacturers to consider.
When Did RV Manufacturers Start Using Azdel?
Azdel was commonly manufactured and distributed amongst RV manufacturers beginning in the year 2006. While not all RV manufacturers adopted it right away, and some still do not utilize Azdel in their construction, it became fairly popular right off the bat. It does not appear to be utilized in other manufacturing capacities, with RVs being the main vehicle that it is utilized in.
There are many reasons why Azdel was invented and why it became so popular immediately. For example, Azdel is designed to withstand humidity, changes in temperature, and other forms of wear and tear such as condensation and water damage. All of these factors greatly affect the lifespan of any type of RV, no matter how well you store it.
In addition to being so resilient, Azdel also maintains roughly 50% less weight compared to wood materials. Plus, Azdel is not manufactured using formaldehyde, a common material in plywood manufacturing and other RV amenities. In fact, back in the day, formaldehyde was commonly used and led to a variety of health concerns among consumers.
But what came before Azdel, and how is it different from Azdel’s advanced technology? Let’s take a look at Azdel’s primary competition: Luan.
What is Luan?
From the beginning of RV manufacturing back in the early 1900s, Luan was the material of choice. Developed primarily for aluminum RVs with a tin exterior, Luan is a thin and flexible plywood material made from a specific type of tree. Is still commonly utilized in RV manufacturing to this day, with plenty of practical applications.
While it isn’t as durable as Azdel, Luan is a necessary material for certain RV manufacturers. For example, given the fact that it is technically a type of wood, Luan is easy to paint and attach things to, such as a tin exterior. Azdel is not utilized in this way, with a surface that is impenetrable and impossible to paint.
The manufacturing process of Luan is old and relatively unfavored nowadays. Most plywood or composite wood options require formaldehyde and other chemicals to help preserve and pressed wood. Luan is no exception, and it requires a certain amount of time to release its chemicals. this process can be particularly stinky as well as potentially harmful if you are sensitive to certain chemicals and smells.
Overall, Luan is heavier but also more widely utilized compared to Azdel. Whether it be its history or its lower expense to utilize, Luan is extremely popular and versatile. My 1976 travel trailer is absolutely full of Luan, and this gives me plenty of pros as well as cons more than I would if I had an Azdel RV, I also have free rein in terms of my interior design.
Do RV Manufacturers Still Use Luan?
There are plenty of RV manufacturers that still utilize Luan, from the ceiling to the baseboards. For example, any RV with a stretched aluminum or tin exterior has to utilize Luan in order to attach it to the frame of your RV. Some fiberglass exteriors may also need help attaching to your RVs frame, depending on how many pieces the exterior is in.
There are a number of RV manufacturers that use Luan as well as Azdel, given the differences in these materials and the differences in their applications from a manufacturing standpoint. However, some RV manufacturers have moved away from Luan entirely, opting for something more durable and less likely to be affected by mold, condensation, and simple temperature changes that go hand-in-hand with camping.
What RV Manufacturers Use Azdel?
If you are sold on all of the benefits that Azdel has to offer the average RV customer, you may be wondering what manufacturers utilize it. There are certain RV manufacturers that strictly use Azdel and don’t bother with any other materials, but most RV companies utilize multiple types of insulation and RV building practices.
When it comes to finding an RV manufacturer that uses Azdel, it is recommended to check out the individual make and model of the RV that you are hoping to purchase. Azdel is a hot product and commodity right now, so most RV manufacturers are diligent about listing whether or not they have used this particular material.
As you will see in this video and our list below Coachmen was one of the first manufacturers to fully adopt Azdel in 2006.
In case you were curious about who else is doing the same, or something similar, here’s a list of all of the known RV manufacturers that use Azdel:
- East to West
- Forest River
- Leisure Travel Vans
- KZ RV
Again, given the popularity and availability of Azdel, there may be even more RV manufacturers utilizing it at this point in time. That’s why it’s important to check on the specific make and model you are interested in, even if it means getting in touch with the RV manufacturer to ensure that Azdel has been utilized in the construction of your preferred RV!
Which is Better: Azdel or Luan?
There are many different thoughts and opinions regarding whether or not Azdel or Luan is a better choice of material for your RV. When it comes to determining which one is better, at the end of the day, it simply depends on the RV you are interested in as well as how either of these materials has been utilized within it.
For example, some RV manufacturers may use Azdel and Luan inside of their RV walls, ceilings, and Floors. However, you may find that Azdel has only been utilized in one particular section, with Luan being used more than you expected. Something important to note is the fact that Azdel is more expensive than Luan, often leading to a higher purchase price if you are buying a brand-new RV.
On paper, Azdel offers more than Luan does in terms of its insulation powers and overall resistance to the elements that RVs go through every single time they are taken out of storage. You can expect more resistance to water damage, high and low temperatures, and even more soundproofing in an RV with Azdel versus an RV built with Luan.
In addition to all of these benefits, Azdel is a truly advanced material compared to Luan, given its lightweight properties. In our modern era of RV manufacturing and demands, building rigs that are lightweight and easy to tow by the average car is more important than most other factors, for better or worse.
That’s why some people are more suspicious of Azdel than others, given its popularity and ability to meet the demands of our modern consumerist society. However, given the fact that Luan is less durable than Azdel overall, having a material that is both stronger and more lightweight isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
Something to consider is the fact that Azdel is impossible to paint or screw anything into and otherwise is unseen, while Luan is a more changeable material in that respect. Some RVs simply won’t have Azdel, depending on how they are built. If you are looking at an RV with an exterior that needs to be screwed in, it is unlikely that Azdel will be utilized in its construction.
How to Maintain Azdel in Your RV
For the most part, there is no real way to maintain Azdel in your RV, given the fact that it is hidden within the walls, ceilings, and floors of your rig. However, this means that maintaining the exterior of your RV as well as the interior walls is the most important part of maintaining your Azdel components.
For example, any damage to your exterior fiberglass, windows, or roof means that you risk damage to your Azdel interior. If you notice any leaking or punctures to your RV’s exterior, make sure to get it repaired as soon as possible. While Azdel resists warping and damage from water and other elemental properties, any unnecessary water in your RV should be addressed!
The same goes for the interior of your RV as well. You should make sure to always maintain the floors, walls, and ceiling of your rig, no matter the type you have.
Water damage is among the most serious concerns of any RV owner, especially if you live in it full time. Any damage that happens to your RV can easily spread to other locations, so keep this in mind as you maintain your rig!
How to Maintain Luan in Your RV
Just like Azdel, Luan is not always seen and therefore not easy to maintain on its own. For the most part, Luan is covered up by flooring, ceiling panels, and other components of your RV. However, maintaining the exterior of your RV becomes even more important if you have Luan compared to Azdel, given how sensitive it is to water damage.
Keeping the exterior of your RV sealed and well-maintained is your number one priority if you know you have Luan in your walls and ceiling. You should make sure that the roof of your RV is also well cared for, as Luan is popularly applied to both the floors and ceilings of RVs.
Your RV manufacturer may have more insight as to how best to take care of Luan within your RV, and there are plenty of tutorials available online for how to best reseal and care for your RV in the long run! Just know that Luan is more susceptible to moisture damage and that this material in particular is one of the most notorious culprits of sustained water damage within an RV.
Whether you are helping to purchase a brand new RV outfitted with Azdel insulation or you simply wanted some questions answered, we hope that this article has been informative.
While there’s no right answer, choosing Azdel over Luan is a great choice if you have the budget for it, given its overall durability and lightweight manufacturing qualities!