How to Repair Exterior Trailer Walls

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Exterior metal trailer walls require proper maintenance.
Exterior metal trailer walls require proper maintenance. (Image: Andy Reynolds/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Many trailers have aluminum walls, which are durable and long lasting. Although low maintenance, metal trailer walls occasionally experience damage. Exposure to oxygen and moisture leave unprotected trailer walls susceptible to corrosion, which produces dark spots on the walls. Scratches and dents are also common on trailer walls. While scratches don’t harm the structural integrity of trailer walls, corrosion quickly spreads throughout the walls and eventually deteriorates them. Promptly repair metal trailer walls to prolong their lifespan.

Things You'll Need

  • Cleaning rags
  • Towels
  • Medium-grade sandpaper
  • Metal primer
  • Acrylic latex paint
  • Synthetic paintbrush
  • Electric drill
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • 1-inch long self-tapping screw
  • Washer
  • Pliers
  • Plastic aluminum filler
  • Putty knife

Scratches and Corrosion

Saturate a cleaning rag with water. Wipe down the scratched and corroded portions of the trailer wall to remove grime. Thoroughly dry the wet wall with a towel.

Rub medium-grit sandpaper over scratches and corrosion patches using back-and-forth motions. Sand the wall until the scratches disappear and the corrosion is fully removed.

Moisten another rag with clean water and wipe all sandpaper dust off the trailer wall. Dry the area with another towel to inhibit the exposed metal from corroding.

Prime the sanded portions of the trailer wall promptly to prevent them from corroding. Spray the exposed metal with a uniform coat of metal primer. Let the primed metal wall dry for 24 hours before painting it.

Coat the primed trailer wall with acrylic latex paint using a synthetic paintbrush. Apply the paint with smooth, uniform strokes to ensure complete coverage. Let the painted trailer wall dry for 24 hours.

Dents

Drill a hole into the middle of the dent using a 1/8-inch drill bit. Wear safety glasses and gloves while you operate the drill.

Poke a 1-inch-long self-tapping screw into a washer. Drive the screw with the drill into the pre-drilled hole in the dented trailer wall. Drill the screw in loosely so that the washer isn't firmly against the wall.

Pull on the washer until the dented aluminum pops into its original position. If necessary, grip the washer with pliers when pulling.

Unscrew the screw from the trailer wall using the drill. Remove the screw and washer, leaving just a 1/8-inch hole in the wall.

Spread plastic aluminum filler over the hole in the trailer wall with a putty knife. Completely fill the hole with the aluminum filler and let the patched wall cure for 48 hours.

Rub medium-grit sandpaper over dried filler using back-and-forth motions. Sand the filler until it's flush with the wall.

Moisten a rag with clean water and wipe sandpaper dust off the trailer wall. Dry the area with a towel.

Coat the sanded aluminum filler with acrylic latex paint with a synthetic paintbrush. Apply the paint using smooth, uniform strokes to ensure complete coverage. Let the painted trailer wall dry for 24 hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Repaint the entire trailer wall to hide the repairs.
  • Failure to prime and paint sanded portions of the trailer wall within 24 hours permits corrosion to invade the exposed metal.

References

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