Azdel debuted to thunderous applause way back in 2006 (back when gothic black nail polish was fashionable). You would think in the 16 years since that Azdel would be de rigeuer for modern RV manufacturing, but no! – many manufacturers still choose the ol’ standby, lauan plywood.
If you’re new to the Azdel-vs-lauan debate/smackdown, we provide some background information below. Here’s the synopsis:
- Cheap RVs use lauan plywood as a backer in laminated wall construction, laminated floor construction, and ceiling panels.
- Premium RVs (usually) use Azdel paneling in lieu of lauan plywood in most of the same places.
- Lauan plywood is a relatively cheap foreign plywood on the market. It can rot, mold, and delaminate.
- Azdel does none of those things! It’s a wood-free composite panel made from spun plastic. Can’t rot, doesn’t (usually mildew), can’t disintegrate, and boasts better insulation, besides.
We love Azdel around here. It’s not quite the Midas touch – things can still go wrong – but it’s 100% better than lauan plywood.
But not all RV manufacturers use it. In fact, most RV manufacturers still use lauan simply because it’s cheaper!
Some of the big names who have adopted Azdel paneling as part of the “Azdel Onboard” OEM manufacturing program include Coachman, Newmar, Winnebago, Entegra, Heartland, Lance, Rockwood, NOBO, and quite a few more! (See below for the full manufacturer’s list).
Table of Contents
Smackdown: Azdel Vs. Lauan!
What Is Azdel?
Azdel is one of the darlings of the RV industry. It’s made by Hanwha Azdel and distributed by Robert Weed Corporation.
Azdel is a composite panel. It’s a proprietary spun blend of polypropylene plastic fibers and fiberglass. It’s a semi-rigid panel that can be slightly curved but not bent or kerfed.
And I’m sorry. It’s hard to buy this stuff retail. You need to buy a full bunk from Robert Weed, which is at least $3,000. You can find a few online retailers (like Mirage) for finished Azdel panels, but be prepared to pay $50+ per 4×8 sheet!
What Is Lauan Plywood?
Lauan is a type of Philippine mahogany. (Oooh, mahogany – that sounds impressive!)
Don’t be fooled. This isn’t your great-great-grandmother’s dinner table. Lauan plywood is a commodity product, sold as 4×8 sheets in 3mm (1/8″) and 5.5mm (1/4″) thicknesses.
The lauan plywood used in RVs is of poor quality. It commonly has voids and large defects. The 4×8 panels are warped and bowed. The plywood is not fabricated with marine-grade or WPB glues. At one time, you could buy this stuff for $6 per 4×8 sheet!
Azdel vs Lauan: Which Is Better?
Azdel RV paneling boasts a number of advantages over Lauan:
- 2x the insulation value
- Cannot rot or mildew!
- Does not disintegrate
- Will not warp
- Resists delamination
- Muffles sound
Here’s a promo video from Hanwha Azdel about Azdel advantages:
It truly is a superior material.
Azdel still isn’t perfect, of course.
- Azdel is more easily dented or dinged than wood.
- Azdel doesn’t hold screws well.
- Azdel can still delaminate if the glue bond fails!
- Not much sticks to Azdel
How Do RV Manufacturers Use Azdel Paneling?
You can find Azdel paneling across all types of RVs: 5th wheel, travel trailers, motorhomes, conversion vans, etc.
The most popular use for Azdel is in the sidewalls. Some manufacturers use it as the backer for both the exterior FRP (aka Filon) and the interior wallpaper; others just use it for the exterior, not the interior.
But Azdel paneling can also be used in:
- Ceiling panels
- Laminated flooring
- Slide-outs and cab-overs
- Interior compartments
The most important use for Azdel is for your exterior fiberglass substrate and underneath your front cap (if you have one).
Next, make sure Azdel is used for the slide-outs, cab-overs, and other “rooms” of the camper.
It is preferable, but not essential, that the manufacturer also used Azdel/vinyl interior paneling (aka, DuraBlend) for the wall interior paneling.
Don’t write off a camper just because the manufacturer didn’t use laminated Azdel for the floor or didn’t it for the interior partitions. Great if they did! – but not critical if they didn’t.
Your dealer might not know where the Azdel is used – and the manufacturer’s brochure probably won’t say, either. You’ll have to contact the manufacturer directly.
Which RV Manufacturers Use Azdel?
Want to know what RV brands use Azdel?
Most RV manufacturers who use Azdel paneling crow it from the rooftops. It’s an easy way to flash your build quality, and customers easily grasp its benefits.
If you’re just walking around a dealership lot, look for a sticker that looks like this:
More and more manufacturers are adopting Azdel as part of the “Azdel Onboard” program. That’s what the sticker signifies.
Don’t rely on your gut intuition. The thing about Azdel is you can’t see it. It’s typically used within the structure of your RV. Unless you’re a bona fide expert, it can be very difficult to tell the difference visually or acoustically between vinyl/Azdel or vinyl/lauan paneling.
Here is a list of all RV manufacturers that use Azdel in their construction as of February 2022:
Table of RV Manufacturers That Use Azdel
RV Manufacturers Using Azdel
|Aliner||Aliner Campers||Ascape Campers|
|ATC||Game Changer||Game Changer Pro|
|Coachmen||Brookstone||Chaparral||Chaparral Lite||Chaparral X Edition||Encore||Mirada||Pursuit||Sportscoach SRS & RD||Leprechaun||Prism||Cross Trek||Freelander||Freedom Express: FE||Liberty||FE Ultra Lite||FE Select||Adrenaline||Apex Ultra-Lite||Apex Nano||Northern Spirit||Northern Spirit XTR|
|Cruiser||Embrace||Fun Finder||MPG||Radiance||Shadow Cruiser||Stryker|
|Dynamax||Force||Isata 3||Isata 5||DX3||Dynaquest XL||Europa|
|East To West||Alta||Tandara||Ahara||Entrada|
|Ember||Overland Series||Overland Micro Series|
|Entegra||Anthem||Aspire||Cornerstone||Reatta||Reatta XL||Emblem||Vision||Vision XL||Accolade||Accolade XL||Esteem||Odyssey||Qwest|
|Forest River (Motorized)||Berkshire||FR3||Georgetown||Forester||Sunseeker||Solera|
|Gulfstream||Sedona||BT Cruiser||Conquest C||Envision||Geo||Gulf Breeze||Matrix||Northern Express||Streamlite||Vintage Cruiser||Vista Cruiser|
|Heartland||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|
|IBEX||IBEX Travel Trailers|
|Jayco||Jay Feather Micro||Jay Feather||White Hawk|
|KZ||Durango||Durango Half-Ton||Durango Gold||Sportsmen 5th||Sportster||Venom||Venom V Series||Connect||Connect SE||Escape|
|Lance Camper||Travel Trailers||Truck Campers|
|Leisure Travel Vans||Wonder|
|Newmar||Bay Star||Bay Star Sport||Canyon Star||Dutch Star||Essex||King Aire||Kountry Star||London Aire||Mountain Aire||New Aire||Ventana||Super Star||Supreme Aire|
|No Boundaries (NOBO)||NOBO Travel Trailers|
|nuCamp||Tab 400||Tab CS||Tab S||Tag & Tag XL||Avia||Cirrus|
|Palomino||Columbus||Compass||PaloMini||Puma||Real-Lite Mini||Revolve||River Ranch||Solaire Expandable||Solaire Ultra Lite|
|Rockwood||Geo Pro||Mini Lite||Roo|
|R-Pod||R-Pod Travel Trailers|
|Travel Lite||Rove Lite|
|Winnebago||Adventurer||Forza||Intent||Journey||Sunstar||Vista||Minnie Winnie||Ekko||Navion||Spirit||View||Outlook||Porto||Vita||Hike||Micro Minnie||Minnie||Spyder 5th & TT||Voyage 5th & TT|
|Work and Play||Work and Play Toy Haulers|
|Xtreme Outdoors||Little Guy Mini||Little Guy Max||Little Guy Micro|
List of RV Brands That Use Azdel
- East To West
- Forest River (Motorized)
- Lance Camper
- Leisure Travel Vans
- No Boundaries (NOBO)
- Travel Lite
- Work and Play
- Xtreme Outdoors
RV Brands that Use Azdel: Spotlights!
Coachmen was the first RV manufacturer to embrace this newfangled material. It’s still a prominent headline in their marketing strategy. According to Coachmen:
In 2006, Coachmen was the first manufacturer to fully adopt Azdel Onboard composite panels into their sidewall construction.
All brands under Coachmen made with laminated sidewalls use our 3.6mm material for the exterior substrate. And all Class C motorhomes under Coachmen use our material for the bunk (cab-over) floors.
Heartland first started using Azdel in 2017. It didn’t take long to make a convert out of the whole company. Today, every brand under Heartland – Big Horn, Fuel, Gravity, North Trail, etc. – uses Azdel, mostly in the laminated sidewalls.
The addition of Azdel is beneficial for both manufacturers and retail customers. The composite panels are half the weight of wood material – increasing the durability while lightening the load. They are weather and temperature resistant, odorless and environmentally friendly, which will increase the life of your RV. Additionally, these panels absorb sound and energy waves …
Lance Camper is America’s biggest manufacturer of slide-in truck campers. Lance was an early adopter of Azdel, as far back as 2008. According to Lance:
Since 1965 Lance has been building America’s most popular truck campers. And today, many of them are still on the road – a true testament to the company’s philosophy that Quality Comes First … Ideas born from this process include LanceLock™, the use of Azdel™, Lite-Ply™ and the removal of all Mercury making for an eco-friendly, toxin-free RV.