Painting the Ensolite Wall Covering
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Painting the Ensolite Wall Covering

Cleaning the Interior Lining and Fiberglass

The interior lining or insulation was a very high tech product in the 1970 made from a closed cell foam called ensolite laminated to a tough vinyl outer layer, it is often called Elephant Skin.  Both the lining and the fiberglass cabinets are extremely durable, most standard cleaners will work without causing any harm with one exception, the acrylic windows see Care and Cleaning of Acrylic Windows.  It is always best to try to clean the vinyl surface first, often any staining and discoloration can be removed leaving a clean soft white interior.  The non-painted surface will be easier to clean and maintain, on badly discolored walls some people have had success using Spray 9, Simple Green or even a Magic Eraser, but if all your attempts fail you can always paint the interior.  I carefully researched and tested the following method and it has stood up very well over the years.

DO NOT USE HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS ON THE FRONT & REAR WINDOWS, you will permanently damage the window surface (see section on Windows – Care & Cleaning).

Seam Tape or Caulking

The tape used on the seams of the elephant skin was actually a two sided foam tape that talcum powder was applied to the outer side, often this tape is either missing or falling off.  Finding a replacement tape that will actually stick and stay stuck is difficult to find, my recommendation is to apply a paintable latex caulking to the seam gap, you can blend this to almost make the seams disappear. The product I used was DAP Dynaflex 230, which is and indoor outdoor caulking that is incredibly easy to work with and offers a 50-year satisfaction guarantee (and it cleans up with water if you make a mistake, that is until it dries). To apply I recommend making two coats, the first one fill in most of the seam, the second coat fills to final level and can be textured. First clean the area using the cleaning instructions below in the “Painting the Inside” section and allow to dry, apply the caulking sparingly using a caulking gun, forcing it into the seam gaps with a small plastic putty knife or your fingers leaving s slight depression along the seam, clean up any ridges or mistakes immediately before it sets. After the first coat sets there will probably be some shrinkage, apply a second coat with a wider plastic scraper or putty knife (use plastic as I found metal tools left dark marks on the lining), let the caulking set-up some testing areas with your finger to where the surface is skimmed over but can still be shaped.  Using a damp sponge lightly press on the line to apply a texture, you will find it will look very close to the rest of the lining.  After it is fully cured you can paint the entire interior, it will look like new.

Painting the Inside

After a lot of research on the interior Elephant skin lining and trying to get the surface clean and white I came to the conclusion painting was the only alternative. Researching paint I found some very interesting information. First was surface preparation, DO NOT use trisodium phosphate (TSP) as a cleaner, many paint manufacturers will VOID their warranty if it is used. The reason appears to be related to insufficient rinsing which leaves a residue that the paint will not adhere to. The recommended cleaning agent is ammonia and water in a 1:1 ratio. The ammonia water cleaner works very well on oil, grease and stubborn stains, it also does not require rinsing and dries leaving no residue (again DO NOT get this solution on the acrylic front and rear windows). After cleaning the entire interior is primed using a high adhesive primer,  Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 made by Rustoleum is an excellent product and well proven by many Boler owners in this application. Over the primer use a high quality latex paint, use latex paint because the surface film allows any moisture trapped behind it to pass through the surface, moisture trapped behind oil based paints can be trapped and bubble, blisters and peeling can result. Painter’s Touch, another Rustoleum product  in gloss white works extremely well.

 

 

 

I appreciate your comments

11 Responses

  1. Al
    | Reply

    Masking tape on either side of the joints helps keep the caulk where you want it. Peel it off while the caulk is still wet.

    Painted the ensolite on a couple Bolers with elastomeric paint from Benjamin Moore. It’s a rubberized paint, so it flexes with the ensolite. It is latex based as well so no harsh fumes and easy clean up. It was ~$55/gallon when we did the last one in ’06.

    • Ian
      | Reply

      Thanks Al, it is very important to make sure the paint used will allow moisture to pass through the surface, most latex paints have this property. If moisture gets trapped behind the paint surface it will blister and peel.

    • Ron
      | Reply

      Hi Al, I am planning to paint the ensolite in my 74 Boler and was wondering if you would tell me the product name and code, if any, for the elastomeric paint by Benjamine Moore. I have asked our local BM dealer about it but they have not heard of it.If I have more info that I am able to provide to them they maybe able to track it down. The Ensolite in my Bob is in pretty good shape so don’t think I want to replace it. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated, Thanks.

      • Ian
        | Reply

        I am not a paint expert but reading the product information I would hesitate using it. The coating is waterproof, this is a concern in that any moisture that gets behind the paint will probably create blisters or peel the paint, the coating is also designed for masonry surfaces which may not work on the ensolite used in Boler’s. I am very open to options for painting the interior BUT if the paint fails on the ensolite you will have one very ugly and messy job to try to fix it. The products I list on the painting the interior have been proven to work on many trailers over many years, if you want to try some other products please keep us updated on your preparation, the products you used and how they work over a number of years.

  2. Ak
    | Reply

    As I mentioned, we used this in two bolers. Never had any issues with bubbling. We had the first one for two years (lost in a prairie fire), the second we had for 10 yrs. Prep was to wash with tsp and rinse, let dry a couple days.

    http://www.benjaminmoore.ro/en/product/100-acrylic-elastomeric-waterproof-coating/

  3. Ron
    | Reply

    Thanks Ian and Al, I have looked into the Moorelast paint and found that it has been replaced with a new product called “Ultraspec Masonary”. This is the same product with the same specs and features by just updated name.
    The problem that I have found with “One Touch by Rustolium” is that it only comes in a Bright Gloss white and is non-tintable. There is a short list of colours in spray cans but the colours are mostly very bright and only only off white.
    We plan to paint our Bob’s interior and ivory as close to the countertop as possible so would really like something that is tintable. We will be using the Bullet 123 primer but must remove a lot of caulking over slap first and recaulk with DAP. Will keep you posted.
    Ron

  4. Ron
    | Reply

    Thanks Ian and Al, I have looked into the Moorelast paint and found that it has been replaced with a new product called “Ultraspec Masonry”. This is the same product with the same specs and features by just updated name.
    The problem that I have found with “One Touch by Rustolium” is that it only comes in a Bright Gloss white and is non-tintable. There is a short list of colours in spray cans but the colours are mostly very bright and only only off white.
    We plan to paint our Bob’s interior and ivory as close to the countertop as possible so would really like something that is tintable. We will be using the Bull’s Eye 123 primer but must remove a lot of caulking over slap first and recaulk with DAP. Will keep you posted.
    Ron

  5. Penny
    | Reply

    Just wondering if your painting job turned out….what did you use to try and match the ivory countertop?

  6. Borden
    | Reply

    Our 1700 has glass windows, and leaf springs. — Have added weight rebuilding cupboards they had failed so added wood to frames.
    – Went over a couple panels while repaneling cupboards adds some weight.
    – New water tank adds a few pounds.
    – Bigger battery M31 glass pack is 61lbs adds some weight.
    ” Have others added weight on rebuilds? ”
    Checked and we are legal in Ontario so insurance company is happy.

  7. Bog6
    | Reply

    Hi , I am prepping for the interior paint. Anyone have any success stories

    • Ian
      | Reply

      I have been contacted by many owners who have used the information in this article and have not had any problems or negative comments, only good results

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