RV Roof: Beginners Guide (Types, Maintenance and Repair)

RV Roof: Beginners Guide (Types, Maintenance and Repair)

The roof is what protects you from harsh elements when you are in the RV. Nothing is as irritating and bad as having a leaking roof in your RV.

Water damage is what is known to reduce the life of most of the travel trailers. Thus, you need to have proper information about your RV roof, its cleaning, maintenance, repairs, and sealing.

Also, if you are deciding to replace your RVs roof then its imperative that you have all the basic knowledge.

A well maintained RV roof can increase the overall life of your RV.

Different Types of RV Roofs

There are four types of materials used in RV roofs. The materials used are:

  • Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) Rubber
  • Thermal Poly Olefin (TPO) Rubber
  • Fiberglass
  • Aluminum.

Most people assume that any roof on the RV will do as long as it is well installed. However, when getting a roof on the RV, it is best to understand that various types offer different experiences. Each have their own pros and cons.

Understanding the pros and cons of each RV roof material will enable you to make an informative decision(if you are replacing the roof on RV).

Choosing a wrong roof option will end up frustrating you in the long run.

Before seeing the advantages and disadvantages each of these roof materials have, lets address the other main question (which many people are confused about).

What type of Roof My RV has?

How to know what type of Roof my RV has

an rvs roof white in color
an rvs roof white in color

Taking care of your camper is essential if you want to have it serving you for a long time. Neglecting it will lead to wear and tear. However, if you do not know the type of roof you have, it will be a challenge for you to give it the best care.

So, how do you identify the type of roof your RV camper has? Lets find out.

Identifying a rubber RV roof

Most people will be able to know a rubber roof by just looking at it, however, if you are not sure, look at these characteristics.

  • You will know that it is a rubber by its softness.
  • Most of the rubber roofs are soft and white in color.
  • If they are a bit old, they will look off white.
  • They are also chalky.
  • With time rubber roofs become chalky if they are made of rubber.

Identifying a fiberglass roof

a rv with fiberglass roof
a rv with fiberglass roof

Most modern RVs do not have fiberglass. The reason being the fiberglass RV roofing is becoming rare. Fiberglass roof display below characteristics.

  • This type of roof will be hard. Fiber roofs are known to be the hardest and none flexible.
  • The fiberglass is smooth and slippery when wet.
  • It can be dangerously sleek when it is wet. Thus, one needs to be cautious when cleaning it.

How to identify Metal or Aluminium roof on RV

The metal roof is one of the most straightforward to identify. Look for below characteristics in case of metal roofs on your RV.

  • If your RV has metal roofing, you will notice the metal-like appearance.
  • The roof will have a shiny-silver like metallic appearance.
  • The metal roof will have support beams after 2 feet more or less. The reason is that the metal roof has thin flexibility, which means it cannot be able to support much weight by itself. If you are planning to climb on top, one has to be cautious.

EPDM Rubber RV roof

The RV roof is a membrane-like rubber. It is used to install flat roofs in your RV. One of the things that stand out about this material is that it is affordable.

Pros of EPDM RoofCons of EPDM Roof
Lightweight, helps in reducing the overall weight of your RVOne of the issues with the EPDM is its finished appearance as it looks like a stretched inner tube
Sturdy as it does not scratch, dent, or scuff easilyIt absorbs a lot of heat fast, even in rolls of light
shades. Anger can lead to your RV AC straining
Easy to repair as one will need to apply liquid roof membrane, latex tapes, or adhesive, or rubber shinglesEPDM can strain easily punctures
Easy to installNeeds fast repair when damaged to avoid water
getting under its layers

TPO Rubber RV roof

This is a single-ply, which is made from ethylene-propylene and polypropylene. The rubber is bound by using a chemical reaction.

Pros of TPO Rubber roof Cons of TPO Rubber roof
The material is white, thus used to
reflect the heat
Lack of consistency in the quality can be a concern.
It is possible to purchase products of the same
price from various manufactures and
end up getting two distinct attributes.
It is a reflecting roofing material that is
There is no standard in the designing,
and this leads to various thickness
One can choose how to have the roof installed.
The options are welding around the rooftop
fixtures, fastening on the roof deck
directly, or using adhesive to glue
the roof.
The material will wear out at the same rate
despite the width.

TPO needs to have a laminate to cover. Without a
laminate, it wears off at a high rate,
and it starts cracking.
It has a small rubber with the width for installing
this roof on the RV.
Thus, this will lead to more expanding and
contracting. It may, therefore, lead to the
roof cracking and leaking. If not
repaired on time,
it will lead to water entering.

Fiberglass roof

This is fiber textile plastic fixed using glass in resin. It can be made in large panels or individual sheets.

Pros of Fiberglass Roof Pros of Fiberglass Roof
Sturdy and durable and thus has
low risks of cracks and tear.
In the case of fiberglass damage, it will be expensive
to repair. It is better to have the section
replaced rather than repair.
The roofing option is ideal for your RV as it is resistant
to ruts and fire.
The fiberglass RV roof is not heat
resistant. When exposed to high heat,
it will lead to the formation of thermal splits.
It is light in weight, making it possible to have it
customized to any shape, pattern, and shade.

Aluminum roof

trailer with aluminum roof
trailer with aluminum roof

This is a silver-white metal made from a sheet of aluminium. It is a product that is preferred because it is durable. However, before installing it in your RV, here are some pointers to note.

Pros of Aluminum Roof Cons of Aluminum Roof
Can resist tree limb piercingThough it is durable, when you install it in your RV, it will lose its visual appeal with time
It is durable, and you will not have to worry about friction damaging the roofThe roofing option is not resistant to heat.
It is durable compared to softer materials.When installing this roof, you will need to fasten it as it will not adhere to the glue.
Thus, you will need to make use of galvanized nails as it will help in preventing leaks and also avoid rust.
Challenging to identify leaks.

Repairing and Maintenance of fiberglass and rubber roof

When using RV, it will help when you know how to fix it. Nothing will help you more than being prepared for your repairs. When you talk about RV Maintenance, roof is one of the key components to take care.

tips to maintain an rv roof

Inspecting your travel trailer roof often will lower the possibility of expensive repairs.

Begin by cleaning the roof, taking care not to elongate the tear.

Your dealer will guide you in buying the most appropriate sealant for the type of roof that you have. The method and the material used for repair will depend on the kind of roof you have.

The most important thing to do is to inspect the roof regularly to make sure it is ok. Also, ensure you carry out thorough cleaning.

  • Ensure the cleaning material you are using does not contain any petroleum solvent.
  • Dry the RV roof thoroughly to keep it dry all the time.
  • Use an RV cover; it will protect your roof.
  • Look for small cracks and repair them in time.
  • It is better to use extra sealant to ensure the safety of your RV roof.

RV roof maintenance schedule: how often to do it.

It is good to ensure that your RV is in excellent condition all the time. Maintaining it well will keep you from spending money on expensive repairs.

Ensure you inspect and clean your RV roof at least four times a year.

It could be done more often based on the prevailing weather. Also, going on top the roof again and again can be harsh on roof.

RV roofs are normally good enough to support 2-3 people on top there. One can walk on the RV roof but keep it to minimal as possible. Old RV roofs are also susceptible to damage.

Roof Repair : Sealing an RV Roof

how to seal your rv roof

First is to clean the roof thoroughly, making sure you remove every dirt particle. Ensure the roof is completely dry and then scrub any old debris.

When cleaning the RV or motorhome roof, be careful to avoid creating holes on the roof.

Find out the best sealant for the type of roof you have. Use a soft cloth to apply the sealant, ensuring even distribution of the product. When you do it well, it will give you a new look at your RV.

What type of products to use to seal RV roof

sealant used for rv roof
sealant used for rv roof

Each RV roof seal will need a different outcome depending on the material used.

It is essential to make sure you consult with the dealer for the best product for your RV roof. Factors to consider are flexibility, durability, and suitability on the type of roof that you have.

There are multiple RV roof caulking products that one can use. Many of this can be bought in as less as $10 or so. Some of the popular one’s out there include below:

  • Dicor Sealant
  • 3M Marine Sealant
  • EternaBond roof sealant
  • ToughGrade Rv Sealant

Most of these are easy to apply and are also compatible to roof materials on RV. They are also self leveling and lasts long.

Before you select any of this RV caulk, be sure to check what your RV manufacturers manual recommends.

It can make a difference.

Not all RV caulks are same and are also not recommended for all roof materials.

How often to seal the RV roof?

Sealing is a considerable preventive measure when it comes to RV Roofs. The climate is a significant determinant of how often the sealing should be done.

Inspecting the RV will help in knowing whether there are areas that need sealing. Ideally as soon as you see issue with roof try to seal it so that the damage does not aggravate.

Water damage can be very hurting for your RV. Thus, its always good to reinforce the seams and go through the coating once in a year if not multiple times.

Even if there are no signs of bad weather, inspecting and sealing the RV will help in keeping the RV looking its best.

Cleaning the RV Roof

cleaning rv rubber roof

Cleaning an RV interior is much different if you compare it with exterior or the roof. You need to be more careful with the roof.

Begin by sweeping all the debris and ensure you give special attention to the fixtures.

At the same time, inspect the roof for any cracks.

Rinse the entire RV roof using a hose, and reaching all the parts with water.

After that, spray the rubber cleaner on the roof and scrub

Using a long handle sponge on small sections at a time. It is good to use circular motions when mopping.

Can you power wash your RV roof?

high pressure water being used for washing rv
high pressure water being used for washing rv

First of all, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on RV repair maintenance. When it comes to RV or motorhome washing, high powered pressure washes may be damaging in different ways.

It can cut tires, break seals, and destroy the paint and much more. However, low pressure can help in cleaning if it is applied carefully.

High pressure wash for RV roofs can be particularly damaging. It can lead to cracks and leaks if the pressure is too high.

How much does it cost to coating/ reseal an RV Roof?

The cost of repairing and sealing the RV roof will depend on the materials used and the area to be covered. When planning to improve or use a sealant on your RV, it is advisable to carry out some research before making your decision.

Ensure you get the price of the different products that you need from the dealers. We already saw of the products above.

On an average the cost of coating the RV roof comes to around 20 cents to 40 cents per square foot depending on the type of roof.

Remember there will be other costs involved as well like cleaning, taking professional help and so on.

How to protect RV roof with covers

One of the best ways of taking care of your RV is to protect it with a cover. Look for a cover that can fit the size of your RV.

Also, ensure the material used is waterproof, and it covers the entire moving home.

RV roof covers are debated by many RVers. But, a lot of RVers say that they can help protect the roof.

  • They keep the dust and dirt away from roof
  • Helps against snow
  • Keep RV roof safe from harmful UV radiations and sunlight in general.
  • Protects the roof from Bird droppings.

So, should you get an RV cover?

It depends.

If you have proper storage for your RV then you probably don’t need it.

RV roof racks/RV roof ladder/RV rooftop air conditioner

RV roof rack, ladder and roof top air conditioner are all related to your RVs roof. Thus when handling or using this you need to be careful as you may end up damaging causing cracks to the roof.

RV roof racks are essential because they allow bikes to be carried on the RV. That is important because they enable short distance traveling from where you will camp.

The purpose of the roof ladder is to ensure there is enough space to carry various accessories on the RV roof.

It is also essential to have air conditioners as they help in circulating interior air.

Replacing RV roof

It is essential to know that different service providers will ask for different fees. At the same time, the damage on your RV will determine how much you will need to pay for the services.

Also, the time taken will depend on the work that needs to be done. The most important is to identify trustworthy and reliable service providers.

Replacing rv roof is costly and on an average it can cost around $280-$320 per linear feet.

How long does an RV rubber roof last?

Most of the RV roofs last for many years. Most RV roof will be there on your RV as long as you use the RV. Here are some extra tips to protect your RV roof.

On an average most RV roofs last for 20-25 years and even more if good maintenance is done on regular basis.

But, yes it will need routine maintenance and sealing from time to time. Replacing a RV roof can be costly and tedious as well job.

In Conclusion :

Having a RV roof in best condition is always better for your RV. The first thing in this process is to identify the roof material. Choosing right product for caulking and sealing the leaks and cracks is also critical.Inspecting the RV roof often can help reduce the repair costs.

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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