Maintaining a healthy RV roof is key to keeping your rig on the road. If left neglected, wear and tear on RV roofs can turn into major issues, causing water damage, mold, and other problems that can render your rig inoperable. Even worse, these types of damages aren’t typically covered by extended warranties, so if something happens, you’re on your own to fix it.
Luckily, there are steps RV owners can take to keep their roofs in great shape year-round. We’re here to help by giving you some RV roof maintenance tips as well as best practices for avoiding roof damage.
Best RV Roof Materials
You may be wondering what RV roofs are even made of. Your roof type will be a critical factor in how you tend to it, so it’s crucial to pick the right one that’s right for you. The three most popular materials are:
Many RVs have rubber roofs. Rubber roofs can be one of two types: thermal polyolefin (TPO) or ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM).
TPO is the most common option as it is cost-efficient and white, which is excellent for keeping your rig cool. Other perks of TPO include a relatively easy installation process, resistance to dirt and mold, and energy efficiency. On the downside, TPO doesn’t last as long as other roofing options, and it doesn’t tolerate being left in the sun very well. Because of this, many owners find that they need to replace or repair TPO more frequently if not properly cared for.
EPDM is the other rubber option, often called “rolled rubber roofing.” The advantages of using EPDM are its affordability, ease of installation, and durability. Unlike TPO, EPDM can last up to twenty years, doesn’t scratch and scuff, and is less susceptible to leaks. It can also withstand higher temperatures and more direct sunlight. On the downside, its darker colors cause it to absorb heat, raising the temperature inside your rig.
If you’re looking for aesthetics and efficiency, TPO is the way to go. But if you value durability and longevity, EPDM is likely more up your alley.
Fiberglass roofs are composed of synthetic materials and glass fibers and come in sheets or panels. The advantages of fiberglass roofing include its lightweight and customizable nature. Fiberglass is also a durable material that is also fire, rot, and rust-resistant.
On the downside, fiberglass can be expensive to repair if it’s damaged. And like TPO, it doesn’t always handle heat well. Prolonged exposure can result in thermal splits, which require repair or roof replacement.
Aluminum roofs are rarer these days as they can come with some hefty drawbacks. The main advantage is its longevity. However, even if it lasts, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will look great in 20 years. It also must be fastened instead of glued down. It is susceptible to seam failure and can also hide leaks
The Right Installation
However, one of the biggest factors in having the best roofs out there isn’t related to the materials at all. For best results, take special care to follow proper installation procedures or enlist the help of a trusted professional. You’ll also want to make sure that you get your materials from a reputable manufacturer for the best quality product.
RV Roof Maintenance & Repair Tips
No matter what type of roof you have, it’s going to need regular maintenance. Most RV manufacturers suggest preventative maintenance once every three months. To make the routine easy, stock up on common repair supplies such as:
- Sealant & primer
- Caulking gun
- Seam roller
- Roof patches
- Roof cleaner
These are also handy to keep with you on the road, just in case you need to make a quick repair. Make sure that the supplies you purchase are designed for your specific roof material.
RV roofs, especially rubber ones, should be cleaned several times a year. Cleaning is essential for maintaining the roof’s appearance as well as its longevity. Never use cleaners that are made with petroleum solvents, abrasives, or citrus ingredients as these can weaken the strength and bonds of the materials.
Scrub the roof with a medium bristle brush (or with what the manufacturer recommends) to remove stuck on grime, sap, and mildew. Be sure to rinse the whole RV thoroughly. What comes off the roof will roll down the sides of your RV, and failure to rinse can result in streaking and discoloration.
While you’re cleaning, do a thorough inspection of all seams and sealants. Even the smallest opening can cause significant damage. Repair any rips, tears, or holes immediately. Take special care to look over the skylights, AC unit, vents, ladder, and roof rack, as these are all areas prone to accumulating dirt, mold, and cracks. If areas need repair, follow the instructions on the supplies that you purchase.
And of course, you’ll always want to use extreme caution when doing anything on a roof. Be careful of slick surfaces and watch where you are stepping.
Resealing & Recoating
Even if there aren’t any major issues visible, it can never hurt to apply some fresh sealant. Some RV experts also recommend resealing and recoating your RV roof as frequently as once a year. Again, you’ll want to be sure to buy products that are specifically designed for your roof material.
RV Roof Damage Prevention
In addition to regular maintenance, there is one thing that every RV owner can do to prevent damage while in storage: keep it out of the elements and out of the sun.
The sun, rain, and hail can be brutal on any rig that is left sitting. Prevent water and sun damage by storing your rig in an RV storage facility or investing in a roof cover that separates the roof from the elements. If you use a cover, make sure that it’s one designed for RVs. Other types of tarps may reduce airflow, resulting in moisture, mold, and mildew.
Hit the Road
You can keep your roof in tiptop shape by merely following these relatively easy maintenance and damage prevention procedures. Don’t let a surprise roof leak ruin your RV road trip. Take the time to care for it before issues arise, and you’ll be sure your rig is always ready to hit the road.