Owning an RV can be a great experience. To get the most out of your RV, understanding how to maintain it is extremely important. This blog will look specifically at the different kinds of RV roofs and their maintenance process.
Classifying your RV Roof
There are three main materials that are used in creating an RV roof. If you are having trouble identifying which type of roof your RV has, not to worry. Below provides a detailed description on the three types of roofs making it easy to classify and achieve proper maintenance.
Rubber RV Roofs are the most common material used in the market today. According to RV expert who owns and operates RV Education 101, Mark Polk, there are two types of rubber that monopolize the industry: Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer or EPDM and Thermal Poly Olefin or TPO. If your RV does not come with a manual to help distinguish between the two types of rubber roofs, there are certain characteristics that can help identify the material used.
EPDM roofs were designed to become oxidized. The layers that are lost from oxidization over time improves the longevity against UV and ozone rays. However, Polk says that this should not be a concern. Over a span of 10-12 years, about 10% of the roofs overall thickness will be lost. EPDM roofs have gray and white streaks that appear on the sides of the RV and in addition, becomes extremely slippery when wet.
TPO roofs were constructed to avoid oxidization and therefore do not shed any layers. This type of rubber roof has no signs of gray or white streaks and does not become slippery when wet.
Regardless of which rubber roof you have, caution should be taken when conducting repairs.
According to Polk, manufactures of RV roofs began using rubber about 30 years ago. Rubber was found to be cost-effective, easy to install; light in weight, seamless; easy to maintain and UV/ozone resistant. These properties created the shift from materials like aluminum.
Rubber roofs have the ability to last over 20 years, but in order to get the most out of your roof, RV owners need to possess the knowledge to avoid serious repairs.
You should inspect your roof at least two times a year. Even though the roof itself has the potential to last up to 20 years, seams or openings cut into the roof are subjected to water leaks.
Rubber roofs are less susceptible to becoming damaged by weather but have a higher probability of being damaged by hard object like tree branches.
RV’s naturally undergo movement while in use which inevitably causes sealants and seams to move as well. In conjunction with age, holes are bound to form creating paths for water to breach your roof.
According to experts, rubber RV roofs make up 80% of the market today. The other 20% falls to fiberglass roofs and aluminum roofs.
The rule of thumb in regards to fiberglass roofs is you should keep them waxed, so that anything it comes into contact with slides right off.
According to RV expert Robbie Warford who has been in the industry for over 32 years, there are two common traits found in fiberglass roofs. The first is they are the hardest type of RV roof found. The material is very solid and does not bend like a metal roof would.
Secondly, fiberglass roofs are smooth to touch. This characteristic causes this roof to become very slippery when wet. Caution needs to be taken when undergoing maintenance.
This material is rarely used in the industry today. Like fiberglass, aluminum is heavier than rubber and requires low maintenance. This material is very durable and can withstand hard objects like tree branches but is susceptible to becoming damaged by the weather.
Warford says the key to maintaining a healthy fiberglass and aluminum RV roof is to ensure that any old sealer that has become loose is removed. You can simply purchase a hand scrapper and remove any sections of sealer that looks remotely questionable. By removing the damaged sections where the sealer was used you can ensure that the new sealer will do its job properly.
Note: you can leave the old sealer that is not damaged.
The hard shell that fiberglass roofs possess protect the surface from hard branches or objects, however, like aluminum, this material is more vulnerable to becoming damaged by weather.
These types of roofs have been known to require minimal maintenance compared to rubber roofs which has made it desirable for some. However, because of this trait, both roofs add cost and weight to your RV.
More weight means burning more gas to get where your going, and the durability increases the price. Overtime, the heat, the sun and moisture can speed up the oxidization process, weakening your roof. Warford recommends you reseal your RV roof every 5-10 years to avoid any serious damage.
Finding the Right Product
Polk attests that after being in the industry for over 30 years, he has seen many RV owners make the mistake of purchasing the wrong product. Unfortunately, not taking care of your RV repairs properly leads to further damage causing the owner to fork out more money.
There are a variety of products on the market that can assist with repairing water leaks for your RV. Liquid Rubber Canada offers a 5G and 1G RV repair kit that comes equip with the required material for waterproofing your RV: Eliminating the stress of having to search for the proper products. Click the link below for more information on the 5G and 1GRV kits.