'Round The Campfire

How to Repair and Maintain an RV Roof

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter April Outdoor Living Newsletter
RV motorhome roof being cleaned by two men
Following some simple tips you can keep your roof lasting longer.

Regular repair and maintenance is essential for any RV roof. With that said avid RVers who know how to repair their own RV roof can save a lot on routine repairs while those who are not handy will have to suffer spending their hard earned dollars on both materials and labor.

Steps to Repair an RV Roof

  1. Remove exterior fixtures, plumbing vents and roof vents. Using a heat gun can help in softening and removing the roof coat. Scrape off the roof coat to keep the area clean.
  2. The edge moldings and staples must also be removed from the roof's rim to the sidewall edge. The roof has an overhanging lip that can be straightened out. This allows the roof metal to roll up damage-free. The roof metal should be carefully rolled up if it is still reusable.
  3. Wet insulation must be removed and discarded. This enables RV owners to see the wiring that runs through the RV roof. It is important to create a diagram of where all the wiring runs. Take note of the wires' colors and positions. This will ensure that they can be put back where they were originally located. Images of wiring can be captured using a digital camera.
  4. There is no need to replace the entire roof if the damage is only in one area. The roof can be repaired by cutting the damaged portion. The decking is assembled using screws and fasteners. The decking can be de-assembled and lifted off once the fasteners and screws are removed.
  5. Dry rot should also be removed because it weakens wood. Exact measurements and framework must also be copied because it serves as a reference. Attach the new ceiling panels to the original framework using staples and glue. Joints between the panels can be attached using slides. There should be marks to determine where light fixtures should go. The light wiring should also have access holes. The holes from the roof vent and roof fixture must also be cut.
  6. Once a new roof is completely assembled, attach it to the interior cabinets, sidewalls and joists. The wiring that was previously removed must be re-installed as well. All the lights should be checked to see if they are working properly after installing the wiring. The insulation and roof metal should be installed next. One indicator that the roof frame is constructed correctly is that all the roof holes are appropriately lined up with the frame holes.
  7. Use putty tape to reinstall roof top fixtures and moldings. Cover fixture edges with a roof coat. Do not use silicone as it will not adhere properly.
  8. After reinstalling moldings and roof top fixtures, proceed with re-installing all the interior accessories.

Tips for RV Roof Maintenance

RV roofs also require periodic cleaning and maintenance. This will ensure that safety, appearance and dependability are maintained. The roof components must be inspected at least twice a year however most places recommend to inspect the roof every 3 months. Seams and seals must be checked for cracks and other potential damage. If the roof is worn or cracked, it must be immediately repaired to prevent moisture and mildew from entering. Resealing cracks can prevent further damage as well. Check seals that are not used for a long period of time to see if they can still be reused.

Types of RV Roofs

RV owners should know the type of roof they have. The two most popular types of RV roofing materials are rubber and fiberglass.

1.  Rubber Roof

Rubber RV roofs are soft, white and sometimes chalky. They are the newest and the most common RV roofs these days. The kind of rubber used for these RV roofs is Ethylene Propylene-Diene Monomer or EPDM. This type of rubber feels and looks like the rubber people are used to.

Rubber roofs with tears and rips can be repaired using a self-leveling sealer and caulking gun. Although loose or flakey sealers on metal and fiberglass roofs can be removed with a scraper, they should not be used on a rubber roof. Instead of scraping the old sealer, apply the new sealer over the old layer.

2.  Fiberglass Roof

Fiberglass RV roofs are hard but smooth. Necessary precautions are needed when repairing wet fiberglass roofs because they are slippery. Unlike metal roofs, fiberglass roofs are not flexible. Damage to fiberglass roofs can be repaired with a self-leveling sealer. It is used with a caulking gun.

These sealing materials can be found in an RV parts store, and they are affordable. A pair of rubber gloves is also necessary because the sealer can get very messy. The sealer can be applied by squeezing it out with the caulking gun. It seals cracked and damaged areas. Clean the area before sealing the damaged portion.

Cleaning RV Roofs

An RV roof should be cleaned at least three to four times a year. When parked under trees, they should be cleaned more than four times annually. Tree sap can cause a roof to deteriorate faster than it should, and algae and bird droppings can cause mold to build up. Sidewalls streaking can also be reduced by cleaning the roof regularly.

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  • Remove debris and loose dirt from the roof by rinsing it with clean water.
  • A concentrated roof cleaner is ideal for cleaning the roof.
  • A medium bristle brush is recommended to remove dirt. Use it together with roof cleaner.
  • Prevent residue build up on the sidewalls and roof by rinsing them thoroughly with clean water.
  • Rubber RV roofs can be protected against UV rays using roof protectant

Observe Proper Safety When Cleaning or Repairing RV Roofs

When cleaning or repairing RV roofs, safety precautions must be observed because slippery roofs can cause injuries. If possible when on the roof try and use a safety harness. Be sure to look for any overhead power lines before climbing onto the roof.

Brian Hawkins works as part of the internet development team at Dave Arbogast RV Depot in Troy, Ohio, where he writes about the RV maintenance and industry daily. When he's not covering the RV lifestyle he enjoys camping with his wife and children.

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2 comment(s) so far...

We have a 40' Winnebago with a fiberglass roof. When we bought it, the roof wept white tears down the windows every time it rained. The fix was buffing it out with a buffing/waxing compound. Now, I wash the roof every six months with soapy water and a soft brush. I then give it a coat of Mop and Glo Floor Cleaner! Yes, it works, is not slippery - nice and shiney!

By Rob Cook on 11/7/2013 10:12:36 AM

RV roof repair looks annoying and frustrating but repairs are not difficult to handle if you’re the DIY type and have right tools under your belt e.g., RV Roof Magic. If, you don’t feel comfortable on the roof or if the leak has done extensive damage doesn’t hesitate to contact an expert. Some repairs should only be done by professionals, while others can be done with ease by those with intermediate DIY skills. For more details: https://www.rvroofmagic.com/blog/category/rv-roof-sealant/

By Jennifer Leonardo on 3/18/2020 1:26:52 AM
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