Like homes, RV roofs come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. And like a home, it’s hugely important that you maintain the structural integrity of the roof. A solid RV roof keeps water and weather out, and keeps air conditioning or heat in. It also holds important features such as your air conditioning unit, your fridge vent and any type of antennae or satellite dish that channels your television offerings. And because it’s constantly exposed to the elements, an RV roof replacement is expected for most RV enthusiasts. We’ll tell you what you’ll need and how to go about the process.
Replacing RV Roof
Your RV likely has one of three different materials for its roof: rubber, aluminum or fiberglass. Fiberglass and aluminum are less common because they are heavier and more expensive.
While rubber might sound like the strongest material, it’s actually one of the most affordable and easy to use for motorhomes. And it can last for decades. There are two types of rubber roofs for RVs, commonly referred to as EPDM or TPO. These acronyms stand for different chemical compositions and each, therefore, requires slightly different maintenance. It’s important then to know which you currently have and to understand how to treat one you might install yourself. A major difference is that TPO roofing usually costs a bit less.
How to Replace an RV Roof
The first step in replacing any type of RV roof is removing the current roofing. If you have a rubber roof, that means peeling the current layer of rubber back until you see the plywood structure underneath. Because rubber is often exposed to extreme weather, you might find that some portions of the roof along the edges or around features such as the roof vent will be more stubborn.
The best tool for this project is a putty knife or your hands. Once removed, you’ll want to remove any feature that’s currently installed on your roof so you can work with a clean and open slate. Unscrew each feature and consider this as your opportunity for an RV roof vent cover replacement, since you’ll have it removed at this point anyway.
Check to see whether any of the plywood on your roof needs to be replaced. Some plywood will bow or have water damage. Other pieces might be splintered or rotting. Now’s the time to replace it. Once the plywood is ready, it’s best to clean the plywood with something like mineral spirits to remove any kind of debris.
Seam tape is recommended for all places where plywood pieces meet or where the edge or the roof meets the sides. The seam tape will reinforce weak joints and ensure a good seal between pieces of wood.
To install the new EPDM or TPO rubber roof replacement, you’ll begin by painting an adhesive onto the plywood. Let the adhesive sit for a bit until it’s tacky and ready to stick. Roll your rubber roof over top and press all air bubbles out. Do this in small chunks all along the roof, cutting holes in the rubber roofing for any feature that will go back into the roof.
Finally, replace your roof’s features and seal them with the caulk we mentioned earlier. You’ll also want to apply lap sealant to the edges of the roof.
Maintaining your new RV Roof
Whether you’ve installed an EDPM RV roof replacement or a TPO, you’ll have to engage in some regular maintenance to make sure everything remains in working order. One of the most common materials in maintaining a rubber roof is caulking. This is like the duct tape of RV roofs in that it can be used for just about anything. We recommend regularly sealing the roof with caulking, including any features on top of the roof that protrude: roof vents, antennas or fans.
Another way to keep your roof in great shape is to apply a coat on a regular basis. You’ll know the roof needs a new layer if it begins cracking. Materials such as RV Liquid Roof will protect your rubber roof from the harsh rays of the sun.
Should you somehow damage your roof in the future, it’s good to keep an RV roof patch on hand. This can solve the problem without requiring an entire replacement of the roof.
Of course, a great way to store and protect your RV is with a roof cover. You can buy a custom cover or simply use the right kind of material to keep the rubber covered and protected from the elements.
Congrats! Your new RV roof replacement will likely last about 25 to 30 years.
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