Knowing how to reroof an RV is a skill that every RV should know. Whether it’s a spot repair or a whole roof replacement, having the skills and knowledge to replace your roof will save you money. What’s more, if you’re out on a camping trip and your roof springs a leak, you’ll be able to patch up the roof without having to worry about driving home with a hole above your head!
If you’re not sure where to start reroofing your RV or even what kind of roof your RV has – don’t worry! We’ve put together this easy guide that contains what you need to know about how to reroof an RV, as well as how to care for your RV in the future.
Is It a Patch Job or Complete Reroofing?
The first thing that you need to consider is what kind of repair job you need to perform because this will dictate what kind of materials and tools you need, as well as how much time you’ll need to spend during the process.
If the damage on your RV is a simple puncture, it’s considered a patch job and you can easily repair it by using an RV roof patch. RV roof patches are affordable, easy to use, and you can buy it at most hardware stores that sell RV tools and materials. The roof patch is a small water-resistant patch with an adhesive seal so that you can place it on top of the hole or rip. One of the best brands is Eternabond, which creates a strong, flexible, and water-tight seal on your RV roof. Keep in mind, however, that RV roof patches are only suitable for small holes.
If your RV roof has been worn down by long-term wear and tear or it has sustained a large amount of damage, you might need to replace the whole roof instead of doing a patch job. In this case, you’ll need to know what kind of materials to use, the proper tools, and a thorough step-by-step guide to replace your RV roof. If you are not handy with tools, you might want to consider getting professional help from a mechanic, especially if you have a high-end RV model.
Best RV Roof Materials
If you do decide to reroof your RV on your own, you’ll need to know what kind of materials were used to create your RV roof. There are generally four types of materials used for RV roofs:
- Ethyl Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) – EPDM rubber is a strong, high-density synthetic rubber. It is used mainly for outdoor applications because of the durability of the material as well as its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions. It is also flame-retardant and cost-effective. EPDM rubber roofs are dark, which absorbs sunlight and retains heat.
- Thermal Poly Olefin (TPO) – another special type of rubber, TPO is more durable compared to EPDM rubber and is more commonly used in high-end RV models. TPO roofs reflect sunlight, which allows air conditioning systems to work more efficiently. However, it is less durable compared to EPDM rubber and a bit more expensive.
- Fiberglass – RV roofs made from fiberglass are hard and durable, and require less maintenance compared to rubber roofs. However, the surface of the fiberglass is prone to scratches and adds considerably more weight to the RV.
- Aluminum – aluminum roofs are cheap and low-maintenance, but it is not commonly used as roof material for RVs because it is less durable and absorbs heat quickly. A notable exception that does use aluminum is the Airstream trailer line.
How Do I Tell What Kind of Material I Have for My Roof?
To determine what kind of material was used on your RV roof, you need to account for the appearance and texture of the material.
- EPDM Roof – EDPM roofs look like a stretched-out layer of innertube because of the rubbery texture and dark color. The material is often thin, lightweight, and flexible, but the material can easily be punctured by protruding objects such as tree branches.
- TPO Roof – a TPO roof is white and is somewhat thicker compared to EPDM roofs. It also has a laminate cover, which helps preserve the durability, flexibility, and structure of the material.
- Fiberglass Roof – fiberglass roofs are hard and rigid, and usually comes in the same color as the rest of the RV.
- Aluminum Roof – among all the materials, aluminum roofs are the easiest to spot because of the distinct silver sheen and hardness of the roof.
What is an RV Roof Sealant, and Why Do I Need It?
Whichever roofing material you have on your RV, you’ll also need to apply a roof sealant every time you repair or replace your roof. Water damage is the most common source of roof damage on RVs, which is why you should regularly apply sealant even if you are not repairing or replacing your RV roof! RV owners are advised to apply roof sealant at least once a year, but if you regularly use your RV, you should apply it every six months.
One of the most popular brands of roof sealant is Dicor, and it is suited for both types of rubber, fiberglass, and aluminum. It comes in a tube for easy application, and it is priced at only $10 per tube. However, check your user’s manual before using Dicor or any roof sealant brand to make sure that the sealant is compatible to your RV roof.
Do I Need Additional Protection for my RV Roof?
After you reroof your RV, you want to apply additional protection against the elements to help extend the durability and appearance of your roof. Here are some options you can use:
- Rubber roof coating – if your RV has a rubber roof, adding a layer of rubber roof coating helps preserve the flexibility and structural integrity of your roof. It also helps waterproof your roof.
- RV Liquid Roof – RV liquid roof is a compound made from EPDM rubber in liquid form. As with rubber roof coating, it helps add a layer of protection on your RV roof.
- Roof covers – roof covers are a cheap and easy way to add protection to your RV roof. Look for waterproof and UV-resistant models to help protect your RV roof against sun and rain damage, especially if you store your RV outdoors.
Now you know how to reroof an RV. First, know what kind of job you need to do, and what type of roof materials you have. Once you know these things, you know what kind of materials and tools you’ll need to do the job properly. Knowing how to reroof an RV will save you time and money by allowing you to do the job yourself. You can also take classes or learn from DIY videos online so that you know how to do it step-by-step. Find out more about RV care.