The bad news is no RV roof coating is really permanent. No matter what a manufacturer may promise, there are just too many factors that can affect RV roof wear. The good news is there are products on the market that, when properly applied, can last for many years; call them semi-permanent if you’d like.
Factors That Prevent a Permanent Roof Coating
All RV roofs wear over time, even the EPDM rubber roofs that are becoming the standard of the industry. So many external forces come into play that cause even the best RV roofs to wear down. Low spots in the roof can develop, especially around vents, causing a condition known as ‘ponding’; a low spot where a puddle of water forms that lasts for more than 2 days. Extreme variations in temperature cause the rubber roof to expand and contract, weakening its structure. The sun’s extreme heat and ultraviolet rays take their toll too. No matter how good RV roof surfaces start out, they all need regular inspection and maintenance if you want to achieve anything close to a permanent RV roof coating.
Getting Close to a Permanent RV Roof Coating
If you check out all of the advertisements for RV roof coatings, the ones with the longest warranty periods have one common denominator; they all use a liquid EPDM rubber coating. That’s because EPDM rubber can withstand extremes of hot and cold, resist the sun’s ultraviolet rays, help insulate the coach and is waterproof, even if there’s ponding. Also, because these coatings are liquid when being applied, they are great for filling in any minor cracks in the roof’s surface.
Sifting Through the Claims
Are all EPDM liquid rubber coatings the same? All require that the surface be thoroughly cleaned and prepared before applying the coating. No liquid rubber will properly adhere to a surface that is dirty or that is covered with a detergent film. Some products can be applied by the do-it-yourself person, but are labor intensive, requiring two coats of sealant with several hours of drying time between each coat and they depend upon optimum weather conditions. Many people use a liquid EPDM roof coating that they can apply themselves and that only requires one coat; that saves time and money. The single coat product is waterproof the moment it is applied. That’s about as close to a permanent RV roof coating as you’re going to get.
Hiring a Professional
A few coating systems use the very same EPDM liquid rubber, but insist that their employees do all of the prep work and install, then they charge many thousands of dollars for the same job that you can do yourself on a weekend. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a professional roofer do the install. If you’re not comfortable getting up on your RV roof, then you definitely should hire someone to do it. You probably have several roofers in your area that are fully licensed and insured. Many will allow you to supply the coating material, so you can shop around, get the best price and reduce your total cost considerably. If you decide to hire someone local and can supply your own materials, you’re still going to save thousands of dollars over hiring an RV roof coating company that insists upon using their people and materials
You may not be able to get a truly permanent RV roof coating, but there are products out there that can help you get pretty darn close.