Whether you know it or not, the roof of your RV is probably one of its most important parts. Keeping it in good condition will prevent all kinds of damage from leaks and debris, and the right roof material or coating can even provide energy savings by reflecting sunlight and extreme temperatures. The best thing that you can do is understand how your roof works and what maintenance is required to keep it in good shape.
Rubber and Other Roofing Materials
There are a number of different materials available for RV roofing, including fiberglass, aluminum, vinyl, and others. Liquid roof coatings, however, are quickly gaining popularity for their convenience, durability, affordability, and ease of installation. Like a sheeted rubber roof, this option creates a strong, yet flexible seal that covers the entire roof without the need for screws or other hardware. There are fewer seams to seal and much less maintenance to keep track of with liquid roofing, too.
EPDM is a synthetic rubber compound that is used to make liquid roofing products. This unique compound is available in black and white, although most black roofing will turn white on the top over time due to oxidation. This is actually a good thing, because it creates a stronger protective layer over the rest of the roof.
Liquid roofing is preferred by many because it is easy to apply. Anyone who can use a paint roller or squeegee can put on a rubber coating, and create a strong, durable roof that won’t need much maintenance for the first 10 years or so.
Caulking and Sealing with Rubber Roofing
Although rubber roof coatings create a solid sheet of material, you may not want to paint it around all of the fixtures on top of your roof. Things that may need serviced, like your air conditioning unit, should be sealed with an EPDM sealant tape or caulking sealant. This allows you to create a durable seal that is still removable for easy access.
The replacement process for liquid roofing is also much simpler, leaving you fewer areas to caulk or seal after the job is done. Remember that even with liquid roofing, you should still fully remove the old membrane rather than just placing a new roof over top. One recoating should be fine, but if your rubber roof is more than 15 years old or has extensive damage, it might be best to start fresh. Removing the old roof also allows you to inspect and replace any damaged plywood or support boards underneath, adding even more value and protection to your investment.
Caulk-style sealants are still quite popular among RV owners, but there is a growing market for sealant tape like EternaBond or Dicor’s popular DiSeal Patch Sealing Tape. These tapes are great for quick repairs, as well as for fixtures that may have difficult angles or shapes that need sealed. Keep in mind that repair tape is temporary and will usually only last for a year or two. Sealant tape can provide many more years of protection, and is what you need when you are sealing the fixtures around your roof, if you choose this product over a liquid sealant.
Although rubber roofing is a fairly simple product to use and maintain, you still shouldn’t do the work yourself unless you are comfortable with the job that needs done. Fortunately, the RV community has done well in providing plenty of resources and information on DIY RV repairs and replacements, including roof maintenance and repair. Take advantage of these resources and learn as much as you can about the benefits of EPDM roof coatings. It might be exactly what you need.