Your motorhome’s roof is the first line of defense against sun, rain, heat, cold, and of course, leaks. Keeping this component of your RV in good condition is vital to enjoying your days on the road and protecting your expensive investment from costly damage. While modern rubber roofing systems require slightly more maintenance than older materials like fiberglass, there are simple steps you can take to ensure that your roof serves you well for the life of your motorhome.
Know Your RV
The first thing you need to know is what kind of roof you have. Most late model motorhomes have one of two types of rubber membranes (the outer, waterproof layer – in other words, the part you can see). EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) is the most commonly used material for this surface, and has been in use for a few decades now. TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) is the newest type of membrane, and is less common than EPDM. Unlike TPO, you can use EPDM liquid rubber to refresh your EPDM membrane’s surface.
If you have your RV’s manual, check to see if it specifies what your roofing material is made of. If you can’t locate this information, there are other ways to tell which kind of rubber RV roofing system you have. The two main ways to determine the type are:
- Observing the surface for oxidation – EPDM oxidizes over time, shedding some of its outer layer and producing gray or white streaks which run down the side of the motorhome. TPO does not shed, therefore you will not see any oxidation streaks. The wear on the former type can easily be addressed to EPDM liquid rubber.
- Checking the texture – EPDM is very slippery when it becomes wet. TPO, by contrast, does not become slippery. Use care when utilizing this method to figure out which material is used – walking on your RV roof should always be done with caution.
Understand Maintenance and Repair
If you have a TPO membrane, you will not likely have to do much repair outside of taping seams or vent joints that become damaged with time and wear. TPO roofs should be replaced by a professional, as EPDM liquid rubber should not be used on this material.
If you do notice shedding, chalking or oxidation on your roof’s membrane, you’ll want to keep a close eye on its condition to make sure it doesn’t deteriorate to a point where you develop leaks. EPDM liquid rubber may be applied in order to create a fresh barrier and improve the look of the worn surface.
No matter which kind of RV roof membrane you have, you need to keep it clean (plain soap and water typically do the trick) and be sure to routinely inspect vent joints and seams for damage and gaps. If you find that your EPDM roof has issues that need repairing, this can easily be accomplished using RV repair tape along with EPDM liquid rubber designed to duplicate the UV protection and waterproof nature of the original installed surface.
Routine care and maintenance will keep you and your family dry on the road and keep the value of your RV right where you want it.