Road debris, trees, rocks, and the UV rays of the sun all take their toll on RV roofs. The one thing your RV roof should never do is leak.
With a few tools and materials, you’ll be able to repair your RV’s roof no matter where you are or what your roof is made of.
There are three basic types of RV roofs: metal, rubber or vinyl.
Vinyl isn’t used as much as it was in the 1970’s. It was cheap, so many manufacturers jumped on it. However, it pits and deteriorates in the sun.
Metal roofs are fantastic- unless something falls on them, caulking at a seam gives way, or you happen to climb on it while the sun’s out.
Rubber roofs are the industry standard at the moment.
Let’s look at each of the roofing materials and what it takes to fix a leak. You can coat the entire roof with some materials, thereby sealing the roof. Some materials come with a 10 year warranty, but you have to follow the manufacturer’s conditions exactly.
There are materials available for repairing all roof types, so
Vinyl, so popular in days gone by, was used for RV roofs from Class C motorhomes to pop up campers. With time, the UV rays of the sun break it down, leaving it brittle and pitted. The best solution is to replace it with a rubber roof, preferably EPDM.
If replacing a vinyl roof is out of the budget for now, don’t despair. Check it carefully for cracks, small holes or other leaks.
Patch it with a product called Eternabond, available online or at RV repair shops. Follow the directions carefully. The product will last longer if coated with a UV protectant.
I am not advocating an entire roof covered with this patching tape, just patching the leaks until you can save enough to have the vinyl roof replaced.
Metal, particularly aluminum is still used for RV roofs. Many vintage RV’s still have beautiful and functional aluminum roofing. Unfortunately, over time, screws or nails can pull out, rocks, tree limbs or other debris can knock holes in it.
Eternabond works with metal to seal leaks, although coating the roof with an elastomeric coating will create a UV reflective roof and help your roof last for many years to come.
There are several types of rubber roofs in the RV industry, the most common being EPDM, or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. It can withstand freezing temperatures and up to 300-degrees F. without becoming brittle. It holds up better than almost any other synthetic roofing material in UV exposure. It lasts about 10-15 years.
Many different repair kits are available for rubber RV roofs, at varying prices. You can decide which is best for your rig and your wallet. Make certain the product you choose will work on your roof. To help you out, you can check out some of the best impact drivers on this website: impactdriverguide.co.uk/dewalt-impact-drivers This is one of the most reliable websites about impact drivers
On the road, using Eternabond tape gives a fast repair to cracks and holes. However, fiberglass isn’t like the other materials. It must have a proper repair in order to remain serviceable.
Once the RV is home, remove the patch and make a proper fiberglass repair. Follow this link to learn how.
Many home built RV’s are built of wood. While the sun won’t burn a hole through solid wood, over time plywood used in construction can delaminate and cause a ceiling, wall or floor to fail.
For small holes caused by a roadway stone or popped nail, sand the spot, fill with wood putty and apply a water sealant. Make a note to effect proper repairs when you get home. For larger damage, consider a trip to the nearest lumber yard or DIY store to build a wood patch.
I have seen outdoor tarps taped in place over home built RV’s that allowed campers to complete a weekend vacation. You really have to decide on the size of the damage and your trip.
Notes to Consider:
If a leak occurred because the zinc screws supplied by the RV manufacturer rusted out, there could be water damage inside the rig’s frame. This must be addressed also. Eternabond is a repair tape that will work on all surfaces- metal, fiberglass, rubber and vinyl. It is not a substitute for a sound roof.
No matter what type of roof your RV has, you can make repairs on the road. Coating the roof with UV protectant, giving your RV roof proper maintenance and the proper coatings will allow you to enjoy a leak-free and sound roof for many years to come.