How to Choose the Best RV Roof Material

Like structure roofing, RV roofing options are vast. There are a number of materials used to create RV roofs, including everything from liquid rubber to vinyl, fiberglass, and standard rubber roofing. Choosing the “best” material is a misnomer in this situation, although it is one of the most common questions asked by RV owners. Why is this question so difficult to answer, though? There isn’t just one right or wrong answer. Plus, while all roofing materials have their pros and cons to consider, modern products are fairly similar in terms of longevity and protective benefits. Therefore, it largely comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Liquid Roofing

Liquid products are the best RV roof material for a versatile, convenient, economical solution. These products are designed to fill in all cracks and crevices, and dry white to offer energy savings by reflecting sunlight. Liquid roofing products are also easy to apply with a brush or squeegee, and typically require little to no maintenance. Plus, they self-level, so you can ensure an even coat and avoid pooling that can lead to damage later on.

EPDM and TPO (Standard Rubber Roof)

Rubber is the most common roofing material used on RVs. Unlike liquid products, traditional rubber membranes offer a sheet-style application. EPDM and TPO refer to the two types of rubber materials used to make RV roofing, and each has its own pros and cons. EPDM is more affordable and offers a low-maintenance solution, while TPO is a synthetic that is ideal for flat roofs with few fixtures or attachments. Each type of rubber has different maintenance requirements, so make sure that you know which one you have.

Fiberglass

Although they add weight to the RV, fiberglass roofs are the best RV roof material for less maintenance. These roofs are significantly more expensive than rubber roofing and other materials, but they do offer a high-quality, hard-top solution that some people prefer. Fiberglass roofing may require more frequent resealing because the sturdy material doesn’t provide an additional layer of flexibility like a rubber roofing product.

Vinyl

Vinyl roofing shares a lot of the same properties with rubber RV roofing products. This is a more flexible material that is cost-effective when compared to fiberglass. Minor tears or rips can even be easily repaired without a full replacement, which makes this the best RV roof material for affordability and durability. Usually, the vinyl roof is chosen due to manufacturing costs, and isn’t that much different than EPDM or TPO in terms of maintenance and care.

What Really Matters

Now that you better understand the different types of roofing materials available for an RV and what they have to offer, you can decide which one best suits your needs. When it comes to a long-lasting, durable RV roof, the material is less important than things like:

● Routine inspections and cleaning. RV roofs should be inspected and cleaned                 at least 2-3 times per year, depending on how often it is used and whether or                   not it is covered while in storage.

● Use of proper protectant and sealing materials. The wrong materials can cause              a lot of damage to your RV’s roof and even affect its resale value. For example,              using a petroleum-based protectant or sealant on an EPDM roof will create a                  bubbling effect and can cause permanent roof damage. Make sure you care for              your roof with material-specific products and maintenance tasks.

● Ozone, extreme temperatures, and UV rays. All roofing materials are prone to                deterioration over time due to these elements. Some materials feature built-in                  protective coatings to reduce this wear over time. Others require regular                         application of an additional roof protectant, which may be a step you don’t want               to have to deal with.

The bottom line? Choose the best RV roof material based on your own personal preferences. Also, remember that when you are buying an RV, the type of roof that it has doesn’t necessarily make one model better than another. Liquid roofing certainly has a lot of perks, but with the right care, any roofing material can give your RV the protection that it needs.

RV Roof Leaks: Understanding the Most Common Causes of Roof Damage

When your RV is new, you have few things to worry about other than basic maintenance. You want to wash and wax it regularly to protect the paint job. You want to have the oil changed regularly to ensure the engine is protected. You want to change the air filter when necessary to improve fuel economy. You’ll invest in air conditioner maintenance, tire maintenance and the like. However, over time, other problems will develop, including roof leaks. What are the most common causes or RV roof leaks? What leads to this type of damage?

Physical Damage

One reason for a roof leak is physical damage. This can be from any number of things, but is often caused by falling tree branches when parked under trees in a campground or RV park. While a branch may not punch a hole through the roof on impact, it may cause enough damage that the roof is dimpled, which can lead to ponding water. This is detrimental to many types of RV roofing material.

Age-Related Shrinkage

RV roofs must put up with a lot of stress and strain not found with other types of roofs, such as that on your home. You have heat-related flexion, but you also need to account for sheering forces such as during turns while driving. Because of this, roofing materials must be flexible. However, over time, most materials will lose a lot of their flexibility. This makes them brittle, but it also causes them to shrink. One of the most common areas to notice shrinkage is around the seams.

Lack of Maintenance

Failure to maintain your roof properly can lead to leaks, as well. For instance, RV roof leaks may be caused by not resealing your roof when it is time, or from neglecting to inspect and repair damage after a storm. Ideally, you should inspect your RV’s roof at least twice per year – once in the spring when getting it out of storage, and then again in fall before you put it away for the year. Be prepared to handle any needed repairs during these inspection periods, and you will have less to worry about in the way of surprise RV roof leaks. In addition to inspecting the roof itself, you should also inspect the interior of the RV for signs of water intrusion, as well as the exterior siding for signs of bubbling or waves.

RV Roof Leaks

RV Roof Leaks

Not Maintaining Existing Seals

The roof of your RV is not solid. There are a number of protrusions – the air conditioning unit is mounted to the roof. You have several vents, and vent pipes protruding, as well. Each of those is a potential leak. Ideally, caulk and flashing around vents and AC units will help to prevent leaks, but those will deteriorate over time and if damaged. During your annual inspection, make it a priority to check all existing seals for flexibility and damage. If you notice that caulk is missing in some areas, has become brittle, or that flashing is damaged or missing, repair it quickly to prevent damage.

How to Prevent RV Roof Leaks

In most cases, preventing RV roof leaks is simple. You just need to reapply the EPDM rubber coating on top of your roof periodically. This can be done in just a few hours, and requires nothing more than a few basic tools. Of course, you can also hire a professional to handle it for you, and if you are not able to get on top of your RV to do the work, or you’re worried about safety should you get on the roof, then hiring a professional is the better option.