Remove Rotted And Water Damaged Wood
In the video above, you probably saw just how rotted away some of the wood on our camper was. This thing had clearly been taking a lot of water for a long time. We opted to completely remove all four sides of our roof, as well as replace the outside edge of 1 x 2 framing.
At this point, if the water damage is extensive enough, you have the option of completely removing the skin, the foam, and all of the framing lumber and rebuilding it from scratch.
If I had remembered to take a picture of the roof turned upside down before we started to repair it, heres what it would have looked like.
We decided that instead of completely taking apart the entire roof and replacing all the foam and framing, we would just replace the pieces of wood that had taken water and were no longer structurally sound. In the video, I mentioned that we thought we were going to keep some of the 1 x 2 frame, but instead we decided to just replace all the 1 x 2s along the edge. Thankfully, we didnt need to replace the interior 1 x 2 frame, and therefore we could keep the skin and foam attached.
More on how we rebuilt the roof frame and sides in the next step, which youll find in the second post in this series.
Repairing A Metal Rv Roof
For metal RV roof tears, you can choose between elastomeric roof coating products or products such as Eternabond. An elastomeric roof coating can be applied using either a roller or by spraying the product directly on the roof surface. For larger repairs or repairing structural damage, Eternabond seam tape is a better choice because it is easier to apply and more durable. Once the Eternabond tape has been placed on the roof, the bond becomes permanent.
Removing The Old Roof
Now, its time to remove that old roof!
If you have an existing rubber roof, youll just have to use your putty knife and start scraping it up.
In some cases, RVs have metallic roofs. If youre dealing with a metal roof, be sure to wear protective clothing before you start using the shears or saw. Its wise to wear gloves for hand protection and additional layers of clothing to enhance your safety.
*Tip: Park your truck or dumpster next to your RV so you can throw the old roofing material right into it.
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Repairing A Rubber Rv Roof
While rubber roofs tend to last longer compared to metal or fiberglass roofs, they are prone to becoming brittle over time. If your rubber RV roof has holes, the best product on the market is ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber membrane coatings. When you use EPDM products, you will be able to have a solid and durable RV roof that can last you up to 10 years. However, make sure that you only wash it with mild soap, as petroleum-based cleaners can damage the structural integrity of EPDM roofing materials.
After applying the EPDM membrane, you need to apply a sealant on top to prevent the EDPM from oxidizing when it rains. If you do not apply the sealant, the EDPM will develop a chalky appearance with streaks running through the membrane.
You also need to seal the roof joints to ensure that your roof is watertight. Caulk is a good material to use to help prevent water damage to your roof.
Do You Know What Kind Of Roof You Have
The first thing that you need to know before performing any roof repairs iswhat kind of roof your RV has. The roof material will dictate how much work youre going to put into repairing the roof as well as what kind of materials and tools you need.
There are three types of materials used for RV roofs: rubber, metal, and fiberglass.
Rubber roofs are the easiest and cheapest to repair. For metal and fiberglass roofs, you may need to consult your owners manual to see if you have the proper materials and tools for repairs. Furthermore, metal and fiberglass roofs need a bit more know-how to ensure that you put the repairs seamlessly.
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Recoat The Roof Surface
At some point during your RVs life, you will probably need to recoat the roof. This is a protective layer that covers the roofing material almost like paint.
Over time, the coating becomes chalky and may wear off. Although this is normal, its a clear sign that its time to recoat the roof.
The coating is important because it helps to increase the waterproof and weatherproof capability of the whole roof.
Be sure to keep in mind that you might need a specific type of coating depending on the type of roof material you have.
One method of recoating is an RV liquid roof, which is an EPDM coating that you paint onto the roof of your camper.
The liquid roof costs almost $90 per gallon, which covers about 42 square feet. For our 30-foot by 8 ½ foot camper example, wed need about six gallons to cover the roof.
You can save if you buy the material in larger quantities, such as four or five-gallon pails.
Once dry, the liquid roof barrier protects it from UV rays from the sun and also adds weatherproofing to block moisture and slow wear-and-tear from the elements.
How To Repair The Rubber Roof On Rv
EPDM roofs are the preferred type of RV roof by most RVers because they last longer compared to other roofs. You can use Dicor coating to cover the spot on your RV roof. However, because the EPDM roof features low maintenance, washing with soap is enough to clean off the roof.If your roof begins to deteriorate and degrade, then its time for you to repair the roof of your RV. Sealant products will not do the job if your RV roof takes too much beating to such weather conditions. The only way to revive these kinds of RV roof is by stripping off the cover and then installing a new coat.Thats why we listed the procedures on how to repair the rubber roof on RV so that you can follow the steps easily.
Let the sealant dry for some time to hug the adhesive into the rubber roof coating firmly.
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Where To Begin: Rv Roof Repair Demo
Start by sizing up your membrane tear to determine how much patch material youll need. This material comes in a roll or square with adhesive backing. Your patch should extend beyond the tear in all directions by at least 1.5 inches, and 2 to be safe.
For this example repair, Carol uses sealing tape, a metal roller, denatured alcohol, and self-leveling sealant. First she cleans the torn area with some denatured alcohol. Dirt, mold, and grime will prevent a solid patch. Carol recommends that you make sure the area is dry, and then cut the patch with scissors or a razor.
Remove the adhesive backing as you work, and take care to get the patch placement right the first time. You cannot easily pull it back up once it sticks. You risk damaging the patch or worsening the roof membrane tear. Also, dont stretch the patch as you place it down and press.
Use the metal roller to firmly press the patch in place, working out from the middle over the tear toward the edges. Once the patch is securely in place, run a bead of self-leveling sealant around the border to ensure a complete seal. This extra layer of defense will thoroughly prevent any additional water from seeping through hidden crevices and into your vehicle.
With the patch watertight, your roof damage will be properly protected from pesky leaks. If you have any other issues with the outside components of your RV, be sure to check out other RV roof repair videos in our series on exterior maintenance and upgrades!
Does Flex Seal Work As Well As Dicor Lap Sealant
Dicor Lap Sealant is another often recommended option to repair RV roof leaks. Dicor Lap Sealant is a self-leveling compound which is applied in a bead that will then spread and seal the leak. By most accounts, Dicor Lap Sealant works well and is an excellent product. The drawbacks are that Dicor Lap Sealant requires careful prep work and the proper temperature conditions to level and seal properly. This prep work and ideal temperature condition may not always be possible or available during an emergency repair while touring the Alaskan wilderness or a desert in the Southwest.
You can find various opinions on both Flex Seal and Dicor Lap Sealant as to these products performance and reliability. When you have the time and right tools to properly prepare the leaking area for repair and the right temperature to allow Dicor Lap Sealant to level and seal the leak, it is indeed the better product. However, when you are pulled off on the shoulder of the Trans-Canada Highway with a leaky RV roof, and the storm clouds are brewing, having a few cans of Flex Seal Spray in one of your storage compartments might be just the thing you need.
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How To Reroof An Rv: A Diy Guide
Knowing how to reroof an RV is a skill that every RV should know. Whether its a spot repair or a whole roof replacement, having the skills and knowledge to replace your roof will save you money. Whats more, if youre out on a camping trip and your roof springs a leak, youll be able to patch up the roof without having to worry about driving home with a hole above your head!
If youre not sure where to start reroofing your RV or even what kind of roof your RV has dont worry! Weve put together this easy guide that contains what you need to know about how to reroof an RV, as well as how to care for your RV in the future.
Redoing Your Own Roof
If youre fairly handy and safety minded, its not overly difficult to reseal your RV roof.
Youll need enough tubes of lap sealant to make any repairs and to replace any old sealant that has seen better days. You can easily purchase lap sealant from an RV supply store, Amazon, or other online outlets. It typically costs around $10 to $12 a tube but can often be bought in multi-packs at a discounted price.
After making any repairs to your RVs roof, its time to re-coat it with rubber. If you can paint with a roller, you can put a new rubber coating on your RV roof.
Once the roof is clean and the necessary repairs are made, apply the rubber roof paint with a roller. We recommend a roller with a long handle, so you dont have to apply it while on your knees.
If the existing roof is chalky or has any exposed areas, its a good idea to apply two to three coats of new rubber roofing. If youve been keeping up with maintenance and the roof is just a bit dull, one coat will probably do the job.
Having a shop reseal and re-coat your RV roof can easily cost $1200 to $2000, depending upon the size of your RV. Most of that charge is typically from the labor. Doing it yourself can cut your outlay down to about one-quarter to one-third of the price of a professional shop.
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Other Types Of Roof Sealers For Small Rv Repairs
For spot fixes, you might consider certain caulk products. Flow Seal is a semi-liquid product that comes in a tube-like caulk.
You can squeeze it over a seam, wet or dry, and it will self-level over the area to form a rubbery pad. Its especially good for fixing gaps around windows.
Geocel also makes a clear, flexible sealant that is great for small spot repairs.
What Happens If I Dont Fix Roof Bubbling
When the roof bubbles are small and if they stay small then nothing happens. You just have some small bubbles.
But if you have small bubbles that you dont fix, they may become bigger and bigger. Your rubber roof is exposed to a lot of windsheer when youre doing high speeds for extended periods of time. Those little bubbles will catch the wind zipping over the top of your roof.
Over time that windsheer can cause the bubbles to expand or even shred. Once the shredding starts you need to act quickly to repair your roof. If the shredding is too severe then youll probably need to get your roof replaced.
Sometimes, if you have large bubbles on your roof, they become larger when youre driving fast because of pressure differences between the air in the bubble and the air rushing over the roof. It is the same principle that allows airplanes to fly. In this case, it makes the roof bubbles expand. Since rubber is elastic, the bubble can become a LOT larger when youre driving fast.
When you slow down the bubble will go back to the size it was before, so you, the driver or passenger in the RV, dont know it happened. But the people driving beside you on the freeway will be able to see it.
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How To Get Bubbles Out Of Your Rubber Rv Roof
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Most RV dealers will tell you its normal for RV rubber roofs to form bubbles under the rubber. But during my research I found that if the rubber roof is installed correctly, bubbles will not form. I guess that means, according to RV dealers, it is normal for rubber roofs to be installed improperly?
You have a couple options to get bubbles out of your rubber RV roof. If your RV is under warranty take it to your dealer and ask them to repair it. If they wont repair it, then youll have to take matters into your own hands. You can get repair kits that help you suck the air out of the bubbles with a syringe then fill the tiny syringe hole with rubber roof glue. Or you can cut out the bubbling pieces of the roof and replace them with a patch of EPDM or TPO.
EPDM and TPO are what RV rubber roofs are made of. To help your rubber roof last as long as possible its important to clean it properly.
EPDM stands for Ethylene, Propylene, Diene Monomer.
TPO stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin.
The Leading Cause Of Water Damage
There are always several ways that water can get to your subflooring. Remember that water follows the easiest path possible. The cause that leads all the options is leaks. This is especially true if you own an older RV.
Unfortunately, leaks can occur in newer ones just as easily and more so if you do not do proper maintenance. The problem with fixing the leak is that the water can get in next to your air conditioner but does not appear until it reaches your sofa area. Water will travel far from the leak if it is the easiest path.
Filling those with the right caulk, and you may have to remove the old before refilling, is a big step in stopping water leaks. Next, check your seals no matter where they may be. Seals can get old, dry out, or damaged by freezing temperatures.
The quicker you can seal the leaks, the safer your flooring will be.
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Adhering The New Roof
For this step, it might help if you have an extra pair of hands to help you. The easiest way to go about this is to do a portion of the roof at a time.
Start by placing the new rubber roof roll on one end of the roof. We are going to adhere the rubber roof in small sections until we work our way across the entire roof.
Then using the paint roller, roll on the adhesive onto the roof deck covering about a four- foot section. Let the adhesive stand for a bit until it gets tacky, then roll the new roof membrane over the adhesive.
We recommend RecPro Roof Adhesive Adhesive.
Smooth out the membrane so there are no air bubbles between it and the plywood.
Continue until the whole roof is covered and smoothed out. Cut off any excess roofing material with a utility knife.
*Tip: Use a stiff broom or a window mop to smooth out the membrane and remove air bubbles. Also, letting the membrane sit out in the sun for a while so it can relax will make it easier to work with and smooth those bubbles out.
Clean Roof To Remove Oil And Old Sealant
Before any RV roof repair, scrub the roof clean, then use a degreaser or solvent to remove any oil or grease. If you dont remove grease, the new sealant wont adhere.
Be careful in choosing the cleaning agents. Dont use petroleum or citrus-based cleaners or harsh abrasives. These will damage a rubber RV roof. A mild laundry detergent or dish soap in warm water is generally sufficient. Even if youre not prepping for a repair, and occasional cleaning can extend the life of your RV roof.
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How Do I Reseal My Rv Roof Seams & Sealants
Question: I am taking my RV out of storage and plan to inspect the seams and sealants on the RV roof for any damage. Can you tell me what products and methods work best for re-caulking your RV roof and how often the maintenance should be done?
Answer: Thats a great question and quite often I see advice on this topic that is completely wrong. Let me begin by saying that it is important that you use sealants compatible with the material your RV roof and other products you are sealing are constructed out of.
If you have the RV owners manual it will usually specify intervals that you should inspect and perform routine roof maintenance on your RV. This is extremely important because in many cases the RV warranty can be voided if these inspection and maintenance intervals arent followed.
I personally use Dicor Lap sealants to reseal and maintain RV roofs. These are the same sealants used in the RV industry by many Original Equipment Manufacturers , and they are a popular choice for aftermarket use. But its important that you use the right sealant for your type of RV roof. Dicor EPDM lap sealant is specially formulated for EPDM roofing and it works on galvanized metal, aluminum and fiberglass roofs. The Dicor Ultra Sealant System is specially formulated for RV TPO roofing.
Caution: Whenever you are working on your RV roof exercise caution. A fall could result in serious injury or death.
Thats all there is to it.