A roof over looking a river and campground

How Long Do RV Roofs Last? (+ 9 Maintenance Tips!)

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Owning an RV means keeping up with maintenance on everything from the tires all the way to the roof. You want to take care of the roof on your RV to prolong its lifespan. On that note, let’s talk about how long RV roofs even last.

How long do RV roofs last?

As a general rule, an RV rubber roof’s lifespan is about 20 years. The roof manufacturers guarantee the first 10-12 years. By performing regular maintenance, you may be able to add a few more years of life to it.

If you want your RV’s roof to last longer, keeping up with routine maintenance on it is the best thing you can do.

However, if you’re new to RVing, you might be afraid that maintaining it is not an easy job. It’s definitely not the easiest part of your RV to keep up with but that’s why we’re here to help. First, there are a lot of things that you need to know before you start tearing into it.

Pro tip: Check your insurance coverage for roof repair. Not all insurance covers RV roofs. Roamly, a unique RV insurance, specifically for RVs, covers roofs and may even fully cover the cost of replacing your RV roof. Check Roamly here.

Types of RV Roof Materials

RV roofing is generally made of aluminum, fiberglass, or rubber. However, because aluminum and fiberglass are heavier, most RV roofs are made of rubber.

RV rubber roofs come in two types: Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) and Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO). Your RV manual should state which type of roof you have. 

Another way to know what type of RV roof you have is by removing the overhead roof vent ring and comparing both sides of the roof material. If the roofing material is the same color on both sides, chances are it is TPO. If one side is white (or off-white) and the backside is black, your roof is composed of EPDM.

A roof over looking a river and campground
While rubber roofs are the most common, RVs can have several other types of roofs.
Image source: sshepard via Canva.com

Knowing what type of roof you have is very important. Knowing what your roof is made of will help determine the right products and equipment for effective maintenance.

If you have other questions regarding your RV roof that we don’t cover here, check out these other posts to see if they may help you.

Do All RVs Have a Rubber Roof?

Not all RVs have rubber roofs. Two other common types of RV roofs are aluminum or fiberglass. 

Aluminum roofing is made of thin metal that is best for insulating and reflecting sunlight. This type of roofing lessens the chance of cracks and creases on the roof that tree branches can cause during trips.

Fiberglass roofing, on the other hand, is an auxiliary roof made using a mix of synthetic materials and small glass fibers that can come in large panels or individual sheets. The good thing about fiberglass roofing is that it’s rot-, rust-, and fire-resistant.

How to Keep Your RV Roof Clean

Man using a power hose to wash an RV roof
It is important to clean and inspect your RV roof regularly.
Image source: welcomia via Canva.com

You can keep your RV and its roof clean by simply washing it regularly. To wash your RV roof use a brush, roof cleaner and water.

What you need for cleaning an RV roof:

You can use a brush with a sponge mop or medium bristled brush, like this one from Amazon. Don’t use anything that contains Petroleum Distillates or Citric ingredients as these chemicals may damage the roof or siding of your RV. 

There are a lot of rubber roof cleaners that you can buy in stores or on Amazon, but you can also use a mild detergent or dishwashing liquid for a light cleaning.

However, before you do anything with your rubber roof, make sure to confirm what type of chemicals can and can’t be used on it with your RV dealer. 

Side Note: Before you start cleaning with water, make sure to check your RV roof and gutters for any gaps or areas that could possibly leak. This will help avoid causing any unwanted damage to the interior. 

How Often Should I Clean My RV Roof?

It is best to clean rubber RV roofs at least three to four times a year, depending on where it is parked or stored.

If your RV is sitting for long periods in an open, uncovered area, it may need to be cleaned more often. 

Best Way to Inspect Your RV Roof for Water Leaks or Damage

Hails lined in different sizes on a wooden table
Hail can cause some serious damage to RV roofs.
Image source: AlexandrIvasenko via Canva.com

To inspect for any water leaks or damage on your rubber roof, you need to do a physical check on the entire roof, including the roof seams and around the openings.

Make sure to search for any cracks or gaps, especially in the areas that have been previously sealed. Next, check the interior ceiling, walls, and floor and look for any water damage or stains. 

This is especially important after weather events like hail. You can read more about how hail may damage your RV roof here.

After checking the entire interior, you can use a SealTech or leak tester machine that produces pressure on the inside of the RV unit. Then, go back to the roof and spray a solution of soapy water on any areas of concern, gaps, or cracks. If bubbles show up, that confirms the area has holes that would cause leaks. 

Make sure to thoroughly clean the area that you need to re-seal and dry it completely using a sponge or clean cotton. This helps the seal product best adhere to the surface. 

If a seal-tech machine is unavailable, you can use other equipment that blows air pressure within the interior such as a furnace blower.

What if there is damage to the roof? Roamly, a unique RV insurance, specifically for RVs, covers roofs and may even fully cover the cost of replacing your RV roof. Protect your RV’s roof and get a Roamly quote here.

7 Maintenance Tips for an RV Roof

Now that you understand the importance of performing routine maintenance on your RV rubber roof, here are a few tips that you can take with you to make your roof last longer.

Just a quick note that these tips are for both EDMP and TPO rubber RV Roof Maintenance.

EDMP and TPO rubber roof maintenance on your RV:

  1. Perform roof maintenance every 3-4 months
  2. Inspect the roof and check for leaks
  3. Wipe debris off the roof
  4. Clean the roof with roof cleaner and rinse with water
  5. Every year – Re-coat and seal the roof (amazon)
  6. Repair damages right away
  7. Take care not to damage the roof
  8. Use only compatible sealants
  9. Keep repair supplies handy

We’ll discuss the importance of each of these tips in a little more detail below.

Perform Regular Roof Maintenance Every 3-4 Months

In general, RV manufacturing companies encourage users to perform preventive maintenance once every three months. This not only can add years of life to your RV roof but can also save you from being surprised by sudden damages and leaks.

Check for Leaks in the Roof

Make sure to check the rubber roof, as well as the entire RV, after every camping trip, storm, and winter storage. A lot can happen on your rig after a trip or during storage that you may not have noticed. 

Check all sealed areas to make sure the sealant has not failed. Don’t overestimate the durability of your favorite products, or the amazing new sealant your local RV dealer swears by.

Sweep Debris Off the Roof

If you notice debris beginning to pile up on your roof, do a quick sweep to get as much of it off as possible. This is especially important when you are parked for a long time or for the whole season.

Check to make sure that any debris, such as tree branches, that fell onto the roof did not puncture it or cause any gaps. Clear debris from all gutters, gaps and seams.

Clean With Roof Cleaner and Water

Use a roof cleaner that’s designed for your specific RV roof type and water. You can also use a combination of water and mild dish soap or detergent. Rinse only with water and, if possible, use a gentle stream such as your garden hose as opposed to a high-pressure water system.

Re-coat and Seal the Roof Every Year

You should aim to re-coat and re-seal your rubber roof at least once a year. This helps your rubber roof to be more durable and have a longer life span. 

Repair Damages Immediately

Immediately repair any damages like gaps or tears, regardless of how small they are, to avoid bigger ones that may lead to expensive repairs. 

Be Careful Not to Damage the Roof

Be mindful when driving and parking your RV. Parking or storage areas should be free from any tree branches or external elements that may fall and cause damages. 

Use Only Compatible Sealants

Always check for the best and most recommended compatible sealants with your RV dealer. Avoid using the cheapest product without doing prior research, as certain chemicals can affect its durability. 

Keep Supplies for Roof Repairs on Hand

It is encouraged to bring RV rubber roof patches and tape during camping trips. This will be helpful to mitigate any unexpected damages due to tree branches or things like that could be easily repaired.

Important Related Question on RV Roofs

Men Pressure Washing RV Camper Van Roof Equipped with Solar Pane
Routine maintenance on your RV is key for improving durability and longevity.
Image source: Tomasz Zajda stock.adobe.com

How much does it cost to replace my RV rubber roof?

In general, it costs around $300 to $350 per linear foot to replace an RV rubber roof. For example, replacing the entire rubber roof on a 30 foot RV will cost you around $9,000 to $10,000.

If you don’t have the ability to do it yourself, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of labor from the auto or RV repair shop who will happily charge you to replace it.

What kind of coating do I need to use for my rubber roof?

You can use a liquid or silicone top coat to increase the durability and waterproofing ability of your RV rubber roof.

However, before deciding on what to use, make sure to check with your RV dealer which kind they recommend. This is to avoid causing any unexpected damage to your roof. 

How often should I reseal my rubber roof?

Generally, it is recommended to reseal your RV rubber roof at least every 5 years. Although this will vary depending on how often you use your rig as well as how often you clean and maintain it.

Can you use Flex Seal on a rubber roof? 

You can use a Flex Seal product on your RV rubber roof; however, it can’t be used as a long-term sealant. It is a good choice for temporarily sealing small holes or gaps only.

Nonetheless, the Flex Seal can adhere to rubbers and will work best if used after washing and drying the surface completely. 

What is the best type of RV rubber roof replacement?

While both EPDM and TPO are great rubber roofs for RVs, there are some factors to consider when choosing what’s best for you.

If you’re planning to do a DIY replacement of your RV roof, it may be best to use TPO since it is much lighter.

It won’t be difficult for you to carry and move as you attach it to your RV. If you’ll get help from an expert or professional, you can go with EPDM since it is heavier. They will be able to arrange it appropriately despite its heft.

Regardless of which material you choose, make sure to have the thickest one available for the best quality and protection. 

Final Thoughts on RV Rubber Roofs

To sum things up, many RVers tend to ignore their RV roof since it’s not something you see much during your travels. However, if you forget to check your roof’s condition regularly and miss some large cracks, the interior of your rig can become severely damaged. Remember that damaged roofs can lead to significant leaks and water damage which may result in expensive repairs for you. 

Although RV Rubber roofs can last up to 12 years or more, this can change depending on how often you clean it and do regular maintenance checks. Just like anything else in your rig, the roof also needs proper care, inspection, and maintenance. By doing so, it will keep its quality and durability for a long time. 

Lastly, it is very important that you confirm with your RV dealer which types of chemicals you can and can’t use on your specific type of rubber roof. This is crucial when cleaning and sealing the roof. Any use of inappropriate cleaning or sealing materials can cause serious damage to the rubber roof and affect its quality. 

If you are still new to RVing, take note of these helpful cleaning and maintenance tips so you can enjoy camping trips in your RV for a long time. 

Here are other blogs with tips on RV maintenance that may help you out during your RV travels:

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    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

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    1. Thank you for the advice to know what kind of roof we have on our RV. I just bought an RV and I don’t know a lot about it, but the previous owner told me that it needs a new roof. I should take it to a professional who can help get me the best roof for my needs.

    2. Our shop seen the white chalky roof about 7-8 years normally. We use only one product to extend the life of an rv rubber roof and specifically epdm rubber roof. Rv roof magic it works extremely well easy to apply and comes with a warranty. Also the only coating that is one coat and does not need a primer. Good tech support on the phone to boot!

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