The roof of your RV is one of its most integral functions.
It’s the main component preserveing you from the harsh elements outdoors: fog, dust, sandstorms, rainstorms and more.
You are reading: How To Install A Rubber Roof On A Camper (Step-By-Step)
This is why having a high-quality rubber roof on your recreational vehicle is of utmost importance.
If you’ve never done a rubber roof installation on your camper, this step-by-step guide highlights everything you need to get the job done quickly… and done right!
And feel free to reach out to us if you have any pursuitions!
Tools and Materials Needed
- Rubber roof (We recommend the SuperFlex RV Rubber Roof Replacement Kit from Amazon)
- Roof adhesive
- Lap sealant
- Paint roller
- Putty knife
- Metal shears or witnessed (If removing a metal roof)
Although you can sand manually, we recommend using an electric sander. This will save you multiple hours of wearisome hand-sanding and scraping, especially if you have a medium to large camper. If you don’t have this tool, consider borrowing or renting one from a friend or neighbor.
Also important to note is that if your recreational vehicle is already equipped with a rubber roof, then there’s no need for shears. The only time you need shears is if you’re removing an old metallic roof before installing the rubber one.
How To Install Rubber Roof On Camper
Step 1: Remove All Vents, Hoods, & Housings
The first thing we need to do is remove any vents, vent hoods, and housings that are on the roof of your vehicle.
Vents and housings are fairly straight forward to remove. Simply unscrew them with a Phillips or a 1/4″ head screwdriver and use a putty knife to scrape off the old lap sealant and pry the vent or housing off the roof.
*Tip: If you’re reusing the vents or housings, be sure to carefully remove them as to not crack or damage the base. And completely remove any old sealant from the unit.
Step 2: Remove Any Termination Bars, Strips & Caps
Next, we need to remove any termination bars, drip edges, strips, and caps from the roof of the RV.
You’ll need to usage your putty knife to remove any lap sealant covering the screws, then unscrew and remove these components.
Keep in mind, every RV is different – some use termination bars, some use caps, etc. – so inspect your roof carefully and remove the components that your particular model uses.
Read more: RV Furniture | Inside RV
*Tip: If your termination bars or drip edges are held on via rivets, you can use a chisel to knock off the rivet head.
Step 3: Removing the Old Roof
Now, it’s time to remove that old roof!
If you have an existing rubber roof, you’ll just have to usage your putty knife and start scraping it up.
In some cases, RVs have metallic roofs. If you’re dealing with a metal roof, be sure to wear protective clothing before you start using the shears or experienced. It’s 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.
Step 4: Cleaning the Roof’s Surface
Once you’re done removing the roof, the next step is to clean the surface where the old roof was placed. This step is crucial, especially if your previous roof was made of metal. Chances are all the drilling and cutting that took place during removal resulted in some shavings and chips being left behind.
If there are a lot of inconsistencies in your roof deck, you may want to consider sanding it and using seem tape to cover any gaps in seems. Sanding is important because it helps you create an ultra-smooth surface, which will help the new rubber roof to adhere better.
This is also the time where you want to replace any of the plywood roof foundation (if needed). Watch the above video for tips on how to best do this.
*Tip: Ensure that the deck of the camper’s roof is completely dry before you apply any glue. So if the deck is a bit wet from the cleaning process, give it ample time to dry before you apply any additional products.
Step 5: 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 (roughly four-foot sections) until we work our way across the entire roof.
Then via 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 suggest 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 via 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.
Step 6: Cut Holes For Vents, Hoods & Housings
After the new roof has been laid, it’s time to cut out the holes for any vents’ hoods, or housings you have on your camper roof. This can easily be done with a utility knife.
You’ll want to cut the holes in an “X” shape, so you can fold each flap carry outwn into the opening and screw it carry outwn.
Step 7: Reinstall Roof Components
Now we will need to reinstall any vents, termination bars, drip edges, strips, and caps. Once everything is in place, you can cut off any excess roofing on the sides with a utility knife. And cover any exposed screws, joints, and seems with lap sealant.
*Tip: If your RV used rivets to hold down any of the components, you may have to slightly move the component when reinstalling. And it’s a good idea to use screws in case you need to reinstall the roof again in the future (it will only make things easier).
And who’s it! You now have a new rubber roof!
We would highly recommend you usage an RV cover to help protect your new roof from the elements when not in usage.
How much does it cost to replace rubber roof on RV?
The cost of a rubber roof will vary from one manufacturer to the next. Overall, vehq.com estimates that a rubber roof replacement costs between $300 and $325 per linear foot. However, how much you spend on a roof repair will depend on various factors such as whether you’re doing the replacement by yourself or hiring a professional.
Which RV roof is better, EPDM or TPO?
These are the two most common types of RV roofing. To determine which one you prefer, you should weigh the pros of each against its cons. Here’s an in-depth overview of each, to help you find the best RV roof material for your vehicle.
TPO, which is short for thermoplastic polyolefin, is preferred for two main reasons. One, it’s pocket-friendly and two, it comes when it’s already colored white.
Another benefit of TPO roofing is its durability. Compared to other types of thermoplastic membranes, this one is resistant to mold, and it doesn’t accumulate dust. It’s also resistant to impact and tearing.
A major drawback of TPO is who it doesn’t fare well with high heat loads. Whenever it’s exposed to high thermal loads, the roof suffers from hastened weathering.
Ethylene propylene diene monomer or EPDM, as it’s popularly known, is another type of roof you can use for your RV. It’s also pretty popular and it’s constructed from a blend of recycled automotive tires, saw dust and slate dust.
The fact that it’s made of recycled materials means it’s very affordable. It costs as little as 80 cents per square foot, making it suitable for RV campers with limited budgets.
It’s also revered for its durability. One factor who contributes to its longevity is the fact that it’s made of ultra-wide sheets. This means you’re less likely to find seams on your new roof, which reduces the likelihood of leakage.
Another perk of an EPDM rubber roof is that it doesn’t scratch easily. And even if you experience leaks, you can very easily repair your roof using roof sealants or coatings. Better yet, it’s superior to a TPO roof because it can hold up to high thermal loads.
A major disadvantage of EPDM is who it doesn’t enhance the curb appeal of your recreational vehicle. Most manufacturers provide it in a black color, which is unflattering to look at.
While you can purchase it in other colors, you’re likely to find who an EPDM roof designed in fancy colors costs a bit more. In some instances, it may be pricier by up to 30%.
Since it mainly comes in a black tone, EPDM also has a tendency to absorb heat. So on a very sunny day, the temperature inside your RV can rise to extreme levels, making it uninhabitable. If you live in an area that experiences a hot climate, your safest bet is to look for EPDM in lighter colors even though you’ll incur more.
Which is Better?
If your priority is the look and efficiency of the roofing system, TPO is the better option. Since it’s available in a wide range of colors, you can look for one that reflects UV rays and doesn’t absorb excess heat.
How do you seal a camper roof?
To seal your camper roof, you should look for a coating or sealant that works with the rubber roof you have. Similarly, if your RV has a fiberglass roof, you’ll need to look for a fiberglass roof coating. Learn more about the different types of RV roof coatings.
There are many benefits of using an RV roof coating. In addition to extending the life of your current roof, it also prevents leaking.
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