Chances are good that you probably don’t think about the roof on your RV all that much, but it’s an important part of your RV maintenance checklist. While it may not be a present thought, the reality is that your RV roofing will need to be maintained here and there, with an occasional repair necessary over time to keep it in tiptop shape.
The most common type of RV roof is made from rubber. If you are not sure what yours is made of, there are two primary types: aluminum and rubber. If your RV roof is made from a rubber material, and you’re looking for a DIY guide on how to repair a rubber roof on RVs, then you’ve come to the right place.
Assessing Whether Repairs Are Needed
The first step you’re going to want to take is to assess the situation. A simple but close inspection of the rubber membrane on your RV roof is a great place to start. Look for signs of corrosion, weather damage, peeling, tears, holes, divets and other types of damage.
What’s more, also consider that your rubber roof is exposed to the elements on a frequent basis and that over time, it will require general maintenance. This includes winterizing your RV in preparation for the colder weather with preventative rubber sealing of RV roofing.
RV Rubber Roof Repair
There are various types of RV rubber roof repair that you consider, and each option is indeed situational. For example, let’s say you’re on the road and you hear a rock bounce off the top. Upon further inspection, you see that not only did the rock scrape the rubber membrane, but it also appears like there is a small hole present; in these instances, you'll want to take immediate action.
How to Patch Holes in RV Roof
To quickly repair small holes in an RV roof, you’ll need to have a few helpful products handy. These include:
- Liquid Rubber Seam tape
- Liquid Rubber RV Roof Cleaner
- Liquid Rubber RV Roof Coating
- Steel roller
- Ventilation mask
Prepping RV Roof for Repair
Before you get started, use your RV roof cleaner to prepare the section of the roof you are trying to repair. The first rule of thumb is that if it isn’t clean, it can’t be repaired.
Follow the instructions included in the cleaning solution to ensure that all dirt, dust, debris and grime has been fully removed from the area of the RV you are repairing. If you plan on patching an area of the roof that is larger than a small hole, you’ll also want a steel roller to ease the application of the RV roof sealant tape.
How to Repair Holes in RV Rubber Roofs
An RV rubber roof consists of a thin, waterproof membrane that’s designed to prevent moisture from penetrating the interior of the vehicle. Since water is dense, any intrusion point is a cause for concern. Namely because there are wood and metal supports underneath the roofing that can become easily damaged by water, which can cause rust, rot and even mold to form over time.
Simply put: any hole, no matter the size, can cause expensive damage to your RV over time and should be assessed and corrected/repaired as soon as possible. Note, before you get started, make sure you read documentation on the seam tape that you’re going to use. Read: Liquid Rubber’s Seam Tape Superior Protection documentation.
Now that you understand the importance of these repairs, let’s review before we get started. You’ll want to use an RV roof cleaner to thoroughly clean the affected area before applying the RV seam tape. After the seam tape has been sized and applied to patch the hole, apply the RV roof coating using even strokes. It’s advised that you apply at least 2 coats of the RV roof coating for the best results and to ensure that you’ve fully waterproofed the roof.
The RV seam tape is designed to permanently bond to almost any RV roof surface; just make sure it’s clean before you apply it, and also make sure that you firmly depress each section with ample amounts of pressure to create a seal between the adhesive and the seam tape.
Here’s how you get the job done.
Step One: Clean the Affected Area
The first step you’re going to want to take is to thoroughly clean the affected area using RV roof cleaner. This will help the seam tape and sealant bond properly with the roof’s rubber membrane.
- Remember that your roof is made from rubber, so you want to use gentle but firm strokes when cleaning it.
- A soft but large sponge, a bucket and a gentle plastic brush are all tools you can use alongside the RV cleaner to remove dirt and debris around the affected area.
- As you are cleaning, be careful to avoid getting any water or cleaning solution in the hole that you plan on repairing.
Step Two: Prepare Your Seam Tape/Patch
RV Seam tape and patches typically come on thick rolls and look and feel like a thick tape. If you have a significant hole, you may need to buy a thicker roll or consider taking your RV to a specialist for a professional repair. Be sure to round the corners using scissors on any patch you apply to prevent peeling and to optimize adhesion. This will increase the bonding propensity and help you better prevent water penetration in the future.
Step Three: Apply the Seam Tape
Now that your RV is cleaned and prepared and you’ve rounded the corners on your seam tape, it’s time to apply the seam tape to the hole in the RV roof.
- Carefully remove the plastic cover on the underside of the seam tape to expose the adhesive.
- Next, smoothly and firmly apply it with equal amounts of space around the hole you are trying to patch of at least 2” or greater.
- Evenly apply the tape taking your time to prevent bubbles and wrinkles, which can defeat the purpose of the seal.
- If you have a roller, you can use this tool to press the tape firmly over the affected area, helping to increase adhesion while eliminating any air bubbles along the way.
- Firmly apply pressure to the tape after you’ve installed it, holding the pressure in place for at least 30 seconds to allow the adhesive to set.
Step Four: Inspect Your Rubber Roof Sealant
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you reseal your entire roof using RV Roof Coating after patching it for optimal future protection for years to come. This is something that you will want to do routinely to enjoy your RV well into the future.
Keep in mind that if you’re storing your RV under cover or in a climate controlled setting, you won’t need to reseal the roof nearly as often. Given that many owners simply park them outside, however, it’s wise to inspect and reseal your RV roof every couple of seasons.
After inspecting your RV, if you notice any cracks, holes or divets forming in the sealant, it’s likely time to roll up your sleeves and put in some elbow grease to reseal the roof.
You can also run a sealant test by simply prodding the existing sealant with a scraper. If the sealant is soft when you press into it, it’s likely OK. But if it’s dry and you can easily poke a hole in it, you’ll know that it’s time to reseal the rubber roof to increase the lifespan and enjoyment you get from using your RV.
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