Just as with any vehicle, the roof of your motorhome is vulnerable to scratches, wear and tear, and even leaks. If you’ve had your unit for a while, you’ve probably done some research and noticed that there is a wide range of RV coatings available to facilitate repairing and protecting your roof from further damage. But sorting out all of the options and deciding on the right one for your RV can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you make sense of DIY RV roof coatings and make the right choice for your specific motorhome.
Types of Roofs
The first order of business is determining what kind of roof your unit was built with. Most modern RV roofs are covered in one of two types of rubber membrane – EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) or TPO (thermoplastic olefin). For the most part, motorhomes manufactured before 2011 will have EPDM, as TPO was not in widespread use before then. Some older models may have metal or fiberglass roofs.
TPO: This material is more plastic-like than EPDM, and is designed in one big sheet. If your motorhome is equipped with this type of rubber roof, you shouldn’t need to use RV coatings in your routine maintenance. The surface is more likely to tear, in which case you can use a special tape designed to repair it.
EPDM: This roof may need recoating from time to time with a liquid form of the rubber which is easy to apply and provides a reliable, leak-proof barrier touted to last up to 20 years. You will need an EPDM-compatible coating. Silicone-based or other sealants should not be used, as they won’t stick to the roof and could void your motorhome’s warranty. EPDM-compatible RV coatings typically work on metal or fiberglass as well.
What to Look for in RV Coatings
Once you know how to identify a compatible product for your motorhome roof, you’ll want to take some other factors into consideration before making a decision. These include:
- Longevity – Check how long the product claims to last, because even though you might pay more for a higher quality product, if you have to reapply it less frequently, it will save you money in the long run.
- Ease of use – RV coatings are typically DIY friendly, but check out the instructions before you make a purchase to be sure it’s something you can handle. Products like Liquid Roof can simply be painted on with a roller.
- Weather resistance – This is a vital factor to consider if you spend a lot of time traveling throughout all seasons of the year. Freezing then thawing can wreak havoc on your sealant, so make sure it can withstand extreme temperature changes.
Your first instinct may be to try to save a few bucks by choosing one of the cheaper RV coatings, but this will likely backfire over the long haul when the coating becomes damaged or needs reapplying in a short time.
Also, keep in mind that petroleum- or tar-based coatings should never be used, as they can damage your roof and lower the sale value of your motorhome.