How Often Should You Seal Your RV Roof?

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If you’ve previously believed that an RV roof will last as long as the camper, travel trailer, or motorhome – please rethink that!

Typically, an RV roof will only be as good as its owner is at maintaining it. Greater care will give the roof a long life with a reduced likelihood of water leaks. And that should be one of the goals of every RV owner.


RV Roof

Our related articles on RV roof maintenance, repairs, and replacement:

> Complete RV Roof Guide

> RV Fiberglass Roof Repair

> Can I Use Flex Seal on My RV Roof?

> Does RV Insurance Cover Roof Damage?

> How to Protect RV Skylights from Hail


Should I Reseal My RV Roof?

An RV roof requires resealing because it’s prone to leaking as it gets older.  

The majority of RV roofing is made from either EPDM or TPO rubber compounds. While they can sometimes be a single sheet wide enough to cover the full width of the RV’s roof, it’s possible that the roof membrane is comprised of multiple rolls of the rubber membrane and then the seams are sealed up during the manufacturing process. While many membranes can absorb heat and defect most of the UV light, it’s not perfect.

Seams between roofing materials, all around the edges of the roof, and any fixtures on the RV roof are vulnerable to breaking down. Adhesives and tape can stop being effective, especially under the constant pressure of the sun’s rays weakening its effectiveness.

Without resealing the RV roof, it will eventually permit water between the seams and/or seals where gaps have developed. Then you’ll sustain water damage as H2O gets inside your motorhome, trailer, or camper through any accessible space between fixtures or the roofing materials, and the RV’s roof.

How Often Should You Seal Your RV Roof?

The question of how often to seal up an RV roof comes in two parts.

When Should You Check for Cracks in the Seals?

It’s a good idea to check for bad seals in the roofing materials every few months. Likely, you’ll be giving the roof a good wash at some stage, so that’s an ideal time to look things over before wetting down the roof.

For older RV models, with each passing year beyond the first handful, checking every few months can catch a problem that’s just started. This prevents a crack from gradually widening, and that part of the roof area worsening at an accelerated pace following excessive rainfall.

The time of year is also pertinent. Depending on where you’re located and how much average rainfall the state receives, you may wish to time the checking of the roof before the volume of rain becomes greater. This allows a few days to fix it before a storm may cause water to enter the RV unexpectedly.


How Often Should You Seal/Reseal Your RV Roof?

Once a year is the best rule of thumb for how often you should do it.

For most RVs, after their fifth year, be prepared to seal up anything that you find when a problem is spotted. This prevents water damage to roofing materials and the interior of the camper, trailer, or motorhome.

Top 4 Reasons to Reseal Your RV Roof

There are different reasons to reseal the roof of your RV. If you’re not convinced, here are the top 4 reasons to do so:

Sealant Failure: Roof vents, AC units, aerials, plumbing vents, and other systems require sealants and often tape too. The roof usually has a hole cut out to fit the vent or other fixture. It’s necessary to use sealant and tape to create a secure bond to prevent water leakage and a drip…drip…drip… inside the RV. These sealants don’t last forever and need to be reapplied when the seal has failed or looks likely to do so.

Age: The combination of time since its original manufacturer and how well-traveled the trailer or camper is, plays havoc on how robust seals will remain. Going off-road, the situation is even more precarious with extra movement shaking the RV causing it greater stress. Otherwise strong seals can crack or break as a result.

Screw Malfunction: Many screws secure AC units, roof vents, and other roof fixtures in place. Stress fractures can snap a screw, or they can simply come undone. With a partially undone screw, it can create a sufficient gap between the roofing fixture and the roof itself that water can enter. Also, screws can sometimes rust if the wrong type is used, or they’re not protected.

Accidental Damage: Either from walking on the roof, debris falling onto it, or tree branches brushing across it can be enough to damage the roof. It can break a seal, damage a screw that was securing a roof fixture, or rock a roof fixture from side to side eventually creating a gap in the seals.

Can You Walk on the Roof of an RV?

Motorhomes usually have stronger roofs, all other things being equal. However, a travel trailer or a small camper may have a roof that won’t support your weight.

It’s a good idea to check if there’s an attached ladder on the side or back of the RV. Even if there’s one present, is it a design feature of the model, or if you’ve purchased the RV used, did the previous owner add one after-market? Knowing this helps to confirm how safe the roof might be to walk on.

Also, lighter is better. So, if you’re on the heavier side of the scale, then roof work might be best handled by a partner or a friend who’s willing to help out.

How Do You Maintain a Rubber Roof on an RV?

Rubber roofs are often easier to maintain compared to fiberglass or aluminum roof solutions.

Perform a Check (Only If It’s Safe to Get Up on the Roof)

If you’re able to safely access the roof, then examine each of the seals of the various roof fixtures to see how they’re fairing.

Sealants are supported to respond to movement. Use something to prod the sealant gently such as a scraper or screwdriver. Very gently check around the sealant to see if it responds and returns to its original position. If it does respond favorably, then likely it is still providing a strong seal for your RV.

If there’s already been an internal water leak originating from the roof, it’ll need to be worked on right away.

Maintaining a Rubber Roof

A roof can be maintained by using lap sealant or special tape to seal sealant gaps.

It may be necessary to loosen the fitting for an RV roof fixture to remove and reapply a caulking mixture. Then refitting the roof fixture will recreate the seal effectively.

The Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant is excellent and works both on EPDM and TPO rubber roofs too:

Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant – 501LSW-1 (4 Pack)

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Where only RV seam repair tape is needed to re-seat a roof fixture and fresh tape applied, the EternaBond Roof Seal tape is widely used and dependable for this task:

EternaBond RoofSeal MicroSealant UV Stable Seam Repair Tape – EB-RW040-50R (White, 4″ x50′, 35 mil Total Thickness)

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Is Re-coating Necessary Too?

RV roof coating solutions can add a new layer to further protect a rubber roof. This is a form of liquid rubber that can be applied to roofing areas where the rubber is breaking down.

For example, the Dicor EPDM Rubber Roofing product is excellent for both EPDM and TPO rubber roofs to further protect them:

Dicor White EPDM Rubber Roof Coating – RPCRC1 (1 Gallon)

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Closing Thoughts

A new camper, motorhome, or trailer likely won’t have roofing issues for 3-5 years. However, after that time, the seals will begin to wear on roofing fixtures. It’s also possible that accidental damage or another cause can create a roofing issue and resealing is necessary at that stage.

For older RV models, be on the lookout for seal problems as they’re more commonplace. Bi-annual checks on all the various protuberances through the roof become necessary to ward off water leaks.

Related Articles

RV Roof Guide

RV Fiberglass Roof Repair

Can I Use Flex Seal on My RV Roof?

Does RV Insurance Cover Roof Damage?

How to Protect RV Skylights from Hail