The sun’s UV rays are very powerful and can do damage to your RV’s roof if you don’t protect it from these harsh rays. You put sunscreen on to protect your skin, so why wouldn’t you protect your RV’s skin as well? Many RV roofs are made of EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer). Overtime, the sun’s UV rays can cause drying, cracking, fading, and oxidizing to your RV, especially on rubber roofs, as they get the most direct sunlight. Rubber roofs could also shrink and the caulking can pull away at the edges if you don’t protect it. Storing your RV under a cover or in a garage when not in use can help lessen the sun’s damage, but this is not always an option for all RVers. Even those who do store their RV under a cover should take note to protect their RV’s roof. Below we have included information to help you know how to best protect your roof from UV rays!
For the most part there are two types of rubber roofing used in the RV industry: ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) and thermal poly olefin (TPO). Check your RV manual to find out which type your roof is.
To help protect against ozone and UV rays, EPDM roofing membrane is designed to oxidize or shed over time. This is not a concern, though, because it probably will shed less than 10 percent of its overall thickness in a 10- to 12-year time period. As a result of the shedding, the tell-tale signs of EPDM rubber are the gray or white streaks that you see on the sides of the RV.
TPO roofing does not oxidize or shed, so there are no gray or white streaks. Another way to distinguish between the two is to see how slippery the rubber surface is when it is wet. EPDM roofing is extremely slippery when it is wet, whereas TPO is not. But, regardless of how slippery the surface is, always exercise caution when working on your RV roof!
Check your roof often. Your roof should last you around 20 years or so- however that doesn’t mean the sealants and seams will. As the roof moves and flexes during travel, it is common for the seams and sealants to move as well. With time, this can cause water leaks.
Be careful with which sealants you use for your roof. Many sources says that the more silicone in your sealant the better. However, silicone will not properly adhere to a rubber roof. After it is applied and cures it will peel easily from the rubber surface. Lots of folks make a repair using silicone products and are left with a false sense of security that all is well. This kind of thinking results in expensive-to-repair water damage down the road.
The best thing you can do for your RV roof is to clean it often. Most rubber roof manufacturers recommend using a medium bristle brush and a non-abrasive cleaner. For light cleaning, use warm water and a mild detergent like Dawn dishwashing liquid. For more difficult cleaning, there are commercial cleaning products designed specifically for rubber roofing.
Regardless of the type of rubber roof you have, NEVER use any cleaners or conditioners that contain petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives or citrus ingredients. These types of cleaners can cause permanent damage to rubber and vinyl surfaces. The first indication of rubber roofing coming in contact with petroleum products is a bubble forming. The thickness of the rubber is compromised and chances are it will never adhere to the roof decking again.
For the best results, refer to your RV manual or stop by our dealership to learn more!
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This article was originally posted here.