Last weekend the weather in Chicagoland was so nice, the wife and I decided to tackle a major Spring project on our motorhome. "Maxine" is a 1998 Discovery 36T that we adopted last year.
Right after we brought her home, we had a technician seal Maxine's roof end to end with Dicor self-leveling caulk, but the paint on her EPDM roof has been steadily chalking off for some time, so we bought everything we needed in March to repaint the roof, then waited for a break in the weather.
The first task was to sweep the roof and then check the Dicor caulk seams and the roof surface for any cracks or gaps. Fortunately, there were none.
This is what Maxine's roof looked like once it was swept and inspected. It's easy to see where the white coating has chalked off due to weather, age, and UV deterioration.
We chose Dicor's 2 part EPDM roof coating system. Part 1 is the cleaner and etcher. Coverage is rated at 125 sf per quart. We were doing an 8 x 37 roof, so we bought three (3) quarts, figuring there would be plenty extra.
Part 2 is the roof paint itself. Rated coverage is 125 sf per gallon, and two coats minimum are required. I bought 4 gallons, hoping for the best.
Dicor recommends covering the front, rear and sides of the motorhome prior to any work being done. We used 9x12 disposable plastic tarps for the end caps.
I clamped an extension ladder to the motorhome because we were doing so much up and down work. (Climbing on/off the roof via the coach ladder always gives me the creeps.)
To mask the sides, we bought two rolls of 59 in x 75 ft Tape & Drape. One roll cut in half covered each side in two courses. ( Don't try this in a windy day.)
My better half, Peggy, decided to run the Tape & Drape along the gutters, then over the sides, awnings included. Turned out to be a good decision.
We used plastic kitchen garbage bags to cover Maxine's mirrors.
Once she was completely covered, we sprayed on the clear Dicor part 1 cleaner/etcher. Fortunately, three quarts of the part 1 liquid was just enough to cover the roof front to back. I made sure to keep plenty of pressure in the pump and was careful to get even coverage on the roof surface.
After applying part 1, we waited 20 minutes or so per the instructions and then power-washed the roof off, two times--front to back, using a broad fan spray pattern.
This is what the roof looked like after power washing:
Note that a lot more of the chalking paint came off in the wash. To hurry things up, Peggy had the bright idea to give Maxine a blow-dry.The roof was ready to be cut-in in no time.
Cutting in the roof took 2 coats. We did most of this work on top on our knees (ouch), but I also used an 8 foot step ladder and cut-in 3 coats up and down the roof edge on both sides just above the gutters.
When cutting in, we made sure to overlap the Dicor self-leveling caulk with the part 2 paint.
We were pleased to find that the part 2 paint dries in 30 minutes or less, so in no time, Peggy was applying the first coat with a medium nap roller.
This is what the top looked like after one coat of the white part 2 paint:
At this point, we had consumed less than 1 gallon, and we hadn't skimped on the paint. I was amazed
. Amazed and pleased.
After a 30 minute break, the roof was safe to walk on, so the second coat went on. If you look closely, you can just make out some roller marks peaking through the paint surface, even after two coats.
Another 30 minutes, and it was time for the third coat of paint (Dicor recommended two). The results are shown below.
I don't believe Maxine's roof looked that much better when she left the factory.
This is what we learned by doing this project:
1. The whole job start to finish took two amateurs a total of 7 hours. (The prep work -- cleaning, taping and sealing alone took 2 hours). Watch the weather closely, and pick a day that you're sure you'll be able to get through the whole job. You'll need two warm bodies willing to work. Beware: Dicor specifies this 2 part system must
be applied in a single day.
2. The part 1 cleaner/etcher coverage was approximately 100 sf per quart. (Dicor claims 125).
3. The part 2 paint coverage far exceeded Dicor's specifications. We used just over two (2) gallons for the whole job. It's better to have too much for a project like this than not enough, but we easily did an 8 x 37 foot motorhome with three gallons and had plenty of paint to spare. By the way, this stuff isn't cheap, so buy what you need. No more, no less.
Speaking of buying, we purchased our Dicor materials online from RV Parts Market:
Welcome to RV Parts Market - Your Online RV Parts Store
They had the best price I could find and good service to boot. Be sure to leave adequate time for ground shipping. This stuff is heavy. (Look to your vendor for guidance in that department.) If you can get it over the counter, all the better.
4. Except for coverage specifications, Dicor's instructions were precise and should be followed to the letter.
5. On a sunny, 65F degree day, the part 2 paint was dry enough to walk on in 30 minutes. (I looked high and low, but couldn't find drying time specifications for the paint anywhere. Now you know. Write it down.)
Here's a list of what you'll need to do this project for a similar vehicle (adjust to your size where needed):
- Dicor 2 part roof paint system materials
- 16 ft extension ladder with large C clamp or some other means to secure to your RV (believe me when I say that you'll do a lot of climbing)
- 8 ft step ladder
- Two 4" paint brushes (keep wrapped in plastic between coats)
- A medium nap roller, pole, and pan (keep wrapped in plastic between coats)
- Hand pump garden sprayer (rinse thoroughly before/after using
- Pressure washer - ours is a gas powered washer rated at 1.5 gpm and 2,000 psi.
- Tape & Drape (Amazon.com)
- Two 9x12 disposable clear plastic tarps for the end caps
- Two rolls of 2" blue painter's tape
- Grubby clothing and a clean pair of old tennis shoes, white rubber soles are best
- A nice day, preferably sunny with light winds
- A second pair of hands
Our project should turn out to be well worth the effort and expense. Materials costs were under $400, and it took two energetic amateurs a total of 7 hours start to finish. As a result, Maxine's roof is UV protected for many seasons to come, and hopefully the chalking will be significantly abated.
Your RV roof should not be neglected. Help to preserve your investment, and save a bucket of money by doing it yourself.