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Old 08-18-2008, 05:44 PM   #15
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13-15 years is a reasonable lifetime for an RV roof and yours own experience shows that rubber can hold up well. Heck, a roof on a site built home is typically replaced at about 20 years, unless it is a metal roof (about 30 years).

The first question is where are your leaks coming from? Most roof leaks are at the seals around edges and roof openings (vents, a/c, etc.). These can be re-sealed or covered with Eternabond tape. It is seldom the material itself that leaks, unless it has been scrubbed with a rough brush repeatedly or otherwise abused. Is your roof material so worn that the backing (woven cloth) is showing? If so, it can be re-coated with a liquid rubber material such as Kool Seal. You can do it yourself if you are handy.

So yes, a fiberglass or other roof material may hold up longer, but it comes at a price up front. Probably worth it if you plan to keep the RV for 10+ years.
Gary Brinck
Former owner of 2004 American Tradition and several other RVs
Home is West Palm Beach, FL
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:01 PM   #16
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I don't know much about the other roof types as this is my first TT, but my 20 year old Mallard has a piece aluminum roof that hasn't leaked in 20 years. It would also seem to me that metal would be the longest lasting and require the least maintainence. It's also very easy to work with, when I installed my Fantastic fan, I literally just scraped off the old cool seal with a putty knife and didn't have to worry about ruining the roof. So when it comes time to replace this trailer I will definately get another one with a metal roof.
We live and we die by time. And we must not commit the sin of losing our track on time.

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Old 08-19-2008, 05:55 AM   #17
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Our first MH, 94 Coachmen, had the 'rubber' roof. Lots of white streaks from the chaulking etc.
Second, 2000 Itasca Horizon, had fiberglass. Great, no streaks, but loud as being in a drum when it rained or there was, Lord forbid, a hail storm.
Third, 08 Damon Essence, has the TPO (?) roof or whatever the new stuff is. Haven't had it long enough to really have a definite opinion, but it is loud, but not as loud as the fiberglass. I wish it had the rounded roof like the Horizon simply because I want the water off as soon as possible, not standing around up there looking for a place to come inside.
So, IMHO, fiberglass is 1, TPO 2, rubber 3.
We'll see how the new stuff works out in a couple of years.
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Old 08-19-2008, 06:59 AM   #18
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The debate over which type of roofing material seems endless.

Our coach has some type of material roof, similar to that of rubber but more like a thin vinyl material.

In the 8+ years we've had our coach, never had any white streaking down the sides. I wash it, maybe once a year, and have never put any wax or other chemicals on it, and It sits out under the hot sun here in Nevada.

We did experience one minor leak during a torrential rainstorm where the air line to our air horns came through the roof.

I re-caulked the area around the line and haven't had a leak since.

A few years ago we had a large solar panel installed, still no leaks.

As far as noise from the rain, the noise is less than what it was on our 84 Airstream coach with its aluminum roof.

I'm satisfied with our roof so far and wouldn't let be a deal breaker if buying a new coach.

It also seems they would be a bit easier and less expensive to patch than the other type of roofs.
Jim & SherrySeward

2000 Residency 3790 v10 w/tags 5 Star tune & Banks system Suzuki XL7 toad
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:00 AM   #19
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A pretty significant tear in a rubber roof, such as from a low hanging tree branch, can be easily patched with Eternabond. We always kept a roll on board for emergency repairs. Sealed around the vents, etc. with it also. The patch will outlive the material it is patching. We currently have a fiberglass roof, but still carry that roll of Eternabond.
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Old 08-23-2008, 05:45 AM   #20
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I was very interested in the discussions about whether or not to treat a rubber (EPDM) roof. I get none of the black streaks some of you are talking about, but I do get the chalking when rain washes it down the side. Comes off easy, but doesn't look great.

I just had all the penetrations stripped and recaulked. The tech that did it said to not do anything to the roof, other than clean it, very gently. Not sure I agree with him. There are not many materials that can stand up to UV rays without help of some kind, including the paint on your car and the decals on your coach. I can't see where cleaning and coating the roof would not be the right thing to do - as long as you use the correct products and materials.

If anyone can confirm, or at least set me straight, would sure appreciate it.
Ken & Carolee, 1994 36' Pace Arrow/Ford 7.5L, Mobil 1 full syn & Banks Pack. Towing a 1999 Saturn SL2 with Roadmaster Sterling All-Terrain & Brake Buddy.
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Old 08-24-2008, 01:17 AM   #21
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We have a rubber EPDM roof on our coach and it is just over 9 years old. It is holding up well but I have tried to clean it every year and apply a conditioner on it. I like the Protect All brand and have used it. It does remind me of floor wax but is supposed to have UV inhibitors in it to fight off the damaging UV rays. The most important thing would be to keep it clean. If and when I ever have to replace it, I am looking at prepping it and have a spray in bed liner company cover it for me. It should be the best of both worlds.
Mike, RVIA & RVSA Certified Master RV Technician
Amy, Dr. Assistant - Roxie & Mei Ling, four legs each
2000 Gulf Stream Scenic Cruiser 450 hp & 1330# torque
06 Saturn Vue, 06 Chevy Z71 4x4 & 2014 Corvette Z51 M7
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Old 08-25-2008, 04:28 AM   #22
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Truth About EPDM
Rubber Roofs
"¢ EPDM Rubber: What it is and why it lasts so long.
"¢ Proper Care: What manufacturers actually recommend
"¢ WATCH OUT! For RV products that can damage EPDM rubber & void your warranty!
"¢ How to keep your EPDM rubber roof clean & looking like new.
EPDM is one of the most versatile and long lasting materials ever manufactured for outdoor exposure. Most RV industry experts consider EPDM rubber roofing membrane the most dependable, most cost effective and easiest to maintain roofing material there is.
Yet, today's average RVer is deluged with information, a great deal of it misinformation. Consequently, RVers are spending millions on unneeded products, many of which can be harmful to EPDM rubber roofs.

This Public Service Announcement details the truth about EPDM and reprints manufacturer's guidelines on cleaning and maintaining the
EPDM rubber roofing membrane on your RV. If you have questions after reviewing the material, please contact Dicor Corporation, the
RV industry's largest supplier of EPDM rubber roofing. Dicor's address and phone numbers are provided.

Mis-Information, Mistakes & Money
EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. Engineering specifications describe EPDM as, "Ideal for outdoor applications because of its excellent resistance to ultra-violet light, ozone, oxidants and severe weather conditions."
EPDM rubber roofing membrane is made to last 20 years or longer and has a 10 to 12 year guarantee depending on the brand.
The guarantee does not require the use of any protective 'roof treatment' or 'roof protector' product and recommends only cleaning. Unlike natural rubber (latex) or blends (tires & wiper blades), EPDM does not require periodic applications of any product to protect it from
ultra-violet light or ozone.
The statement or implication that you should purchase and apply a product to "protect" your rubber roof the elements is misinformation.
Buying and using such a product can be a mistake and may even damage the EPDM membrane.

Petroleum Distillates... Not for EPDM
Petroleum distillates are incompatible with and should never be used on a number of plastics including vinyl and rubbers, particularly
EPDM. Engineering specifications rate EPDM's solvent and oil resistance as "POOR". Dicor's Care and Maintenance instructions warn:

"CAUTION: DO NOT use cleaners or conditioners containing petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives or citric based cleaners. You may cause irreparable damage to your roof."
Laboratory tests conducted in July of 1996 evaluated the effect of a leading RV "roof treatment" product on EPDM roofing membrane using standard sunlamp and immersion testing procedures.
The "roof treatment", which contained petroleum distillates, caused a 63% mass change (swelling). In the summary/recommendations portion of the lab test the scientists stated they would recommend the "roof treatment" and more tellingly noted, "Per the MSDS, this product contains petroleum distillates, a substance that is known to be INCOMPATIBLE with... EPDM sheeting".
For your rubber roof, for the EPDM door and truck seals around slide-outs/pop-ups, in the baggage compartments or for the EPDM door and trunk seals in your car, petroleum distillates are a huge "no no". And don't be fooled by names such as "organic solvent",
"hydrocarbon carrier", etc. Petroleum distillates by any other name should NEVER be applied to EPDM. If you aren't sure about a product, contact the manufacturer and have them send you a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Look under the section
entitled "HAZARDOUS INGREDIENTS". If it lists any petroleum distillates, do not use it on EPDM.

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it necessary to protect my rubber roof against UV light?
A: No.

Q: What do I need to do to care for my rubber roof?
A: Periodic cleaning (See Dicor Care & Maintenance instructions)

Q: One manufacturer told me their roof treatment product had only a minor percentage of petroleum distillates, something like 20 or 30%. Does the percentage matter?
A: No. Usually percentages given are based on weight. Since petroleum distillates are significantly lighter than water, in reality 30% by weight might be 40% or more by volume. But the percentage of petroleum distillates doesn't matter.

Q: If I use a roof treatment product containing petroleum distillates on my rubber roof, can that void my warranty?
A: Yes

Q: If I'm going to buy a used RV and it has a rubber roof, how can I tell if the previous owner used petroleum distillates and damaged the rubber roof? What would the damage look like?
A: Two things: First, swelling. Uneven thickness of material. Second, loose areas. Petroleum distillates soak in and cause the adhesive to loosen and the membrane to balloon. Then, when the ballooning goes down, it may never again adhere properly or completely.

Q: Is it easy to repair tears in the roof membrane?
A: Any tear in an EPDM roof membrane can be repaired using a number of repair methods. Dicor has a prepackaged peel and stick repair kit that works well on small tears (up to 8"), a larger kit that should be used on larger damaged areas, and also rolls of peel and
stick material for long, narrow tears.
Q: Oxidation: My roof seems to oxidize and run down the sides when it rains.
What's going on?
A: First, EPDM roofing membrane does oxidize slowly; it's supposed to.
In a dozen years it may oxidize 10% of its thickness. This is normal. Cleaning at least four times a year will help greatly, more often if your local conditions and experience warrant.

Q: The rubber roofing wraps over slightly on both sides of my RV and you can see it from the ground. It gets dirty and doesn't look good. What can I do about this?
A: Clean the area and treat it with a product that will repel soiling and is safe for EPDM. One product that performs and lasts well, is safe for EPDM and is commonly available at RV stores is

Dicors RP -
320S Rubber Roof Guard Protectant.
Dicor Corporation · P.O. Box 1806 · Elkhart, Indiana 46515
Tel. (574) 264-2699 · Fax (574) 293-2017 · Toll Free (800) 837-2059
96 Pace Arrow Vision 35 W/09 Jeep Liberty Sport 4X4
Some posts have up to 5 lines in what I presume is the signature area. But I can only fit 3 lines in.
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Old 08-25-2008, 05:06 AM   #23
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Excellent posting by "jonelsr." Having had two previous motor homes with rubber roofs, the best and cheapest cleaner I'd found was plain old Borax soap from local market and a soft bristle brush I got at Camping World.

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Old 08-25-2008, 08:24 AM   #24
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I've been using Simple Green.

Dear John,

Thank you for contacting Simple Green and for your interest in Simple Green products.

Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner is safe and effective for cleaning EPDM rubberized RV roofs. Simple Green contains no bleach, ammonia, or petroleum distillates, which can damage your rubberized roof. The recommended dilution ration is 1:30 and a good rinse is always recommended. It is best to clean your RV roof on a cool day, or in the shade in order to prevent the Simple Green solution from drying onto the surface.

I hope that this information is helpful to you. If you have further questions about this or other Simple Green products or uses, please feel free to contact me directly. My contact information is provided below and my regular business hours are Mon thru Fri from 8 – 5 Pacific Standard Time.

Thank you again for your inquiry.


Theresa R. Provolt
Technical and Customer Liaison
Simple Green
15922 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Harbour, CA 92649
96 Pace Arrow Vision 35 W/09 Jeep Liberty Sport 4X4
Some posts have up to 5 lines in what I presume is the signature area. But I can only fit 3 lines in.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:36 AM   #25
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WOW! What a post by jonelsr! Thank you VERY much, just what I needed.

Also, RV Wizard has what may be a great idea, have the roof sprayed by a bedliner company. The only drawback I see offhand is a black roof; boy, that would be hot in a southern clime. Other than that, it sounds like the real ticket. Anyone know of, or have any experience, in that area?
Ken & Carolee, 1994 36' Pace Arrow/Ford 7.5L, Mobil 1 full syn & Banks Pack. Towing a 1999 Saturn SL2 with Roadmaster Sterling All-Terrain & Brake Buddy.
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Old 08-25-2008, 11:18 AM   #26
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I also agree on the use of Simple Green. We have also found the plain jane Dawn Liquid Soap to be a good alternative and a soft bristle brush. We also use it to wash our rig.
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Old 08-25-2008, 01:33 PM   #27
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The Dicor cleaner or a mild dish doap solution is best. The Simple Green is ok as long as it isn't stronger than the 1:30 ratio.

Dicor also sells a EPDM re-coating material that adds a thin layer of EPDM to the roof surface. It is a two part process. The first part is a special adhesive primer and the second is the top coat. It needs to be applied inside (out of the wind and sun) and within a specific temp. range.

We have been thinking about doing this. The materials for our 36'-10" DP will run between $500-$600 but at least my labor is free...

Dicor Kit

Our roof is in good shape now but I will most likely do this to help protect it a while longer. The Dicor top coating breathes like the base EPDM roof since it is the same (I think) material.
1998 Gulfstream 36' Sun Voyager Bus Platinum
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Old 08-25-2008, 05:30 PM   #28
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What I find interesting about all of this is that the original Post on this issue was November 26, 2006. The last reply to it was November 30, 2006. And on August 18, 2008 almost 2 years later it has come back to life

96 Pace Arrow Vision 35 W/09 Jeep Liberty Sport 4X4
Some posts have up to 5 lines in what I presume is the signature area. But I can only fit 3 lines in.
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