How to Repair an RV Rubber Roof

How to Repair an RV Rubber Roof
Rubber RV roofs, also known as EPDM roofs, are prone to damage from branches and other sharp objects that brush against the roof. Repair roof damage promptly to avoid water leaks that could rot the internal structure of your RV. Even without damage from an object, rubber RV roofs eventually wear and develop leaks requiring repair. Recoating your entire roof costs a few hundred dollars vs. replacing your roof, which runs in the thousands.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Tennis shoes
  • Sponge
  • Household detergent
  • EternaBond tape
  • Rolling pin or food can
  • Putty knife
  • RV rubber roof coating
  • RV rubber roof sealant
  • Sewing needle
  • Utility knife
Step 1
Climb on top of your RV. Wear tennis shoes or other soft-soled shoes to avoid scratching, scuffing or tearing the rubber roof surface. Check the soles of your shoes for gravel or other debris that could harm the rubber roof surface.
Step 2
Inspect the roof's surface for tears and holes. Note the overall condition of the roof and roof seams. Check the sealant at the seams of the roof and around the vents and air conditioners to see if it is cracked or falling off. If your roof is older than 10 years old, evaluate the condition of the rubber roof coating to see if it is cracked all over.
Step 3
Clean the damaged surfaces of the roof with a damp sponge moistened with any household detergent. Allow the surface to dry.
Step 4
Repair the damaged surfaces. Apply EternaBond tape to damaged areas. EternaBond forms an instant and permanent waterproof seal. Cut off a piece of EternaBond tape sized slightly larger than the damaged area. To apply the EternaBond, remove 1 inch of the backing from one edge of the tape to expose the adhesive. Press the edge of the tape, adhesive side down, on the edge of area of roof damage. Slowly peel off the more of the tape backing, while simultaneously pressing the tape down over the roof. It is important to work slowly to avoid mistakes. EternaBond adhesive is so strong that once it is applied, it cannot be removed.
Step 5
Rub back and forth over the applied tape, applying a firm amount of pressure, using your hand, a rolling pin or a food can. Rubbing the tape firmly bonds the adhesive tape evenly onto the roof.
Step 6
Scrape off the old sealant around the seams of the roof, vents and air conditioner if it is old and cracked. Gently scrape the sealant off using a putty knife or utility knife, being careful not to damage the underlying roof surface.
Step 7
Recoat the entire roof with RV roof coating if the entire roof is leaking and damaged. Choose a time to recoat the roof when the weather will be dry for at least 48 hours, if the repairs are done outdoors. Clean the roof with household detergent and water before recoating it. Once the roof is dry, apply the rubber roof coating using a roller paintbrush. Follow the rubber roof coating manufacturer's instructions for specific directions.
Step 8
Reseal the seams of the roof and around the vents and air conditioner if you removed the old sealant. You can either reseal the roof using an RV roof sealant or with EternaBond tape, both of which are sold at RV supply stores. The EternaBond tape forms a more permanent seal and does not require a drying period, but is more expensive and difficult to apply. Roof sealant is cheaper, more forgiving in the application process, but it is not as permanent and requires a 24-hour drying time.

Tips & Warnings

 
Repair bubbles or creases in EternaBond tape that results from improper application on the roof by piercing the bubble or crease with a sewing needle to release the air and smooth down the tape. Cut large creases using a utility knife to release the air and smooth down the tape.
 
Always keep a roll of EternaBond tape handy for emergencies to repair RV leaks on the roof or fiberglass siding.
 
Seriously damaged roofs may need to be completely replaced.
 
Only use products designed for RV use. RV roof products are more flexible to avoid cracking when subjected to movement and harsh weather conditions.
 
Check with your RV manufacturer before recoating the entire roof with a rubber (EPDM) roof coating --- it may void the manufacturer's warranty.

Article Written By Rose Kivi

Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.

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