RV Roof Makeover

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We’re in the middle of nowhere right now (Coalinga) so I thought I’d catch up on some topics that are long, long overdue. One of which is how we re-sealed our motorhome’s roof ourselves and saved a ton of money.

When we got the motorhome, we knew it would need a lot of work. Of course, one can never tell exactly how much work is in store…but we knew it needed a lot.

For those of you unfamiliar with an RV’s structure, the roof can come in one of a few different forms, but a very common type, particularly on the older RVs, are┬ámade from a rubber membrane which is then coated with a waterproofing substance. Over time, this coating can erode, which leaves the membrane exposed. When it gets really bad, it looks like this:

We checked around, and got an estimate for about $4500 to have the roof professionally re-sealed. Which was just ridiculous. The owner of the park where we used to live bought a Bounder even older than ours, and he told us that it cost him $10,000 to have the roof re-done! And they did a really poor job of it too. Sure, it looked white, but it also looked like they just put some tape around the edges instead of the proper type of caulking, and there were drip marks down the sides…ours looks much, much nicer and we have had zero leaks.

And once again, we did this for about a tenth of the estimate we were given. As per usual, I did the research, ordered the supplies, and helped where I could, but Ryan did 99% of the work. It cost us a few hundred dollars for the sealant, which requires the use of a cleaner/activator and then you have to apply at least two coats. Then there is a special caulking you use along with it. We also needed to buy a sprayer (the pump kind you would get for weed killer), a push broom for cleaning, paint rollers with a long-handled applicator, plastic sheeting, and tape.

You have to do the entire sealing process in a day, so it’s best to start early in the morning and if the weather is warm, that’s best. You definitely don’t want to do this when there is weather in the forecast or when it’s cold, because you have to wait for each application to dry before applying the next, and the warmer it is, the faster it will cure.

I can’t find the final pictures, but many, many hours later it was done. Meanwhile, here’s a look at the roof after just one coat (scroll up if you need to be reminded of how it looked before)! Amazing difference.

For less than $500 and one day of [hard] labor, we had a new roof. If we maintain it well it should last for probably 10 years. Without doing this upgrade, we could have had all kinds of problems with leaks that could damage the walls, the floors…basically at that point, the whole RV would need to be re-done or scrapped. Just a tip for anyone looking to buy an RV (even a new one): the roof is not cheap to fix. If at all possible, spray the whole rig with a hose and see if you find any leaks inside. Also check for mold, ripples in the walls (inside and out), water stains and uneven floors, all of which can be a sign of leaking. And even if everything looks great, I would still re-caulk all the seams on the roof as well as around doors and windows, including the windshield.

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