Before rubber roof days the common roof was made of thin aluminum and was very difficult to install. Manufacturers were either having to invest in skilled laborers to install the metal or suffering with leaky trailers and/or motor homes. Most R.V. manufactures tried different ways to cut cost only to result in “leakers”.
Many R.V. owners have suffered ruined vacations, dry rotted roofs, and in some extreme cases dry rotted structural damage. Not only did owners have to reseal their roofs annually but having to do it was a considered a painful job. Motor home and travel trailer owner manuals specify that sealing the unit every year is necessary to maintain the warranty.
Often, manufactures did not place any support underneath the roof making it impossible to walk on without damaging the thin aluminum. Lots of owners ended up either damaging their roofs when walking on them or not sealing them at all. There is no permanent fix for holes that are punched in the aluminum roofs and because of that many owners and insurance companies suffered large losses when roofs had to be replaced entirely.
About ten years ago the RV industry was (seemingly) blessed with a new rubber roof system. They are easy to install with technicians being trained in a matter of days. The Rubber roof came as a system with all components designed to work together. This new roof can be permanently patched and has appropriate support underneath allowing owners and shops to effectively repair them. These new rubber roofs do not require any sealing for the first five years and companies offer ten-year warranties on them.
Like most things in life there are some draw backs to a rubber roof. They require good washing at least two times a year to remove any growth and prevent deterioration. UV treatments need to be applied at least once if not twice a year. Certain types of moss and other growths can deteriorate the rubber roofs. RV Pro has seen rubber roofs “eaten up” in as little as 8/12 years. Branches and other objects hanging over roadways can snag the rubber leaving holes allowing water to get in and begin the dry rot process.
After 12 years most rubber roofs need replacing. This can be cost any where from $3800 to $7000 out of pocket. The price of a new rubber roof will depend on where you go and how large the vehicle is. Some coatings available can be applied to your roof that will extend the life of the surface but these are not to be done outside. The atmosphere needs to be very controlled; the temperature must stay above 65 degrees in order for the material to cure, the surface needs to be clean dry and no dust should be in the area. One tip I offer when attempting any home coatings is to do your homework. Read labels, ask questions and make sure you follow directions to the letter. If not done properly some products will actually bubble up or melt the rubber they are applied to. Some could not stick at all and could come off in one large sheet or only stick in some places.
Professionally applied coatings can extend the roof life up to five years or more. Costs for the installed coatings are $1500 to $2500, depending on the amount of damage or deterioration and the size of the unit.
Rubber roofs; good bad or ugly, now you can decide.