If the roof of your RV or camper is leaking, damaged or worn and old, it may be time to repair or replace the roof.
Over time, rain, wind, snow, and even the sun’s UV rays can damage the RV’s seals and roofing material, causing water damage and other problems. You should address RV roof problems as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
Is your RV roof leaking? Are you worried about how much it will cost to repair? If so, you are not alone.
One of the first questions many people ask when they have a leaking RV or camper roof is how much it will cost to repair or replace.
RV roof replacement typically costs between $300 and $325 per linear foot. For example, if your RV is 30 feet long, replacing the roof would cost between $9,000 and $9,750.
The cost largely depends on the type of roofing material and the labour costs of the shop doing the job. However, you may be able to repair or replace your RV roof yourself.
In this article, I’ll go over the best roofing materials for RVs and their costs, and show you how to reseal, repair, or replace your RV’s roof. I also give you some tips on how to keep your RV roof in the best condition.
Types of mobile home roofing material and which one is best
The most common types of RV roofing materials are TPO, EPDM, fiberglass, and aluminum.
In general, EPDM and TPO are the most popular and commonly used materials for RV roofs.
Each type of roofing material has different benefits, costs, and maintenance requirements. Let us get started!
EPDM rubber (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a synthetic rubber material with a membrane-like structure that is commonly used for apartment roofs like those on RVs and travel trailers.
EPDM is extremely durable and inexpensive, typically costing between $4 and $8 per square foot.
In our 30-foot RV example, the cost of 255 square feet of EPDM roofing material for the RV would be approximately $1,020 to $2,040, assuming the RV is 8 ½ feet wide.
TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) is probably the most commonly used material for RV roofs.
The material is a single-ply membrane, meaning it consists of a single layer of synthetic rubber with reinforcing scrim. Like EPDM, it is mainly used for apartment roofs.
TPO is very UV resistant and can help reduce energy consumption when installed as a roof for your RV. It is also very durable and can last up to 30 years with proper care.
A high quality roof ( TPO RV ) costs between $5.50 and $6 per square foot. For our 30-foot motorhome, the cost of TPO alone would be between $1,400 and $1,530 for 255 square feet of material.
Fiberglass is less popular as a roofing material for RVs because it is heavier and more expensive than TPO or EPDM.
However, fiberglass roofs require less maintenance than roofs made from the other materials, which can be an advantage for some people.
Fiberglass is one of the most durable roofing materials available, and it is very resistant to heavy rain, snow, and hail.
It will not rust, rot or mold, and it is also fire resistant. The material is also very durable; a fiberglass roof should last 25 to 30 years with little to no maintenance.
It is also one of the most cost-effective materials for RV roofs, costing $2 to $4 per square foot ($510 to $1,020 to replace 255 square feet of roof).
The least common material for RV roofs is aluminum. Some brands of RVs – such as Airstream – use aluminum roofs, but they are much heavier than the other RV roof materials.
Like fiberglass, aluminum is relatively low maintenance and unlike rubber or fiberglass, it is non-toxic.
Plus, you can recycle your old roofs when you replace them because aluminum is one of the few materials that does not depreciate in value.
Aluminum roofing panels cost about $3 per square foot. So the cost to replace the roofing on a 30 foot by 8 ½ foot RV would be about $770.
How RV sealing and coating protect the roof.
Roofing material is just one of the things you’ll need to buy to replace or repair your RV roof.
Water damage is one of the most common reasons why an RV roof needs to be repaired or replaced. Usually, the damage occurs in the area of the seals or because the roof coating is damaged.
If you identify a leak and repair it quickly, you can save yourself a lot of time and money.
If you choose to have your RV roof replaced by a professional or just reseal it, resealing alone can cost between $1,000 and $1,700, and up to $2,000 for larger RVs.
So you can see why replacing an RV roof can cost up to $10,000 and why you should do all or part of the work yourself.
Reinforce the sealant
It’s recommended that you regularly check your RV roof for leaks and reinforce the sealant around the seams at least once a year.
While you are at it, make sure to seal the areas around the air conditioner, roof vents, skylights, and any other places where there are cracks or seams in the roofing.
If you have not used the sealant before, spot test its compatibility by applying a small amount to an inconspicuous area before applying it to all areas.
Keep in mind that if you live in a humid climate, you may need to use a different type of sealant for your RV.
You can always check with your RV manufacturer for product recommendations.
Recoat the roof surface
At some point during the life of your RV, you will likely need to recoat the roof. This is a protective coating that covers the roofing material almost like paint.
Over time, the coating becomes chalky and can wear away. While this is normal, it is a clear sign that it is time to recoat the roof.
Coating is important because it helps to increase the waterproofing and weatherproofing of the entire roof.
Keep in mind that you will need a specific type of coating depending on the type of roofing material.
One method of recoating is a liquid roof, an EPDM coating that you paint onto the roof of your RV.
Liquid roofing costs nearly $90 per gallon, which covers about 42 square feet. For our example of a 30 foot by 8 ½ foot mobile home, we would need about six gallons to cover the roof.
You can save by buying the material in larger quantities, such as four or five gallon buckets.
Once dry, the liquid roofing material protects against the sun’s UV rays and is also weatherproof to keep moisture out and slow wear from the elements.
By regularly coating your RV roof with this type of protective sealant, you can extend the life of your RV and prevent water damage.
How to repair or replace your motorhome roof
If you own an older RV or have owned your RV for a while, chances are you will need to replace the roof at least once during its lifetime.
By taking care of repairs and maintenance and fixing leaks quickly, you can minimize or postpone the need to replace the entire roof.
However, if there are multiple areas where the roof is damaged, or if there is a single area with extensive damage that puts the rest of the roof at risk, it may be time to replace the roof.
Tools you will need
If you are going to repair or replace the roof of your RV yourself, you’ll need some tools to get the job done as quickly and effectively as possible.
Although every job is different, you should have some general tools on hand for your RV’s roof:
- Safety glasses
- Roller to roll out and spread the adhesive
- Acetone or other cleaning agent, such as a 3M Scotch Bright Pad
- Razor knife or scissors for cutting the replacement material
- Spatula or blade for removing the old sealant
- Breathing mask (for fiberglass roofs)
- Rubber gloves
- Bucket for mixing adhesive/catalyst
Prepare your RV roof for repair or replacement
The first step in working on an RV roof is to clean the existing roof or repair area well. In order for the adhesive or catalyst to bond with the roofing material, all traces of oil, grease, dirt, oxidation and silicone sealants must be removed.
If it is only a small repair, you can use a rag and solvent to scrub the area.
For larger repairs and resealing roofs or replacing roofs, it may be more effective to first clean the roof with a pressure washer and then scrub until the roof is completely clean.
For EPDM roofs, you will need to cut off the remnants of the silicone sealant and remove the surface wax with a product designed for this purpose.
Once the roof is dry after cleaning, you will likely need to apply an EPDM primer.
Even if you have done an excellent job cleaning the roof, it will likely still be dirty or stained in some areas. With an EPDM primer, you will prepare the surface for a better bond between the roof and the tape.
Here is how to fix a holey RV roof.
Although you may pay a professional to completely replace your RV’s roof, there are many roof repairs that are easy and much cheaper to do yourself.
One of these is repairing a punctured or cracked RV roof. To fix this type of damage, all you really need to do is apply a patch:
Thoroughly clean the area around the repair.
Remove any excess silicone.
Apply sealant or caulk to the depressions and allow to dry.
Tape down any loose roofing membranes and add fasteners as needed.
Allow to cure for 24 hours.
Apply the patch so that it overlaps at least five centimeters on all sides of the repair area and cover all reinforcing elements.
Seal the patch and edges all around with RV Roof Coating.
RV roof tape or RV roof patches are easy to apply. The adhesive on one side will adhere to your RV roof and seal the torn or punctured area.
These patches are very durable and provide a permanent solution to a crack or small hole.
It’s a good idea to keep a few of these in your RV emergency kit in case something happens to you on your trip. You do not want a punctured roof to leak and cause water damage!
How to replace your motorhome roof
A DIY RV roof replacement is entirely possible and will help you save a lot of money, as you only need to buy the materials.
Below are all the steps you need to follow when replacing your RV roof:
- Remove any fixtures, such as vents, antennas, or air conditioners. Also remove the awning.
- Use a good quality stainless steel putty knife to scrape off the old sealant around the removed fixtures.
- Remove the existing roof membrane. For rubber RV roofs, such as TPO or EPDM, you will need to peel off the roofing material until you can see the plywood structure underneath. For aluminum roofs, you’ll need to unscrew the old panels to remove them, and you’ll need a paint sander to remove the fiberglass mats that cover these roofs.
- Inspect the plywood under the roof membrane for damage. If you notice areas where the wood has rotted or is bowing, it has water damage and should be replaced. Clean the remaining (undamaged) plywood with benzine to treat it for mold.
- Apply seam tape where the plywood meets and along the edge of the RV roof where it meets the side of the RV. This helps to ensure a good seal and reinforce weak areas.
- Rubber roofs are installed by applying layers of adhesive to the plywood roof and then rolling up the roof replacement panels. For fiberglass roofs, the installation is similar. You brush on the adhesive catalyst resin before covering it with the fiberglass mat and gelcoat. Let the adhesive soak in for a bit until it’s tacky, then roll your roofing material over it, pushing out any air bubbles. Cut holes in the rubber or mats for any fixtures that will be put back on the roof.
- Rubber roofs are installed by applying layers of adhesive to the plywood roof and then rolling up the roof replacement sheets. For fiberglass roofs, the installation is similar, and you brush on the adhesive catalyst resin before covering it with the fiberglass mat and gelcoat. Let the adhesive soak in for a bit until it’s tacky, and then roll your roofing material over it, pushing out any air bubbles. Cut holes in the rubber or mats for any fixtures that need to be put back on the roof.
- After you have replaced the roof, the last step is to reattach your RV roof fixtures and seal them with caulk to prevent leaks in the new roof.
- Here is how to fix a leaky skylight, roof vent, AC unit, or hatch
- Because your RV’s roof systems, such as the air conditioner or roof vent, are essentially holes in the roof, there can be leaks around the edges that you need to repair to prevent water damage.
Fortunately, this is a fairly simple task:
- Scrape off any leftover silicone caulk.
- Clean the surface of the roof around the leak with a plastic scrubber or sandpaper, then wipe over it with a solvent-soaked rag.
- Seal the edges around the vent or system with sealant or caulk, covering all screws.
- Position the vent flange so that it overlaps the roof surface in both directions by about five inches, and roll in the sealant to ensure permanent adhesion.
How to seal and coat the roof of your RV.
An important part of maintaining, repairing, and replacing your RV roof is sealing and coating the surface to make it more durable and weather resistant.
What is the best RV roof sealant?
Which sealant is best depends on the roof surface and application. For EPDM, TPO and aluminum roofs, we recommend M-1 sealant ($7.25 per 10.1-ounce tube).
If you are sealing around a roof vent or skylight, industry experts recommend using SB -140 Butyl Sealant ($5.75 per 10.3-ounce tube).
For sealing RV windows, experts again recommend M-1 sealant, but Duralink ($6.25 per 10.1-ounce tube) is also used and adheres exceptionally well to the glass.
When sealing around irregular surfaces, it’s best to use WebSeal tape.
It has a unique fabric backing with a micro-sealing composition so it sticks perfectly to apartment surfaces as well as around curves, angles, bolts, and pipes.
It is also highly weather resistant and remains flexible even at temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees Celsius.
How to coat a rubber motorhome roof
If your RV roof is made of EPDM or TPO, you will need to recoat it every year or so to properly maintain it and extend its life. Here are the steps to applying rubber roof coating to your RV:
Check the roof for leaks and repair them before giving your RV a new coat of paint.
Clean the entire roof thoroughly. Machine wash it and scrub the stained or dirty areas with a 1:3 mixture of bleachand water and a thick-bristled road broom or scrubber. If the bleach does not get the stains out, try using TSP and water. Machine wash the roof again after cleaning to rinse it off.
Remove the RV’s old roof coating and any excess silicone around the roof vents, air conditioner and other systems.
Tape all raised areas around the roof with M-1 sealant or EternaBond DoubleStick.
For EPDM roofs, apply a thin coat of EPDM primer (and let it cure for about 30 minutes) before applying the roof coating.
Open the can of coating and remove any “skin” on the surface. Stir the coating for four to five minutes until fully combined.
Apply the roof coating (RoofMate HT for light foot traffic or AES -125 epoxy for more durable results). Allow the coating to cure for one to three days, depending on the temperatures in your area. Then apply a second coat in the reverse direction.
Different types of RV roof coatings
As mentioned earlier in this article, there are different types of RV roof coatings. The choice depends on what type of RV roof you have and how durable you want it to be.
- RoofMate HT: RoofMate HT is a non-flammable, easy to apply and fast curing high performance elastomeric acrylic roof coating that lasts about six years before you need to recoat. It is designed for light foot traffic and has high tensile strength and elongation. Use a primer before coating with RoofMate HT, which costs about $166.95 for a 5-gallon bucket.
- Ultra Shield: If you do not need to get on the roof of your RV, Ultra Shield is a good choice. It’s another elastomeric acrylic roof coating that’s inexpensive, rolls on easily, cures quickly and is nonflammable. Ultra Shield will last for about five years before you need to reapply it. Use a primer before coating with Ultra Shield. A 5-gallon bucket costs about $76.95.
- AES-125: This two-part, elastomeric epoxy coating is very durable and extremely waterproof. Despite its durability, it is not suitable for foot traffic. It also requires practice to apply. AES -125 costs $485 for a 5-gallon bucket.
- EPDM Rubber Coating: Liquid EPDM rubber coating comes in a two-part solvent base. This coating is the most expensive of the RV roof coatings and also the most difficult to apply. It is not oil resistant, is flammable before it has cured, and is not recommended for areas that can be walked on. EPDM rubber coating also has lower ductility and costs between $1.50 and $2.50 per square foot of material. So for a 255 square foot roof, the coating material will cost between $382.50 and $637.50.
- How to maintain your RV roof
- Even if you repair or replace your RV roof yourself, the materials alone will cost several hundred dollars.
You can maximize the life of your roof and minimize the frequency of recoating by cleaning it regularly, checking frequently for leaks, repairing damage quickly and keeping it covered.
Here are some RV roof maintenance tips and best practices you can use to prevent RV roof damage.
- Clean your RV roof regularly.
- As part of your RV maintenance schedule, you should clean the roof of your RV.
- Dirt and debris can damage your RV’s roof seal over time, making it more susceptible to leaks and water damage.
- Therefore, regular cleaning is important to maintain the integrity of the seals and waterproofing of your RV roof.
- A good rule of thumb is to wash the roof during basic cleaning after each camping trip.
- To properly wash your RV roof, choose your cleaning agent based on the type of roof you have.
- If your RV roof is aluminum or fiberglass, you can use the same mild detergent that you use to wash the rest of your RV.
- If your RV’s roof is made of TPO or EPDM, you may need a rubber-safe RV roof cleaner. Either way, be sure to rinse well after washing!
- Check for leaks
Roof cleaning is the perfect time to check your RV’s roof for leaks.
- While you are washing the roof, ask your spouse or a friend to walk around underneath you in the RV and check the ceiling and walls for moisture or drips.
- While washing or rinsing the roof, look for cracks in the roof waterproofing and feel for soft spots that could indicate water damage or rot. Fix leaks quickly as soon as you discover them to minimize the damage.
- Repair damage to your RV roof as soon as possible. As soon as you notice leaks or other damage to the roof or its attachments, you should repair them.
It’s better to spend a few hundred dollars on a repair now than to pay nearly $10,000 to replace the entire roof.
Plus, damage that is not repaired can get worse.
To sum it all up…
Although professional RV roof replacement will likely cost up to $325 per yard, you can significantly reduce the cost by replacing your RV roof yourself.
I hope this article has given you all the information you need to learn how much a new RV roof can cost, what materials are needed, and how to repair or replace your RV roof yourself.