Can you walk on a fibreglass roof?

In this blog post, we will explain: Can you walk on a fibreglass roof? There comes a time in the life of every motorhome owner when they have to climb onto the roof of the vehicle. In today’s article, we provide more information on the weight a van or motorhome roof can take. We will also discuss how to safely climb onto and walk on your vehicle. 

Can you walk on a fibreglass roof?

If you have a fibreglass roof, you can probably walk on it because fibreglass roofs are the strongest. The roofs of most motorhomes can support an average of 100 to 120 kg. To determine the weight limit for your RV roof, look at the exterior ladder. It must include an indication of the weight limit. You can also consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.

If you need to walk on the roof of your motorhome, follow these steps:

  • Check on the outside ladder – The weight limit will not be indicated on the roof of your vehicle itself. This information, if it is to be found anywhere, will be printed or embossed on the outer scale, usually located at the back. As with any other safety instruction, follow this weight indication to the letter.

Practical tip: If there is no ladder, it is probably dangerous to climb on the roof! Be sure to review this information before walking on the roof.

  • Consult the user manual – If the roof ladder on your motorhome is old and damaged or if you cannot find the weight rating there, do not hesitate to consult your builder’s manual. Have you owned your van or motorhome for a while and have lost your manual? No problem. Many user manuals are available free on the internet by searching for the model concerned.
  • Contact the manufacturer of your model – If all else fails, and you can’t find your RV’s roof weight limit information anywhere, contact the manufacturer. You can call customer service, send them an email, and even go to a dealership if that’s okay with you. The manufacturer should have this information handy so that you can get the answer you are looking for.

Criteria that may influence the weight limit of the roof of a motorhome

The final reason for the differences in the weight limits of RV roofs is the material the roof itself is made of. Here is a brief summary of the different materials used for motorhome roofs:

  • EPDM Rubber: Ethylene-propylene-diene monomer rubber or EPDM rubber does not dent, scratch or scratch, but it can puncture quite easily. Most EPDM rubber roofs last 10 to 12 years.
  • TPO Rubber: Another type of rubber roofing is thermoplastic polyolefin rubber or TPO rubber. This type of roofing is assembled in layers, so some versions of rubber TPO can be thicker and more durable and others, with fewer layers, less durable. A layer of laminate is often included to prevent premature cracking. TPO rubber roofs also last 10 to 12 years.
  • Fibreglass: Fiberglass RV roofs are available in small pieces or as a single piece, depending on the manufacturer. Although fibreglass is one of the most expensive roofing materials, it is customizable and durable. A fibreglass roof can be good for 20 years or more.
  • Aluminium: The most economical roofing material is aluminium, which is generally punctured resistant but not heat resistant. It is true that aluminium roofs are not very attractive, but they are strong and often last over 20 years.

Another factor to take into account is the size of your recreational vehicle. It makes sense that a smaller recreational vehicle, such as a trailer or Class 1 vehicle, simply cannot support as much weight as a Class 3 recreational vehicle.

  • Category 1: If your motorhome is 2m or less, and has a maximum GVW of 3.5 tonnes.
  • Category 2: If your motorhome is less than 3m high, and has a maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes.
  • Category 3: If your motorhome is a heavy vehicle (GVW greater than 3.5 tonnes) or is 3m high (and more).
  • Category 4: Vehicle with 3 axles.

The third criterion is the vehicle make. Luxury motorhome brands that spare no expense use only the finest materials to assemble and build the vehicle. This also applies to the roof. If you’ve paid dearly for your RV, you can expect the roof weight limit to be higher than that of a cheaper vehicle.

How to walk on the fibreglass roof of your motorhome?

For the first time, you are going to climb onto the roof of your motorhome. It’s okay to be a little nervous, but don’t worry, you can. Now we’ll walk you through some handy steps you can take to get to the roof, navigate it, and then get back down safely.

Step 1: Check the Roof Ladder of Your Vehicle

The ladder is your access point to the roof of your RV, so you need to make sure it is in peak condition. Check for anything that could be faulty with the ladder, including loose bolts or screws as well as bent ladder brackets or arms.

If the ladder is in poor condition, you should not climb on it at this time. If everything is OK with the ladder, continue.

Step 2: Climb the ladder

Test your ladder before you climb it by reaching out to the highest rung, then hanging on to it. Swing a little in one direction, then another. Do the attachment points move? They shouldn’t move.

You are then ready to climb. Climb one rung at a time until you reach the top of the RV roof.

Step 3: Lay plywood on the roof

It is recommended that you have plywood such as 2 × 4 or 4 × 8 pallets when climbing the roof of your vehicle. The wood will distribute your weight so that it does not create or expose any potential weak spots on the roof.

Step 4: walk carefully

All motorhome roofs, even the newer ones, have some weaker areas and some stronger areas. The areas near the sidewalls are considered stronger because they are reinforced with more support. The centre of the roof is actually the worst place to avoid, as this area tends to be less supported than other parts of the roof.

Another part of the roof to avoid is any openings or cutouts where accessories are located. These places are naturally vulnerable. Just apply your weight to create a hole your size through the roof of your RV.

Last tip: get help!

It is okay to have a second person as an observer to watch your climb to the roof, but they should never join you on the roof. Even if together you hit the weight limit, RV roofs are not designed to accommodate more than one person at a time.

Final thoughts

I wouldn’t teach you anything by telling you that getting on the roof of a motorhome can be dangerous. I do not specifically recommend you to do it. Yes, it is possible to climb on the roof of some motorhomes. Some models even have a built-in ladder to allow this. They are not there to look pretty. They allow you to go up to ensure the maintenance of the roof on an occasional basis.

If you know the allowable weight, use common sense, and follow the above safety tips, you will be safe and will not damage the roof of your motorhome!

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Can you walk on a fibreglass roof?

How to waterproof the roof of a caravan?

To waterproof the roof of a caravan, you can apply a diluted undercoat of waterproofing resin, and let it dry for 6 hours. Apply a first pure layer of waterproofing resin, and leave it to dry for 6 hours; apply a second pure layer of waterproofing resin and leave it for 24  hours.

How to repair the roof of a motorhome?

To repair the roof of a motorhome, you must fit a new layer of fibreglass and a topcoat, for example, lacquer or topcoat. If the roof of your aluminium motorhome has leaked on the seals, it is impossible to redo the seams.

How to clean the roof of your motorhome?

To clean  the roof of your motorhome, you must:

  1. Wet the vehicle with a jet of water.
  2. Apply defoamer or antifungal if necessary, clean with a brush and rinse.
  3. Mix the detergent with water in a bucket.
  4. Dip the brush or sponge into the product and clean the roof.

References

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