How long does a camper roof last?

In this article, we will answer the following question: How long does a camper roof last? We will discuss the types of camper roofs that exist and establish how long they can last. We also discuss basic roof maintenance and the key steps in cleaning a camper roof. 

How long does a camper roof last?

A camper roof can last up to 20 years before it needs to be replaced. However, you may start noticing leaks between year five and 10 of your camper, and this is totally normal and expected since the sealant on the roof starts to fade away due to UV rays, rainfall, high temperatures and humidity. 

How long your camper roof will last and how soon it will start to deteriorate will of course depend on what material is made from:

  • EPDM Rubber Roofs: 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 Roofs: 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 Roofs: 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 Roofs: 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.

How to prolong the lifespan of your camper roof

To prolong the lifespan of your camper roof you can improve its condition. The condition of the roof of a camper should be checked at least twice a year. The roof is the perfect place for water leaks. We must repair a trailer or motorhome roof as soon as the inspection shows us a leak.

Because it is the best place for water leaks to form. Water naturally flows downward and a tiny leak on the roof could turn into a major structural problem. Imagine for a moment the impact a drop of water would have every minute (through a leak as small as the hole of a needle). 

After a day you would have 1,440 drops and after a week 10,080. I didn’t spend time calculating 10,080 drops equals how many gallons but you know what I’m talking about.

Carefully check the condition of the gasket on each of the protruding installations on the roof. All cracks and thin spots can be repaired with the appropriate equipment. If the gasket chips or crumbles in any way, then the old coating must be removed. 

On metal roofs, use a 1-inch scraper with a firm blade, like the ones used by mechanics to remove old gaskets. For the rubber roofs, make a plastic scraper of the same size that will not cut the rubber membrane. If you heat the old coating with a heat gun, it will come off quite easily.

How much does it cost to replace a camper roof?

On average, the costs to replace a camper roof is $300 per linear foot. This means that for replacing the entire roof of a 30 feet long RV you could pay $9000 (labour cost and materials included in the price). 

The costs to replace a roof on an RV will vary considerably due to the different types of materials used. See the table below for more information*. 

Type of RV roofCosts per square footTotal costs for 255 square feet
EPDM$4-$8 $1,020-$2,040
Thermoplastic Polyolefin$5.50-$6 $1,400-$1,530
Fibreglass$2-$4 $510-$1,020
Aluminium$3 $770

*The labour cost and additional costs are not included in the total cost

How can I maintain and clean the roof of a camper?

To know how to clean the roof of your camper, you must start by choosing and purchasing the maintenance products that are suitable for your vehicle.

To clean the roof of a camper, you can use the following ready-made cleaning products available in car shops, supermarkets or on the internet:

  • Clean caravanning: maintenance product specially designed for caravans and motorhomes.
  • A classic car body cleaner;
  • Bleach on the motorhome: not very environmentally friendly but very effective, bleach helps remove stains and moss that can form on the roof of the vehicle.
  • An anti-foam for motorhome: specialized product to remove the foam on motorhomes. The Arcane and Fungistop brands are the best known.

To clean the roof of your camper, you can also opt for more natural and ecological products:

  • Black soap on a motorhome: dilute the black soap in a bucket of water (two caps of black soap) then clean the roof with this mixture.
  • Baking soda: Dilute the baking soda in a bucket of water, add a little washing-up liquid if necessary and scrub the roof with a soft brush.
  • White vinegar for motorhomes: white vinegar is a powerful disinfectant. Dilute it in water and clean it with a brush or sponge.

To clean the roof of your recreational vehicle, you will need the following tools:

  • Water jet, avoid the Karcher which is too powerful and could weaken the joints.
  • A bucket for mixing the products.
  • A sponge, a soft brush or a telescopic brush.
  • Microfiber towel
  • Organic and eco-friendly motorhome maintenance product.

The key steps for cleaning the roof of a camper 

To clean the roof of your camper, you have to act carefully and follow a few rules. To begin with, avoid climbing on the roof of a motorhome to avoid damaging it. Instead, place a ladder or stepladder nearby while washing. If your motorhome has a roof rack, you may be able to stand on it while cleaning.

To wash the roof of your camper, 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 in the product and clean the roof
  5. Be careful to clean the silicone gaskets well
  6. Rinse with clean water
  7. Repeat the operation if the roof is not quite clean
  8. Finally, you can optionally apply a water-repellent product, allowing it to dry for 24 hours before application.
  9. To make the body of the motorhome shine, you can polish the vehicle with a suitable product.

You can wash the roof of your camper in a motorhome wash station or at home if you have a water supply and a hose. Note that the gaskets must be cleaned with the greatest care, so as not to damage them and risk water infiltration.

The bottom line

As long as you properly maintain and inspect your camper’s roof, you will not need to replace it too soon. Of course, accidents can happen and depending on how you store it and how often you are using the camper, a motorhome roof can last you between 10 and 25 years.

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

FAQ on How long does a camper roof last?

How long does an RV roof last?

An RV roof can last up to 20, even 25 years. It is not uncommon to experience some leaks around half that time, but the better you take care of it the fewer problems. 

What is the best type of roof for an RV?

The best type of roof for an RV is the rubber EPDM roof. They cost less to repair, are easier to maintain and have a warranty of up to 10 years. 

Are polyester motorhomes heavier or lighter than aluminium motorhomes?

Polyester motorhomes are generally less heavy than aluminium ones. However, the smooth aluminium cladding has a much more attractive finish and is therefore still used today, especially in mid-range and high-end vehicles.

References

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