How much does it cost to replace a roof on an RV?

In this article, we will answer the following question: How much does it cost to replace a roof on an RV? We will discuss RV roofs maintenance, regular inspection and repairs.

How much does it cost to replace a roof on an RV?

On average, the costs to replace a roof on an RV 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

RV roof maintenance and repairs

Here we provide methods for inspecting, maintaining and repairing the roof of a trailer or motorhome. The condition of the roof of a recreational vehicle (RV) 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.

RV roof inspection: a guide

The first thing to do when inspecting an RV’s roof is to pull out a ladder and carefully inspect the condition of the roof. If the roof is metal, especially the seamed model (the seams should be diagonally, approximately every 48 inches), lay a sheet of plywood or a few boards lengthwise, wide enough to walk on. 

This way the boards cross the rafters of the roof and your weight will be evenly distributed. A rubber roof has an underlying layer of plywood or chipboard, normally between 3/16 and ½ inch, which is enough to support your weight.

The membrane on a rubber or metal roof is made of very strong and durable materials, but it is quite thin and could be punctured by a sharp object. You can walk on the surface but with care, first check that there is nothing under your shoes, such as a rock, which could damage the roof covering.

Crumbling will occur naturally on any type of roof and various pollutants will partially or totally alter the surface. Aluminum will age and turn a slate color, while a rubber roof may show lime residue. Be sure to wear proper clothing and footwear to perform a proper inspection. Because, WITHOUT ANY DOUBT, you will get dirty.

An aluminum roof can and should last for several years if properly maintained. The same goes for the rubber or fiberglass roof or any combination of those materials. The gaskets used can last for several years, but the extreme weather conditions to which they are exposed vary widely between heat, cold and humidity. The seals may then need to be replaced or repaired after as little as six months!

The roof should be inspected at least twice a year and when a fault occurs it should be corrected immediately. Some brands of gasket will perform better than others. For example, Fleetwood just recently changed the brand of gaskets used on their rubber roofs from the Wilderness and Mallard models. 

The new brand used gives a poor result and the seals need to be repaired almost as soon as the vehicle leaves the manufacturer. However, they may have fixed the problem since the gaskets on the 2001 model appear to be of better quality.

For rubber roofs, use a leveling gasket. Dicor manufactures the rubber membrane as well as a line of compatible seals under the Dicor name. Visit their website here.

Aluminum and fiberglass roofs are made from a fiber-impregnated material to seal siding joints and openings. These materials are applied with a paintbrush or glaziers knife and should be applied to a clean surface for best results. Any roof covering that is unstable or crumbling should be removed and the surface cleaned with soap and water. 

A wire brush can be used to scrape the surface. A heat gun will help soften the old coating so that it can be removed later. You’d have the same effect on a day when the mercury was going up to 100 degrees and the hot sun was pouring out, but now isn’t really the best time to be on the roof!

Remember, it is not the materials that leak but rather all the holes drilled for different purposes and the gaskets used to seal those holes that cause the leaks.

How to repair a crack in an RV roof seal (step-by-step)

  1. To repair a crack on a roof seal, start by cleaning the surface with a cleaner and degreaser so that the surface is clean and non-greasy.
  1. Wait until the surface is completely dry before starting the next step
  1. Add sealant for Dicor rubber membrane roofs and let dry

How to replace an RV roof seal (step-by-step)

  1. To replace a roof gasket, scrape the sealant with a plastic spatula, removing only what comes off well.
  1. Clean the surface with a degreaser cleaner so that the surface is clean and non-greasy.
  1. Wait until the surface is completely dry before starting the next step
  1. Add sealant for Dicor brand rubber membrane roofs and let dry

As you have seen, these small jobs are easy to perform and do not require special knowledge. You should repeat this maintenance when winterizing your recreational vehicle and this every year.

The bottom line

As long as you properly maintain and inspect your RV’s roof, you will not need to replace the entire panels. Of course, accidents can happen and depend on how you store it and how often you are using the RV, 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 much does it cost to replace a roof on an RV?

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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