What are pop-up camper roofs made of?

In today’s article, we will answer the following question: What are pop-up camper roofs made of? We will also discuss important aspects of their maintenance and small repairs that you can do by yourself. 

​​What are pop-up camper roofs made of?

Pop-up camper roofs are made of 1” x 2” boards that form the pop-up ceiling frame. On the inside, there is a thin sheet of luan (plywood) attached to a foam core.  This soft roof is what allows the pop-up camper to have its “pop” properties. It gives the sides and roof enough flexibility so that it can be folded, but provides good protection for those inside when in use.

A pop-up camper is one of the cheapest ways to travel to and from a campsite. The fact that it can be reduced to such a small size will make towing it so much easier. This is a feature that a normal trailer and RV cannot do.

How do you clean and maintain a pop-up camper roof?

To clean a pop-up camper roof, it is essential to use the right products. There are several “miracle” products for cleaning the roof:

  • Black soap: Mix black soap in a bucket with water. It is an efficient solution for any type of task, economical and ecological.
  • White vinegar and washing up liquid: Combine the washing up liquid, vinegar and clear water in a bucket. For the proportions count, 10% dishwashing liquid, 10% white vinegar and 80% water. For persistent stains, increase the quantities of products.
  • Bleach: Bleach is a very effective product but it is a bit aggressive for the canvas fabric. Leave on the stain for a few minutes then rinse with water. Do not use it too often and only on very difficult to remove stains. Bleach works great on mildew stains.

To clean a pop-up camper roof, you have to carefully proceed step by step. The outer canvas and the inner canvas of the pop-up camper must also be cleaned!

  1. Unfold the pop-up camper;
  2. Set it as low as possible for easier cleaning;
  3. Wet the roof with a jet of water;
  4. Apply the product of your choice following the directions;
  5. Rinse thoroughly with clean water;
  6. Let the pop-up camper dry completely!

Note: To keep your pop-up camper roof in good condition for as long as possible, you need to have a few simple actions on a daily basis and during winter storage. The proper maintenance of a pop-up camper is essential to make it last over time.

Here are the few things to do to keep a pop-up camper roof in good condition:

  • Avoid parking under pine trees in summer;
  • Don’t let leaves and pollen accumulate on the camper roof;
  • Never close the camper with leaves or pollen inside;
  • Fold up the camper in case of heavy rain;
  • Never store the camper with a wet canvas;
  • Apply once a year when cleaning the WD40 to the roof mechanism;
  • Apply a waterproofing product to the roof and pop-up camper canvas to protect it from water and humidity. 

Common repairs of pop-up camper roofs

A lot of things can break on a pop-up camper roof, especially if it’s older. Below is a list of the most common problems you may encounter.

  • Torn canvas;
  • A canvas that separates from the body of the camper;
  • Broken hinges around the windows;
  • Tears in windows or shielding;
  • Leaks in the roof or canvas;
  • Broken roof vent.

Most pop-up camper roof repair jobs you can do yourself, depending on your skills in repair jobs. Some repair work, however, should be left to a professional such as replacing all the canvas or problems with the electrical or gas system. If the pop-up camper has suffered an accident, a professional should perform structural repairs.

How to fix a leak in your pop-up camper roof?

If your pop up camper leaks when it rains, there is not much to do but to try and find the issue, then fix it (at least temporarily).  

  1. Locate and repair the water source. Before you can start cleaning and repairing your camper; you need to determine how it got flooded initially. A roof leak is the most likely source, which means caulking and resealing the roof is the most common solution. Sweep, mop, or scrape as much as possible before undertaking larger repairs.
  1. Remove damaged floors, ceilings and walls. Anywhere you can see water spots or smell a soft spot, remove the wallpaper, panelling and flooring to access the wood below. Remove the wood that has started to rot and remove the wet insulation. 
  1. Disinfect all surfaces. Spray all surfaces of your caravan with a bleach solution to disinfect them. Scrub thoroughly to remove any mould or mildew growth. Disinfecting subfloors and panels that you don’t plan to replace will help prevent mould and mildew growth in the future.
  1. Ventilate the camper until it is completely dry. While you may feel an urge to hurry with the project and restore your trailer to its former glory, it is important that you let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.
  1.  Replace damaged areas. Replace the wood that you had to remove from the frame of your pop-up camper. Match the new panelling to the other panelling on the walls and use matching wallpaper to evenly cover the areas you had to repair. 

Line up your flooring with the existing tiles, or replace the entire flooring if the damage is severe or you cannot match the pattern. Carefully replace any items that you had to remove during the repair.

How do you fix a sagging roof on a pop-up camper?

When the roof of your pop-up is sagging, it causes a lot of damage to your camper: deformation of the roof covering, water infiltration, cracks in the roof, etc. 

The faster you act, the less expensive the repair costs will be. On the contrary, the longer you wait, the more dramatic the consequences could be with the collapse of your camper’ structure.

The standard steps in repairing a sagging roof on a pop-up camper are:

  1. Remove the outer frame to assess the damage
  2. Disassemble the canvas and remove the roof
  3. Remove rotten and water-damaged pieces
  4. Rebuild the roof structure with new pieces
  5. Reapply the roof and canvas to the RV
  6. Seal holes and seams to prevent future leaks
  7. Repair the ceiling. 

How to repair a tear in the canvas of your pop-up camper

Pop-up campers are made of canvas, which can tear, puncture, or rot from exposure to the elements. To fix a hole or tear you can’t just sew it. You need to patch it up with another piece of canvas, otherwise, the waterproof qualities of the canvas may be ruined. Repair the canvas as soon as possible so that the problem doesn’t get worse. 

Steps to repair the canvas:

  1. Purchase a patch kit.
  2. Measure the tear, hole, or rotted area.
  3. Cut out a piece of canvas from the patch kit that is similar to the original canvas colour.
  4. Cut it an inch larger all the way around the problem area.
  5. Inside the camper, line the area with the adhesive cloth from the patch kit. Cover it with the cutout piece of burlap.
  6. Wait about 10 minutes until it dries.
  7. Cut another piece of canvas for the exterior of the camper.
  8. Apply the adhesive and the canvas and wait 10 minutes until it dries.
  9. Keep the camper upright for 24 hours to allow the repaired area to dry completely.
  10. Spray the treated area with a waterproof silicone spray or wax.

The bottom line

As a final piece of advice, the condition of the roof of a pop-up camper should be checked at least twice a year. The roof is the perfect place for water leaks. We must repair the camper roof as soon as the inspection shows us a leak. Besides cleaning your pop-up camper, it is also important to regularly inspect it for tears, holes, and fix the damage as soon as possible.

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

FAQ on What are pop-up camper roofs made of?

Do pop up campers leak when it rains?

Yes, pop-up campers may leak when it rains. Why? First, because they are not waterproof. Second, because your camper canvas is probably torn or seriously damaged. You must always check your camper before every trip for holes in the canvas or the roof, as they are mainly responsible for water leaks. 

How do you clean a pop-up camper roof?

To understand how to clean a pop-up camper roof, you have to know how to recognize the types of stains on the camper roof. The pop-up camper exterior is subjected to climatic conditions, to the sun, to rain, to temperature variations, to pollution… It is especially subjected to leaks throughout its life. Your pop-up camper roof can also stain over time.

Can you pressure wash a pop-up camper?

It is not recommended to pressure wash a pop-up camper, as it can damage the canvas, as well as the fibreglass. Likewise, pressure washing can damage the gaskets and caulking around your pop-up camper vinyl windows. If you pressure wash your RV, you might accidentally force water in it or even remove the decals.


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