Protecting Your RV's Roof - RV Roof Coating

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 Common Problems / Posted 2 years ago / 4468 views

Protecting Your RV’s  Roof

Over time the gel coated fiberglass roof on your RV can become stained with dirt, mold and other contaminants. You will also notice white streaks showing up on the radius where the roof ties to the sides of your coach. The streaks are actually gel coat particles that are sluffing off from sun exposure damage and it is a process that will continue to erode the fiberglass protective layer which can be depleted in time. Cleaning the roof with one of the many cleaning product available will temporarily alleviate the cosmetic streak problem for about a year or so and then the streaking will re-appear with the gel coat’s continued exposure to the elements. Your roof can also develop cracks that, if left untreated, can result in leaks if the gel coat erosion is severe. Protecting your roof really means protecting the factory gel coat with yet another coating.

There are a number of roof coatings on the market, both do it yourself (DIY) and professionally installed products. This article will focus on a DIY approach.

One key to roof maintenance is not to ignore the roof too long. “Out of sight, out of mind” applies here. When you start seeing the white “chalking” lines on the roof radius, you may want to consider a roof treatment. Left unattended the chalking will get worse over time and detract from the looks of your otherwise spotless RV.

A roof coating procedure developed by a BAC member and used by a number of others, including the author, has shown itself to be successful and durable over time. This application is appropriate for roofs that do not exhibit significant cracks in the surface. For severely cracked roofs, other solutions are available and will be addressed later in the article.

 Rustoleum Marine Top Side Deck Paint was developed for use in the marine industry. It provides a glossy surface that is very resistant to UV effects and is not slippery even when wet. It is available at some Lowes and Ace stores and on Amazon. 2-3 quarts are normally sufficient to complete a 2 coat application of a 40-45’ RV roof. In addition to its non-slip attribute, it sheds dirt and debris easily, avoiding a buildup over time, The author has been pleased by the relative cleanliness of his roof following trips of 2 months or more. An additive is available that will increase the roughness of the surface. However, as you add roughness, you provide a surface that will tend to trap dirt and debris. The as applied surface of the paint is not slippery, even when wet, so the author sees no need for any additive.

Materials Needed:

Surface Preparation:

Determine if you need to remove any of items on the roof; ACs, solar panels, etc. Normally this should not be needed given those areas receive literally no sun damage. A thorough cleaning with a pressure washer should suffice. Inspect the condition of the Dicor sealant used to seal around the roof items. If there are significant cracks you should consider adding another coat of self-leveling Dicor to these areas. Pressure wash the roof with Simple Green to remove the dirt. When dry, lightly scrub the roof with 3M Red Scotchbrite scuff pads. These are available on Amazon, auto paint stores, and some home improvement stores. This will slightly roughen the surface to promote better paint adhesion. Next wash the roof with an automotive wax and tar/grease cleaning solvent available at Walmart, Home Depot, etc. Use plenty of rags. Keep exchanging for a new cloth surface as you wipe areas of the roof down. The intent is to remove surface waxes or oils so the paint will have adequate adhesion. Once the roof is dry, tape the edges where the roof joins the painted areas. Apply the masking tape (2” recommended) so a slight amount of the painted surface is visible. This will enable the roof paint to “seal” the edge of the RV paint’s clear coat and help prevent it from peeling. Also consider taping off roof items like the ACs to protect them from possible over-paint.

The complete prep takes 3-4 hours.

Application:

Apply the paint using 6” rollers available from any paint/home improvement store. Smaller diameter rollers work better around the air conditioner edges and other obstacles. Painting the Dicor sealant around the various roof structures will protect it from UV effects. Use a brush when necessary to cover the Dicor and to get under the edges of structures like ACs and solar panels. The paint is oil based so allow it to dry overnight before applying a second coat. The first coat will appear somewhat rough but the second coat will dry smooth. For added protection you may apply a 3rd coat but 2 coats will normally provide the needed protection and durability.

Other Coatings:

Members have also used Dicor and Rhino Liner products with success. The advantage of these products over a marine deck paint is that they can fill in roof cracks to better prevent leaks over time. However, products like Rhino Liner with a rough surface tend to trap more dirt. Both products will prevent chalking,

 

Thanks to Ed Buker and other BAC Forum members for the information provided in this article.

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