By the Dicor Products Technical Team.
Rubber roofs are the No. 1 choice for today's RVs. More than 2million RVs with rubber roofs are presently on the road.
Rubber roofs require less lifetime maintenance; they eliminate "roof rumble,"and have passed the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) 20-yearaccelerated aging test.
First introduced commercially in the 1960s, rubber roofs started to becomepopular in the 1970s and by the 1980s accounted for 40 percent of the roofingmarket. Today rubber roofs account for upward of 70 percent of RV roofs.
EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is one of the most versatile andlong-lasting materials used for RV roofs. It is cost effective and both easy tomaintain and repair. EPDM provides excellent resistance to ultra-violet rays,ozone and oxidants, while performing well under severe weather conditions.
Care and Maintenance
Care of a rubber roof begins with prevention: be aware as to how damage mayoccur. For example, EPDM roofing membranes are specially formulated to be morepuncture resistant, yet these materials can still be cut or punctured by sharpobjects. Also use caution when placing any articles on the roof, walking on theroof, or parking under low hanging tree branches.
Beware of areas where fruit, tree sap, or harsh environmental fallout maystay on the roof for an extended period of time. These conditions may result inpermanent stains. If your roof is exposed to such conditions, you may need toincrease the frequency of your roof cleaning.
Cleaning rubber roofs
Caution: As with the surface of any roof, a rubber roof canbe very slippery, especially when wet. If you go up on your roof, we recommendextreme caution and suggest that you navigate the roof on your hands and feet.This distributes the weight more evenly and helps reduce the possibility offalling.
Dicor Products recommends that a rubber roof be cleaned at least four timesannually by following these steps:
- Completely rinse your roof with clean water to remove any loose dirt or debris.
- Use a medium bristle brush and a concentrated cleaning agent such as Dicor Products RP-RC160C, mixed with two or three gallons of water. As an option to the concentrated cleaning product, Dicor also has a ready-to-use roof cleaner: RP-RC320S. Work in small manageable sections such as a 3-foot-by-3-foot area starting at one end and working toward your point of exit. Scrub and rinse with clean water thoroughly to avoid residue build-up on the roof or sidewalls of your RV.
- For difficult areas repeat step 2.
- Caution: Do not use petroleum distillates to clean the roof as they may cause permanent damage.
With a newly cleaned roof, now would also be a good time to add a roofprotectant product such as Dicor Products' well-known Roof-Gard RP-RG320S UVprotectant. This type of protectant is mild and non-abrasive and helps minimizeoxidation, as well as drying and cracking, and leaves a finish that repels dustand water. It helps reduce fading from UV rays and keeps surfaces cleaner longerwithout residue or oily build-up. It's also free of silicone oils, waxes,glycerin and petroleum distillates, all of which can harm a rubber roof.
To use, first clean the roof. Then while not in direct sunlight, spray theRoof-Gard protectant onto the surface. To ensure even coverage, apply inmanageable sections such as a 3-foot-by-3-foot area using a damp sponge mop orsoft cloth. For maximum protection, apply every 3 to 5 weeks or asnecessary.
Over time, just like everything else, your roof will show signs of aging.However, you can extend the life of your roof for years to come with DicorProduct's Two-Step restoration system. This Two-Step Rubber Roof Coating Systemcombines a cleaner/activator that in one step cleans and prepares the surfaceand helps promote adhesion of the unique specially formulated EPDM rubber roofacrylic coating.
This provides a protective shield o help extend the life of the membrane.This is recommended not only for older roofs, but any roof that is tired, dirtyor stained.
Caution: It is important to NOT use cleaners or conditioners containingpetroleum products, hard abrasives, or citric-based formulas. Use of theseproducts may cause irreparable damage to your roof and/or void the warranty.
Additionally, you may need a lap sealant to touch up or replace existing lapsealants around roof protrusions such as vents, skylights and trim strips. Ifthe old lap sealant has pulled away from the roof, remove it and reseal. If thelap sealant has only surface cracks, just seal over. A cloth dampened withrubbing alcohol to eliminate foreign material from the seal provides a good prepfor the new sealant. Be sure the area cleaned with alcohol is dry (about 15minutes) before putting on the new lap sealant.
Damage may be in the form of punctures and/or rips.
For heavy-duty repairs, i.e., those with extensive damage, use Dicor Products533RM available in 6-inch or 12-inch widths by 25-foot lengths. This is a peeland stick repair material. For smaller repairs, Dicor Products recommends DiSealRP-TPO451C. This is a 4-inch-by-50-foot roll of peel and stick self-adheringrepair material.
For very small punctures Dicor Products offers a 6-inch-by-6-inch patch ofpeel and stick material RP-TP066-1C. Dicor also supplies an emergency patch andrepair kit that you can take with you, the 402PR.
To repair a puncture or rip, examine the area to be repaired and clean thearea with Dicor Products rubber roof cleaner; rinse thoroughly. Ensure the roofis completely dry, Then, using a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol, cleanthe dampened area again. Let dry thoroughly. Cut the repair membrane to extendover the hole making sure it overlaps the damaged area by 2 inches on all sides.DO NOT use multiple patches for a single repair: use the correct size. It isimportant to position any patch on the first try as the patch should not belifted and repositioned.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is it necessary to protect my rubber roof against UV rays?
A. No. ButDicor Products Roof-Gard will add additional protection against damaging UVrays
Q. If I use a roof treatment product containing petroleum distillates on myrubber roof, will that void my warranty?
Q. If I buy a used RV and it has a rubber roof, how can I tell if theprevious owner used petroleum distillates and damaged the rubber roof? Whatshould I look for?
A. Two things: First, swelling and uneven thickness ofmaterial. Second, loose areas. Petroleum distillates soak in and cause theadhesion to loosen and the membrane to balloon. When the ballooning goes down,the membrane may never adhere properly or completely.
Q. My roof seems to "oxidize" and run down the sides when it rains. Is thisnormal?
A. The simple answer is "Yes." EPDM does oxidize slowly; it issupposed to. This is normal. By oxidizing, your EPDM rubber roof is protectingitself from damaging UV rays. Over the lifetime service of your roof thisoxidation process claims about the thickness of two sheets of notebook paper.Cleaning the roof at least four times a year, or more often if necessary, willhelp greatly.
Q. Is it easy to repair tears in the roof membrane?
A. Any tear in an EPDMroof membrane can be repaired using a number of repair methods. Dicor Productsoffers a prepackaged peel and stick repair kit (402PR) that works well on smalltears (up to 8 inches), as well as a larger kit that should be used on largedamaged areas (533RM-6 or 533RM-12). For longer tears use repair kit,522TPO-450-1C.
Q. One supplier of cleaning products told me that their roof treatment hadonly a very small percentage of petroleum in the neighborhood of 10 to 30percent. Is a small percentage like that okay to use on my roof?No. Usually thepercentage is given based on weight. Since petroleum distillates aresignificantly lighter, the reality is that 30 percent by weight might be 40percent or more by volume! THERE IS NO LEVEL OF PETROLEUM DISTILLATES THAT IS RECOMMENDED.
Note: Dicor Products Lap Sealant contains a type of petroleum distillateused strictly in the curing process. At the Lap Sealant cures, the petroleumdistillate evaporates. This will not harm or cause permanent damage to yourroof.
Q. The rubber roof wraps over slightly on both sides of my RV and you can seeit from the ground. Is there any special care that I need to follow for thispart of my roof?
A. Clean the area and treat it with a product that willrepel soiling and is safe for EPDM. One product that performs well, lasts longand is safe for EPDM and is commonly available at RV stores is Dicor Product'sRP-RG320S Roof Gard and Protectant.
For more information, visit www.dicor.com.