Replacing the RV Roof Details
NOTE: This is not a complete tutorial for replacing your roof but I wanted to detail some aspects that were less than easy.
Our RV was twenty years old and the original EPDM “rubber” roof was about to become a big issue. I previously used EternaBond tape on a few bad spots but I was backing down a driveway when a branch punctured and removed a section of rubber thus necessitating complete replacement. A local RV place quoted $6000 to repair the roof which seems to be about average. Fortunately, the place we were staying had a bunch of huge storage containers to facilitate the work so we decided to replace the twenty seven feet of roof ourselves for a fraction of the quote.
We ordered new roof supplies, vent fan, and skylight.
We removed the air conditioners, vents, skylight, TV antenna and then the old rubber roof. On our RV, aluminum trim transition strips are used along the sides and roof caps to hold down the EPDM material. Using a hardened steel punch, I pushed the center of each rivet inward and then drilled the head off with a 3/16″ drill bit. Once the trim was removed, I pushed the remaining part of the rivet into the wall gap with the punch. After removing the rounded edge plastic, I pulled the remaining staples from the fiberglass wall panel and cleaned off all the old adhesives.
The wood sub-roof was in decent condition but was sticky as hell from the adhesive used on the old EPDM. I glued a layer of 3/16″ plywood on top of the existing wood to create a nice smooth surface to adhere the new roof.
The trim is held in place by specialty countersunk aluminum “tri-grip” rivets that I ended up purchasing from Fleetwood directly. They have two rivets that work for this application. The original rivet is part #: 595051 which costs $1.87 each and an alternative rivet part #:582633 which costs $0.29 each. Rivet 595051 is flat and rivet 592633 has a slight dome head. I ended up using about 150 of the alternative 582633 rivet for a significant savings over using the original rivet. The slight dome head also worked much better with the cheap rivet gun I bought from Harbor Freight.
Fleetwood used rounded edges on our Southwind RV which were created by stapling plastic rounded inserts to the roof and siding. I replaced them using rounded sections cut from 10″ galvanized HVAC pipe. Self tapping metal screws hold the new rounded edge to the siding and roof. I then used some EternaBond roof tape to cover all the sharp metal edges.
Double sided tape is used to hold down each edge under the aluminum trim. I rolled the double sided tape onto each end cap just inside where the trim will cover. The backing on the outside of the tape stayed on until after the EPDM was in place.
EPDM “Rubber roof” Install
After unrolling the new EPDM on the RV roof, I trimmed the length five inches longer than needed at each end. We rolled up half of the EPDM from the end to middle of the RV. Using a paint roller, we applied adhesive to about a foot of sub-roof and also to the corresponding length of EPDM. After waiting the required set time, we rolled the EPDM onto the adhesive covered sub-roof and smoothed out any bubbles. After repeating this process a bunch of times, we had installed half of the roof. Then we rolled up the other half of EPDM and repeated the process. Once the EPDM was in place, I primed the underside of the rubber using EPDM primer where the double sided tape adheres. Then I removed the backing from the double sided edge tape and affixed the EPDM.
I used a metal punch to push through the EPDM and double sided tape to give access to the rivet holes along the sides and end caps. The end cap trim was installed and then the sides. Using a utility knife, I trimmed the excess EPDM at the outside and lower side of the trim. The end cap trim got a liberal application of M-1 Sealant / Adhesive on both edges and on top of each rivet. The side trim got M-1 on the top edge and a light coat on each rivet head. I highly recommend Chemlink M-1 sealant for it’s versatility and ability to be painted.
We reinstalled the air conditioners, vents and new skylight per manufactures recommendations.