RV Roof Repair, Fix Your EPDM Rubber Roof the Easy Way

RV Roof Repair, Fix Your EPDM Rubber Roof the Easy Way

RV roof repair is vitally important. Neglecting it can compromise the integrity of your RV travel trailer or motorhome. And since fixing a tear in your rubber roof is so easy, there’s no reason to delay.

Perhaps you’ve discovered from experience that RV rubber roofs and tree branches don’t mix. Rough housing on your rubber roof won’t help matters either, and is just plain dangerous. Whatever the cause, accidents can rip your rubber, and that can lead to water leaks. Next thing you know you’ve got extensive water damage and your RV has turned to a pile of rubble.

But fear not, because repairing damage done to your RV’s roof is child’s play. And if you’re short on money or time, repairing a rubber roof will be much less costly and less time consuming than a complete RV roof replacement.

To help you stay dry I’ll talk a little bit about EPDM rubber roofs (the mainstay on RVs today), then I’ll go over roof repair methods, patch kits, RV roof repair tape, and lastly, resealing roof seams.

EPDM Rubber Roofs

EPDM stands for quite a mouthful, are you ready? Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer is a synthetic rubber material that the RV industry picked up back in the 1980s. It’s been used for RV roofs ever since. The reasons why are clear.

When your roof is damaged beyond repair, an RV roof replacement is the solution

EPDM rubber provides outstanding resistance to UV rays, oxidants, and ozone. It can survive temperatures from -50 F to +240 F without cracking. It can be walked on, is flexible, and has good resistance to abrasion.

Due to its slow aging rate in the sun, manufacturers often provide a 10-12 year warranty on their EPDM rubber roofs. Most rubber roofs will see a lifespan of 20+ years.

There are a couple downsides though. EPDM rubber is prone to tearing — and oxidation eventually produces chalking which can leave white streaks down the sides of your RV. Care must be taken when cleaning a rubber roof as solvents, oils, and waxes can deteriorate the rubber. Above all, oil-based roof coatings must never be used on rubber roofs.

All-in-all, EPDM rubber is the roof of choice on RVs today, and could be for years to come. Now let’s see how we can slap that roof back into shape with some quick and easy RV roof repair.

Do-It-Yourself RV Roof Repair

Four Repair Options

There are 4 ways you can go about repairing the rubber on your roof:

  • Patch it Yourself. Cost: $20, but this can vary depending on the size of the patch. Purchase a section of EPDM rubber roofing material that’s 2 inches larger than the damaged area. To save some dough, ask your local RV shop if they have any free scraps lying around. Use a rubber roof adhesive to glue it in place and seal the edge with an RV roof sealant, or lap sealant.
  • RV Roof Patch Kit. Cost: $30. These kits have everything you need to make roof repairs. They come with the patch, adhesive and sealant. Just follow the included directions. The Dicor Patchit Kit is a popular one.
  • RV Roof Repair Tape. Cost: $60-$90. RoofSeal made by EternaBond and DiSeal Tape by Dicor are examples of RV roof repair tape. These tapes are very easy to use — just clean the damaged area and apply the tape.
  • Spray On Roof Repair. Cost: $20. Spray-n-Seal Instant Rubber Roof Repair comes in a can and fills cracks up to 3/16 inch. It’s UV stable for at least 5 years and remains flexible once dry.

Now I’ll explain how to apply a patch to the damaged area, then I’ll discuss patch kits and RV roof repair tape in more detail.

How to Patch a Rubber Roof

If you can get your hands on some EPDM rubber, this is a quick and easy way to patch up your RV’s roof.

  1. Take a piece of EPDM rubber membrane and use a razor knife (or sharp scissors) to cut a patch 2 inches larger than the damaged area. Round the corners and leave no jagged edges.
  2. Center the patch over the damaged area and use a pen or pencil to draw a line around the patch, marking its location on your roof.
  3. Lift the patch and use a scraper to remove any old caulking stuck to the damaged section. Clean the area using a clean cloth and a touch of rubbing alcohol or some Protect All Rubber Roof Cleaner. A scrub pad may be used on stubborn dirt, stains, sap, etc. Clean the bottom of the patch too.
  4. Apply an even coat of EPDM adhesive to the bottom of the patch and to the damaged area outlined on the roof. Once the adhesive is dry, press the patch into place. Lay down a bead of Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant (or a similar RV roof sealant) over the edge the patch. Once dry, your job is done and your RV’s roof should be ready for rain.

RV Roof Repair Patch Kit

Roof Repair Patch Kits

Patch kits make RV roof repair even easier. Products like the Dicor Patchit Kit include a piece of peel and stick EPDM rubber with the adhesive built-in. A tube of self-leveling lap sealant is also included. Just stick the patch on and seal the edge with the lap sealant. No glue is needed.

RV Roof Repair Tape

Tape is the simplest RV roof repair of all. EternaBond has been making a tough self-sealing tape for a number of years now. It’s applied just like any tape. Cut a piece and lay it on your RV roof over the damaged area. It’s extremely waterproof and can even be used to fix leaking holding tanks.

EternaBond RoofSeal Tape creates a long lasting watertight seal on a variety of surfaces including EPDM rubber, TPO, Hypalon, metal, most PVC, tile, wood, and concrete. It has excellent UV protection and is said to last more than 20 years.

RV Roof Repair Tape by Dicor

Dicor, the leading manufacturer of RV rubber roofs, has a self-sealing tape called DiSeal Tape. Like EternaBond, it can be used to seal seams, cracks and tears in EPDM rubber roofs. It stops leaks immediately and has a very long life span too.

As you would when applying a patch, you’ll need to remove all dirt and grime from your roof before applying the tape. RV roof repair tape will not adhere to silicon, so any silicon caulking needs to be removed first.

The downside with RV roof repair tape is the cost. You’ll have to buy a whole roll which can run $60 or more. However, it’s good stuff to keep on hand for emergency repairs.

Resealing RV Roof Seams

Finished with your RV roof repair? Great. Now that you’re up there you might as well take a good look at those roof seams. Check the seal between the roof and the walls, and also where the roof meets any components such as the air conditioner, roof vents, skylights, antennas, etc. If the RV roof sealant looks like it’s had better days and is no longer doing its job, you could have a water leak. Better to be safe than sorry and get it fixed now.

First, remove old caulking with a scraper tool, then clean the area to remove all dirt and grime. Use a cleaner that’s compatible with EPDM rubber, such as Protect All Rubber Roof Cleaner. Now reseal the seam using an RV roof sealant such as Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant. which remains flexible when dried. This sealant is applied using a caulking gun and goes on slightly runny in order to fully cover the seam. Once dry it has a smooth surface with a rubbery feel.

An alternative to RV roof sealant, albeit more expensive, would be to use an RV roof repair tape such as EternaBond or DiSeal Tape on your RV roof seams. These tapes are longer lasting than RV roof sealant, and once you’ve sealed your seams with it, you most likely will never have to do it again. These self-sealing tapes are said to last over 20 years.

Let it Rain

Congratulations, now you’re all set when mother nature drops a few cats and dogs your way. Happy camping, rain or shine!


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