Your RV’s roof is the most important part of your RV. It’s the first place water intrusion will take place. So, knowing when to replace RV roof caulk and sealant is paramount to maintaining water tight integrity to your motorhome or camper.
A properly sealed roof is the first line of defense against water leaks. These leaks will cause extensive damage to you RV.
So, let’s get down to business and learn when and how to replace your RV roof caulk and sealants.
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When and How to Replace RV Roof Caulk and Sealant
How often should you inspect and clean your RV roof?
The roof of your RV needs to be inspected on a regular basis. The length of time between inspections depends greatly on where you camp with your RV and how it is stored.
RVs that are subjected to lengthy periods in the hot sun such as Arizona or Florida require more frequent inspections. Likewise, RVs stored outside or frequently parked under trees also need several inspections per year.
Also you need to inspect the roof of your RV after extreme weather; especially after hail or snow storms. Because we full-time in our RV, we inspect the roof of our motorhome at least once a month. However, based on how many times you use your camper and where it’s parked, your time frame may vary.
You should clean your RV’s roof at least 2-3 times a year. If it sits out in the elements or under trees that drop debris, sap or stains, you probably will want to wash your RV’s roof more frequently.
Just remember, any cleaner you use on the roof of your motorhome or camper must not have any petroleum distillates, citric ingredients or harsh abrasives.
So, my best suggestion is to use specific RV roof cleaners. If your fifth wheel or towable RV has a rubber roof, make certain you use roof cleaning agents made specifically for rubber roofs. You may need to also use a spot cleaner for hardened on stains.
Use a telescoping handle soft brush and wash mitt to get the dirt, mold and stains. Never use steel wool or scrubbers that can scratch or damage the roof surface. After you’re finished washing your roof, rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before proceeding with caulking or resealing.
Also, this is a good time to give it a good inspection now that everything is clean. Look for splits, cuts and lifting of any caulk or sealing; making note not to miss any.
PRO TIP: For more in-depth info, check our How to Clean and Maintain Your RV Roof
PRO TIP: If your RV does not have its’ own attached ladder, check out: Best Ladder for RV, Motorhome & Camper
What determines when you should patch or replace my RV roof’s caulk or sealant?
Replacing or patching the sealant or caulk on your RV’s roof is determined by the condition of the sealant or caulk.
Over time and with prolonged exposure to the sun the sealant or caulk on the roof of your RV will dry out and crack. This is easily noticeable through an inspection. Simply by touching the sealant or caulk and you can tell if it is brittle and dried out.
Some RVs can go longer than others between sealant and caulk replacement because they have been stored inside. Also owners that use the wrong type of cleaning solutions can cause the sealant of caulk to dry out prematurely.
Last, but not least, owners that neglect to clean the roofs of their RVs properly will certainly shorten the life of the RV’s roof sealant and caulk.
What is the difference between RV roof caulk and sealant?
The difference between RV roof caulk and sealant is the chemical compound of each material and its’ intended application.
Some sealants such as clear silicone do not adhere well to all surfaces. So, they are not really recommended for outside application.
Other sealants such as Dicor (Epdm Self-Leveling Lap Sealant) are used on horizontal surfaces for their self leveling capability. Dicor also has the ability to remain flexible when cured.
The type of RV roof sealant or caulk you use depends on type of roof, area of application and recommendation from the RV’s manufacturer. We can not stress enough to contact your manufacturer for a list of approved RV roof sealants and caulk.
What type of caulk and sealant should I use on my RV roof?
You should not use just any sealant or caulk on your roof. Your roof is subject to all weather elements. Therefore, you need caulks and sealants specifically designed for RV roofs.
Each manufacture should be able to provide you with a list of approved sealants and caulk. Try to use the same brand and specification the factory does during original construction.
However, most commonly used Dicor RV roof sealing products are what most apply on their motorhomes and campers.
Be aware though, it’s important to use the correct sealants or caulks according to your RV’s roofing material. Towable campers and fifth wheels typically have rubber membrane roofs. And motorhomes usually have hard fiberglass roofs. So, take extra care in getting the right ones.
RV Pro Tip: While you’re inspecting or reapplying roof caulk, it’s an ideal time to also conduct your Annual RV Air Conditioner Maintenance & Cleaning Tips
What tools and supplies do you need to replace the caulk or sealant on my RV’s roof?
The tools needed to replace the sealant or caulk on your RV’s roof are very basic.
Use a plastic putty knife to remove the majority of the old caulk or sealant before using solvent though. And NEVER use any sharp instruments or tools to remove any caulk or sealants; especially on roofs that have rubber membranes. One slip can spell disaster and a costly repair.
You’ll need a specific solvent to remove some of the old remnants. Be aware, the type of solvent depends on the type of material your RV roof is made from. We use mineral spirits on our motorhome fiberglass roof coating.
Rubber roofs may require a different solvent to prevent damage to the roof membrane. So, always check with your manufacturer for their recommendation in your RV manufacturer’s owners manual.
Ensure you use lint-free, soft shop towels when applying solvent. Do not use paper towels as they’ll just fall apart, make a mess and blow all over the place. It’s best to wear disposable gloves and a respirator mask as you don’t want to get solvents on your skin or breathe in the fumes.
Last but not least, you need a quality caulking gun to reapply the new sealant or caulk. This is not the time to cheap out on a dollar store caulking gun. Spend the money for a good caulk gun that will do the job properly. One you can use again in the future.
Shopping List of Supplies
- Can you caulk your roof or use sealant in any weather?
The type of weather to reseal or caulk your RV’s roof depends on the directions from the sealant or caulk manufacturer. Each company has different parameters for the application of their products.
In general, it is not a good idea to apply RV roof sealant or caulk in freezing temperatures. Nor should you apply it in the rain or excessive wind. Dicor, a popular self leveling roof sealant can be exposed to rain, but only if it has had about an hour to initially dry before the rain comes. Other types of sealant, ie. silicone require a full 24 hours of the proper conditions for drying time and adherence.
When is the best time of the day to caulk your RV roof?
The best time of day to apply new RV roof sealant or caulk is based on a couple factors.
To start, before even getting up on your RV roof to do any maintenance, it needs to be completely dry. You don’t want to slip on your roof or fall (or both).
The ideal time of day to recaulk your roof is from mid morning to mid afternoon. By leaning towards mid morning ensures the RV’s roof is completely dry from the morning dew and is dry enough to step on safely.
We do not recommend applying new sealant or caulk late in the day as the temperature may drop to low for proper curing and adhesion.
Also working in the late afternoon sun may not allow you enough time to apply or spread the RV sealant or caulk before it dries to quickly. This results in a messy looking application. It also will create gaps or holes causing potential leaks in the roof sealant or caulk.
How do I apply roof caulk
Always apply the RV roof sealant (silicone) or Dicor caulk in accordance to your RV manufacturer’s recommendations.
Ensure the area you are working is clean and dry. Apply a smooth even bead of product. Make sure you don’t disturb or step on the new sealant or caulk once it’s down.
Quickly clean up any excess caulk or sealant before it dries. Make sure you don’t leave any gaps in the beads of caulk.
How long will new caulk or sealant last?
The length of time the new RV roof sealant or caulk lasts depends on it’s exposure to the sun and variations in outside temperatures.
You can extend the time the sealant or caulk will last by storing your RV under cover. But also, keeping your RV’s roof clean and free of chemicals and debris that may degrade existing seals.
RV Pro Tip: Learn more about your RV roof, check out RV Roof Inspection, Cleaning and Maintenance
Final thoughts on when and how to replace your RV roof caulk and sealants?
Replacing your RV’s roof sealant (clear silicone) or Dicor caulk really doesn’t take a ton of strenuous effort. However, it does require you to get onto your roof and use a little bit of elbow grease.
Again, if you can’t do this RV maintenance task yourself, either hire a professional RV tech or RV roof professional. Done properly you have the peace of mind of a leak proof roof for your camping experiences.
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