Friday, March 24, 2023


Chalking running down RV’s sidewall plus decals fading. What can I do?

Dear Dave,
My 2002 Montana is an old guy, but very solid with a Go Power Elite package and an onboard generator. I am a camp host during the summer and it has served me well for 8 years. I live in southern New Mexico, so the high desert sun in the winter has taken its toll on the decals. When it rains, chalky residue washes off of the roof. Since a new roof has been estimated at $3,500, I’m wondering if there is anything that I can do to extend the life of the roof. Thanks for your advice. —Mark, 2002 Montana 2880RL

Dear Mark,
There are several options depending in the condition of your existing roof material. Since it’s a 2002, I would suspect it is TPO or EPDM, both of which can be conditioned or treated with a more permanent coating. The chalking leads me to believe it’s EPDM, as this material is a rubber membrane that starts off black and has a colored powder applied to the top side. It will deteriorate, causing the chalking condition that you are experiencing. You can tell by taking off an inside roof vent frame and looking at the excess material tucked around the sides. If the underside is black, it is EPDM. This material requires much more maintenance.

Care of EPDM roof

EPDM should be cleaned at least twice a year, or more in your case, due to the severe exposure to the sun. I like to use Dawn Dish Soap (Blue) and water. Make sure you wet the sides down liberally as you clean to keep the chalky water from running down the sides and drying, as this will create more work.

After it dries, condition the material with a rubber conditioner designed for EPDM such as from Dicor or other products like 303 Protectant or ProtectAll. These products not only condition but also help to protect against ultraviolet (UV) degradation, which is what breaks down the material and causes the chalking. This might not be the best solution in your case since you are a camp host and probably not able to wash and condition as often in your spot.


Another option

The second option would be to clean the roof thoroughly and apply product like Dicor roof conditioner, which is a roll-on liquid similar to paint and applied with a paint roller. It is a two-part system: part 1 is a cleaner/activator, part 2 is the acrylic coating that requires a few coats. It is the easiest DIY product with mostly great reviews, and it requires less maintenance than the original EPDM.

There are dozens of other products that are a little more heavy-duty. Some are not so easy for the average RVer to install as they require a spray application with an automotive-type sprayer. Dustin at California RV Specialists has switched to Kool Seal® Tundra™ with a roll-on application, because in California there are restrictions on spray applications that have certain emissions issues.

I have talked with several dealers that use RV Armor and even a newer product called RV Roof. They all seem to be a thick and pliable type material that covers the old roof. I would recommend checking out the information and video on Dustin’s site here.

Don’t forget the seams

Whatever material you use, keep in mind that you will need to inspect and reseal any of the seams such as the roof to sidewall, front cap, and areas around vent coverings if the sealant there has deteriorated. Also check the gasket under the roof air conditioner and do not apply any sealant under that. In fact, it is recommended to remove the roof air conditioner when applying and reinstall it with a new gasket.

As for the decals on the side, they typically have a 5-7 year life span, so it’s not uncommon to see fading of yours with it being over 10 years old. I did talk with a technician at Sharpline, one of the premiere decal manufacturers, and they do not recommend any type of wax or “shine” material. But they have tested a new product called RejeX®, which they found has extended the life of their decals.

 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Should I condition my rubber roof or recoat it?

Dear Dave,
We have a 2018 Sunset Trail 33-ft. RK291 travel trailer with a rubber roof. Would it be best to use a conditioner or recoating product on it? I plan on doing it myself, whichever product I use. Thank you. —Robert

Read Dave’s answer.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here


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1 month ago

I re-coated our class A fiberglass roof with Dicor for Fiberglass a few years ago now. It is a great product. Just be certain to do the proper prep work. No rain or dew for 24 hours or so. Goes on easily with a paint roller and/or brush for small areas. Highly recommend it for a DIY project. Be very careful as the cleaner is very slippery. Wear sun glasses and old clothes!

1 month ago

Unfortunately, i had to replace my roof on my NEW Forest River 2017 34QS motor home. It had factory defect & Forest River said it was from something hitting the roof & the Ins. Co. said the opposite. Yes we contacted a lawyer & they said I have a great case, the only problem was I would NOT be able to use my M/H for up to 2 years while it made it to court! Dude we were leaving for our long awaited ALCAN vacation. Called RV Armor & had them install a new roof on a new M/H. Not had an issue since, best decision we made, spent 8 weeks between Canada & Alaska. The guys @ RV Armor are the best

Bill T
1 month ago

How do you clean the chalk stains of the side of a rig that is adzel material?

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