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
It depends on the type of rubber material and the condition it is in. There are basically three types of rubber membranes used on RVs: EPDM, TPO, and PVC roofing material such as XTRM PLY by LaSalle Bristol, which is owned by Patrick Industries.
Determining the roof material
To determine the type of material you have, you will need to remove an interior roof vent trim piece and look at the underside of the roof material.
EPDM will be black on the underside. TPO will be the same color as the top side. Alpha Systems, which is owned by Lippert, is also TPO and will have a fleece backing. It is harder to identify a PVC material because it has the same color top and bottom but it usually has a higher shine to it.
According to a Crossroads RV representative, your 2018 has an Alpha TPO roof material. You should be able to verify this by removing the roof vent inside the ring. You should see a fleece lining on the underside of the material. The first thing I would suggest is to get two ladders and a scaffold and inspect the roof material and seams. Alpha should be cleaned 2-3 times per year with Murphy’s Oil Soap and warm water. They do not recommend any type of conditioner.
However, if your material is showing excess signs of deterioration, then just cleaning will not be enough to keep it from deteriorating further and causing leaks.
At this point, it is best to recondition the roof with an aftermarket coating or restoration product. There are several on the market, many designed for the commercial building industry. Personally, I think Dicor makes one of the best and easiest products to apply. Their Rubber Roof Coating System is a two-part application. The first is with a cleaner and the second is the coating, which is applied with a simple paint roller. They also have an advanced product called CoolCoat that incorporates ceramic particles to help disperse heat with the coating.
Whichever method you choose, it is important to inspect the roof and especially the sealants of the front cap to roof, roof to sidewall, and any vents or skylights mounted to the roof. Just applying a new coating will not eliminate moisture leaks in these areas. If the sealants are cracked or separating, you will want to address them by either applying a sealant designed for your TPO material or by removing the old sealant and applying a new self-leveling lap sealant. Many RVers choose to use Eternabond, which I have used on several trailers over the years with great success. However, nothing should be applied without a thorough cleaning and prep work!
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
Read more from Dave here.
HAVE A QUESTION FOR DAVE?
We have started a new forum link for Ask Dave. Please be as brief as possible. Attach a photo or two if it might help Dave with his response. Click to visit Dave’s forum. Or send your inquiries to him using the form below.
When COVID hit and the availability mostly disappeared and the cost of small TTs spiked we had a chance to privately purchase a 2008 Starcraft for a fair price. Meaning book value. We found out about this the spring of 2020 from a cousin in the middle of a 1,600 mile seasonal commute to the north. It was a case of yes/no decision on the spot. No ladder was available to check the roof, but there were no signs of leakage.
When we got home it turned out the roof was at the cusp. After a good wash, I could see the black wasn’t mildew but a thinning white roof. I tackled the job of recoating with Dicor’s CoolCoat product. I am so glad this was a little TT. The work took days to do right (don’t skimp – do it right) and I had to watch the weather forecasts carefully. The roof came out great and we got every penny back out of it when we sold the unit two years later to buy something just slightly bigger.
I cleaned and coated my fiberglass roof on our class A with Dicor for Fiberglas and it is a great product! White, smooth flowing with a paint roller and hard when dry. It is essential to wash the surface first, then use Dicor cleaner, then apply two coats of sealer with a brush around vents, etc., and a roller with a 6′ handle. Also, no rain for 24 hrs. Wear sun glasses, old shoes and clothes. Water cleanup is easy if done almost instantly – it dries quick! First step, inspect seals and Eternabond -also a great product. This was 3-4 yrs ago – still looks like new – after I wash it of course!!!
I recoated our 2010 K-Z Spree travel trailer last fall. Got the Dicor kit on Amazon and with the help of my son got the job done easily. Finished work looks good and I look forward to more years of life on our roof. As Dave states be sure to determine roof membrane type to get correct sealant.
I spoke with ALPHA last month. I had been using Spic n Span, according to their website when I bought the trailer. That stuff is near impossible to find anymore except in ready to use spray bottles.
They suggested Dawn dish washing detergent, with Murphy’s as a second choice.
Which ever method you decide to use, you should ensure that it is compatible with your roofing material. Alpha System roofs generally have a 10-year warranty for the roofing material itself, but they specify that Dicor is not to be used. You may void your roof warranty if you use the wrong product.
I have used this product on my old RV and was very happy with it.