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Be careful what you wash your rubber RV roof with!

A few months ago we had a customer schedule an appointment for their 2015 Grand Design Solitude 305RE to have a roof coating completed. Upon inspection, we found that the roof membrane was sticky and tacky—we could rub the membrane with our finger and the membrane would simply wipe away. Obviously, we were unable to complete a roof coating on a roof membrane that we suspected was damaged by chemicals. We advised the customer to contact their insurance provider to submit a claim as the only fix is to replace the roof.

A very dirty and damaged rubber RV roof

This customer lives in their unit full-time. Curious as to what caused this chemical damage, we asked if they utilize truck washes. The customer explained that they typically pay cash to whoever in the RV campground washes units onsite.

The cause

To be clear, this is NOT an issue created by the RV manufacturer or the maker of the roof membrane. This was caused by a chemical that was applied to the roof surface that shouldn’t have been. It is important to know what type of rubber roof material you have, and what products you should be using to keep it cleaned or maintained.

Rubber RV roof types

There are two types of rubber roof materials:

  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is a soft and smooth material. It is typically very slippery when wet. It can take on a “chalky” look.
  • TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) has a texture to it, much like an orange peel or basketball surface feel. It is very glossy.

What products not to use

Do NOT use cleaners or conditioners containing petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives, or citric-based cleaners.

Roof cleaner suggestions

The outcome

The customer’s insurance provider did honor the claim and a new rubber RV roof was installed.

a brand new rubber RV roof

More from Dustin

Read more of Dustin’s articles here.

Dustin owns and operates California RV Specialists, an independent RV repair shop located in Lodi, CA. He thrives on sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm of RV repair and maintenance with his team, customers, and virtual friends.

Be sure to check out his YouTube channel where he shares what’s going on in the shop and the product offerings in the store. Dustin is also very active on Facebook. Join his group, RV Repairs and Tips – What’s in the shop!

Dustin proudly operates the business alongside his wife, Ashley; but the true pair that run the show are their Boston Terriers, Arvie and Hitch.

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SDW
10 days ago

I’ve been cleaning my rubber roof 5’ver for 15 years with a 1/2 concentrate of Simple Green. And have seen no ill affects from it. I wet the portion I’m going to clean and pump from a Zep spray bottle the Simple Green on to the area. Then I use a soft brush head attach to a telescoping painters pole to scrub it, then rinse it with a spray nozzel on my garden hose. Then move on to the next section. When it’s clean and dry I go over it with Protect-all roof sealer. No problems in doing this once, to twice a year for 15 years.

Ryan McDougal
11 days ago

Sorry but the before and after are different units.

Steve Guard
10 days ago
Reply to  Ryan McDougal

I can assure you as the owner of the rig that they are the same. We also had a new skylight and antenna installed at the same time.

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Diane McGovern
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve Guard

Thanks for the clarification, Steve. (Aren’t Dustin and Ashley super neat people?) Have a great day! 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com

Bob p
11 days ago

He got lucky!

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