Identifying the Roof Membrane Before an RV Rubber Roof Replacement

rv rubber roof replacement

A solid and reliable RV roof is important if you want to continue enjoying your mobile home without the hassles brought by an inadequate roofing. A basic knowledge of the different types of RV roofs is crucial if you want to care for your roof.

There are basically three types of materials that your RV roof could be made of—metal, fiberglass or rubber. Identifying a metal roof is fairly easy. While they are not common these days, metal roofs such as galvanized metal and aluminum were widely used decades ago. Fiberglass roofs are also becoming rarer nowadays.

Around 20 years ago the RV industry found a new type of roofing material that works better than metals or fiberglass and has qualities not found in the old roofs. The product is a rubber roofing membrane that is lightweight, cost-effective, easy to install and maintain, seamless and resistant to UV light.

EPDM and TPO Rubber Roofs

The two popular types of RV rubber roofing are EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) and TPO (Thermal Poly Olefin). If your RV has a rubber roof, it could either be EPDM or TPO. When the time comes when you need to have an RV rubber roof replacement, you should be able to identify the type of rubber your RV has in order to install the right material.

How do you know which type of rubber roof is installed on your RV?

Check Owner’s Manual

The first thing you should consult is the RV owner’s manual. It should plainly state what type of rubber membrane was used on the RV. It will also lists the maintenance and cleaning instructions for your RV. If you have no access to the owner’s manual or for some reasons it does not specify the type of rubbing membrane used, there are ways to determine the type of your RV rubber roofing.

Gray or White Streaks

Look for gray or white streaks on the sides of the RV. EPDM membrane is designed to oxidize over time to protect it against UV rays and ozone. The oxidization or shedding produces the gray or white streaks found on the body of the RV.

Unlike EPDM, TPO rubber roof does not oxidize so you will not see any white or gray streaks on the sides of the RV. Another characteristic of a TPO membrane not found in EPDM is its glossy look.

Slippery When Wet

Another difference between the two types of rubber roofing is that EPDM is very slippery when wet while TPO is not.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Rubber Roofing Materials

rubber roofing material

While the use of rubber roofing materials have several advantages, it also has its disadvantages. We listed them below for the guidance of homeowners.


Price. This is one of the biggest advantages of rubber roofing. The cost of installation is lower compared to other types of roof. Since the product is much lighter than other roofing materials like asphalt and slate shingles, the labor cost for installation is greatly reduced.

Longevity. Rubber roofing is known for their durability and long life span. Most rubber roofs are in the form of rolls that are laid over the roof. Depending on the actual shape and layout of the roof, few seams are found. Seams are where water normally seeps into the house causing damage to the interiors and integrity of the structure.

UV Resistant. Modern rubber roofs are resistant to ultraviolet rays of the sun, ensuring a long-lasting product that could last up to or beyond 50 years.

Durable. Compared to asphalt shingles that have the tendency to crack when exposed to extreme temperatures, strong winds and inadequate ventilation, rubber roofs are durable and resist damage when subjected to the same elements. Rubber roof resists strong winds and hail with a diameter of up to three inches.

Easy to Repair. On the rare occurrence that leaks occur, repairing the damaged rubber is easy and fast. A special tape manufactured to repair rubber is usually enough to restore the roof in prime condition. Sometimes a tube of liquid rubber is used with the same result.

Green. Most rubber roofs are made from recycled materials. The roofing material itself is recyclable after reaching the end of its lifetime. Compared to other roofing materials, the production of rubber roof requires less energy making it one of the greenest roofing materials around.

Fire Resistant. Rubber roofs are fire resistant similar to slate shingles. Unlike the latter, however, prices of rubber roofs are much lower. Starting a fire on a rubber roof is almost impossible. The fire-resistant quality of rubber roof means that you will have time call for help whenever fire occurs in your home.


Dark Color. Most rubber roofs are black. Black roofs tend to absorb the sun’s heat and add to the temperature of the house or building. However, this can easily be negated by painting a white or light color on the rubber to make it cooler and prolong the life of the material.

Requires Professional Installation. A do-it-yourself person will not be able to lay down the rubber on his roof. Professional and licensed installers are required for the installation of rubber roofs. Finding a qualified installer may be a problem in some areas.

Improper Installation. To protect the house as it was meant to do, rubber roof must be properly installed by a professional. Problems could occur in the future because of incorrect installation, which might also void the warranty.