Rubber roof maintence (need opinions)

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Active member
Aug 16, 2005
Northern Saskatchewan, Canada
Hey guys/gals.,

My family has had this Terry TT for a couple of years now, however I am usually the one that takes care of exterior cleaning of all our families' vehicles, so this year I decided I'd try to clean up this TT a bit because the exterior I'll admit, has been neglected.

Anyway, right now I need some opinions on what I should use to clean this rubber roof on the TT.
It has been neglected, I wish it wasn't, but it has been, and when my dad bought the TT, he didn't even know it had a rubber roof. So, I'm faced with the pictures attached. After viewing them you will be able to see what I'm faced with a little bit better I think.

So, after seeing these pictures, what do you guys think? I've never been faced with something quite a dirty and neglected as this.
That dirt will not come off. I have scrubbed and scubbed and scrubbed, and it won't come off; I don't want to damage the rubber though. Rubber roof cleaner doesn't seem to do anything to help either. My dad and I are pretty worried that this roof might be beyond cleaning. We were hoping to get this cleaned up, and some type of conditioner applied to the roof.

Any opinions, etc...anything! is appreceiated. The last owners didn't take of the exterior at all. I just spent 8 hours this last week cleaning the awning up from caked on dirt/sap/etc. to almost brand new condition, however this roof appears to need a little more attention, and from what I have seen, it will need maintence sooner rather then later.

Thanks again :D!

- Jeff L.


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One request - please use the Additional options link and attach photos to your messages rather than embed them in your messages. Many of our members get online via cell phone or other slow connection, so downloading messages containing photos can be painfully slow and can use up expensive air time minutes. Using the attachmments option gives folks the choice of downloading photos or not, based on their mode of connection.

Thanks Jeff. Folks on slow connections will very much appreciate it.

Not to be a S.A., but those pictures look more like a lunar landscape then a rubber roof :'( Are those actual pock marks and/or blisters or just dirt/mold? If the surface is sound and just dirty, an under/bonding coat and top coat can be used to bring it back to like-new condition. Otherwise, you're looking at a fairly substantial repair/replace job. Let us know which case we're talking about so we can make the right recommendations. 
Well, if it's bad enough you may need professional help.  Otherwise I'm hoping the rep from Protect-All jumps in here, as they make most everything you need and Woodalls actually recommends Protect-all products for roof maintance in their "RV OWNERS MANUAL" (An excelent book in my humble opinion as it covers a whole lot of tihngs that are not properly covered in your brand name owner's manal, including roof maintance)
Protect-All does indeed make a rubber roof cleaner that is  effective, but you can do just as well (for less expense) with a good detergent and with some bleach added.  I preferred Spic & Span granular detergent when we had a rubber roof, but Simple Green, Mean Green and that sort of liquid detergent works OK too. You will probably want to go heavy on the bleach too, since you appear to have black algae/mold that needs to be killed as well as removed.  Make sure the detergent you use does not warn against adding bleach - a few types are incompatible.  Oxy-clean is another cleaning product option that combines detergent with bleaching action.. You can use strong detergents and bleach, but avoid mineral spirits and other petroleum-based solvents that can loosen the glue that holds down the rubber.  I suggest a sponge mop or RV brush for the general clean-up, but you will probably want a log-handled scrubbing brush as well for the tough spots. The bristles should NOT be too stiff because the rubber can be abraded fairly easily.

Your rig is going to be a mess as all the loosened dirt runs down the sides, over the awning, etc.  Plan your day so you have time to wash down the exterior after the roof job - you don't want to leave that scum to dry on the sides!  Don't forget the awning - the runoff will seep inside it even when rolled up.    Actually, I suggest washing down the sides first to remove as much grime as possible. That's because the detergent/bleach solution will remove some of it as it runs down from the roof and leave the sides streaked, and it can be a real bear to get it all one color shade after.  Removing the grime on the sidewalls first makes it easier in the long run, even though you end up washing the sides twice that way.

Use isoproply (denatured) alcohol to remove pine pitch. It's the best thing going for that.

If you begin to see the fabirc backing under the rubber (looks like a coarse weave) then the rubber is gone and you will surely have leaks.  If that happens, you will have to coat the roof with a white, rubberized sealer paint. I won't go into brands and methods here unless you find you have that problem.

Once the roof is clean, check the caulk on all the seams and around roof openings (a/c, plumbing vents, etc.).  Since the roof has been neglected you probably have cracked or missong caulk.  Make sure all the mold is out of the cracks and corners and any loose caulk removed. Then re-caulk with a caulk made for EDPM rubber roofs or use Eternabond rubber tape to cover and seal seams.

The whole project is going to take you 2-3 days and you will no doubt sleep well after each days work!

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