What type of roof do I have?

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

coopooc

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Posts
7
Obviously new to the RV world. We bought a 97 Thor Four Winds XL and I have a dumb question. What the heck is our roof made of??

At first, I thought it was fiberglass because it's hard as a rock and I figured a "rubber" roof would feel, well, rubbery. However, there's a damaged portion where water has intruded and the material is bubbling up on a corner. It almost feels and looks like leather (of course I know it's not). Is this the top layer of delaminated fiberglass or some kind of protective layer or just a layer of rubber that isn't adhered?

I'm going to take a stab at repairing it but jesh, I can't even start step one because I can't identify the material. : )

Please help, thanks.
 

coopooc

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Posts
7
Thanks, I wasn't sure which forum to start with.

I'd say the effected area is say 10 inches by 6 inches. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures right now.

It really does feel like some kind of fabric...it's strange.
 

darsben

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2018
Posts
2,202
Location
Central NY in summer beautiful Casa Grande AZ in w
For that size area I would use Eternabond To repair it for right now after you take pictures.
You need to stop further damage
SO Eternabond  Tape and Dicor self leveling Lap sealant on the edges
Etrenabond
https://www.amazon.com/WHITE-Eternabond-Mobile-Rubber-Repair/dp/B077SHW98Q/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1533066131&sr=8-7&keywords=eternabond

Dicor
https://www.amazon.com/Pack-Dicor-Self-leveling-Lap-Sealant/dp/B00H554R98/ref=sr_1_6?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1533066343&sr=8-6&keywords=dicor+sealant

Do not get generic I found that some stick well in the beginning but are no good after about a year.
 

coopooc

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Posts
7
Thanks everyone. I have those products on order. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get pictures yet.

If it does happen to be a fiberglass roof though, would there be any kind of coating I should apply to the entire surface? It all appears to be oxidizing. White powder comes off on your hands when you touch it.
 

darsben

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2018
Posts
2,202
Location
Central NY in summer beautiful Casa Grande AZ in w
No coating until we see pictures. Wrong coating can be bad.
Make sure you thoroughly clean the area to be repaired. Eternabond will not work stuck to dirt.

Something like simple green and then rinse. do not saturate with water. Let dry thoroughly before applying eternabond. 
If you can find a hard wooden roller press down on the eternabond with that. As an alternative if you have a meat pounder/tenderizer use that lightly.. The object is to get a good seal at the edges. Then use the lap sealant.

In a pinch a 3 inch paint roller with a very low nap cover.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,535
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
I'm confident a 1997 Four Winds does NOT have a fiberglass roof. I found some brochures from that era (up thru 2000) and all described the roof as "rubberized", so almost surely EPDM rubber. Not even TPO, which did not come into RV use until around 2002.  I think the white powder you are getting is just the coloring used to make the EPDM white.
 

coopooc

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Posts
7
Thanks Gary and everyone. I finally have photos.

I've attached the area where I think the problem is the worst, it looks like it has brown sealant there for some reason...looks like silicone I'll have to scrape off.

I also attached two other areas I'm worried about.

The Dicor and Eternabond are on their way. After I've addressed the problem areas, I'm wondering what I should do in general to protect and preserve the rest of the roof.

Oh, and one last question. Could someone humor me and explain RV "gutters"? There appears to be some kind of water channeling built into the sides but I'm not clear on where it's intended to ultimately exit. I.e. The gutter seems to end in a caulking dam and then run down the side of the coach which doesn't seem right.

Thanks!
 

Attachments

  • MVIMG_20180801_173245-O.jpg
    MVIMG_20180801_173245-O.jpg
    343.3 KB · Views: 36
  • MVIMG_20180801_173235-O.jpg
    MVIMG_20180801_173235-O.jpg
    307.2 KB · Views: 36
  • MVIMG_20180801_173308-O.jpg
    MVIMG_20180801_173308-O.jpg
    156 KB · Views: 29

darsben

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2018
Posts
2,202
Location
Central NY in summer beautiful Casa Grande AZ in w
Wow!
First off all the old sealant around the skylight HAS to be removed.
The area missing roof looks bigger than 10X6
The roof appears to be rubber to me  and needs to be cleaned badly, but once it is clean then an assessment of the roof can be made however at this moment I think it will be time for a reroof.
Are you planning to tow the RV or leave it on a site?
What area of the country is it in.
 

coopooc

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Posts
7
Thanks for looking over the photos!

When you say "reroof", what exactly does that entail? Are we talking about a coating of  new rubber? Or, ripping the whole thing off and building a new one. Please please say option 1. I can clean it and apply a new coating myself (I think) but I'm certain I can't build a new roof! Ha

This is a motorhome and we are planning to get some use out of it yet this year. We're in Nebraska so the weather is fairly harsh. We want to get it in good shape before winter.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,535
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Clean the roof thoroughly with a strong detergent and bleach. Use a medium bristle brush.  Then inspect to see what it looks like.  If you can see the waffle weave in the backing material, it needs to be either coated with an liquid rubber or torn off and replaced with a new EPDM membrane. The latter isn't as terrible as it sounds, but a roll/brush on coating is definitely easier.  If the membrane still has a rubber surface throughout, coating is optional and would be largely cosmetic. However, adding the coating would probably give an extra 5 or so years of life as well.

The existing caulk looks awful, sloppily applied, cracked and possibly an inappropriate type. I would remove as much as I could. Some heat and a thick blade putty knife/blade makes it manageable task.  You can use a rag dampened with mineral spirits to clean off the residue after the bulk of the caulk is gone. That's is "dampened", not "dripping".  Don't just slop the mineral spirits on - it will penetrate the EPDM and loosen the adhesive that holds it in place.  And don't use a stronger solvent like acetone - it penetrates too quickly.
 

coopooc

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Posts
7
When you say the waffle weave, would that have a leather-like appearance? I don't see a waffle pattern so much as a general texture to it. It certainly is not glossy, that's for sure. I've seen a few videos of the new EPDM membrane and I don't want to dispute you but it looks like a lot of work to remove all the vents, A/C, etc, glue it, lay out the new membrane, cut new holes and reattach all the roof items. Or I should say, not a lot of work but a lot of opportunities for me to screw it up!

I'll work on your first steps and get it cleaned up and remove the old sealant and see where things end up. If I do go the liquid rubber route, would this be a product you'd recommend? https://www.amazon.com/Liquid-Roof-Repair-EPDM-Coatings/dp/B01MRYN18E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533224390&sr=8-1&keywords=epdm+liquid+roof+for+rv

Thanks again, I don't know what the heck we'd do without your help...obviously we don't have a clue what we're doing but we're excited to learn!
 

blw2

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 9, 2012
Posts
3,325
Location
Saint Johns, FL
Gary, just curious... & I'm sorry if this confuses the issue for the coopooc....IF it needs to be replaced, why EPDM?  I thought TPO was the stuff everyone uses these days.

Also, I have an alternate to consider IF it needs replacing.  I had my roof done by rvroof.com (I had a whole other problem, not like yours).  So far I've been impressed with it, for a few reasons.  No more caulking on the roof, ever... it made the rig quieter...it added a small insulation value....  and a few other things...From what I could find at the time, the cost was right inline with a standard re-roof (assuming you paid someone to do it).  I don't know if there's any locations near you, but IF it ends up needing full replacement and not just a coating or patch, then it's just an alternative to consider.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,535
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
When you say the waffle weave, would that have a leather-like appearance? I don't see a waffle pattern so much as a general texture to it.
Just the criss-cross woven pattern of the backer material, which is often called cross-hatching or waffle-like.  If you can see the backer, the rubber coating is gone. If you can't see it yet, then there is still room for more wear on the surface. Adding a coating gives you another 5 years (more or less) of surface wear time.

Yeah, to do the re-roof there is stuff to remove & replace, and a lot of new caulking (though in your case you have to do the caulk anyway).  It's mostly a lot of grunt work, but not technically challenging.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,535
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
IF it needs to be replaced, why EPDM?  I thought TPO was the stuff everyone uses these days.
TPO would be my choice, but it's hardly "the stuff everyone uses these days".  Lots of new RVs come out of the factories with EPDM rubber roofs. TPO costs a bit more and maybe a bit more awkward to handle (somewhat stiffer and heavier material).
 

coopooc

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Posts
7
So the correct order of operation here is:

Clean with a strong detergent and bleach
Remove all the caulking with heat and a thick blade putty knife/blade and a rag dampened with mineral spirits
Apply a new coating using either EPDM or TPO coating
Recaulk using Dicor

Any need for the eternabond tape I purchased or is that more for punctures or emergency fixes?

Also, will the EPDM or TPO coating product have clear application instructions? Do you have any tips there?

Thanks again!
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,535
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
You can use the tape as an alternative to caulking, at least in places where taping is convenient.  Your choice.  It's always good to have the repair tape on hand for emergencies, though. I always carried both tape and a tube of caulk with me.

You can re-caulk either before or after putting on the top-coating - most such coatings will adhere to lap sealants such as Dicor (bit read the label)
 
Top Bottom