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Alternative camper roof pondering.


vtfireman85
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Camper roofs all leak, i don't care how awesome you think you have sealed it up, it’s going to leak. The trouble in my opinion is that they put everything up top and with no consideration for letting water drain, they rely on caulk to stop water going where it naturally wants to. Mine is due for replacement, should have been done last year. I plan to remove the AC, antenna and any other unnecessary penetrations. I have been contemplating replacing with aluminum sheet. I can buy 5x10 16 ga thinking to overhang 2” on the sides and back, bent down with the brake to drain and drip away from The siding. And at the front i can overlap it down the front more than the current roof membrane. Sheets are small enough I should be able to seal under at each screw hole i can use sheet metal roofing screws to aid sealing. 
Some or my concerns are finding the correct sealant , i want something that will stick to the aluminum without causing it to oxidize and screwing it down heavily enough to stay on on the road but not so much as to have unnecessary penetration. 
 

am i way off base here? Am I missing something that would work better? 

 

 

 

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Does that special "paint" that you can buy at the camper dealer work long term or is that just a band-aid fix. We used some on an enclosed trailer our tractor club owns four years ago and to my knowledge it doesn't leak.

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6 minutes ago, acem said:

The best solution is to put it under a shed.

I store it in the winter, but it is not an option in the summer. Besides, sometimes it rains when we camp. 

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Sometimes getting rained on when camping is much different than being outside all the time, or even just 2/3 of the year.  Keeping it under a roof much as possible and out of direct sun and kept dry during freeze/thaw cycles is probably the biggest help  

I think the Dicor sealant works with aluminum. 

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7 minutes ago, MTB98 said:

Sometimes getting rained on when camping is much different than being outside all the time, or even just 2/3 of the year.  Keeping it under a roof much as possible and out of direct sun and kept dry during freeze/thaw cycles is probably the biggest help  

I think the Dicor sealant works with aluminum. 

If i had the option to keep it inside all the time I would, but i don't. Nevertheless it is still in need of a roof. 

i can just replace the membrane with new like the factory did, but I never was very impressed with that 
 

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3 hours ago, TractormanMike.mb said:

Does that special "paint" that you can buy at the camper dealer work long term or is that just a band-aid fix. We used some on an enclosed trailer our tractor club owns four years ago and to my knowledge it doesn't leak.

I’ve tried a few versions of this. Definitely didn’t last long in our climate here. Redo every 2 year due to leaks. Probably has something to do with -40 winters and 100 degree summers.

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I’ve always thought that if I were to have to do another one I would look into getting it done with a high quality spray on bed liner. No seams, no extra penetrations should = no leaks 

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5 hours ago, midnightman said:

I’ve always thought that if I were to have to do another one I would look into getting it done with a high quality spray on bed liner. No seams, no extra penetrations should = no leaks 

I thought that’s what those blue tarps were for? Of course you might want to take it off while driving down the road…

I think I would try a double membrane torch applied roofing but idk how it would hold up. I’m not certain your aluminum sheeting would flex enough when you’re rocking the camper going down backroads and such?

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When I put aluminium panels on my horse box I used a polyurethane sealant adhesive. Cleaned the areas where the sealant would be with abrasive so there was no oxidation under the sealer. (Oxide forms pretty quick so the sooner threads I’ve is on the better)   Panels we’re on there for 22 years before I tried to remove them. They were still stuck fast. 
only problem with aluminium sheet is expansion in the sun. The panels would dish or bulge slightly on a hot day. Also sheared off some of the retaining rivets. 

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7 hours ago, snoshoe said:

I was going to suggest epdm. Are you saying that's what you have now.

It is similar at least. I think EPDM is perhaps a little tougher, but durability of the membrane is not the real issue. 
camper roofs are installed like the clear dome lids for foil take home containers. They are installed in such a manner that they will leak, then they caulk the seams and hope it doesn’t fail until the warranty expires. 

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Our current RV and our previous one I coated with BusKote. It is the white paint used on most school busses as well as other uses. The white reflects the heat pretty well. I removed the A/C units and anything else where it could leak, and masked (taped) it off around where I didn't want painted, then sprayed the primer, then paint. They recommend 2 coats, but I had enough that I did 4 coats on each RV. Previous one had 2 small leaks before but never leaked after. We bought the current motorhome 7 years ago and did the roof the next summer a year after we bought it. 

www.hytechsales.com

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11 minutes ago, 1965Dennis said:

Our current RV and our previous one I coated with BusKote. It is the white paint used on most school busses as well as other uses. The white reflects the heat pretty well. I removed the A/C units and anything else where it could leak, and masked (taped) it off around where I didn't want painted, then sprayed the primer, then paint. They recommend 2 coats, but I had enough that I did 4 coats on each RV. Previous one had 2 small leaks before but never leaked after. We bought the current motorhome 7 years ago and did the roof the next summer a year after we bought it. 

www.hytechsales.com

pffffff flex seal baby, u can flip it over and use it as a house boat - i would likely use something of that variety to paint the top like dennis says, anything to seal all the crevases maybe even bedliner type stuff spray on around every screw/rivit/seam extra good 

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Searcy beat me to it, not necessarily the Flex Seal, but they now sell a rubberized tape for sealing the joints and repairing any other holes. I'm about to find out if it's any good as I just ordered a couple rolls. The claim is that it is a permanent repair option.

Regarding the aluminum, as mentioned, thermal expansion may be a problem. I'd also be concerned about shifting and vibration during transport. Your going to have to rely heavily on whatever adhesive is used to fasten it down, any mechanical fasteners through the sheet will be a potential problem and defeat the purpose of the attempt. 

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Sold our camper cause we didn't use it enough anymore and it wouldn't fit inside like previous one. 

Fil bought some special rubberized paint/coating and checked his roof every year and applied more if needed. I think that's just part of the deal with campers. The bus kote stuff sounds like it may be a good idea. 

I'm afraid you go modifying it a bunch and taking ac ect off you may end up with something No one will be willing to buy when the time come to trade/sell. Not knocking your abilities, I'm sure you would do a first class job. 

Maybe your climate doesn't need ac very often but I know I wouldn't even look at one without here were I to buy another.

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4 minutes ago, iowaboy1965 said:

Sold our camper cause we didn't use it enough anymore and it wouldn't fit inside like previous one. 

Fil bought some special rubberized paint/coating and checked his roof every year and applied more if needed. I think that's just part of the deal with campers. The bus kote stuff sounds like it may be a good idea. 

I'm afraid you go modifying it a bunch and taking ac ect off you may end up with something No one will be willing to buy when the time come to trade/sell. Not knocking your abilities, I'm sure you would do a first class job. 

Maybe your climate doesn't need ac very often but I know I wouldn't even look at one without here were I to buy another.

Not remotely concerned with resale, i plan to keep it until i can afford/swallow the cost of an airstream (used). Had half considered buying a job trailer and transferring the appliances to it. My current one is a 2004 that was not a very fancy model 18 years ago and I anticipate owning it another 5 unless something unexpected happens. As far as AC none of the places we go have hookups so i cant use it anyway, rarely need it in Maine but i have a portable AC i can bring along just in case. 

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3M 5200!  Just make sure it doesn't need to come up again, because it won't!  When used on boats it will pull the gelcoat off before it lets go.  If you need something a little bit milder (but not much) #M 4200.  That is what most thru hull fittings are bedded in on boats.

Just remember that like Anti-sieze, a small dab in error will cover half of the county!

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They make a self adhesive  tape that works real well it is a sika product If I remember right. The sika flexcaulk is the best. I repaired the sheet metal on the front of a camper. Light sheeting carefully screwed into place. Caulked the perimeter and the screw holes. As good as factory. The guy was using a loader to move the camper and hit the valve that grapple was plugged to. Cut it like a can opener clean through to the bedroom.  He was an accident waiting to happen. We all know the type

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Sure coat silicone roof coating last 10-15 years than recoat right over old for another 10-15 years

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22 hours ago, Cattech said:

Searcy beat me to it, not necessarily the Flex Seal, but they now sell a rubberized tape for sealing the joints and repairing any other holes. I'm about to find out if it's any good as I just ordered a couple rolls. The claim is that it is a permanent repair option.

Regarding the aluminum, as mentioned, thermal expansion may be a problem. I'd also be concerned about shifting and vibration during transport. Your going to have to rely heavily on whatever adhesive is used to fasten it down, any mechanical fasteners through the sheet will be a potential problem and defeat the purpose of the attempt. 

i have some rubbery type sealant on the top of my sheetmetal cap on my flu box on my roof - it reminded me of flex seal product from the ads I saw on tv, you gob it on with a brush on a hot day and add a coat or two and it works slick, my neighbor bought a couple gallons of some similar stuff and brushed it on his barn roof around all the screw heads and it looks fine from afar, the only issue is its starting to show some mold/dirt as it doesnt go n smooth so things get down in the crevases making it unappealing from an asthetic perspective outside of that it works great and stopped all his leaks 

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Agree EPDM roof is designed to funnel all the water into caulking that leaks. BTDT. I'd never build a building that way! 

Wait until you peel it off and see what's underneath. 🤣

If it's leaked all the nice chipboard/OSB is a spongy mess.  

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