How to Install an RV Rubber Roof

Explore America's Campgrounds

Your RV's roof is one of its most important features, as it's the only thing standing between a rainstorm and your good night's sleep while camping. Rubber is the most common roof material among RVs, so it's important to know how to install a rubber roof properly.

Installation will require a few tools and, potentially, a friend. Here's how to do it.

1. Clean the Roof Surface

Make sure your roof surface is spotless and dry. Keep an eye out for dust, dirt, rust, oil, grease and debris, and make sure the surface isn't wet, or else the rubber won't adhere properly.

Also consider sanding the deck to keep it smooth and even.

2. Install Leak Prevention

Your rubber roof probably came with some form of deck extension to make sure water runoff goes into the gutter, instead of getting behind it. Follow your roof's manual to ensure you've installed any drip protection pieces properly.

3. Relax the Rubber Membrane

To help your rubber roof form to the deck, position it as you plan to install it, and let it lie there for about a half hour.

4. Adhere the Roof

Fold back half of the rubber membrane, and use a roller to apply a thin layer of glue (or whichever adhesive your roof manufacturer specifies) to the deck. Don't apply the adhesive to a border around the edge of the deck.

Put the lifted half of the rubber membrane back in its place, and repeat with the other half.

5. Clean the Rubber Membrane

Sweep off the membrane to help it bond to the deck and to remove any trapped air beneath it.

6. Apply Adhesive to the Roof Perimeter

Remember that space where you avoided applying adhesive a couple of steps earlier? Now it's time to take care of it.

Use a thin coat of contact adhesive, which is a stronger adhesive, to attach the perimeter of the roof deck and the back of the rubber membrane. Wait until the adhesive is dry to the touch and free of bubbles, and then place the roof membrane. Trim any excess rubber material from the edges.

7. Apply Additional Waterproofing

Most rubber roofs require additional waterproofing material, such as Elastoform, to waterproof areas of the roof that have funky shapes, such as the external corners.

Cut this additional material to size, and then apply a coat of rubber primer to the areas in need. Wait until the primer is dry to the touch, then install the additional waterproof material, making sure you apply plenty of pressure.

8. Place the Roof on Your RV

Apply adhesive to the flanges of the deck, and have a friend help you lift and place your rubber roof. Allow the adhesive to dry overnight.

Gone Outdoors