Written by 10:00 pm Camper Essential Items, Common Questions, Guides

Unbreakable Shield: The Resilient RV TPO Roof

Unbreakable Shield: The Resilient RV TPO Roof

Given all of the variables, building an RV is a difficult task. Finding an RV roof membrane that is both durable and easy to take care of from outside forces to road circumstances, is practically impossible! As a result, you might be asking what the distinctions are between a TPO and an EPDM RV roof.

Which is better, a TPO rv roof or an EPDM RV roof?

The choice between a TPO or EPDM roof is determined by your budget and where you intend to camp. While EPDM is less expensive than TPO, TPO is significantly more resistant to high temperatures. Similarly, EPDM works significantly better in cold conditions. Nevertheless, both materials perform well in a typical environment and require comparable levels of upkeep.

In this post, we’ll go over all you must understand about TPO and EPDM materials, as well as how they perform in an RV. We’re going to go through what these materials are and which option may be best for you and your camping experiences. You’ve come to the proper site if you need to replace the rubber roofing on your RV or if you want to buy an RV with roof knowledge. Let’s get this party started.

Best RV Roof Materials

There are three primary materials utilized for constructing roofs on recreational vehicles: rubber, fiberglass, or metal/aluminum. These materials offer different characteristics and benefits. Let’s take a look at how they differ from one another:

  1. Rubber TPO – The Thermoplastic Olefin is a white roofing membrane made of a single layer. It possesses the qualities of being resistant to heat and also offers cost advantages. However, it is important to promptly repair any cracks or leaks that may arise to prevent any potential long-term issues with its performance.
  2. Rubber EPDM – The Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is a membrane-type covering designed for flat roofs. It is known for its strength and ease of installation and maintenance. However, one drawback is that it quickly absorbs heat, which can potentially impact the cooling system of recreational vehicles (RVs). Additionally, identifying the need for repairs may be challenging due to the rapid heat accumulation, making it harder to identify the optimal window for repair.
  3. Fiberglass – This reinforced plastic, composed of glass embedded in a resin, has a solid texture. Fiberglass is lightweight and has a minimal likelihood of developing cracks or tears. However, it can be costly when it comes to maintenance or replacing damaged portions.
  4. Aluminum – Aluminum roofs, crafted from a sheet of silver-white metal, are the most uncommon material employed for RV roofs. While they possess durability, they lack visual attractiveness and heat resistance. Additionally, pinpointing the precise source of leaks can be challenging with aluminum roofs.

What Exactly Is TPO?

What Exactly Is TPO?

TPO, which stands for thermoplastic polyolefin, is a common used roofing membrane material for both RV and normal residential roofs. When utilized for RV roofs, thermoplastic polyolefin is the chemical employed to make these types of roofs, durable and they are always single-layer membranes.

While TPO the surface can be strengthened by combining it with fibers and other materials, the basic chemicals used to make TPO maintain it flexible. This makes it excellent for usage in an RV, as the surface of the roof of your rig is continuously changing while traveling or during bad weather.

Considering its general elasticity in different temperatures, TPO is highly helpful to RV makers when it comes to bad weather. Because of its white tint, TPO is very heat resistant due to UV rays, helping RVers to stay cool inside their trailer even in the hottest of conditions. Furthermore, because RVs are frequently subjected to temperature variations, TPO is an excellent choice for RV roofs.

The Benefits of Using a TPO Roof

  1. TPO roofs are comprised of a long-lasting, UV-resistant synthetic material.
  2. TPO roofs are extremely simple to install and maintain.
  3. One of the most significant advantages of TPO roofing is its high UV resistance.
  4. TPO roofs are also more chemically resistant than EPDM roofing.

Recently, producers have worked hard to eliminate all of the TPO membranes’ flaws. And they were successful. Instead of using fiberglass reinforcement, they used polyester, a material that rendered the textile frost-resistant while yet retaining its suppleness at any temperature.

The Drawbacks of Using TPO Roof

  1. In extremely cold conditions, TPO can become brittle.
  2. For individuals who reside in frigid climates, this may not be the ideal option.

When selecting a roofing system for your RV, keep your climate and budget in mind. TPO may be the correct solution for you if you live in a warm environment and want a roof that will last for many years without needing maintenance. EPDM is the preferable rubber roofing material if you want to save money or live in a cold region. Do your research to ensure that the roofing system you choose is acceptable for you and your RV.

When did RV manufacturers begin to use TPO?

TPO is a relatively new discovery in RV production, having arrived in the United States in the late 1980s. It was innovative when it was first launched since it is a low-cost material that naturally comes in white. This means that changing the color of TPO for an RV roof is free of charge.

TPO had been developed for both flat roofs and residential roofs that required weather protection. TPO’s flexibility and natural UV resistance were ideal for RV manufacture! Using it in this capacity was a no-brainer, and TPO materials have only evolved with RV functionality in mind.

What Exactly Is EPDM?

What Exactly Is EPDM?

EPDM has been the RV roof standard since the 1960s. It is a low-cost rubber-based roof material used. It’s dark from the start, which, as you might imagine, isn’t great for RVing in the summer heat. Yet, EPDM is extremely simple to work with and highly customizable because it can be cured into roofing sheets as well as used in a flexible capacity, comparable to TPO.

EPDM roofs, on the whole, are easy to install and less expensive than the installation of other roof materials, such as TPO membranes. It also provides good cold-weather resistance and overall durability. This is clearly shown by the fact that EPDM has been the preferred roof material used for RV roofs since its inception.

Though EPDM refers to ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber, it is in numerous respects similar to TPO. But it has an extended history than the more recent TPO, making EPDM a standard among many RV manufacturers and recreational vehicle buyers.

The Benefits of Using an EPDM Roof

  1. EPDM roofs are comprised of a synthetic rubber material that is long-lasting and resistant to high temperatures.
  2. EPDM roofs are extremely simple to install and maintain.
  3. EPDM roofs are a wonderful choice for individuals looking for a low-maintenance roofing system.

The Drawbacks of Using EPDM Roof

  1. One of the most significant disadvantages of EPDM roofing is that they do not have the same UV resistance as TPO roofs.
  2. As a result of sun exposure, an EPDM roof might get discolored and fractured over time.
  3. Furthermore, solvents and cleansers can harm EPDM roofing.

Is EPDM still used by RV manufacturers?

Although TPO roofing is popular, an array of RV manufacturers continue to utilize EPDM for their RV roofs. Many well-known brands, including Jayco, Forest River, and Coachmen, continue to employ EPDM in their travel trailers, fifth wheels, and other products. This is not to imply that TPO does not have any significance or merit.

Indeed, many RV manufacturers are developing TPO roofs that are as dependable and long-lasting as EPDM. TPO’s general resilience and flexibility may be modified for all types of RVs by mixing it with other materials. Even so, TPO often means that an RV will be more expensive, which is unlikely to appeal to both an RV producer and the average RV client!

What Climate Conditions Suit TPO vs EPDM?

The most important consideration when selecting a material for your RV roof has to be the climate. Both TPO and EPDM have advantages and disadvantages, but these distinctions are mostly dependent on the mean temperature and the climate in which you will generally keep your RV.

TPO, for example, performs best in hot climes, particularly in regions where your RV will be exposed to direct sunshine on a regular basis. TPO retains its elasticity in hot and cold climates and is less susceptible to UV radiation than EPDM. TPO, because of its naturally white color, bounces sunlight away from the equipment, thus energy efficiency and allowing your rooftop AC units to run more effectively!

EPDM, on the other hand, is unlikely to reflect direct sunlight almost as well as TPO due to its rubber ingredients. Furthermore, EPDM is often black to begin with, necessitating the use of additional materials and funds to refinish it in a more reflecting color. Despite its longevity and resilience to damage, EPDM is frequently not worth the cost.

EPDM, on the other hand, performs admirably in cooler regions. It is often thicker than TPO roofs, which means it is more likely to absorb sunlight and retain heat throughout the day. While installing this will most certainly help you cut cash on the cost and maintenance of heating in the winter, it will not benefit you in the summer!

When it pertains to seasons and temperatures, TPO performs best in the sun and hot weather, whereas EPDM performs best in the winter and cold temperatures. Yet, both materials should be flexible and adaptable to big and small temperature fluctuations. Season after season, this should keep your RV’s roof from breaking or otherwise deteriorating.

TPO or EPDM: Which Is Better?

TPO or EPDM: Which Is Better?

There’s not a straightforward option when it comes to choosing TPO and EPDM, as there is with nearly everything in the RV world. In truth, it is mostly dependent on what you intend to do with your RV, where you intend to go, and the seasons in which you intend to camp. There are a few more things to think about; let’s get started!

When it involves price, an EPDM roof is often less expensive than a TPO roof. TPO application and production are substantially more complicated than EPDM, but lower cost, especially as TPO technology progresses. Furthermore, EPDM’s flexibility makes it significantly faster and less expensive to install than TPO.

When it comes to durability, EPDM and TPO are inextricably linked for a variety of reasons. Each of these substances has been shown to survive between 15 and 30 years, based on the thickness of the roof and how well it is installed and maintained. But EPDM has a more extensive history of reliability than TPO, owing to the reality that TPO was just recently used in this capacity.

Another element to consider when picking between TPO and EPDM is the style or look of your roof. Although you are unlikely to be looking at the roof of your RV on a daily basis, TPO is considerably more seamless and elegant than EPDM. This is due to the materials used, as EPDM is frequently textured rather than smooth.

Keeping this in mind, TPO is significantly more prone to scratches and dings, but EPDM is more likely to conceal those blemishes. While TPO can be damaged, it has natural UV resilience and can be easily repaired or simply colored, whereas EPDM is frequently black and challenging and costly to change.

TPO Vs. Fiberglass

Consumers primarily consider three key factors when selecting various thermoplastic materials for their RV roofs: cost, maintenance, and quality.

  • The cost factor plays a significant role in their decision-making process as they weigh the affordability and value of different options.
  • Maintenance requirements are another crucial consideration, as RV owners seek materials that are easy to care for and require minimal upkeep.
  • Lastly, the quality of the thermoplastic material is of utmost importance to ensure the durability, longevity, and overall performance of the RV roof.

TPO vs. Fiberglass Cost

RV ownership is a cost-effective method for families, couples, and people who want to travel in the economic climate of today. When it comes to RVs, buyers want a product that is both affordable and reliable in the long run. TPO is substantially less expensive than fiberglass, ranging from $5 to $16 per square meter of material; in comparison, fiberglass runs between $90 and $110 per square meter, making it a far more expensive option.


Maintenance, as in most aspects of an RV, is critical. In fact, one of the first and most critical items you should maintain as you educate about the recreational vehicle, is the roof. If your roof isn’t inspected and taken proper care of on a regular basis, you risk a lot of undetected harm, including the possibility of delamination in your RV’s walls! Let’s take a deeper inspection at how to care for your RV’s roof, whether it’s TPO or EPDM.

TPO RV Roof Maintenance

While you should always inspect the seams of your RV’s roofline and windows, a TPO roof is relatively easy to take care of. Keep a look out for any scratches or dents in your roof, as these could spell disaster if it rains and you don’t know whether or not you are dealing with a leakage! After inspecting your TPO roof, the following step is to clean it.

You ought to wash your TPO roof on a quarterly basis or so, based on how frequently your camp. TPO is extremely resistant to chemicals and other things, therefore you can use a variety of various cleaning products and agents on it. Clean your TPO roof properly, removing any filth and possibly hazardous twigs or branches.

You should also think about investing in a TPO sealer or another type of solution designed to enhance the life of your TPO roof. Washing your roof is likely required to preserve the manufacturer’s guarantee on the quality installation your TPO materials, so keep that in mind!

EPDM RV Roof Maintenance

An EPDM roof requires more maintenance than a TPO roof. You must exercise extreme caution while selecting products since employing harsh chemicals might cause damage or even discoloration to the rubber on your EPDM roof. Maintaining your EPDM roof, similar to TPO roofs, is advised every few months.

While TPO roofs may require resealing on occasion, your EPDM roof will most likely require resealing every three to five years. This, of course, is heavily dependent on how frequently you use your RV and whether or not you keep it covered when not in use. Resealing is an exhausting task that you may not be capable to complete on your own.

However, with skill and careful monitoring, washing your EPDM roof is typically all that is required to keep it in good condition. Resealing is a required step for all RVers, regardless of roof type. There are also many EPDM roof sealants and coatings available to help you prolong the life of your RV’s roof seal too!

TPO Vs. Fiberglass Maintenance

Despite the fact that fiberglass is a more costly material, an advantage of a fiberglass roof is that it is highly resistant and unlikely to need repair or replacement as long as the vehicle is adequately maintained. Fiberglass roofs have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years, however, TPO roofs will likely require repair maintenance around year 20, even on RVs that have been maintained free of extreme temperatures. Despite the difference in maintenance, TPO roofs are still durable, and when combined with their inexpensive, budget-friendly material prices, they offer an excellent thermoforming solution for your RV.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is TPO the same as a rubber roof?

TPO doesn’t count as the exact same as rubber roofing. TPO is a single-ply thermoplastic polyolefin membrane, whereas rubber roofing is formed of ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM).

Whenever it concerns RV roofs, two materials are commonly used: thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). Each of the aforementioned substances have a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages, so it’s critical to grasp the differences before making a choice.

Is it possible to recoat a TPO roof?

Yes, a TPO roof can be recoated. In fact, doing so every few years is recommended to safeguard the roof from weather damage and extend its longevity. When it comes time to recoat your TPO roof, utilize a product formulated exclusively for TPO roofs. This ensures that the new coating clings effectively and does not cause damage to the roofing material. Your TPO roof can survive for many years if properly cared for and maintained.

Can EPDM be used on a TPO roof?

Certainly, EPDM can be applied to a TPO roof and is commonly installed and utilized for repairing TPO roofs. It is important to acknowledge, though, that EPDM is not as durable as TPO and will require more frequent replacement.

 performance of TPO and EPDM


When comparing the performance of TPO and EPDM, TPO emerges as the lighter and cheaper option, and in some cases, it may also be easier to install. However, a critical consideration is the lifespan of the material. On the other hand, EPDM surpasses TPO in terms of longevity. Nonetheless, there are some drawbacks associated with EPDM. If the EPDM is colored, it tends to be more expensive, and if it is left black during the summer, it can significantly increase the internal temperature of the RV, causing discomfort for the occupants.

Given these factors, there is no definitive winner in the TPO vs. EPDM comparison. However, considering the cost of replacing the roof membrane, one may lean towards choosing EPDM for its longer lifespan. It is understandable why American RV manufacturers often opt for TPO, as the lower price tag means the roof only needs to last throughout the warranty period, after which any issues would become someone else’s responsibility. Choosing between the two might be hard but considering all the facts that we’ve given you, hopefully, you get more knowledge and be able to choose which material you prefer the most.

Unbreakable Shield: The Resilient RV TPO Roof
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