RVers love to research and spend a lot of time looking into ways to fix problems with their RVs. Sometimes it’s for preventative measures, other times, it is to fix an immediate problem.
Roofs cause a substantial amount of headaches for RVers, and researching the mountain of options out there gives people even more headaches. There is EPDM roofing, with multiple grades and thickness. There’s also fiberglass, vinyl, and eco-friendly roofing, which are the first things to pop up online when you search RV roof repair or replacement. After those common industry standards, which require routinely recaulking every joint and seam, you start to find the liquid-applied rv roof alternatives.
I could spend days just reviewing all the liquid RV roofs that are available. There are do-it-yourself versions and ones done by trained applicators. Some require primers, some are two-part mixes, others are single component. Then you have all the dry times, cure times, tensile strength and flexibility. And of course, they all guarantee your roof won’t leak again.
There are too many types of these liquid membrane roofs to compare all the pros and cons of each type and it is also a huge chemistry lesson to compare the different materials they are made from. Instead of boring you with the details, I am writing this in response to a common request I get from potential customers. We have been doing our sprayed RV roof for over 13 years. About 5 years ago a company started promoting a lifetime liquid-applied RV roof, and over time their logo and color schemes on marketing has evolved to look more and more like ours. The guess is Superman met his Kryptonite so he had to leave and be replaced with a shield. So it’s understandable that many consumers think RV FlexArmor(R) is the same as this other company, just applied by someone else in a different location and in a building. The purpose of this blog it to help consumers in their research by going through all the differences in process and the two products so that you can make an informed decision on choosing a roof system for your RV. A roof is an expensive and important part to replace on your RV, so making the informed choice is important.
FlexArmor(R) is a pure polyurea that was formulated for RV roofs to provide a watertight seal, flexibility and strength. A polyurea comes in two 55-gallon drums and requires a machine to apply the product. The machine is called a plural component spray machine that pulls the chemical from the drums, heats it, makes sure the product stays at a 1:1 ratio and keeps the product under pressure. The two sides mix as they exit the fusion gun, forming the final roof product. This product is dry to the touch in six seconds and can be walked on in minutes. This is the main piece of equipment used in applying a FlexArmor(R) roof and how our product is packaged.
The liquid-applied membrane type roof company has five-gallon containers and any other materials they need for their applicator delivered to your location. Depending on different articles and videos they have released, there might also be tapes and fabrics that need to be applied before they apply the liquid membrane. The applicator who arrives to apply the liquid membrane roof will have tools such as paint brushes and rollers. This is an example of how this type roof is delivered to your door and the equipment used to apply it.
Preparing the old roof for the new roof.
Preparing the roof properly is actually more important than what you are putting on the new roof. If the surfaces aren’t ready to provide a good substrate, it won’t matter what product you put on your rv, the new roof will fail.
The FlexArmor(R) process has an average of 1 1/2 days of prep work before it is ready for the new roof system. Each roof is stripped of all caulking, any rolled-on coatings. Many components such as air conditioners and satellite dishes are removed so the roof can be applied, and then those components are sitting on a new roof. Check out our videos on the site, there is one that shows why we make sure every roof is truly one piece and there is no where on an FlexArmor(R) roof that your old membrane is still exposed. Depending on the condition of your existing roof, we can work with the membrane there and prepare it for spraying, or if needed, strip all the way to the wood and spray directly on it. The reason we don’t take off a good membrane is it can cause quite a bit of wood damage when pulling it off, and many RV roofs are vacuum-bonded, and damaging the wood underneath can cause severe structural damage. After the caulking and coatings are removed, we wrap your RV in plastic to keep it clean.
At this point, we grind, sand and remove the final layers of paint, etch different surfaces and get it ready for a final chemical cleaning. All your vent lids are removed and the holes papered up, when we are done, only the areas that will have the new roof sprayed on are exposed, cleaned and primed. Since we are making your RV un-watertight temporarily, all of our roofs are done inside buildings to protect against rain and dew.
The following pictures show roofs in different stages of the process at a typical authorized FlexArmor(R) location. All prep work is done to ensure you have a quality roof done without weather factors causing any issues. Each RV is wrapped in plastic to protect it from dust and overspray and we work off of scaffold platforms that allow us to do things such as wood work and remove your a/cs with ease.
The company that sends out an “authorized installer” charges the installer a fee to be “trained” in how to apply the rolled on liquid roof. The installer then goes on a list for that particular area. The parent company then mails the buckets of product to your home and the installer shows up and applies the liquid over your membrane. Gleaning what information we can from several blogs and videos, they clean your existing caulk and roll the new “roof” over the caulking, sometimes they remove the caulk, sometimes they put down some kind of seam tape. The process seems to vary depending on when the video or blog was made. This would be some typical pictures from that kind of outside application of rolled on liquid roofs. They are unable to remove your air conditioners to look for damage or to make sure your are truly being given a new roof. When you get a new rubber roof, the installer isn’t going to cut a hole out around your AC, so we have always wondered how rolling a new “roof” around things is actually providing a customer with a new seamless roof.
Thickness and Durability
There is a big difference in the thickness and durability between RV FlexArmor and the rolled-on roof options. FlexArmor(R), since it is an A and B product that is dry to the touch in six seconds, allows the roof to be on average 3/16th of an inch thick or 187 mils. This material is also so tough it is next to impossible to puncture or damage. We recently had a roof go through a tornado where a tree was thrown across the RV. The tree landed and blew across the roof tearing off the TV antenna and breaking the wood underneath. The FlexArmor(R) roof did not puncture or suffer any damage. The customer did want to go ahead and replace the wood so we cut out the effected area, prepped it and resprayed in the square and his new antenna.
These are pictures from our authorized location North Trail RV in Ft. Myers. The other type of roof came through the shop to have an FlexArmor(R) roof applied after the other rolled on roof was damaged going under a tree. It appears when they had the rolled on roof applied, it turned out to not be the last roof they would ever need, as our competitor likes to promote.
Here are some edge pictures of a FlexArmor (R) roof to illustrate the thickness of the roof we provide.
These are some examples of roofs completed that are rolled on, including a picture of this type of roof taken at the Tampa RV Supershow 2 or 3 years ago on a new Excel Fifth wheel before they went out of business.
FlexArmor(R) roofs are also easily repairable. If you do manage to damage something, we can repair just that area and make your RV roof totally seamless again. These are pictures of the RV that suffered some wood and TV antenna damage in the tornado.
These are the main points that come to mind when I receive phones calls from potential customers when they call and ask me to explain the difference between us and them. The last few points I would like to make are:
- FlexArmor(R) roofs are not heavy. On a forty foot RV the approximate weight is 150 pounds.
- FlexArmor(R) roofs are not foam that will fill up with water and make your roof cave in.
- FlexArmor(R) customers do not have to bring their RV back to any authorized location for inspection or reapplication of the topcoat on a yearly basis to keep their warranty.
At FlexArmor(R), we do not feel the need to try and misinform consumers with false information about any roof type out there. Other companies are not so inclined, so the above points are clarifications on some misinformation the competition likes to spread.
After all these years and thousands of satisfied customers, we are confident in our product, how it works and know we have spent years addressing weak points in RV roofs. We hope this blog post helps you on your research journey and if you have a question or would like to tour a facility, give us a call anytime.