In days of old, flat roofs were made of asphalt, with gravel used as ballast. This made it very difficult to locate the source of a leak, as the gravel would hide it better than the illustrations in a Where’s Waldo book. Now, thanks to the invention of rubber membrane roofing, this problem has largely been eliminated.
The Rise of Rubber
In recent years, rubber has grown in popularity as a roofing material. Whilst rubber roof shingles are available for those who want to maintain a traditional appearance for their roof, rubber membrane roofing is the most common option for those with flat or gently sloping roofs. Coming in either roll or sheet form, it allows people to seamlessly cover most roofs. It can even be used on your RV. The rubber membrane roofing material is known as EPDM, which stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, and comes in a variety of different thicknesses. 45 mil EPDM, about the thickness of a dime, should be sufficient for most flat roofs, but in areas with an increased risk of puncture, such as a place with overhanging tree branches that could fall and pierce the roofing membrane, 60 mil (about the thickness of a quarter) and 90 mil EPDM is also available.
EPDM first came to prominence as a roofing material in the late 1970s, after a history of being used in hoses, tires and other molded products since the early 1960s. In the last decade or so, it has really taken off in popularity, and now has a 22% market share among roofers, making it the most popular material for new roofs as of February 2007.
Rubber Membrane Roofing for Your RV
One area in which rubber membrane roofing is becoming increasingly popular is as a roofing material for recreational vehicles, or RVs. As with flat-roofed housing, it has gained in market share with RV owners over the last few years because of its light weigh and ease of installation. It has disadvantages over more traditional metal or fiberglass RV roofs, however, due to the risk of being torn by overhanging branches.
RV owners should maintain their rubber membrane roofing at least twice a year by cleaning it with warm soapy water and applying two coats of UV protectant spray. It is possible to buy a complete kit containing everything you need to install rubber membrane roofing on your RV. These kits contain the rubber membrane roof itself, the adhesive needed to affix it to the RV and butyl tape to seal around the edges. They are available from all good RV supplies stores.