People ask all the time if it’s safe to walk on their RV roof to perform maintenance, view a beautiful sunset or watch a Nascar race. The answer depends on several factors such as the RV manufacturer’s recommended weight limit, the type of material used to construct the roof system and the condition of the roof.
From time to time and for many different reasons you may want to get up onto your RV’s roof. For example, there may be something wrong with one of the roof components like the AC unit or a roof vent, and it’s necessary to go up onto the RV roof to see what’s going on. So it’s important to know whether you can walk safely on the RV roof or if you’ll need to stand on a ladder to have access to the roof. In this article, we will discuss how much weight an RV roof can hold, the types of RV roofs, how to walk on your roof, and safety considerations while on the roof.
No matter why you need to access your roof, hopefully, this article will help to ensure you can do so safely without damaging the roof or any of the components on the RV roof.
How Much Weight Can an RV Roof Hold?
So, how do you know if you can walk on your RV roof? I was wondering this the other day after climbing onto my roof to perform a visual inspection of the roof, which I do several times a year. Most recently I was up there because a tree branch scraped along the roof and I wanted to make sure there was no damage.
I don’t like being on my RV roof so of course, I was wondering things like, how much weight can an RV roof support. And what’s the maximum weight an RV roof can hold? So, I decided to do some research and I found that there really isn’t much info out there on the subject. There are many comments in RV forums that in general, an RV roof is able to support 250 lbs. But it is very hard to find any solid information on RV roof weight limits.
I have looked at the manuals and specs of several RVs and found no information about the amount of weight an RV roof will support. It’s typically not listed under the RV Specs section of the owners manual. So, the real answer is that you need to call your RV manufacturer and ask how much weight the roof for your specific make and model of RV is able to support. If the manufacturer is unable to tell you the weight limit of the roof then you need to use some good common sense before walking on the RV roof.
Common Sense Rules For Walking on an RV Roof
- If an RV has a roof ladder then there is a good chance that the roof is walkable
- Some RV models, including, travel trailers, 5th wheels and other types of campers will have a sticker located on the back of the RV that states the weight limit. If you weigh more than the weight limit you should not go on the roof
- Consider the condition of the roof
- Consider the age of the roof
- If you have a fiberglass roof you most likely can walk on it since fiberglass roofs are the strongest. We will review the three roof types in the next section of the article
- Do not walk on a wet roof – no matter how much weight it can hold a wet roof is slippery and dangerous
- Don’t take a chance and walk on a badly damaged RV roof
Types of RV Roofs
There are three different types of RV roofs. They are fiberglass, rubber or aluminum with the rubber roof being the most common roof type. Each roof type is constructed differently and can handle a different amount of weight.
Rubber – Rubber roofs come in two different types. An EPDM RV roof (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), or a TPO RV roof (Thermal Poly Olefin). No matter which type of rubber is used, the basic construction of the roof is the same. The roof consists of metal cross braces that support 3/8″ plywood which is covered by the rubber roof membrane. Insulation is installed between the metal cross braces.
Fiberglass – A fiberglass RV roof is a shiny, hard surface that is strong and requires less maintenance than rubber RV roofs. It provides a strong hard surface to walk on that won’t bend or flex. Fiberglass roofs are good for walking on but they can be extremely slippery when wet.
Aluminum – It’s fairly unlikely that you will find an RV with an aluminum roof unless the RV is pretty old. Aluminum roofs are not very strong and they also add unwanted weight to the RV.
It’s important to understand the type of material your RV roof is made of. If you have some general knowledge about the type of material used to construct a camper roof, you will have a good idea about the roof’s walkability.
How To Walk On Your RV Roof
We know that being able to walk on an RV roof depends on the structural support of the roof. Every roof has strong areas and weak areas. Knowing where the strong and weak areas of the roof are will help you to navigate your way across the roof safely. And knowing how to walk on your RV roof will also keep you from causing damage to the roof. Walking on an RV roof is as simple as walking on the strongest areas and avoiding the weakest areas of the roof.
Walk On The Strongest Areas
The strongest part of the RV roof is actually right on top of the side wall of the RV. Obviously, this is where the roof has the most support. The roof becomes weaker as you move from the outside walls toward the middle of the roof. So the safest place to walk on an RV roof is as close as you can to the sides as you can without falling over the edge.
Avoid the Weakest Areas
The weakest areas of an RV roof are in the center of the roof and anywhere that the roof has been cut. The center of the roof is furthest from the side support and therefore this area is the weakest so do your best to avoid walking in the center of the roof. And, any areas of the roof that have been cut out to allow for the A/C unit, roof vents, skylights, and other intrusions are also weak spots. Avoid stepping to close to these cut-out areas so you don’t stress and possibly crack the roof or the seals around these intrusions.
RV Repair Club has a short but good video they created about how to walk on an RV roof that is worth taking a quick look at. Just click on this link to check it out.
Safety Tips While on an RV Roof
There are several safety tips you need to be aware of to avoid a nasty fall off of the roof or damaging the roof while walking around on it.
- Distribute Your Weight While on the Roof – The best way to do that is by laying some plywood or 2 x 4’s on your roof and walking on them to distribute your weight more evenly.
- Crawl Instead of Walk – Since you will be trying to stay near the edge of the roof since that is the strongest area of the roof it is safer to crawl than walk in those areas.
- Never Walk on a Wet Roof – Obviously, an RV roof is slippery when wet! Especially if it is made of fiberglass.
- Don’t Lean Over the Side of the RV – If you find yourself needing to work on the side of the RV use a ladder rather a]than leaning over the side.
- If You’ve Had a Few Beers Stay Off the Roof – Why take a chance on losing your balance after a few beers.
- Never Walk Backwards on an RV Roof – I’ve seen people walk backward while installing or removing their RV cover.
- Avoid Stepping on or Near the Roof Components – As we discussed the roof is weak anywhere it has been cut for a roof component to go through the roof so avoid stepping on or around the A/C, roof vents, skylights or any other intrusions.
- Walk Slowly and Feel for Soft Spots – If you have an older roof or a roof in poor condition go slow and use your weight to feel for soft spots before stepping with your full body weight.
- Use the RV’s Roof Ladder to Climb onto the Roof – this is the most secure method to access the roof.
- Use a Ladder – If there is no roof ladder you will need to use a ladder. The ladder must extend to at least 2 feet beyond the height of the RV Roof and you should have a partner hold the ladder steady while you climb it.
Walking on an RV or travel trailer roof can be dangerous but if you check with the manufacturer for weight limits, use some common sense and follow the safety tips above you will be safe and not harm your roof while you are up there.
I hope you found this article helpful. Hopefully, you won’t need to spend much time on your RV roof but if you do you will be as prepared as possible.
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