What is a TPO roof on an RV?

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A TPO roof on an RV consists of a single ply roofing membrane. TPO stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin, which just a short way of stating the primary chemical composition of the roof membrane.

What are some of the characteristics of a travel trailer TPO roof?

  • TPO is a single-ply thermoplastic membrane.
  • It is installed in one single application, there are no multiple layers.
  • It can be installed using several methods (mechanically attached, adhered, plate bonded).
  • TPO comes in mostly white, grey and tan. It can be found in other colors as well.
  • Warranties are available up to 30-years.
  • TPO membranes are grease resistant.
  • Naturally UV and heat resistant.
  • High wind rating if properly installed.

TPO roofs are very popular and are used quite often on travel trailers because it’s cheap and is usually white. The membrane of a TPO roof can be screwed in place or mechanically attached to the roof. You can also adhere in place. The seams are typically glued to heat-welded in place.

One of the distinguishing and prominent characteristics of a TPO roof is its laminated structure. Also important to know is that the material which you have seen on top is different from the material used on the bottom. In addition to the top and bottom layers, there is a wearing surface and filler material on the bottom.  The top is usually white in color and the bottom is gray.

It’s not unusual to integrate a fiber reinforcement to your TPO roof. This makes it even more durable and stronger. However, this can result in a TPO roof that is rigid which can make it difficult to install.

Cleaning a TPO roof

One of the common questions regarding the TPO roof is if you can use a pressure washer to clean them. The answer is yes and no. According to GAF, you can use a pressure washer (2,000 psi or lower) setting to remove surface dirt and dust. Then use a soft-bristled, long-handled brush with a cleaning solution consisting of mild non-abrasive household detergent to clean the surface. Take care not to damage the surface of the membrane.

Sealing an RV TPO roof

One of the best things you can do to improve your TPO roof is to seal it. This is especially true around roof vents, vent caps, etc. This video shows how to do it using Dicor sealants.

How long does a TPO roof last?

Due to the changes that have taken place in TPO roofing, it’s impossible to properly state how long a TPO roof will last. A general estimate puts a TPO roof longevity somewhere between 10 and 20 years. So basically it remains to be seen just how long a TPO roof will last on your RV.

Summary

As advances in TPO roofs continue some of their drawbacks are sure to be overcome. As always do your research on what type of roof your RV has and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance and care.

Ray Roman is the main contributor to this site and an avid researcher of travel trailers and the RV industry in general. He loves flyfishing, vacationing in Red River, NM and spending time with family and friends.