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Old 04-15-2012, 10:42 AM   #1
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TPO roof protectant

My new flagstaff Has what they call a tpo product roof material does any one know if you treat it the same as a rubber roof as far as cleaning and protecting it .Want to keep in best condition. Will treat it soon as I bring it home .Like to know what to use. Thanks
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:42 AM   #2
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CLEANING AND PROTECTING RV RUBBER ROOFS
WHAT DO THE MANUFACTURERS SAY?

In my travels to FMCA and Escapee Rallies throughout the U.S, the one question I always encounter is “what about rubber roofs?” The notion of ‘out of sight – out of mind’ is not only neglectful, but is a prescription for destruction and can void your warranty as well. While there are surfaces intended to minimize the amount of elbow grease required, there are no materials subjected to Mother Nature that are maintenance free. There is more confusion regarding the issue of care and maintenance of rubber roofs than any other. Better to do nothing than the wrong thing is only a half-truth. As an owner of a rubber roof, you do have an obligation to be informed so as not to void your manufacturer’s warranty. Each manufacturer has a web site, but they do not all say or recommend the same maintenance program. It’s a prescription for chaos.

There are different types of rubber roofs and each has different properties and requirements. But there is one thing that no rubber roof can withstand – Petroleum Distillates. In fact, Petroleum Distillates are not compatible with any type of rubber or vinyl, as well as many other types of plastics.

This article will focus on two types of roofing materials – EPDM and TPO. The two leading distributors of these rubber roof systems are Dicor Corporation and Alpha Systems, both located in Elkhart, Indiana. EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. This type of rubber roofing membrane is made to last 20 years and has a 10 to 12 year guarantee, depending on the brand. EPDM is one of the most versatile and long lasting materials ever manufactured for outdoor exposure. Most RV industry experts consider EPDM the most dependable, most cost effective and easiest to maintain roofing material. EPDM is described as “ideal for outdoor applications because of its excellent resistance to ultra-violet light, ozone, oxidants and severe weather conditions”. EPDM roofing membrane oxidizes slowly. In a dozen years it may only oxidize 10% of its thickness. This oxidation is what causes the white-gray or gray streaks that run down the sides of RV’s – especially in heavy dew or light rain. EPDM also becomes very slippery when wet.

TPO – Thermal Poly Olefin – was introduced to the RV and Marine Industries in 1994. It is resistant to algae, mold, fungus, and other biological agents. The chemistry of TPO allows for no chalk residue or degradation of the membrane through its useful life. The TPO membranes are non-skid when wet and therefore are used frequently as floor covering in the pontoon boat industry as well. The chemical additives used in TPO for protection from UV light are not self-sacrificing. Instead, they operate in a regenerative fashion as they interfere with the degradation reactions that occur from UV light exposure. Some features of TPO are the advanced polymer technology, weight reduction and easy installation due to its soft and pliable nature. TPO carriers a 12 year manufacturers’ warranty.

There are different opinions when it comes to cleaning and protecting rubber roofs, but everyone agrees that EPDM’s solvent and oil resistance is poor. Care and maintenance instructions from both manufacturers have the following warning: “DO NOT use cleaners or conditioners containing petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives or Citric based cleaners. You may cause irreparable damage to your roof”

The percentage of petroleum distillates doesn’t matter. THERE IS NO LEVEL OF PETROLEUM DISTILLATES THAT IS RECOMMENDED. Laboratory tests conducted in July of 1996 evaluated the effect of a leading RV ‘roof treatment’ product on EPDM roofing membrane using standard sunlamp and immersion testing procedures. The ‘roof treatment’, which contained petroleum distillates, caused a 63% mass change (swelling). Petroleum distillates soak in and cause the adhesive to loosen and the membrane to balloon. Then, when the ballooning goes down, the rubber roof may never again adhere properly or completely. Don’t be fooled by names such as “organic solvent”, “hydrocarbon carrier”, etc. Petroleum distillates by any name should NEVER be applied to EPDM. If you aren’t sure about a product, contact the manufacturer and request a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Look under the section entitled “Hazardous Ingredients”. If it lists any petroleum distillates, do not use it on EPDM.

To maintain your warranty, all that is required is periodic cleaning at least 3 to 4 times per year. What you use is wide open as long as it does not contain petroleum distillates, harsh abrasives, or delaminane (citrus based cleaners). Dicor recommends a non-abrasive type cleaner such as RC 100TM, Borax or DawnTM and a medium to stiff brush. Alpha Systems recommends using a household cleaner such as CometTM, Spic-N-SpanTM, Ajax TM, etc. They say to use a medium-bristled scrub brush in place of a sponge because the EPDM rubber roofing material is not smooth like fiberglass. For more stubborn stains, i.e. oak leaves, pine sap, mold or mildew, the use of a kitchen cleanser with bleach, such as TilexTM or Soft ScrubTM can help. Monoethalomine is also very effective, non-abrasive and minimizes the effort in removing oxidation, pitch, sap, mold and mildew, as well as berry stains from birds and trees. A quick rinse with chlorine (bleach) is necessary to kill the mildew spores and retard their regrowth. Caution should be exercised when washing your roof to prevent cleaners from running down the sides since this could cause streaking. Always pre rinse your RV sides before you rinse your roof. On TPO roofing, Alpha Systems suggests using Murphy’s Oil SoapTM with a soft nylon brush or sponge. DO NOT USE SOLID OR GRANULATED CLEANERS on TPO, AS THEY WILL MAR THE NATURAL FINISH. A good thorough cleaning with some elbow grease, along with the oil soap should keep your roof looking good and remove most stains. Again, any non-granulated, non-abrasive cleaner may be used as long as it does not contain petroleum distillates or delaminane (citrus).

Protecting rubber roofs is s topic of great debate. Per Dicor’s web site, “the guarantee does not require the use of any protective ‘roof treatment’ or ‘roof protector’ product and recommends only cleaning”. This is consistent with both Dicor and Alpha Systems. However, Dicor states that when the roof no longer looks good to “clean the area and treat it with a product that will repel soiling and is safe for EPDM”. Both Dicor and Alpha Systems stated that they have never had issue with any protectant provided that it contained NO PETROLEUM DISTILLATES.

In summary, you must maintain your rubber roof to protect your warranty. Neglect can cause damage to both your roof as well as RV sidewalls from oxides. DO NOT use any products containing any amount of petroleum distillates. Wash routinely with any appropriate cleaner and pre-rinse your RV sides before rinsing your roof to prevent the cleaner from running down the sides. While no protective coating is required to maintain your warranty, you may use one if you choose – without jeopardizing your warranty. If your roof becomes dull, flat or unsightly, then you may use a protectant to improve the appearance and make maintenance easier by eliminating gray streaks, minimizing black streaks and providing protection against staining. The protectant you choose should be intended for walking surfaces in that it will not make them slippery. It should also provide a reasonable amount of protection, be durable enough to wash, and have a reasonable longevity when exposed to the elements.

Here is some additional information, which may prove helpful. Black streaks are the result of dust and dew, which mixes to slurry and then migrates over the edge and down the sides. Unsightly as they may be, they are not harmful to the RV sides. But gray streaks are another matter. The gray streaks are a combination of the roof oxides and black streaks. When this mixture reaches the vinyl stripes, repeated exposure to sunlight will leach out the pigment and leave permanent vertical streaking. Washing should be done out of the sun and preferably in the early morning to take advantage of the emulsifying action from the dew. Cleaning should never be done on a hot surface.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:57 AM   #3
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I called Alpha to ask about the TPO roof. They said clean with Murphy oil soap as regular soap dries out the membrane and Murphy adds a little moisture. They said Dicor self leveling is OK for caulk touch up but clean with soap and water first, not solvents.
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:26 AM   #4
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First time tt owner. Had a pop up for 16yrs, never worried about cleaning the roof, sprayed it off with the hose or scrubbed with a brush and soap for the tough spots. No problems!!! Would never have considered the tt would be different. Thanks for the information. Very helpful. Will need to find out what kind for roofing we have!!!
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:05 AM   #5
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The information you seek about your roof is in your pdi packet with all of your other manuals .
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:53 PM   #6
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Does someone know if the Murphy's oil soap is the one that says it's for wood. Or is there another type for the cleaning of my tpo roof.Also how do you recommend to use it
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:49 AM   #7
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Does anyone know if dicor cleaners/protectants can be purchased at Walmart/ace or any such places? Plan to clean roof today.
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