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Can I Walk On My RV Roof?

Can I Walk On My RV Roof?

Since there are lots of items on the roof of your RV that require attention from time to time (think Dicor inspection), the question “Can I walk on my RV roof comes up quite a bit.

Neglecting roof sealants may cause serious water damage, but the question, “Can I walk on my RV roof?” is a loaded one. But it’s also a very important one.

So, we decided it was time to give the topic a post of its own.

Why Would You Want to Walk on Your RV Roof?

There are actually multiple reasons why you might want to walk on your RV roof. You may want to access your roof to clean and inspect the items on your roof. These include air conditioner(s), roof vents, solar panels, skylights, and even roof seams.

Preventing RV roof leaks with Dicor maintenance is one of the most important reasons to access your RV roof. RV roof leaks can cause serious damage to your rig.

Dicor 501LSW-1 Epdm Self-Leveling Lap Sealant-10.3 Oz. Tube, White, 10.3 Fluid_Ounces (Packaging May Vary)
  • Creates a secure, secondary seal along the roof’s edges, air vents, vent pipes and screw heads
  • Adheres firmly to aluminum, mortar, wood, vinyl, galvanized metal, fiberglass and concrete

You may also want to access your roof to conduct some RV AC maintenance. Or you may need to remove leaves, branches, and other debris from the roof or the tops of your slide-outs.

If your RV has slides-outs, but no slide toppers, you may need to climb up on your RV roof relatively often. This is particularly true if you camp in an area with trees. If twigs, leaves, pine cones, small branches, and the like accumulate on top of your slides, you don’t want to close them without sweeping off the tops.

So, there are a number of reasons why you may need to walk on your RV roof.

A person working on a vent on an RV roof

When you own an RV, there are many reasons why you might need to get up on the roof. For one thing, there can be many RV maintenance projects on the roof.

Is It Safe to Walk on an RV Roof?

The answer to this question depends on a few variables.

The first thing to consider is your ability to climb up a ladder and onto a roof. Once there, maintaining sure-footedness is important as you work.

This is not for everyone. It’s always wise to consider whether or not you’re up to the task of climbing onto an RV roof. Sometimes it may be best to enlist the help of a friend or family member, or a professional.

Remember that slipping off of a ladder or off the roof of your rig could cost you the ability to enjoy the RVing season. Worse yet, it could also cost you your health, and nothing is worth that risk.

The next thing you’ll want to consider is the roof material itself. You need to know what your RV roof is made of as well as the manufacturer’s recommended weight limit.

And finally, (and equally as important), is the age and condition of your RV’s roof.

How Do You Know If You Can Walk On Your RV Roof?

Let’s take a look at a few of the ways to determine whether or not you can safely walk on the roof of your RV.

Roof Weight

It’s important to consider the weight and structural support of your RV roof when considering the safety of walking on it.

We’ve read that most RV roofs typically have a weight capacity of around 250 pounds. That’s a generalization that you really can’t depend on because it varies with the RV.

RVgeeks on the roof of our motorhome with our friend Brian

Depending on the rig, your RV roof may be able to accommodate the weight of multiple people. Here we are with our friend Brian of RV With Tito working on the solar system on the roof of our 43′ Newmar Mountain Aire. But not all RV roofs are created equal!

Some RV models have a weight limit listed on a sticker on the back of the RV. This is more likely to be the case with travel trailers, 5th wheels, and a few other camper models.

One way to learn the weight limit for your RV’s roof is to contact the RV’s manufacturer. Be prepared to give them the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of your RV.

Quality of the RV

The quality of the roof and the framework of the rig makes a significant difference as well. This can vary from RV to RV depending on the manufacturer and type of the rig.

Condition of the Structure

The condition of the roof is very important. If you have an older RV, for example, and the roof hasn’t been well maintained over time, the structural integrity of the roof may be poor.

A soft roof area that flexes when walking on it is a potential sign of a weakened RV roof structure. It’s often a sign of RV roof leaks, where serious damage may be hidden just beneath the surface. It’s important not to walk on the roof of an RV that isn’t structurally sound.

Presence of a Ladder

An RV with a built-in ladder on the back indicating that it's safe to walk on the RV roof

In general, if an RV comes from the manufacturer with a built-in ladder on the back, that ladder is intended for roof access. This indicates that it’s safe to walk on the roof. HOWEVER, over time the integrity of the roof can change. So it’s very important to first consider the current condition of the roof before walking on it.

In general, if your RV has a ladder, the ladder was placed there to give RV owners access to the roof. Typically, this means that the RV manufacturer has determined that it’s safe to walk on the roof.

Regardless of the presence of a ladder, you still need to consider the current condition of the roof. Also, the lack of a ladder doesn’t necessarily mean you can walk on the roof. You just might need to buy a collapsible ladder to get up there.

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Type of Roof

It’s important to know the type of roof your RV has.

For example, if you have a fiberglass RV roof, you’ve likely got a strong, hard surface that is unlikely to flex much. Although you can walk on a fiberglass roof, be extra careful since a fiberglass RV roof can be very slippery when it’s wet!

A man standing on his RV roof washing solar panels with a pressure hose

A wet RV roof is a slippery RV roof! Use caution when walking on a wet RV roof, or avoid it whenever possible.

If you have a rubber roof, it’s likely either EPDM or TPO. But regardless of which material is used, the structure of the roof should be fairly consistent. These roofs generally have metal cross braces that support the plywood. The plywood is covered by the rubberized outer coating.

If there’s any question about the integrity of the wood (due to softness or signs of leaks), don’t walk on the roof without having it further assessed.

Aluminum roofs are less common but are typically not very strong. To avoid roof damage (primarily denting), walking on an aluminum roof should generally be avoided if possible.

Tips for Walking on Your RV Roof

Following are a few general tips for walking safely on your RV roof:

  • Distribute the weight of the person on the roof by using a piece of plywood.
  • Crawl to assess the roof looking for soft spots.
  • Avoid areas that have been cut to install components such as AC units, vents, skylights, etc.
  • If possible, avoid walking on a wet roof.
  • Avoid leaning over the side of the RV while walking on the roof.
  • Be aware that bees sometimes make nests inside rooftop components.

For additional information about RV roofs, please have a look at our post, “The Complete Guide to Your RV Roof”.

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Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Sunday 17th of July 2022

That makes no sense. What good is making an RV roof strong enough for components such as AC units, solar panels, etc., yet fragile that can't withstand people walking on it to service the components?

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 21st of July 2022

It can be a balancing act of strength/durability and weight, Jason! If you want to make a small, lightweight travel trailer (for example) that can be towed by a smaller vehicle (like a typical SUV), something's gotta give! In this case... it COULD be the roof! 😉 On bigger, heavier RVs... it's less of an issue/concern. But important for people to be aware of, rather than just assuming!

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Monday 18th of July 2022

@Dennis Johnson, If it's something only a dealer can fix, maybe.

Dennis Johnson

Sunday 17th of July 2022

@Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason), So you'll bring it to a dealer and pay.

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