RV caulk, or sealant, may be something you don’t think about very much. But it plays an important role in the life of every RVer. Caulk is an essential part of RV living.
Leaks are the bane of an RVer’s existence, but the good news is that leaks can be stopped and more importantly, prevented!
Today we’ve got some RV caulk talk for you, so let’s get rolling!
Types of RV Caulk and Sealant
The first thing an RVer needs to know about caulks and sealants is that there are considerable differences between one type and another. When you head down the caulk and sealant aisle of a hardware store, you’ll find a wide array of options. Choosing the right RV caulk for your particular situation is essential. Let’s take a look at the options so that you can determine which is best for your application.
When applying this type of caulk, it stays soft long enough to allow gravity to level it into a nice smooth surface. As a result, it’s only for use on horizontal surfaces, like your roof, as it will run or sag on vertical surfaces. It’s a polyurethane composite, and when used, it expands (self-levels) into the joints and cracks to seal them. Once dry, it creates a seal resistant to deterioration from water, stress, and movement, since it stays pliable.
Like self-leveling sealant, this type of RV caulk seals joints and cracks to resist water and stress. The main difference is that you need to manually spread non-self-leveling sealant; it doesn’t self-level or spread on its own. This type of bond is best for sealing vertical areas, as it won’t run.
Butyl tape (sometimes called “putty tape”) is a versatile sealant in tape form. It’s pliable and comes on a roll, like other types of tape, making it easy to apply. It can be used on most surfaces, and it doesn’t make a mess like other sealants can. It’s one of the easiest ways to seal between items, such as when installing a window awning, or replacing a roof vent. It comes in a peel-and-stick roll that you can use as needed with minimal cleanup. It can be used on its own, to seal between two surfaces… but we often use it in conjunction with another sealant, like Dicor Self-Leveling applied around the edges.
- Dicor Butyl Tape - Ideal for sealing uniquely shaped joints
- Installs quickly, without gaps
Eternabond also comes in a peel-and-stick roll. Made from a combination of resins and rubbers with a primer added, this sealant works wonders to seal important areas like rooftops. Its bond may not be truly “eternal”… but it’s close! So don’t use Eternabond for anything temporary!
How to Know What Type of RV Caulk to Use for Different Jobs
When considering the type of RV caulk you need for a particular application, the elasticity of the products is an important factor. That’s because RVs move and flex as they travel down the road. More rigid caulks are more prone to cracking or shaking loose during vibration. While “caulk” and “sealant” generally refer to the same family of products, sealants tend to be more flexible, making them great for use on RVs.
You’ll use each bonding product for specific fixes. Self-leveling sealants are handy when it comes time to repair a roof or horizontal surface. Non-self-leveling sealants are best for vertical surfaces, giving you control over where to place the sealant for maximum effect.
Eternabond tape is a bit pricier, but it can be easier and more efficient to use. It comes in rolls similar to any heavy-duty tape (in different widths) and is strong and flexible. It’s virtually mess-free and works exceptionally well. Many people have solved their leak issues with a simple application of Eternabond.
Keep in mind that adhesive tapes like Eternabond are more difficult to remove. So, if you know you may need to replace the application later, consider using a sealant instead. An example would be sealing around vents or doors.
Additionally, since tapes are more expensive than sealants, a large area in need of repair can get expensive quickly. Most RV owners find that tapes are much easier and faster to apply, so consider your cost versus your time when choosing the best product for you.
Popular Brands of RV Caulk and Sealant
While brand names aren’t everything when choosing the right product, sometimes it’s nice to stick with a reputable brand. Some of our favorite caulk and sealant brands include the following:
Dicor offers a variety of self-leveling and non-self-leveling sealants. You can use both quite effectively when you need RV sealant repairs.
You can use Dicor’s self-leveling and non-leveling sealants to create secondary seals around roof edges or vents. They work well with most types of materials such as aluminum, fiberglass, and more. They won’t stain or discolor on application, nor will they fade or deteriorate due to sun and weather. They also come in six different shades to match your color needs.
You’ll find many quality RV caulking and sealants at Dicor, including butyl foam core rolls, other adhesives, and roof coating systems.
- 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
Eternabond is one of the only RV caulking types of sealant that’s made in a tape form and will stop almost any leak or prevent one. A wide variety of people use and love Eternabond. It’s trusted for its ease of use and quality.
Eternabond provides a virtually permanent bond to almost any surface and works well for most non-pressurized leaks. RVers frequently use it on their roofs to prevent leaks because it’s easy to use with minimal mess. It also comes in several colors (white, black, and gray) and different widths (from 2 to 10 inches) so you can choose the right one for the job.
- EASY TO USE: One step roof repair system for use on virtually all roofs and roof accessories with no additional products needed. bonds to a wide range...
- NO ADDITIONAL SEALING REQUIRED: Creates a waterproof, moisture, and air tight barrier with no additional sealing required that remains flexible to...
- Perfect for reseaming all roofs, regardless of the material
- Proven to be UV stable
Sikaflex polyurethane sealants are some of the best for heavy-duty projects. Their products stay where they are and resist dirt and grime. You can paint the dried sealant any color and immerse it in water.
While SikaFlex products are mostly for sealing concrete expansion joints, they work well for other sealant needs. And they won’t leave you wondering if you did the job right. The quality speaks for itself.
- Sika flex is the most well known brand of one component polyurethane sealant/adhesive in the world
- This fast curing product provides permanent elastic adhesion to a number of surfaces with excellent cut and tear resistance
GeoCel is a leader when it comes to roofing sealants. But they also specialize in other sealants and adhesives for RV caulking needs and building repair jobs.
Their Pro Flex line of sealants will last and withstand almost anything you can throw at them. Pro Flex will seal any leaks, cracks, and crevices you have. It comes in either clear or white, so you can choose the one that works best for your application.
- Crack resistant
- Exceptional flexibility
- Crack resistant
- Excellent adhesion to many surfaces, even when damp
Why You Shouldn’t Use Plain Silicone to Seal Your RV
RVs move, shift, and vibrate, and silicone dries down to a fairly stiff consistency that isn’t pliable enough for most RV applications. It’s generally strong enough to avoid cracking, but movement and vibration can cause it to separate from the RV’s surface.
Since the silicone itself isn’t likely to crack, that surface separation can go undetected until a leak occurs. Because of this, silicone sealant generally isn’t the right choice for most RV applications. Just about the only place we use silicone sealant in our RV is indoors in the shower, just like in a sticks & bricks house.
One other problem with silicone is that virtually nothing will stick to it. Not paint. Not any other type of sealant or adhesive. Even if you remove silicone, the remaining residue will prevent adhesion from any other material. That means once you use silicone, you’re stuck with it… or a very involved clean-up job trying to remove every bit of silicone residue so anything else will stick.
The Right RV Caulk Will Keep Your Rig Dry
RV caulks/sealants need to be able to withstand movement. They’re generally flexible, so they contract and expand as needed. Many of them are removable and can withstand the effects of UV rays. Do yourself a favor when repairing your RV with caulking: Choose the right tool for the job.
Whether you’re sealing a roof, installing equipment that requires penetrating the roof or a wall, or dealing with a fairly major leak in your RV, knowing what type of RV caulk to use is key. Understanding this information is half the battle.
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