I Love Eternabond – How to stay dry in an RV

This is a follow up post to our blog post about our leaky roof.

That was early April. It took a full month to get it to the point where Gracie actually stays dry when it rains.

We ended that post asking:

"So everything has been re-caulked, re-sealed and now the rain is on it’s way.

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Will it stay dry inside?

Only time will tell."

Well... it didn't stay dry.

Not one bit.

So little that it didn't even make it through the first rain storm.

I had read about Eternabond, it's a tape which is pressure activated that seals on contact. It's the dream sealant for RVers since caulk dries and needs to be repaired often. But I also knew it was expensive... So I had gone to Home Depot and bought a tube of caulk... $5 of caluk that'll cover 100+ feet versus $1/foot for the eternabond tape!  I cheapened out to save a lot of money, and found out that I couldn't even stop the water.

Some friends saw that post and that I had used caulk... they told me I should have used eternabond...

Then the rain soaked inside of Gracie.

So I broke down, went to the only store in West Michigan that carries Eternabond and bought 200 feet of it. I figured if this stuff it as good as people claim it to be I want to seal all of the caulk on the roof. ... and our roof had copious amounts of caulk on it!

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The front half of the roof, two old antennas, a vent, the front seam, the repair job on the right, and more holes that need caulk removed.

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The rear, caulk around a repair, caulk around the ladder joint and caulk along the whole rear joint.

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The rear "seal" where the Dicor was applied in places but not over the caulk that is peeling up from the rubber membrane. Once I started looking closer there's too much to caulk! And the caulk only lasts a year tops!!!

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This is the skylight that had 3 layers of caulk, including caulk on the cracks going up the sides... would you say this plastic is brittle? Oh yeah.

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There's 3 or 4 holes in the caulk where the water can get in. The top layer of caulk is Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant which is supposed to be the perfect thing to stop leaks in a rubber roof and to seal up all the seals. However this didn't work. (look right in the center of the image to see a pea sized hole in the Dicor sealant. #fail)

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Here's a close up of two of the holes, one on the left is in the middle of the sealant, the one on the right could be considered to be installing error. Either way it didn't work! And I wasn't into chasing down these holes every year.

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4th layer of caulk on, which makes it sealed, right? Unfortunately, nope.

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Here you can see my failed attempt at putting black caulk on the roof. The hole I found after the fact is in the middle of this picture.. in the middle of the caulk... it just eventually gave way. Caulk is not permanent enough for me.

 

So after having the eternabond tape and a resin "primer" I went to work removing the caulk around the front seam and the skylight. I don't know it you've ever tried removing caulk from a rubber roof, let's just say it didn't go well.

I could use gas or paint thinner to remove the caulk but those are really bad for a rubber roof! Which kinda defeats the purpose of what I was trying to do!

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After two hours this is all that was removed from the front joint

I had worked for a couple hours on the front joint (where the rubber meets the fibreglass) I gave up on that and moved to the second priority of the skylight. After a couple of unsuccessful hours of caulk removal I was getting discouraged.

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I also wasn't thinking.

I was sliding my butt across the roof while picking at the caulk and I rested my hand on the skylight.

Okay, maybe I put a little more weight on that skylight than just my hand...

And maybe I momentarily forgot how brittle that plastic appeared to be.

But for all that lack of thought my hand went right through the skylight.

CRRRACK!

In seconds my problem went from bad to terrible!

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A Paul-hand-sized hole in the skylight. Lets just say this is a family blog and I will not repeat the word I said when my hand went into the shower while my body was on the roof.

Like Tim Allen's projects, this project was getting bigger by the moment.

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We had to take the skylight out in pieces. It was bad! (the screws and the steel were so rusted I'm surprised it stayed connected to the roof at all! Note the hairdryer,:we had begun to apply heat to get the caulk off more easier.

Shortly after that I was told that the resin "primer" enables eternabond to be installed right over existing caulk.

Wait!...

You mean to tell me I spent three hours removing stuff and breaking a $300 skylight for nothing???

Ug.

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4" Eternabond tape, Primer brush to apply the primer, knifes to cut the tape and a roller to put pressure on the tape. Note the chunks of caulk on the left that we removed from the front seam (this is the spot where the rubber roof meets the fiberglass front, major leak over Becky's chair)

As I was removing the caulk the rubber roof started to stretch and in places I exposed more cuts and slits right through the roof membrane.

So we applied eternabond to the spots we knew were leaking and put a tarp and sand bags over the hole where the skylight used to be.

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Yup, it used to be a skylight... now we just pretend it doesn't exist ;)

Even today a month later it still chaps my hide that I spent that time doing what I thought needed to be done and in the process cost us more money.

Ever had that happen to you?
Well the fun didn't stop there.

It was of course a Saturday when I did this and all the RV part stores seem to be closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Never fear, I'm a digital nomad, I could order this part online right? Amazon Prime right? No big deal. I found tons of neodome 5-sided skylight domes. However I couldn't find the right one. No one sold a rectangular neodome skylight, just the square neodomes.

Only to discover when I called the factory on Monday that this is a one-of-a-kind dome that you have to order through them. However a local RV parts store said they could order it cheaper than I could. So I put the order in for the same part from the local store.

And I thought the saga was done.

Unfortunately the skylight was sent to the wrong dealership and instead of going from Indiana to Michigan the part was shipped to a different dealer in Pennsylvania. So after almost a month of waiting we finally had the skylight and popped that on, put Eternabond around it and Becky finished sealing all the other areas of caulk on the roof.

We learned a lot about Eternabond, we fell in love with the stuff and still have a 50' roll left over, we're keeping it/taking it with us just in case. It even works on leaky pipes and get this, underwater on pool liners, just peel, stick and put pressure on it (roll, push, press whatever) and no more leaks! If you can't tell I'm a HUGE fan of the stuff!

Now we just have to keep that roll away from Zander who threw it down, which compressed part of the roll :)

And the saga continues!

 

 

 

 

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First layers on (I overlapped a few just to be sure, paranoia is my friend in this case!) note the ugly fold on itself? looks like wrinkles. All I had to do was press on this and it sealed... viola. Beat that Caulk or Dicor!

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A friend says, Eternabond tape never looks great but it works like a dream.. he's 100% right. However the look has grown on me and I like it now.

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The front seam, SEALED... FINALLY!

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A random hole in the membrane that the dealership missed when they re-caulked the whole roof. It's been here awhile. --- Wondering why we shouldn't do the whole roof in Eternabond?

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Random Hole... sealed!

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The random hole repair, the wiring and front seams done. Eternabond actually holds wires done on a roof too!

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Wire finished, Old TV Antenna next!

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The King Dome wires needed some love too

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Had to get creative since I didn't want to do this whole wire. (note that the wire wrap has a crack in it... ug, should have done the whole thing!

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How to do a round pipe seal

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One pre, one post.

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The ladder and back seam done... no water's getting past this fortress!

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Back seam, only needed a single run of tape (front needed two!)

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Even these random piles of caulk got eternabonded.

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There was a crack down the back, we preventatively covered the caulk with the Eternabond

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THE NEW SKYLIGHT! (we forgot to take pictures post Eternabond, but this is after a month of waiting)

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Becky putting Eternabond and primer on the whole roof. Love my helper wife!

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While we were waiting for the Skylight we brought Gracie in to the shop for some work... they accidentally hit the roof when they hoisted her up... Normally this would be a multiple hundred dollar repair job. But with Eternabond it took 5 minutes and cost about $2. #done

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Closeup of the injury. The eternabond fared better than the rubber roof!

Phew, so if you have been sent here by a friend, or by one of us to read about our Eternabond experience take this advice: Drop every thought you ever had about sealing a roof, run (don't walk) to a roofing supply store and buy up all the Eternabond tape and primer they have. (or order the tape and primer it on Amazon)  If you do this or have other posts about RV Roof repair let us know in the comments.

And for those of you smarter than I... why can we not cover our whole roof in this stuff? It'd be way cheaper than a new roof!

Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at nomadtogether.com and own connexdigitalmarketing.com We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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2 Comments

  1. Julie

    What is the primer for and what is the brand name? Great job, I have a new 2017 travel trailer and the caulk sucks, will clean the caulk and put the Eternabond right over all caulking on roof. Sure hopes it works as I don’t want to caulk or use lap sealant every 6months. What do you think? Thank you. Julie, senior citizen

    Reply
    • Paul Kortman

      Julie, I’m with you on not wanting to redo caulk/lap sealant all the time, and after 3 years of eternabond use I still swear by it and love the stuff. I will not let our roll go out before buying another, we’ve even used it to temporarily stop water pipe leaks, seal up holes in the side of the RV and many other goofy things that I’d have never thought about.

      The Eternabond Primer is for use when surfaces to be bonded are very dirty, or dusty. EternaPrime will prepare the surface by coalescing all loose particles into a solid setting for the Eternabond tape to adhere to. It’s also for if you’re wanting to apply eternabond in weather colder than 40F. Basically it’s unneeded and we don’t use it anymore, but when we did our first application we were nervous that we couldn’t get the rubber roof clean enough, because when we peelend up the caulk we got some of the protective paint coating up and there were remnants of the caulk behind, so no matter how much we scrubbed we couldn’t seem to get all of the “stuff” clean/removed. so instead, a bit of primer and viola we were in business knowing our Eternabond would stick to a solid instead of to the junk.

      Reply

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