There comes a time in every RV owner’s life when he or she has to climb to the roof of the vehicle. More so than just a quick sweep, you might actually have to get on the roof and spend some time up there. Doing so makes you cautious, as what if the roof can’t hold your weight? How much weight does an RV roof support anyway?
RV roofs on average can support 220 to 250 pounds. To determine the weight limit of your RV roof, check the ladder. It should include a weight limit rating. You can also look through your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
In today’s post, we’ll provide more information on how much weight an RV roof can support, including real examples from your favorite RV brands and models. We’ll also discuss how to safely climb up your RV and traverse the roof. You’re not going to want to miss it!
How Much Weight Can an RV Roof Support? Real Examples of RV Roof Weight Limits
As we said in the intro, it’s unavoidable that you’ll be on your RV roof at some point. When designing modern RVs, manufacturers take that into account. The roof weight limit should be at least enough to support one person of average weight.
The general weight limit for your RV roof is between 250 and 280 pounds, but it could be more and sometimes even less depending on the RV. We’ll talk in the next section about the factors that can influence how much weight an RV roof can hold, so keep reading.
If you want to see some real examples of RV roof weight limits, we’ve got ‘em.
- Forest River 2012 Cherokee 28BH – 225 pounds or more
- Keystone RV Outback 292BH – 250 pounds
- Tradewinds 300 Caterpillar – 250 pounds
- Jayco Lightweight TT X23B – 220 pounds or more
What if your RV isn’t on the list above? How do you find out how much weight it can hold? You have three reliable methods.
Check the Roof Ladder
The roof of your RV itself will not provide a weight limit rating. That information, if it’s going to be anywhere on your vehicle, will be printed or embossed on the roof ladder itself. Like with any other part of your RV, follow that weight rating to the letter.
Pro Tip: If there is no ladder, it’s probably not safe to walk on! Be sure to look up this information prior to walking on the roof.
Look Through the Owner’s Manual
If your RV roof ladder is old and faded or you can’t find the weight rating there, it doesn’t hurt to page through your owner’s manual. Have you owned your RV for a while and you’ve happened to lose your owner’s manual between now and then? No problem. Many RV owner’s manuals are available online courtesy of your manufacturer.
Reach Out to the RV Manufacturer
If all else fails and you can’t find the RV roof weight limit information anywhere, get in touch with the manufacturer. You can call them, email them, even stop by in person if that’s convenient for you. The manufacturer should have this info readily available so you can get the answer you seek.
Factors That Can Influence the Weight Limit of an RV Roof
With some RVs, the roof weight limit is only a bit over 200 pounds. For others, it’s closer to 250 pounds. Why such a difference? Here are some factors that can determine the roof weight limit of your particular RV.
Luxury RV brands with a no-expenses-spared attitude will use only the most premium materials when assembling and constructing the RV. That goes for what the roof is made of as well. You can expect that if you paid a pretty penny for your RV that it will probably have a higher roof weight limit than a lower-priced vehicle.
Another factor to take into account is the size of your RV. It makes sense that a smaller RV like a travel trailer or a Class B simply cannot support as much weight as a Class A RV. The Class B lacks the size and heft.
The last reason to explain the fluctuations in RV roof weight limits is what the roof itself is made of. In our post about how long an RV roof lasts, we presented a handy chart showcasing the different roof materials.
Here’s a quick recap from that article of the various materials used for RV roofs.
- Rubber EPDM: Rubber ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber or rubber EPDM doesn’t dent, scuff, or scratch, but it can puncture quite easily. Most rubber EPDM roofs last 10 to 12 years.
- Rubber TPO: Another type of rubber roofing is rubber thermoplastic polyolefin or rubber TPO. This roofing is assembled in plies, so some versions of rubber TPO can be thicker and more durable and others with fewer plies less so. A laminate layer is often included to prevent premature cracking. Rubber TPO roofs also last 10 to 12 years.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass RV roofing is available in small pieces or one singular piece depending on the manufacturer. Although fiberglass is among the most expensive roof material, it’s customizable and long-lasting. A fiberglass roof may be good for 20 years or more.
- Aluminum: The most budget-friendly roof material is aluminum, which is mostly puncture-resistant but not heat-resistant. Aluminum roofs are admittedly not very appealing, but they’re tough, lasting more than 20 years in many cases.
Reasons You Need to Access Your RV Roof
Why do you even need to get up on your RV roof in the first place? For a whole multitude of reasons that we’ll cover now.
As part of your maintenance routine and certainly ahead of winterization, you need to climb up to your roof and give it a thorough once-over. Your RV roof is part of the structural skeleton of your vehicle, so if something is wrong with it, you can’t trust the ceiling over your head. That’s no way to live!
Clean the Roof
Once or twice a year, you need to polish your RV roof. Sadly, this is still a manual process, so that means climbing on up the roof with your water bucket and soap and cleaning the roof yourself.
The third instance in which you’ll have to spend time on your RV roof is if the roof ever falls into disarray and needs repairs. Minor patch jobs are doable on your own, but if the roof has deep punctures, sizable cracks, or other significant damage, you’re much better off contacting the manufacturer or an RV repair service.
How to Walk on Your RV Roof
For the first time, you’re going up on your RV roof. It’s okay to be a little nervous, but don’t worry, you’ve got this. We’ll now present some handy steps you can follow to climb up the roof, walk across it, and then climb back down safely.
Step 1: Assess Your RV Roof Ladder
The ladder is your access point to your RV roof, so you want to ensure it’s in optimal condition. Check for anything that could be wrong with the ladder, including loose bolts or screws as well as bent mounting brackets or ladder arms.
Should your ladder be in poor shape, you need to hold off on climbing for the time being. If all is good with the ladder, then proceed.
Step 2: Climbing the Ladder
Test your ladder before climbing it by reaching up for the highest rung and then hanging on. Sway a bit in one direction, then another. Do the mounting points move? They shouldn’t.
You’re then ready to climb. Take it one rung at a time until you reach the top of the RV roof.
Step 3: Put Plywood on the Roof
Plywood such as 2x4s or 4x8s are recommended to have handy as you scale your RV roof. The wood will distribute your weight in such a way that you don’t create or expose any potential weak spots on the roof.
Step 4: Walk Carefully
All RV roofs, even those newer ones, have weaker versus stronger areas. Any areas near the sidewall are considered stronger since they’re reinforced with more support. The center of the roof is actually the worst place to go as this area tends to be less supported than other parts of the roof.
Another part of the roof to avoid is any openings or cut-outs where accessories are. These spots are naturally vulnerable. All it takes is you applying your weight and you could create a you-sized hole right through your RV roof.
Step 5: Do Your Thing, Then Climb Down
Whether you need to fix up your RV roof, clean it, or just take a look at it, try not to dawdle. Work expediently and then get off the roof. Climb down your ladder slowly, keeping your body towards the rungs rather than away.
Is It Safe to Go on Your RV Roof? What You Should Not Do on the Roof
You have one more question. Is climbing on your RV roof safe? Most of the time, yes, but user error can obviously change that. Here are some things you don’t want to do when accessing your RV roof.
Cross Between the Rafters
The rafters on your RV roof are your friend. Walk on them rather than between them, as you could be stepping on a weak spot of your roof.
Use a Damaged RV Ladder
A damaged ladder is structurally unsound. Trying to climb it could lead to disaster, such as the ladder coming unhinged and throwing you off your RV to the hard ground. You could be seriously injured in such an incident!
If your ladder is hanging by a thread, it’s much more worth your time to replace it than try to fix it. Then you can climb up and down your RV with peace of mind.
Go on the Roof Even Though You’re Over Capacity
We told you how to determine the weight limit of your RV roof. Once you ascertain that information, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. Weight limits exist for a reason. When you snub your nose at the weight limit, there’s no saying whether you can get to the roof of your RV without cracking it and falling through it. It’s not worth the risk.
Bring a Second Person
There’s nothing wrong with having a second person as your spotter to ensure you get onto the roof, but they should never join you on the roof. Even if together you somehow were at the weight limit, RV roofs are not meant for more than one person at a time.
RV roofs can support less than 300 pounds. Exactly how much weight is allowable on your RV’s roof depends on the condition of the vehicle, its size, and the roof material. Now that you know how to get on the roof and back, you can prioritize always doing so safely. Best of luck!