Water is the most damaging force on earth and your roof is the first shield of defense against it. Proper maintenance can help a lot, but even the most well-maintained roofs will eventually begin leaking.
The Three Types of Roof
Mobile and manufactured home roofs have been built with 3 basic shapes through the... years. Mobile homes (built before June 1976) typically have flat, or bowstring trusses, that are covered with metal or asphalt.
Newer manufactured homes will have standard trusses -- these are also called a peaked or pitched roof and are covered with shingles. Double wide roofs use half trusses that become a single standard truss once set up.
Coating Metal Roofs
If your roof is bowstring or flat, it may have come with a metal roof. You are supposed to coat these roofs every couple of years or so, based on the manufacturer's recommendations.
There are misunderstandings about sealing a mobile home roof. Most people think sealing the roof will repair leaks, but that's not really the case.
Sealing a metal roof helps do two things: provide a reflective surface so the sun's rays are reflected and preventing the metal from rusting. While it will help seal small leaks, it's won't last because it's not made for repairing leaks.
Before sealing, you will need to prepare the roof properly. You can't just go up there and throw seal on it! The surface has to be clean and scraped smooth. Previous coats on seams and vents need to be removed with a grinder or steel brush. You want the new coating to bond well.
After cleaning the surface, and before adding yet another coat in an attempt to fix a leak, you need to find the problem areas and seal them.
Most mobile home repair professionals recommend a neoprene or polyurethane flashing sealant. Add it to the seams and around the vents and let it cure. Be sure to use the manufacturer's instruction.
Once the flashing has cured you will add the coating -- white elastomeric coating is recommended. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions.
Install a New Roof
Another way to deal with a flat roof leak is to replace the roof or re-roof the home, which all homeowners will have to do eventually.
There are many types of roof replacement systems. Here's the top three:
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Seamless Rubber Roof
A seamless rubber roof is basically a thick coating of liquid rubber poured on the roof. Before the product is applied, the seams and vent flashing are sealed with a rubber neoprene product.
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Seamed Rubber Roof (EPDM)
Seamed rubber roofs are sheets of rubber stretched over the roof. These are very popular roofing replacement and repair options for RVs but larger mobile homes will likely need to be seamed together. The rubber comes in various thicknesses.
The rubber is cut to have enough room to fall off the side of the roof a bit so that a termination bar can hold it in place.
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Corrugated Metal Roof
If sealing and rubber is something you don't want to be involved with, a metal roof is the best option for you.
The basic installation method is fairly simple and the overall cost of a metal roof is affordable. Most homeowners will opt to hire someone to install a metal roof. If you are comfortable with basic construction work, you should have no problem installing a metal roof.
More Roofing Options
Technological advances have allowed the roofing industry to progress quickly in the last few years and new products come on the market regularly. Be sure to research for the best option for your area. Where you live will have a lot of bearing on the best type of roof for your home. Homes in the north, where the snow is wet and heavy, need a stronger roof than those closer to the equator with little to no snow. Call your local construction professional and ask which option is most popular in your community. Chances are, the most recommended option for you will be the corrugated metal roof. Though it does have a more extensive installation, it's a fairly common DIY project for a homeowner with average construction experience. Whether you repair or replace, you want to fix any leak quickly. Never put the repair off. Water can damage your home much quicker than you may realize.