There's something endlessly appealing about owning a mobile home. There's the freedom to take off whenever you like – work and other commitments permitting, of course. You don't have to book hotels or commit to an itinerary. No wonder caravans, campers and RVs are so popular. But, the metal roofs of mobile homes are prone to corrosion and rusty patches, which can threaten to ruin the #VanLife photos on your Instagram feed. If caught in time, rust can be removed and treated with a few simple steps. Just make sure you have someone to hold your ladder, and don't climb on the roof unless you're certain it can hold your weight.
Causes of Corrosion
Dirt and moisture on your roof can cause corrosion over time, so clear away soil, leaves and moss regularly to keep it as clean as possible. Check the condition of the roof at least once a year, inspecting roof seams, vents and pipes for signs of corrosion. Applying a waterproof, airtight coating can help prevent rust from forming. If it's too late, you'll need to take a few steps to clear up any rust that's already formed before protecting the roof from further corrosion.
If rusty patches do bloom, they can be tidied up with the right ingredients and a little elbow grease. A mix of lemon juice and salt, the consistency of a watery paste, should scrub away the surface rust. White vinegar also helps to dissolve rusty patches. Use coarse sandpaper to rub off any flaky rust and paint.
Patch it Up
If the rust has caused holes or dents in the roof, don't despair. These can be patched up with sheet metal. Wearing thick protective gloves and being careful of sharp edges, cut the metal to cover the damaged area. Attach it to the roof with silicone caulking and allow to dry before making any further repairs.
Clean the Decks
Prepare the roof for coating by sweeping off any loose debris. A push broom is the best tool to use for this purpose. You also need to remove all dust, dirt and grease so the roof coating will adhere properly. Scrub the roof with a solution of one part chlorine bleach and three parts water to remove rust and mildew. Use of a pressure washer may be an easier way to do this. Allow the roof to dry completely.
Seal of Approval
Use a zinc-based primer on any areas where rust has been scrubbed or sanded away, allowing it to dry before applying the protective roof coating or seal. You can buy rubber-based roof coating from most major hardware stores. Stir thoroughly before applying it with a soft-bristled roofing brush or paint roller. Allow to dry for around eight hours, then apply a second coat. The seal should last a couple of years, with the bonus benefit of adding a layer of insulation to your mobile home.