Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Re-Seal a Camper

Did you know that campers have to be resealed every 4-5 years?  If not, don't feel bad.  Most people don't.  Definitely a bad thing if you are in the market for a used specimen.

Even if you buy a brand new model, you will have to maintain the seals.  Luckily, it is not a difficult process, just time consuming and sticky.

When I talk about camper "seals", what I am referring to are the seams along the edges.  They run up each corner, all around the top and each window and door.  These areas are where two edges come together and the seam has to be waterproofed.  This is done by laying a length of "putty tape" along the edge and screwing a piece of trim over it.  This putty, is soft, pliable and a little sticky.  When you screw on the trim, the pressure squeezes excess putty out the edges and creates a watertight seal.

The bad news is, over time this putty dries out and cracks, leaving little hairline channels for water to sneak into you camper.  The water will seep in and you will not know it is there until it has caused significant damage.  It is imperative that you seal your camper religiously whether you think it needs it or not, because I guarantee you, it does.

Step one of this process is to remove the trim pieces.  To get to the screws holding it on, you will have to remove the flexible "tape" covering them.

All you have to do, it get under a little spot on the side and it will pop right out of it's grooves.  Sometimes, there will be an end cap at the bottom holding the strip in place.  If this is the case, remove the screw holding the cap on, and pop it off.  There should be putty tape under this cap, gently scrape that off the trim piece and proceed with removing the "tape".

Now remove all the screws holding the trim on.  There are about a billion of them.  Once the screws are out, the trim will easily come off.

Now scrape all the old "putty tape"  off.  Some of mine stuck to the camper, some of it went with the trim.  I used a wide scraper on most of it...

However, as we discussed in an earlier post, the people who we bought our girl from, sucked...  big time.  They did not know how to seal a camper (or didn't care to do it right) and they used silicone.  DO NOT USE SILICONE.  Putty tape and many other sealing options WILL NOT stick to silicone or it's residue.  That means that you have to use a screwdriver, utility knife and any other means necessary to get it off.

Then, you have to be sure you get all the residue off.  They make silicone removers that you can order, but we used acetone (the chemist said it would work fine) to clean on all the trim and the body of the camper where the trim was going. 

Now, lay a strip of the putty tape along the edge (it still has protective paper on it in this picture) and screw the trim piece back on.  Carefully cut away any extra that oozes out the sides with a utility knife.  Replace the tape that covered the screws.  Be sure to use putty tape under any end caps you have when you put them back on.

I found this video showing how to reseal camper windows.  It is great because it shows what putty tape looks like and how to place it (ignore the use of silicone at the end).  If you are having trouble understanding my directions, they will make way more sense after you watch this.

That is it!  It takes the better part of a weekend, but it is well worth the effort to protect your home away from home.  We were super paranoid about leaks (can't imagine why?) so we went one step further... but that is another post and you can find it here.  You'll hear about the extra step we took and find an update about how it's holding up.


  1. I bought my First RV, it is in bad shape and lots of leaks, in the post above you wrote:: We were super paranoid about leaks (can't imagine why?) so we went one step further... but that is another post...Where is the other post? I NEED IT>>>LOL :)

    1. not sure about him but, we used (Henry silicone Tropi-cool rubber roofing. From Home depot and it worked fantastic!It is our first camper also, which needed a little work and had several leaks but, this stuff is fantastic. Lifetime warranty! we tried too many other things to stop the leaks and didn't work but we are happy with this silicone treatment. You don't need as much as we bought. 2 coats will work. We bought 5 gal for a 29 foot and still had half left after 2 coats! hope this helps anyone reading this!

  2. The video is no longer available?

  3. Great post. We started out by taking out and reapplying the tape. We found another post that referenced butyl tape. Made it much easier to Google and locate.

  4. Caper resealing is not difficult if you are having proper way to get solution RV Roof Repair Shelton is nowadays in and very much reliable due to its long-lasting results .

    1. Thanks for the tip. EPDM looks like the way to go.