Sitting on the roof of a campervan

Can You Stand on a Motorhome Roof?

In RV living by Christopher SchopfLeave a Comment

We know we can’t stand on most vehicle roofs without damaging them but we also know that we can stand on a home’s roof without damaging it.

So what about a motorhome?

Can you stand on a motorhome roof?  Most smaller class B motorhome roofs are not built to be stood upon.  Most larger class C and class A motorhomes are built so that you can stand on them.

The type and make of your motorhome will determine whether or not you can safely stand on it.

Let’s take a closer look at how to determine if your motorhome’s rooftop can hold the weight of your body.

Why Stand or Sit on A Motorhome Roof?

Sitting on the roof of a campervan

You might want to stand on your motorhome’s roof to clean it or do basic maintenance on it.  Others might want to use it as a terrace or a great platform for taking photos from.

Different motorhomes will allow for different uses and just because you can stand on the roof for one purpose doesn’t mean you can stand on it for other purposes.

In the next few sections, we’ll go over the different uses you might want to put your roof to and we’ll talk about whether or not it is safe to do so.

Standing on a Motorhome’s Roof to Clean It

Some motorhomes are load bearing and it is OK to stand on them while cleaning them.  This being said, I’d advise against this.

Remember, every time you walk on the roof, you run the risk of causing damage to it.

A better solution is to just get a good ladder or scaffolding system so that you can clean the roof without having to actually climb on top of it.

You can even use a pressure washer on most motorhome roofs but be sure to check with the manufacturer before doing so. I personally pressure wash our RV while standing on a ladder.

Most manufacturers will tell you what the proper psi and the proper spraying distance is when using a pressure washer to wash your motorhome’s roof.

If you’re intent on standing on your motorhome’s roof to clean it, do it in a way that minimized the amount of time you spend on it.  Bring all of your materials up at once and quickly clear the roof of debris using a push broom or leaf blower.

Once the roof is clear of debris, use soapy water and a hose to get as much dirt off as possible.  After this, you can go back and scrub down any problem areas.

Using Your Motorhome’s Roof as a Terrace

Having a terrace on top of your motorhome can be a lot of fun.

Often times, motorhomes will allow for one person to navigate the roof safely without damage but they aren’t created with the intention of being used as a terrace.

Never use your motorhome’s roof as a terrace without first making alterations to make it safe for this type of use. 

This can sometimes be done through the use of roof racks but most of the time you’ll need to buy a motorhome that was specifically made with a roof that can be used as a terrace.

Also, when using your roof as a terrace remember that a motorhome is usually a minimum of eight feet off of the ground.  In fact, many of the larger motorhomes are over 12 feet off of the ground.   Falling from this height could severely injure you or even kill you.

Can I Walk On My Motorhome’s Roof

Yes, many motorhomes have roofs that are designed to be walked on.  Just keep in mind that motorhome roofs weren’t designed for prolonged periods of walking.  The built-in ladder on your motorhome isn’t an invitation to go jogging on your motorhome’s roof.

This ladder was most likely put in place so that you can do annual maintenance on your roof as well as your air conditioning system.  You can also use the ladder to occasionally climb up onto your roof to clean it.

Every single step you take while walking around on your motorhome’s roof reduces the durability of your motorhome’s roof. It increases the amount of maintenance you’ll need to do to keep it from leaking.

How Much Snow Can A Motorhome Roof Hold?

Man in warm RV with furnace

A motorhome is built to hold more snow than one snowstorm could drop onto it.  The bigger problem is usually the ice that can form afterward.

Leaving large piles of snow to melt and then freeze will quickly add weight to the motorhome.

To avoid this problem, it’s best to push the snow off of your motorhome after each storm.

This will keep the weight from becoming too high and will keep water and ice from doing damage to your motorhome’s roof.

Never stand or walk on your motorhome’s roof to remove the snow from it.  A motorhome’s roof will become slick with snow and ice and you’re likely to fall if you walk on it.  Additionally, the extra weight from both you and the snow can cause damage to your roof.

In extreme cases, you may even fall through the roof.

This is especially true when walking on a wooden or fiberglass Class C motorhome room.

Cleaning Snow Off of a Motorhomes Roof

The roof of a motorhome is usually just a very large version of a vehicle’s roof.  Unfortunately, it is also much taller than your average car and cleaning the snow off can be difficult.

In most cases, the easiest way to go about cleaning the snow off is to use a handheld leaf blower or a large push broom.  Use a ladder to get to the roof line and move slowly work your way around the vehicle until you’ve gotten the bulk of the snow off.

Never hit the road before cleaning the snow off of your motorhome.  Not only is this illegal but it is dangerous to other motorists.

How Much Weight Can an RV Roof Support

An RV’s roof will differ depending on the type of RV you have.  With motorhomes, we know that the roof is generally built in a similar fashion to your automobiles roof.  It has a solid metal structure that will not rot out over time.  These motorhomes can usually support the weight of an average adult.

With wooden RVs and some class C motorhomes, it can be difficult to determine how much weight they can hold.  Over time, wood can rot and screws and nails can come loose through the swelling that occurs with wood.

These types of RVs might have been able to hold the weight of one person initially but they can no longer hold any extra weight.  This means that even if your manufacturer says that your RV can hold up to 500 pounds on it, you might still not be able to safely climb on top of it.

Also, some RV roofs were never meant to hold any weight in the first place.  Telescoping campers, pop up campers, fold up campers and generally any roof that does not remain static at all times is not a good roof to walk upon.

Best Practices for Walking on A Motorhome or RV Roof

Before venturing up onto any roof, you’ll want to make sure the roof is damage free.

First, go inside your RV and check the ceiling for any leaks.  If you have visible water leaks inside of your RV then you know that there is a good chance that you have an issue with your roof.

Here’s a complete step-by-step guide on how to fix a leaking RV roof.

After you’ve inspected the inside, you’ll want to climb onto a ladder and visually inspect the roof for any signs of damage before stepping onto it.

If you have an older RV, I’d also advise you to use your hand to push down on the roof to make sure the spot your climbing onto is not soft.

Once you’re on the roof, be sure to walk slowly and if you can see where the rafters or ribs are, step on top of these as they’ll provide extra support.

If at all possible, never go up onto your roof alone.  Have a friend or neighbor looking out for you so that they can call for help in the event of a roof collapse or even just a fall.

Failing this, bring your cell phone so that you have it readily available should you need it.

For example, you might climb onto your motorhome’s roof and your ladder might fall down.  With your cell phone on hand, you’ll easily be able to call someone to put the ladder back up for you.

If none of your friends can come by to put the ladder back up for you, order a pizza and give the delivery guy a big tip.

In Summary

Most motorhome’s and RV were built so that they can be walked on for basic maintenance and cleaning.  However, roofs are never 100% safe and you should always be cautious before venturing onto any roof.

 

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