The Best Material for RV Ceiling on the Market
New Zealand is a top tourist destination–one that already enjoyed popularity as home to the set of the multi-billion-dollar Lord of the Rings franchise–and still climbing, with a record 3.82 million visitors in 2018. And for some, the best way to experience New Zealand and beyond is nothing utter than an RV, equipped with quality material for a sturdy ceiling.
RV road trips, whether close at home or abroad, are popular as ever, perfect for places with ample land for free camping and gorgeous sights. Traveling in an RV allows you the freedom to set your own agenda, travel as much or little as you like in a day, and see more overall.
While trips with planned itineraries can offer comfort to some, and Rv made of well-constructed material means you’ll have a ceiling over your head every night without the stress and fees with a hotel booking. The problem? Many travelers may like the concept of traveling via RV but not understand just how essential it is to understand the basics. Frequent mistakes include not checking on equipment, parking in hazardous locations, and not investing in the right material.
Leaking, damage and other risks abound when you don’t invest in the best material for an RV ceiling. In this article, we’ll give you tips for finding the best material for an RV ceiling and why this is a crucial step. We’ll also answer your frequently asked questions.
What Is The Best Material For And RV Ceiling, And Why Does It Matter?
The best material for an RV can make a difference when it comes to the longevity of your RV. You’ll find increasing problems with maintenance if you opt for a material that isn’t suited for the conditions of frequent travel and the wear and tear that naturally comes with it.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to caring for their RV is not first assessing whether or not the material for their ceiling suits these needs. The most common problems consumers encounter include leaks, stains, and overall soil. While some of these issues, such as soil, can start as relatively minor, ultimately most of these can lead to more problematic issues over time.
In addition to regular maintenance, your best bet is to invest in one of the following materials for your RV Ceiling:
1. Metal Tiles
Metal tiles are among the best options for material for your RV ceiling. Metal tiles are actually favored in some traditional homes for their unique aesthetic appeal, but there are many other reasons to admire them when it comes to selecting material for an RV ceiling. They tend to hide indentations or other imperfections better than most materials, and can also be easier to clean than fabric.
- Main Advantages: Metal tiles, above all, are fairly durable for RV ceilings. They are not prone to rot and do not easily crack. They also are excellent at resisting mold and mildew. Metal tiles absorb moisture and rarely suffer from water damage. Because peeling and cracking don’t occur, they also tend to be low maintenance options, are easy to install, and even a good option for preventing fires.
- Disadvantages: Metal tiles are expensive material to choose for your Rv ceiling. In addition to the upfront cost, metal tiles also require protective coating; without it, they can be prone to corrosion. You also need to make sure you’re investing in genuine metal, as false metal materials will not prove durable. Finally, not everyone will like the look of metal tiles, which, depending on the style, could feel overwhelming in a smaller RV.
Another one of the best materials you can select for the ceiling in your RV is plywood. Plywood may not be as immediately interesting as metal tiles, but holds many benefits of its own and provides a natural option for many. This common ceiling choice is still easy enough to clean but comes with different advantages–and challenges than you’d see with a metal tile ceiling.
- Main Advantages: Unlike tile ceilings for your RV, plywood ceilings are among the most cost-effective. If you’re on a budget, you’ll likely save substantial money spending on plywood vs a tiled metal ceiling. Despite some claims, it also is fairly durable, considered sturdy and not prone to damage and denting the way a material like sheeting. Often plywood is double-layered, and many do like the natural look it provides. If taken care of, plywood can actually last you a long time, likely the life of your RV.
- Disadvantages: The quality of the plywood you use can impact the durability, and plywood can vary. In addition, plywood, unlike metal tile, is far more prone to water damage and fire risks. It’s best to install with shorter sections, as longer segments of plywood are more susceptible to sagging. Most plywood ceilings will likewise require extra sealant, commonly laminate to protect against water damage. Finally, plywood ceilings may require experts to install.
3. Vinyl or PVC
Vinyl and PVC also make the list among the best material to select for your RV’s ceiling. PVC stands for Polyvinyl chloride, among the most ubiquitous synthetic plastics, while vinyl is another popular type of plastic. Because of this, many may initially shy away from these two materials, thinking plastic would be a poor investment. In fact, both vinyl and PVC can be excellent solutions for durable RV ceiling material. The most common form in RVs is PVC tiles, which are quite thin but still hold advantages.
- Main Advantages: Vinyl and PVC share a number of advantages. For one, this option, compared with metal tiles, has a more minimalist and less overbearing feel, because the tiles are thin and not bulky. Because they are lightweight, they are used to move in case you need to replace, clean or reinstall. Among the materials you could select for an RV ceiling, they are the easiest to install, trim, and least messy (plywood installation often involves dust). You may also be surprised to learn that they are eco-friendly (recyclable) and among the easiest material to clean. Above all, these materials are durable in that they are waterproof and resistant to mold and mildew.
- Disadvantages: Of course, there are also downsides to opting for material like Vinyl or PVC. Many of the disadvantages come from inconclusive concerns. Not studies have definitively confirmed or denied how save PVC is–in one instance, a plant accident resulted in PVC pollution that may or may not have been linked to harmful effects in humans. Still, PVC is among the most common plastics used in the industry. The biggest issue is chlorine, but this is not generally considered an issue unless the ceiling has deteriorated. As such, it’s important to pay mind to more regular maintenance.
Fiberglass may be a material not as many consumers think of, but it’s still among your best choices for your RV ceiling. A fiberglass is actually a form of plastic reinforced with fibers, as the name implies. It’s also sometimes known as glass-reinforced plastic or glass-fiber reinforced plastic. For a ceiling in your RV, it’s most likely to come in the form of ceiling tiles.
- Main Advantages: Fiberglass is cost-effective and is also desirable for installation because it tends to be lightweight and easy to cut into even odd shapes. It holds well under pressure and everyday driving and is strengthened by the fact that it’s often multilayered. Not prone to sagging, it’s also fairly easy to care for, clean, and requires low levels of maintenance, suited for long trips. Fiberglass also has a clean aesthetic and allows for natural light. Installation is fairly simple.
- Disadvantages: Fiberglass must be properly constructed for the utmost strength. In addition, a fiberglass ceiling for your RV must be sealed to protect against water damage. Binders are often used to strengthen fiberglass, but the downside to this is that a commonly used material, formaldehyde binders, could pose respiratory system potential risks during installation or if it falls in disrepair.
Is There Any Material I Should Avoid?
As you can see, the best material for your RV ceiling depends on weighing the various pros and cons. While there is no one best material for an RV, there is one option that we’d recommend staying away from. Fabric, of any kind, may seem like a natural pick for a ceiling in an RV. The problem is that is not the best investment in the long term. While easy to install, cost-effective, and good for insulation, it is not considered as durable as other materials.
There are serious concerns for fabric-covered ceilings being prone to fires, mold, moisture, mildew, and stains. Fabric is also a notoriously difficult material to clean. Overall, if you’re planning on using your RV heavily and investing for the long term, the pros do not outweigh the cons when it comes to selecting fabric for your ceiling.
Frequently Asked Questions About RV Ceiling?
Replacing RV ceiling material can be done on your own, but it’s best to be taken on only if you’re fully aware of how to do it properly. While simple, you want to make sure you complete the process. Follow these steps:
Make an incision of half an inch in the seam using a putty knife. Normally seams will be located at the ceiling’s edge.
Carefully peel away the material with your knife
Remove any remaining materials, preferably with a bristle brush
How you fix a ceiling depends on the damages and the extent of them. For a ceiling that is broken, has noticeable sagging, or is cracked, you first need to completely remove the ceiling fabric following the steps we mentioned above. After that, you’ll need to replace it with the best material possible.
Replacing the material can be tricky and you may want to seek assistance. Seams will need to be secured with mesh seam tape and cut to size. You’ll need to apply a minimum of two layers of compound paint, allowing everything that needs to dry and lightly sanding in between. Next, apply a sheetrock primer and spray any desired texture onto a final coat.
RV ceiling material also must be cleaned with care. The most common stains come from water, which can be addressed in a systematic way. First, you’ll need to seal the leak. Afterward, use a carpet power shot spray detergent and allow it to dry for twelve hours, or overnight. Normally you can remove any remaining stains with a simple vacuum. More tenacious stains may require repeating this cycle. Another option is to mix a solution of Clorox and water.
Water damage is among the most common maintenance issues that come with an RV and is even more common if they don’t have the best material for your ceiling. It’s a good idea, regardless, to perform regular checks. Even normal road travel can make an RV more vulnerable to leaks, so you’ll want to inspect not only your ceiling but anywhere there is sealant.
You’ll need to keep an eye out for discoloration or especially soft spots. Vents, air conditioners, and antenna can all be potential places where leaks can occur. You’ll also need to check plumbing, overhead cabinets, and especially cabover bed area near the drivers’ and passengers’ seats. Storage compartments are also a liability: you should replace worn cabinets when possible, and finish by checking the roof’s surface, as well as possible delamination on the exterior of the RV.
The material that’s best for the ceiling may differ from the material best for the walls of an RV. Though it may vary, the walls of an RV typically are either aluminum or steel and should provide a form of insulation. Often spray foam is used for added insulation, though this too can vary.
Typically and RV has both “soft” and “hard” sidewalls. With an aluminum-based RV, sliding panels are usually installed with an interlocking system. There are variations on how walls are constructed, from bonded process to full perimeter designs and even eco-minded models. The most important thing is to be aware of what kind you have in your RV, but it shouldn’t worry you too much when looking at what material to select for your ceiling.
How long your RV or Travel Trailer last comes down to many factors, but one of them is investing in high-quality materials, as well as performing regular maintenance checks. A rough estimate holds that, on average, an RV will last around a decade. However, in reality, many people continue to use their RV for far longer than this.
The more you use your RV, of course, the more you’ll have to keep in mind its age. Regular check-ups for tires, engine, and to protect against water damages are important, as you can catch problems before they become more systemic. If you are renting an RV, it’s good to get an idea of how old it is, its mileage, and any past issue so you fully understand what you’re driving and the potential problems you need to be on the lookout for.