There are not many brands that create RVs with aluminium roofs. However, there is a very recognisable brand called Airstream. They have been creating aluminium roofs for their RVs since 1930 and are still today a very popular choice when it comes to RVs and trailers.
Read this article to find out which brands of RV have aluminium roofs, what are the benefits and drawbacks of having an RV with an aluminium roof and what other materials can be used instead of aluminium.
Which Brands Offer RVs with Aluminium Roofs?
Airstream is the only RV brand that offers aluminium roofs on all of their products. They are easily noticeable because of their round shape and well-polished coachwork. Their bodywork shape first became recognised back in the 1930s and they remain a well-renowned brand today.
What is Aluminium?
Aside from silicon and oxygen, aluminium is one of the most common elements used around the world. In 2016, over 58.8 million metric tonnes of this metal were produced, the second-highest production of metal to iron. It is a common material that you’re likely to come across quite often as it’s used for cans, window frames, kitchen utensils and even aeroplane parts. Due to its durability and flexibility, this material can be shaped and cut with minimal effort.
What Are the Benefits of Having an Aluminium Roof?
An aluminium RV roof has fairly low maintenance due to how well they are made. This could save you a rather large amount of money over the period of time that you own the RV; they are certainly an investment. Your RV will likely fail sooner than the roof will!
This type of roof is seamless in its fitting, it’s also one of the smartest looking roofs when it comes to RVs. Aluminium is a very versatile material to work with, it cuts and shapes extremely easily, making fitting this roof yourself a definite option, as long as you’re handy with a few tools. You can easily carve around bends and corners with this malleable metal.
If you were to restyle your RV yourself and decide on an aluminium roof, you would likely find the material rolled up when it’s delivered to you. Companies do this to prevent creasing and this ensures your roof is in perfect condition pre-fitting. Other materials can be more difficult to transit making them a riskier choice.
Aluminium is non-toxic, unlike rubber and fibreglass, making this material a perfect choice if you like to help the environment. Moreover, it is one of the easiest recyclable materials on the market, according to studies around 70% of the aluminium around the world today, has been in existence since the industry began.
Aluminium does not crack, this material is designed to be sturdy and secure through all weathers, unlike rubber for example that cracks during weather changes.
What Are the Drawbacks of Having an Aluminium Roof?
Loses Visual Appeal
Although aluminium will likely last longer than your RV, its visual appeal deteriorates over time and despite its ability to perform its job, that new and fresh look won’t last long at all.
Not Heat Resistant
Like several materials used in roofing, aluminium is not heat resistant and this can lead to expensive costs when trying to cool down your RV during summertime. Also, if you planned to drive to hot climates, think again as this may cause serious damage if the roof is in direct high UV rays for a long period of time.
One Way Fitting
When it comes to fitting your aluminium roof, there is only one way that ensures a safe and leak-free outcome. Fastening. This means you need to use galvanised nails to reduce the risk of rust and leaks.
Hard to Maintain
If there is a leak on your roof, you’re unlikely to notice it for quite some time. This is because the aluminium easily hides leaks and can maintain its structure until pressure is applied to the weak spot. This means that if you climb up onto your roof every few months to do a check-up, you probably won’t find any issues, until it’s too late!
What Other Materials Are Available for RV Roofs?
This material is the cheapest material on the market when it comes to RV roofs, if you’re on a budget, this is the best choice. It’s extremely lightweight and therefore reduces your overall vehicle weight. Also, it doesn’t scratch very easily and it’s generally pretty simple to fix if any problems that occur.
Unfortunately, due to the low cost of this material, the finish is pretty shabby, it looks stretched and can be a bit of an eyesore. The main disadvantage is that this material soaks up heat like nobody’s business, this can equal in higher costs in order to keep your RV cooler in the summertime.
Single-ply rubber roofs are still popular with many RV brands around the world. This is mainly because of the light colour, which avoids the RV overheating, and its generally low cost too. There are several ways in which this material can be fitted: welding, fastened or glued which is handy to know.
Rubber roofs can deteriorate pretty quickly, especially if you’re constantly changing environments, cracks can appear in as little as 12 months post-install. Also, it’s difficult to find a trustworthy provider of these roofs; consistency lacks and you can pay the same price to two installers and in the end, get two completely different products.
This material can be found in larger panels or individual sheets, making installation much simpler. It’s one of the most commonly used materials for RV and trailer roofs mainly due to its durability; it’s unlikely to ever dent or crack no matter the environment that you’re in. Fibreglass is also fire, rot and rust-resistant making it an ideal low maintenance choice. You can customise fibreglass very easily, the colour, shape and pattern can be personalised.
Due to its durability, if the fibreglass was to ever crack or break, it can be very expensive to repair and often will need to be completely replaced altogether. In addition, if you wanted to travel to hotter climates, fibreglass wouldn’t be a good option as it’s not heat resistant.
Why Don’t More RV Brands Have Aluminium roofs?
The main reason why most brands don’t use aluminium in their roofs is because of the cost. It would be difficult for a generic RV creator to pay a large amount for the aluminium material and be able to sell the RV for a tradeable price. If brands started using aluminium more, you would see a sharp increase in the average RV selling price.
Why Does Airstream Use Aluminium in Their Roofs?
Airstream has created a brand around the rounded trailer shape and polished aluminium coachwork. Customers pay high prices for these iconic RVs and this is why the brand has been able to sustain using aluminium roofs for decades. Airstream charge high prices for their products, and people pay them. On average the cheapest RV/trailer would be around $35,000, while the most expensive exceeds $150,000!
Why Do Brands Use Aluminium for Their Frames Instead?
You might notice that when searching for an aluminium roofed RV, little comes up, apart from the brand Airstream. However, many brands use aluminium frames, rather than aluminium roofs. The framework is particularly important when creating an RV; these vehicles can be huge and a sturdy frame is a must. Aluminium is used in frames because of all the benefits it unarguably has, it’s lightweight and stable, low maintenance and thus reduces the gross weight of the RV.
What RVs Feature an Aluminium Frame?
As we’ve covered, finding an RV with an aluminium roof is quite difficult, however, as stated above, there are several RVs on the market that don’t feature aluminium roofs, but instead, aluminium framework. We’ve listed these below.
These trailers are built to last, featuring several layout options, these RVs can be customised as you please. Because of this, they have been popular for decades and will surely continue to grow in popularity for years to come.
Livin Lite’s Camplite Travel Trailer
This trailer has been created with aluminium throughout, as well as in its framework. It’s known for being quite a fashionable choice as there are several interior designs to choose from. Not only does it have several floor plans available, but there are also six different exterior colours on offer, making it a popular choice among younger more stylish travellers.
Crystal White Rockwood Ultra-Lite Travel Trailer
As per the name, this trailer is extremely lightweight and this is thanks to its wide use of aluminium through its framework. It has a six-sided aluminium frame making this trailer one of the lightest on the market.
Heartland 2475BH Wilderness
The best thing about this trailer isn’t the fact it has a lightweight aluminium framework, but that it has so many floor plan options available, that differ country to country, it’s hard to make a decision!