RV roof trim molding

RV Roof Repair Day 3: Removing Trim Molding

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Welcome to my RV Renovation Series! I’m on day Day 3 of repairing the roof of my ’93 Fleetwood Jamboree Searcher camper. Now that I’ve removed the rubber roofing and removed all the roof fixtures and removed the air conditioner, I need to remove all the trim molding from around the edges of the old EPDM rubber roofing, and the last bits of rubber beneath them. Sometimes called ‘termination bars’, these aluminum strips secure the edges of the roof membrane to the camper with a bunch of screws. The trim strips that lie flat on top of the camper (at the front and back) are generally covered with an RV lap sealant, just like the screw heads on all the roof fixtures. On the sides, the rubber roof wraps around the side of the camper and the trim strip is fastened to the side of the camper on top of the rubber. These side trim moldings usually have a vinyl trim insert covering the screw heads because they are less susceptible to water penetration. Here’s how to remove the roof trim molding during an RV roof repair project! Since one of the side trim moldings is also the awning rail (which holds the edge of the awning canvas to the camper) I’ve split this into two posts. The second one will show you how to remove an RV awning.

RV roof trim molding

How to Remove RV Roof Trim Molding

Tasks Covered Today:

Tools I Used Today

tools to remove RV awning and exterior trim repair
Here are the tools I used today.

How to Remove the Rear Termination Bar on an RV Roof

I chose to start with the back termination bar. As you can see it is totally buried in lap sealant, RV roof coating, and various caulking jobs from over the years. You can hardly tell it’s there! Time to start digging. As usual, I begin by cutting away any remaining rubber roof with a utility knife, right up to the edge of the trim. This makes it easier for me to get a stiff scraper under the edge of the lap sealant and start prying it up to expose the screw heads.

RV trim molding at back of roof
The rear termination bar (roof trim molding) is totally buried with lap sealant, caulk, and an RV roof coating.
Scraping sealant off RV trim
I’ve cut away some of the rubber and scraping up the lap sealant and caulk to expose the screw heads.

Once you’ve exposed some screw heads and removed some screws you can start lifting the trim strip. You’ll notice that at the back of the camper, the rubber roofing overlaps on top the fiberglass panel at the back transition. (You’ll find at the front of the camper it goes underneath.)

RV trim molding aluminum and rubber roof
Lifting up the termination bar to show how the rubber EPDM roof overlaps the fiberglass roof panel at the back.
caulk on RV exterior trim molding
The rounded trim strip that holds down the fiberglass panel is covered with caulk. Might as well get scraping.
caulk removed from the RV exterior corner trim
After scraping most of the caulk off these trim strips. Note that the side trim has a vinyl insert instead of lap sealant.
Removing screws from camper trim
Removing the last screw from the rear termination bar (roof trim molding.)
RV aluminum trim removed
Lifting up the molding and peeling off the last bit of rubber from beneath it.

Some of the screws will be rusty and hard to turn or just spinning in their hole. You’ll need to use a variety of techniques to get them out. Sometimes I pry the up with the scraper while unscrewing them with a socket hex head driver. Sometimes I use pliers. Once I got all the screws out and lifted up the trim molding, I tried scraping away some of the RV roof coating that had painted over it. It was nearly impossible. I’m going to leave it for now and decide later if it’s worth my time to try to clean it up or replace it with a new piece of trim molding. Keep in mind, an 8 foot section of flat trim molding costs $15 to $20 and they’re tough to find online. I hate to waste useable materials but it’s up to you to decide how much your time is worth!

cleaning RV roof edge molding
Trying to clean up old RV roof sealant from the flat trim molding is not fun.

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How to Remove the Front Termination Bar on a Camper Roof

Moving on to the front termination bar (flat trim molding) of the rubber roof. Pretty much the same deal as the back one. I cut away any remaining rubber and started prying up sealant from the screw heads.

RV exterior aluminum trim at front of camper
The trim strip at the front edge of the rubber roof (aka termination bar).
Camper corner trim and termination bar for rubber roof.
This one is also buried in layers of lap sealant, caulk, and roof coating repairs.
RV roof water damage
A quick look at some framing damage at the corner of the roof.
Trailer trim molding repair technique
When a screw is just spinning and not coming out, I pry it up with the scraper while turning with the socket driver.
RV lap sealant on rv moulding
I found some newer repairs with fresher lap sealant in it and it was gooey like hot mozzarella cheese.

HEADS UP! Be careful not to crack or chip the fiberglass panel that wraps over the front of the camper. It is brittle and fragile! I jammed my scraper into a screw hole and cracked it. That will have to be covered carefully later with a self leveling lap sealant or a sealing tape, or both!

crack in RV fiberglass panel
Warning! Be careful not to slice into the fiberglass panel like I did here!

Once all the screw heads are exposed and removed, I peeled up the termination bar and saw how the layers were stacked beneath. The edge of the rubber roof goes underneath the vinyl panel at the front of the camper.

removing the rv roof trim.
Pulling up the front trim molding shows the fiberglass panel on top, a layer of luan plywood beneath it, then the rubber roof edge beneath that.
screws hidden under rv trim moulding
Once the trim mold is removed I found a few screws holding down the edge of the fiber glass panel and removed them.
rubber EPDM roof extends under front fiberglass panel
Another look at how the rubber roof lies underneath the front fiberglass roof panel transition piece.

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How to Remove the Side Roof Trim Molding on an RV

After removing the front and back roof trim molding, the side trim seems like a breeze. That’s because there is no lap sealant on the screw heads! Instead there is a vinyl trim insert that fits inside the trim molding and covers the screw heads. These are hard to reach from the roof top so I had to grab my 10 foot step ladder to work on removing this piece.

RV vinyl insert trim molding

When I started trying to pry up the vinyl insert from the trim, it wouldn’t budge. Thats because it was wrapped around beneath the end and pinned down with the trim strip. So I cut it with a utility blade and then started pulling out the vinyl trim insert from the molding. Hurray! Clean screw heads!

Removing vinyl insert trim molding
Starting to pull up the vinyl trim insert from the side roof trim molding.

Here’s a look at how the vinyl insert is wrapped around the end of the trim strip and behind it.

the vinyl insert may be wrapped around the back of aluminum trim
The vinyl trim insert may be wrapped around the end and pinned behind the trim molding.

Once the vinyl screw cover insert was yanked out I removed all the screws with a cordless drill and the socket head from my ratchet screwdriver set. This goes really fast when the screws are in good shape!

removing screws from RV roof trim
Removing screws with a cordless drill/driver is super fast when the screws are in good shape!

Once the screws were out I peeled up the trim and all the remaining rubber roofing popped up with it.

removing motorhome trim molding
Peeling up the trim molding with all the remaining rubber roof stuck to it.
camper trim molding removed.
A detail of the edge of the camper roof when the trim and rubber have been removed.

So now there is only one piece of roof trim molding left to remove: the one on the other side of the camper. However, this one is a little more complicated because this trim piece also happens to double as the awning rail which anchors the canvas of the awning to the side of the camper. Since this has a bunch of steps involved I’ve made a separate post about how to remove an RV awning. Head on over!

rv awning removal
Next up, removing the awning! (See next post.)

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these settings are in the widgets slide-in menu!

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