Saturday, March 15, 2008

Small Space Saturday: Roof Deck

On Saturdays I write about strategies for living in 300 square feet

One of the most obvious ways to create more space within the confines of an RV is to get outside the darn thing. RVing, after all, is about travel. In theory, that rig is traveling someplace with pleasant weather, interesting sights, proximity to nature, or all three.

Most RVers carry folding chairs to set up outside. They create outdoor living space, usually on the passenger side of the RV, with this portable furniture. We've seen setups as simple as one ratty sand chair to elaborate complete "rooms" with elegant teak chairs, dining tables, outdoor rugs, water fountains, BBQs, and even TVs.

A more typical rig-side area includes four folding chairs and a few small side tables, which allows friends old and new to stop by for a drink. We carry that combination in the bay above the tag axle for quick access. In addition, we carry a patio mat in the scooter bay to put down when the ground is dusty or sandy.

We decided to go one step further and put a deck on the roof of Odyssey. It never ceases to amaze me that more people don't use their roof as living space. Most RVs have a built in ladder on the back to access the roof. Many have substantial flat areas to put a chair or two. The view is usually better from 10 to 12 feet up, you can catch a nice breeze, and often there are fewer insects.

I know some of the concerns folks have about using their roof. After all, it is a long way to the ground! One is a lack of something to hold onto; no railings or other safety restraints. Some RV roofs are slightly angled or curved, and the surface may be slippery when wet. The access ladders can be flimsy if you are a big buffet fan. And a big unknown is whether the roof structure can support the weight of people walking around or chair legs poking into it.

Because our deck was built while the bus was being converted, we were able to address these issues up front. Dan and Jim at Infinity Coach designed and built a deck strong and safe enough for reasonable adults. As you'll see in the video, it has fold-up railings. The "floor" of the deck is actually built slightly above the roof surface of a strong, non-skid, flat material. Water drains right through it. The frame of the deck structure is bolted directly to the large steel box frame beams of the bus. And our ladder is inside the bus where the climb is only 6 feet instead of 10 to 12 feet.


  1. Speaking of being a buffet fan, this guy is hilarious!!!

    Pat from Canada

  2. I first saw your website years ago and thought to myself - "What a fantastic way to live!" Recently I was reviving my blog from the dead and found a link back to your travelogue. At past 5 AM I am not able to find patience to read completely through your awesome adventures (and also because I am a self-confessed information overload patient) so I just skipped through and checked this video you posted. My feelings are reaffirmed - you guys are simply awesome. Good luck on your trip :) I will try to revisit and keep track of your wheels.

  3. I think my first post didn't make it.
    Hello Louise,
    I am very very interested to have a roof top deck project with my DP. Can you repost the video? it is removed from this site.

    1. Hi Andrew, sorry for the delay -- I am catching up on comments today.

      Unfortunately, most of the videos we uploaded to the site over the years are gone, victim of the shutdown of the provider we used. Such is the nature of free web services.

      I hope we will be able to go back and fix this at some point. Unfortunately, it does mean re-uploading each video. That requires plenty of bandwidth and a good deal of time. Then we have to fix the links.

      We've been a bit preoccupied with other things, and this is a bit lower on the list. We'd like to sell the bus, though, so getting all the "tour" videos, including the deck, re-posted is a higher priority than the other random videos on the site.

      Thanks for following, and thanks for your patience.


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