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What is the Safest Roof Material to Use on a Horse Trailer?

Last updated October 14, 2023 by Brad Heath

double d trailersHint:  It’s NOT Aluminum!

The last thing any horse owner wants is for their horse to sustain a head injury while in a horse trailer.  These injuries can be scary to witness and tricky to treat.  Even leather horse helmets aren’t enough to protect your animals. 

That is why Brad Heath and Double D Trailers have given some extra attention to the types of materials used on our horse trailer roofs.  The right type of roofing material can make a tremendous difference in both horse safety and comfort. 

4 Things that Make a Horse Trailer Roof “Safe”

There are four factors to consider when looking at horse trailer roofing materials: 

Maintaining a Safe Interior Horse Trailer Temperature

Your choice of roofing material has a huge effect on the interior temperature of your horse trailer.  Many trailers will use a shiny gray aluminum roof called ‘mill-finish’ aluminum.  In the past, Brad has declared that it’s the worst choice of roofing material on the planet. (see mill-finish roof photo on right)

So why do so many companies use these aluminum roofs?  Easy…they’re cheap! 

The bare aluminum can be purchased in 8-foot wide rolls.  This material can literally be rolled out (like a tube of aluminum foil) until it covers your horse trailer.  Manufacturers know that it provides an attractive finish, is cheap, easy to work with, and quick to install.

It also turns your horse trailer into an oven on wheels.  Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat.  “In direct sunlight,” Brad explained, “It can reach temperatures hot enough to actually burn your hand….which makes it a horrible choice of material with which to cover your horses.”

A horse that is forced to endure extremely high temperatures on board a horse trailer is likely to become stressed and dehydrated.  This can be especially dangerous on longer trips.

It is much safer to use a material on your horse trailer roof that has some insulating properties. Fiberglass is a common material used for insulation. In fact, your entire home is probably wrapped in fiberglass insulation. 

The SafeBump fiber composite roof uses fiberglass as a portion of the construction so your horses ride comfortable in the summer or winter months. You never have to worry about "baking" your horses while traveling as you would in a trailer built using a mill finish aluminum, non-insulated roof. 

In addition, the exterior roof and interior ceiling are painted white.  This helps reflect away light and heat to keep your horses cooler while traveling.

Providing Horse Safety in a Rearing Situation

The next factor to consider when looking at roofing materials is your horse’s safety while inside the trailer.  Is that roof going to protect his head if he were to rear up and strike his poll?

Mill-finish aluminum roofs are very thin.  They are so thin, in fact, that an unruly horse could even puncture the ceiling during a moment of panic.  This could expose a sharp metal edge on which your horse could easily get injured.

Rearing in a horse trailer is one of the most common ways that horses can hurt their heads, so it’s important to do all you can to prevent this type of injury.

The SafeBump roof is made of a single molded piece of fiber composite material.  It is both strong and flexible so it gives slightly when impacted.  This will help protect your horse from head trauma in the event that he rears up. 

Brad explained another feature for additional protection.  “We also incorporate a rear header pad as a ‘standard’ feature on the SafeBump roof. Sometimes a horse tends to raise up their head especially if backing out of a trailer so the rear header pad helps prevent injury there.” (see photo on right)

Staying Strong in a Traffic Accident

We know your next question…if a SafeBump roof is ‘flexible’, how can it be strong? 

The SafeBump roof system has a Z-Frame tubing support built into the mold every 16" to create a protective cage around your horse.  Surrounding him in a "safety cage" helps prevent injury should an auto accident occur.

It’s scary to imagine, but traffic accidents involving horse trailers do happen.  We’ve seen horses get ejected from trailers during ‘roll-over’ accidents.  Your trailer roof material shouldn’t be a mere afterthought.  Instead, it should be an integral part of the trailer’s structural support.

Mill finish aluminum roofs tend to be very thin and often the bracing isn't sufficient to prevent a horse from being ejected in a roll over situation. 

Lasting Roof Durability and Easy Maintenance

Finally, we’re going to look at the durability and maintenance required on horse trailer roofs.  Mill-finished aluminum roofs are very durable and will last a long time.  However, they are going to require ongoing maintenance so they do not develop water leaks over time.

Brad explained, “The aluminum has to be fastened along the "edges" or "perimeter" and then sealed.  Although many trailer builders advertise "solid seamless roof", don't be fooled by the hype.  There is actually a seam around the entire roof edge and it's filled with a sort of caulking material.”

This caulking material is a petroleum based product that will deteriorate over time when exposed to sunlight.  Just like trailer tires or window seals, this caulking can become brittle and weak over time.  Eventually it will dry out and need to be replaced.

If these roofs do not have regular sealant application, water will be free to seep into your dressing room, living quarters, and interior horse area.  If you own a living quarters horse trailer with this type of paneled roof, we recommend you reseal every three years to avoid potential damage. 

You should be proactive, because once a leak begins it can be months before you discover it.  By then, moisture, mold and rot have already had a chance to take hold.

If leaky roofs don’t sound like your thing, then check out the SafeBump roof.  Double D Trailers originally created and patented the SafeBump roof system using a series of triple layer panels with 0.04 aluminum, zinc, and high density foam. 

“In 2012, we improved the SafeBump roof system,” Brad explained.  “It now has one piece of fiber-composite material that is leak-proof.”  This newer version eliminates any seams between panels that have the potential for leakage. 

Since our roofs are made of a single fiber-composite piece with zero seams, you will have zero leaks.  Our roofs are constructed in a mold so they will keep your living quarters horse trailer dry and free from moisture problems.

How to Choose the Best Type of Roof Material for Your Horse Trailer

When you are looking for the safest and best roof for your horse trailer, remember that material matters.  Look for something that will keep the interior temperature at a reasonable level and protects your horse’s head during rears. 

Also, look for a trailer roof that is strong enough to provide a protective cage in the case of a traffic accident.  Lastly, consider the maintenance involved in keeping that roof leak-proof year after year.

Overall, the SafeBump roof covers all of these bases.  Brad exclaimed, “It's truly the "safest" and "best" roof available on the market today!”

Let Us Hear From You!

What questions do you still have about horse trailer roofing materials?


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