Awnings are a natural addition to recreational vehicles, because they are so versatile. Types include:
- Window and door awnings: protect you from the sun and rain
- RV slide-topper awnings: keep debris off the roof of a slide-out
- RV patio awnings: gives you more living area
Awning fabric can be acrylic or vinyl. Acrylic fabric is a breathable woven cloth with good air circulation, promoting quick drying when it gets wet. This fabric resists water, but is not waterproof. You should touch the fabric when wet, since it lets water seep through. Vinyl awnings resists mildew but are not mildew-proof. Let all awnings dry off before storing them, and inspect them for mildew when you open them up.
You can get many years of trouble-free operation from your RV awnings, but you'll have to maintain them to keep them in top shape. Here are 5 super tips to extend the lifetime of your RV awnings:
- Cleaning acrylic: Whenever you unroll an awning, check for damage, stains or mildew. Hose off the fabric on a routine basis – it's a good ideal to periodically to this. Don't scrub acrylic awnings, as they might lose their water-retardant nature. Gently blot special cleaner to remove stains on acrylic.
- Cleaning vinyl: For stubborn stains, use a special vinyl cleaner. Spray the inside and outside surfaces with the cleaner, roll up the awning and let it rest for a few minutes. Unroll and rinse. Persistent stains may require scrub brushing, but avoid abrasive or oil-based cleaners on any awning fabrics.
- Repair tears and hardware: Inspect for tears or excessive wear. Consult with your RV dealer about patching materials and techniques. Also, inspect the hardware, such as the bottom brackets that support most of the awning's weight. You might need to tighten the lag screws to ensure the mounting is secure. Look at the arm pivot for broken rivets or enlarged holes, and the roller tube for warpage. The end caps should mount securely, and should not have loose or broken rivets. Finally, make sure the awning rail mounts securely to the RV side.
- Usage: When using a patio awning, lower one end to let water run off. Standing water can cause damage. Use tie-downs to prevent damage from sudden storms or wind. Take down awnings under wind conditions of 20 mph or higher. Store the awning when you leave your campsite or turn in for the night. Attach the bottom awning brackets to the RV's side rather than staking them in the ground.
- Insurance: You should have RV-owner insurance that covers the awnings if damage occurs. Some policies require separate RV-awning coverage – if so, get it, it's well worth it.