RV awnings are a great way to add protection from the sun and rain. They also provide privacy, protect you from critters, and even spruce up the look of your rig, too.
In my opinion, RV awnings are a necessity if you own a camper. You can buy a fancy remote controlled retractable awning or make your own with a $10 tarp. RV awnings don’t have to be fancy to work.
This article will help you choose the right awning for your camper and share advice on RV awning sizes, materials, framing, and repairing.
6 Most Common RV Awnings
There are many styles of awnings but we’re going to focus on the 6 most common RV awning styles:
For even more protection you can add fixed or retractable privacy screen to any RV awning.
What are Retractable Awnings?
Retractable awnings are ideal for people who have a limited amount of space and enjoys modern technology.
You can buy a motorized or manual retractable awnings. If you want to splurge you can get one with a remote control.
Whether motorized or manual, a retractable awning will have expandable arms on each side with a solid frame on the end. The frame holds the fabric tightly on all sides and simply rolls up or put when needed.
Retractable awnings are convenient and easy to setup but they require more maintenance than fixed awnings. They are also easy to dam.
What are Fixed Awnings?
A fixed awning is pretty self-explanatory. It still has a frame that the awning fabric attaches to but it doesn’t retract.
Fixed RV awnings are more affordable but they can be difficult to set up and store.
What are Hardtop Awnings?
Hardtop awnings are good for protecting your camper from the rain. They feature a watertight seal but are the most expensive.
Hardtop awnings can be cumbersome to install and set up.
What are Tarp-Style Awnings?
Tarp-style awnings are the cheapest option but they still offer protection from rain, sun, and wind.
You can buy a simple 10’x10’ tarp for less than $12 at just about any store.
Building a frame out of PVC or aluminum tubing is the best choice for RV tarp awnings.
This video shows you how to create your own RV awning from a tarp and PVC pipe:
What are Pop-up Awnings?
Pop-up awnings are the most expensive type of camper awning. They are very easy to install and come with a manual crank.
What are Sunshade Awnings?
Little House of Beans has a great video on YouTube with instructions on how to build sunshade tarp for your RV:
How Important Is It to Have an Awning on Your Camper?
Data from a recent study shows that having an awning on your camper can significantly increase your enjoyment of the outdoors.
The study found that campers with awnings reported significantly higher satisfaction levels with their camping experience and were more likely to camp more and enjoy their camping trips more.
Adding awnings and buying the right tools for your camper increases makes camping even more enjoyable.
Best RV Awning Material
There are a few things to consider when choosing materials for your DIY camper awning.
There are a few different fabric options, but the most popular are canvas and vinyl.
Canvas is a natural material that is breathable and looks great, but it needs to be treated to be water and mildew-resistant.
Vinyl is a synthetic material that is more durable and easier to clean, but it can get hot in direct sunlight.
RV Awning Frames
Best Framing for RV Awnings
Finally, you’ll need to choose the frame material.
PVC and aluminum are the 2 most popular materials for DIY RV awnings.
Both PVC and aluminum are rust-resistant and long lasting. Best of all, both are lightweight but strong which are vital when choosing a framing material for your RV awning.
What’s the Best Way to Fasten an Awning to Your Camper?
There are 2 options you can go with with when attaching an awning to a RV – a permanently attached awning that stays fastened to the camper at all times or storing the awning and setting it up once you get to your site.
I recommend a happy medium- permanently install the main brackets to your camper and removing the frame and awning before moving.
Drilling holes into your camper is serious business. Every hole that you add to a camper decreases its value and increases the chances of leaks. Water is a camper’s worse enemy so every hole you add needs to be carefully planned and sealed to keep water from getting in.
Setting the awning up is not as convenient but it lowers the chances of damaging or losing it while moving.
What Size of RV Awning do You Need?
It is worth noting that the larger awning you buy, the more expensive it will be.
However, you may be able to save money and future headaches by installing 2 smaller awnings instead of
Install 2 Smaller Awnings to Save Money (and future headaches)
If you have a large camper, you may want to install two smaller-sized awnings instead of just one.
Installing two smaller awnings may be more affordable and it can give you a ‘back-up’ in case one breaks.
A second awning can also ‘create’ a separated space. Kids can play under one awning and leave their screen open all they want while the adults enjoy their own space (probably with a lot less bugs!)
How Much Should You Spend on a RV Awning?
The next thing to consider when buying a camper awning is how much you should spend on it. The price of a camper awning can vary greatly depending on the material and brand. You may want to consider buying a cheaper awning if you plan to remove it from your camper seasonally.
Alternatively, if you want a high-quality awning that will last, it is worth investing in a more expensive model.
Research the prices of awnings online or ask some of your fellow RV owners to find out how much they paid for their camper awning. This will help you to decide how much to spend.
When buying any product, it is always a good idea to shop around and compare prices. This will enable you to find the best deal for your budget.
What Things to Look for When Buying a Camper Awning?
There are many different factors to consider when buying a camper or RV awning.
Awnings with motorized retraction have a lot of little parts and can break easily. It’s a good idea to buy an extended warranty (assuming the warranty is backed by a reputable company and covers common breakage.
You’ll want an awning that is made from a heavy-duty material capable of withstanding different weather conditions.
A watertight material is a must-have for any camper awning. You should also consider the size and weight of the awning. The size of the awning will depend on the size of your camper.
You’ll want to make sure that the awning has enough room to cover both the width and height of your camper.
This is particularly useful when you leave your camper parked outside. However, there are many different types of awnings available on the market today. So, if you’re thinking of investing in one for your camper, take note of these top five things mentioned above when choosing a camper awning:
Size, Type, Price, Material, Frame
You’ll want to consider the size of awning you need, how much you should spend on it, which type of awning is best for your camper, what things to look for when buying a camper awning, and finally, you should ensure you buy a high-quality awning that will last for many years to come.
As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living®!