Summertime RVing is always a welcome season. Kids are out of school, the flowers are in full bloom, and a general feeling of easiness hangs in the air. That said, there is one aspect of summer that is not so desirable: the sweltering heat.
Luckily, modern RVs come equipped with AC, and RV awnings provide shaded comfort for those who wish to lounge outdoors without the overbearing sun rays ruining the good time.
Awnings are a staple of the RV lifestyle, and when adequately cared for, a quality one can last for years down the line.
However, in order to continue to reap the cooling benefits, it’s important to take good care of the canopy so that you can avoid needing to invest in RV awning replacement fabric or an entire new awning. Without proper maintenance, awning fabric can deteriorate, leading it to become frayed or develop mold or mildew.
To help get the longest life out of your RV awning fabric, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Learn the Key Differences Between Vinyl and Acrylic Fabric
The two main types of RV awning fabric are vinyl and acrylic.
Acrylic fabric is a woven, breathable fabric that dries quickly. It is not waterproof, but it does repel water efficiently.
Because the breathability allows air to circulate, acrylic awnings tend to provide cooler temperatures when lounging underneath them. The color and design is in the actual woven fabric, so they tend to fade less when exposed to the sun.
Vinyl RV awnings are waterproof, though they are made of a heavier material, making them slightly less efficient at keeping temperatures cool.
If you’re looking for a vinyl awning replacement, this is far and away the most popular product (select from 14 different sizes and 5 colors).
They are mildew resistant, but they need to be inspected especially carefully in humid climates where mildew formation is more likely to occur.
For a full guide to selecting the best material, learn more here.
On Sizing RV Awnings
Make sure to measure from the supports, not the size of the fabric itself.
Keep Your Awning Fabric Clean
Keeping your fabric clean will help prevent stains, dirt-build up, and mold/mildew formation. While a deep clean is generally only needed once a year, hosing your fabric off after each adventure can serve as beneficial upkeep.
While there are cleaners designed specifically for awning fabric you can find, many RVers find that all they need to deep clean their fabric is a brush, gentle dish soap, and lukewarm water.
Never use hot water to clean awning fabric (acrylic or vinyl).
If you have a vinyl awning, use a soft brush, and for acrylic fabric, use a stiff one. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t scrub acrylic fabric too hard, as it can destroy the water repellent.
Step By Step
To clean your awning fabric:
- Gently sweep any loose dirt or debris off of the fabric.
- Use the brush and the soap/water mixture to gently clean your canopy fabric. Allow the soap solution to sit for around five minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly, allow fabric to air dry, and then roll up the fabric when it is completely dry.
Remember to always allow the fabric to thoroughly dry before rolling up your awning in order to avoid mildew or mold from forming.
Protect Your Canopy From the Elements
RV awning fabric is designed to be durable and handle much of what Mother Nature has in store. But your awning will not last forever. It is up to you to make it last as long as possible
Over-exposure to harsh UV rays can cause fabric to fade, and overtime, the fabric can become worn down and disintegrate.
While many RV awnings come with some type of weather protection, there are also quite a few protective covers as well as UV spray solutions to ensure your fabric keeps you shaded without accruing any sun damage.
What to Do?
303 makes a great multipurpose UV protectant sprayer. It’s non-toxic and water based, and will work great on your vinyl awning. Besides awnings, it’ll work great on outdoor furniture and more.
Image source: 303 Products website
Weather To Be Wary Of
It is essential to avoid leaving your awning out during harsh conditions.
A light breeze doesn’t serve as a threat, but stormy, violent winds have been known to tear fabric off of the awning hardware (sometimes even the hardware itself can be blown off), which can severely damage your awning.
Tie downs and canopy clamps can certainly help stabilize your awning, but if the forecast calls for raging winds, it’s often a good idea to retract your awning until the weather is a bit more mild.
On a similar note, a light drizzle is fine, but too much pooling in the canopy can cause the fabric to droop and sag as well as compromise the construction and function of the awning.
Some awnings automatically adjust their position to dump water when it senses moisture has collected, but if yours does not, retract it manually when it’s going to rain or adjust the position so that any water slides off.
Both acrylic and vinyl can take some water, but vinyl is better suited to damp and rainy conditions.
Retract Your RV Awning if You Leave Your Campsite
Rolling your awning up before leaving to adventure away from your campsite can prevent sudden gusts of wind or heavy rain from damaging your awning. The last thing you want is to come back only to see your canopy torn off of the track or sagging from too much moisture.
It may seem like a hassle and may not be necessary every time if the weather report is fairly certain there is no chance of inclement weather, but if you scour the internet, you’ll find stories of sorry RVers who returned to damaged canopies and now always err on the side of caution.
When on a relaxing RV trip, RV awnings allow you to bask under the shade while enjoying the view of the great outdoors. Hopefully these tips give you a good idea of how to extend the life of your awning fabric so that overbearing sun rays don’t spoil your adventure.
With a mix of maintenance and preventive measures, you should be able to enjoy your canopy for many journeys down the road.
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