Are RV Slide-out Awnings Really Necessary?
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Slide-outs are so nice to have on an RV. It expands the space inside the camper making it so much easier to move around. But are RV slide-out awnings really necessary?
Slide-out awnings are not necessary but are important to have to protect the slide-out. The awnings keep the top seals dry and prevent leaks inside. Also, they keep the slide-tops free from leaves and debris that can damage the slide mechanism.
Slide-out awning covers are canvas above the slide that extends into tracks with the slide. The cover automatically extends and retracts with the slide-out.
We spent a summer in the trees with constant rain. You can see further in the article the difference with and without the awnings was.
What Is a Slide-out Awning?
An RV slide-out awning is a canvas that is attached horizontally at the top of the slide so it can extend and retract with the slide.
It is installed on both the top outer edge of the slide-out and the wall of the RV. When the slide-outs operate, the awnings will roll out along with it. Then roll back to their core when the slide-outs are drawn in.
Although you don’t really need the awnings for the awning to operate or keep the inside from getting wet. The awnings do protect the seals of the top of the slide from weathering. Also having awnings can help prevent leaves and other debris from getting inside the seals and hinges of your slide-out.
Do I Need a Slide-out Awning?
Covering the top of your slide-out with awnings is not necessary. However, having one installed will keep off debris and leaves from the seals and mechanisms.
Another benefit that you can get from a slide-out awning is the shade it provides to keep your camper cool under the sun. It will also keep water and ice away from your camper during the winter months.
The honest answer to whether you need a slide-out awning is that you can survive without it. However, if you use one, it’ll guarantee that your RV seals and slide-outs will last longer than it normally would without protection.
Are RV Slide Toppers worth it?
RV slide-out covers keep water and debris off the top of your slide. It protects the top of the slide from debris, water, and sun damage. It also keeps dirt and water away from the seals.
I think they’re a good investment. I currently don’t have ones and you can see a major difference after days of rain.
On the fifth wheel when I did have the awning, I never swept the topper off, when I pulled in the slide the dirt would fall off as it retracts.
You also will have less work to do to clean the top of the slide before breaking camp. Rather than cleaning every time you pull the slide-outs in, you will be able to do it without dirt that might lodge into your seals.
Having the slide covers will keep the camper cooler in the summer and warmer in the cold weather.
Are There Other Awning Considerations?
Since it was already mentioned that having awnings is worth it. Let me discuss some considerations that you must know before installing one.
As I was saying, slide-out covers protect the tops of your slide-outs as well as the seals. However, it is important to note that it tends to be easily damaged.
Similar to the larger awning, the canvas is easily damaged by winds or debris. Yes, your RV is not already equipped with slide covers, adding one may be expensive. And fixing them when they get damaged will be expensive as well.
What Is the Best RV Awning Replacement Fabric?
When it comes to replacing your RV awning fabric, what are your options?
You can choose between two popular options which are acrylic and vinyl. Vinyl fabrics are cheaper than acrylic, but they aren’t “breathable” like the woven fabric of acrylics.
Vinyl is waterproof, simple to repair, and easy to clean. On the other hand, the acrylic fabric needs to be treated with a surface coat that repels liquid.
With this, acrylic fabrics are more common except when you plan to camp a lot under the trees. Since these are woven fabrics tree and fruit saps tend to seep in through the fabric and get hard to clean.
Lastly, for the design part, the color and vibrancy last longer in acrylic compared to vinyl that fades under the sun in time.
Tips on Caring for Your RV Awning Replacement Fabric
To help prolong the life of your RV awning replacement fabric, I’ve prepared a list for both acrylic and vinyl.
- Use commercial cleaners to wipe off stains and mildew.
- Spray on both sides and let it stay for a few minutes before wiping.
- Rinse both sides.
- Let completely dry before storing.
- Use a hose when cleaning acrylic fabrics to remove dirt that is embedded in the fibers.
- Do not scrub the acrylic fabric.
Final Thoughts on Slide-out Awnings for Your RV
When you buy an RV, it doesn’t come with awning covers already. You have to install that or have someone install it. The number one benefit why some people are installing covers on their RVs is to protect the slide-outs top from debris, leaves, and sticks that can be harmful if they fall onto the roof of the slide-out.
Another major plus is the protection it brings against the sun. The sun’s rays can damage the fiberglass and rubber roof if left for a long time.
For me, the main thing that I love about it is that I don’t have to sweep the roof when I break camp. The covers will automatically push the leaves away when it retracts.
Pro Tip: If water pools on top of the fabric during the rainy season, just get a stool and broom and stick it under the fabric to knock off the water. Then you’re good to go.
If you are renting an RV, it is your responsibility to care for the RV and return it the way you got it. To read about where you can rent and where owners are nice and approachable, read these:
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The steps to installing an RV slide-out awning: measuring the depth and width of a fully extended sliding out room. Buy the right-sized sliding awning kit. What you need to do is choose the design that best suits your RV. Always check the product you ordered before starting to install the RV slide. Check the number of holes in the awning kit and count the amount of hardware included. You can add holes on the left or right side of the center lanyard, applying sealant before securing the screws. Add rubber sealant to the holes before securing them with screws. Install awning pipes. Take the end cap extensions and connect them to the brackets without fixing them with screws. Carefully slide the awning tube into the awning rail. Secure the awning tube by tightening the shoulder screws on the end cap extensions.
To remove the slide out from the RV, the best way is to delete everything in that area so that deleting the entire slide is easier and more convenient. Put away your day bed, curtain, or anything else that weighs you down. This way, it’s easier when you’re outside and ready to take the slide off.
Installing slide-outs is a wise choice for RVers who want to extend the width of a class A motorhome. The majority of ordinary fifth-wheel RVs are 8 to 8.5 feet wide. The industry norm is 8 feet. However, some of the bigger versions require more. Still, the width of the slides in a fifth wheel is similar to those in a class A motorhome, which is 3 feet wide at maximum.