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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?

RV parked in a camp ground
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Joanne Dale stock.adobe.com

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?

An parked travel trailer with a slide out
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An RV slide out on a travel trailer

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?

A camper trailer parked in the woods with its fabric awning out
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A camper trailer with a fabric awning

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

A close of RV awning slide out in the rain
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A close shot of an RV awning slide out

To help prolong the life of your RV awning replacement fabric, I’ve prepared a list for both acrylic and vinyl.

Vinyl

  1. Use commercial cleaners to wipe off stains and mildew.
  2. Spray on both sides and let it stay for a few minutes before wiping.
  3. Rinse both sides.
  4. Let completely dry before storing.

Acrylic

  1. Use a hose when cleaning acrylic fabrics to remove dirt that is embedded in the fibers.
  2. Do not scrub the acrylic fabric.
repairman installing an RV slideout awning to an RV
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Are RV Slide Out Awnings Necessary?

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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    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  We travel with kids and extended family.  I take the kids by myself sometimes because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

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