Need to install a new RV awning fast so you can get out camping?
Having a sturdy and attractive awning on your camper, trailer, or motorhome extends the useable space around your RV and makes camping trips much more enjoyable and relaxing.
You need an awning on your camper so you can have a place to get out of the hot sun or rain while still utilizing your campsite to it’s fullest.
This guide will help you make the correct purchase for your next RV awning. In this article, I go over how to choose:
- The right awning fabric
- The proper way to measure for a new awning
- Review of the top five best RV awnings on the market with pros and cons
- Extras you should consider for your awning area
- Tips to keep your awning in good condition
Want to learn more about what you need to know when it’s time for you to replace your RV awning fabric or frame components?
Choosing Your Awning Fabric
How to choose the best RV awning fabric is more a matter of where you’ll be camping most and what you expect your awning to accomplish.
Awning fabric is either:
Your RV awning fabric needs to keep the sun and rain away from your camper so you can enjoy your campsite during light rain or when the sun is beating down. The awning will also help cool the interior of your camper since it will shade nearly the entire side of many RVs.
If you are camping in places where harsh UV rays and dry heat will affect your awning, you’ll want a fabric more durable that can withstand those elements.
If you are camping in places that experience a lot of rain or humidity, you’ll want your awning to be of a material that can dry quickly, especially if you need to roll it in for travel.
Next, I will explain the differences between acrylic and vinyl fabric RV awnings so you can decide which fabric choice is best for your particular needs.
#1 – Acrylic Fabric RV Awnings
The reason many RVers love to go with acrylic fabric for their awning is that the woven material lets the air circulate through the fabric, so it dries quickly. In the event you must roll up your awning while still wet, the acrylic fabric has the ability to dry while traveling down the road.
The material also lets the heat rise through it during hot days, so you feel cooler under an acrylic fabric awning than one made of vinyl fabric which traps the heat under the awning.
The fabric weave is tight enough to withstand rain and keep the burning rays of the sun away from your camper. Most RVs that have electric awning frames with metal covers use acrylic material for the fabric.
On the downside, the fabric is not entirely waterproof, which means that water should shed from your awning, but if you touch the underside of the material while it’s wet, it will cause water to drip through in that spot.
The best part about going with an acrylic fabric is that they weave the colors and patterns into the cloth, so your design and color choice stays crisp and bright over time. You will also see this pattern and color from both the top and underside of your awning, which makes it more attractive.
#2 – Vinyl Fabric RV Awnings
Vinyl fabric awnings come standard with most recreational vehicles and should last for many camping seasons if taken care of correctly.
Since vinyl awnings have a layer of lamination on top of the fabric, they are entirely waterproof and will not allow any sunrays to penetrate, which makes sitting out under them during rains or bright, sunny days very comfortable.
Vinyl will trap heat, so if you’re without a gentle breeze, it will feel hotter under this type of awning fabric that you won’t experience with an acrylic fabric awning.
Vinyl RV awning fabric is resistant to mildew growth, but you’ll have to wash the awning material often to keep dust, dirt, and grime from building up on the fabric.
I have a vinyl RV awning and camp in hot, humid locations. I do notice that mildew will grow if I leave it for a couple of weeks without washing.
I also notice that morning dew will collect and drip from the underside of the awning which can be annoying. I solve this dilemma by wiping it down with a towel when I don’t have the time to let it dry up by itself.
You must never roll up your vinyl awning while damp since it will mildew and rot quickly.
If you must leave your campsite and need to roll up your awning while still wet when you reach your next destination immediately extend your awning to let it dry out completely.
Leaving it rolled up wet a day or two will be fine, but expect to have to use an RV awning cleaner to wash the smell and slimy-build up off the awning if you leave it much longer. RV awning cleaners have additives to help extend the life of the material, and I recommend always using this instead of dish soap or other general RV wash cleaners.
The Right Way to Measure for an RV Awning
Many RVers make a mistake when they measure for a replacement RV awning and then find out the fabric they purchase does not fit the way they expect.
Do not just measure your existing fabric, since over time the material will shrink, and it’s even possible, if your camper has a previous owner, that they bought the wrong size awning material but chose to install it anyway.
The proper way to measure for RV awnings is to measure from the center of the left arm, across the roller bar, and to the center of the right arm. When you place your order, this is the dimension you will use.
The dimension of the awning from your camper to the roller bar is standard across the industry at eight feet.
While this arm-to-arm width dimension will seem too large to fit on your awning roller, the actual fabric will fit correctly with a few inches of your roller bar exposed on either end.
Please carefully read the measuring instructions for the particular brand of awning you are purchasing to ensure the right fit, but most, if not all, awning manufacturers use the arm-to-arm measurement for proper sizing.
The Top Five Best RV Awnings
In this next section, I will review the five best RV awnings with the pros and cons of each and a short description that highlights what customers like most, so you can decide which is right for you.
#1 – Lippert Components Solera Universal Fit Awning
BEST FOR: Any RV that needs replacement awnings, whether they have an electric or manual awning system.
- Awnings made to fit any size RV
- Wide range of colors
- Super durable material
- Heat-welded seams
- Also have slideout awnings
- Vague installation instructions
The Solera Universal Fit Awning is the first choice for awning replacement fabric since it can fit any RV size and frame it’s even available to replace your slideout awnings as well.
The heavy-duty vinyl material comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes, so you can find just the right one to complement the colors of your RV and also have it fit perfectly.
The material is made to withstand up to -25 degrees Fahrenheit without cracking.
The company also heat-welds the seams to protect against tears at stress points like the connections at your RV and roller bar.
Universal fit (measured center-to-center of awning arms), it works with all three major RV awning brands including Lippert (Solera), Dometic (A&E), Carefree and more
Customers rave about the easy installation, even though the instructions are not very clear. They also love how well the material holds up in heavy rains, strong wind gusts, and constant exposure to harmful UV rays.
#2 – SunWave Awning Fabric
BEST FOR: RVers with manual awnings that want an affordable, yet very durable awning fabric replacement that is easy to install.
- Durable vinyl material
- Fits most major awning frames
- Enough colors and designs to match any RV
- Instruction manual can be confusing
SunWave awnings are a favorite among RVers for the affordable pricing and the ability to purchase slideout awnings if you want to replace all of your fabric at the same time.
These awnings are made of durable vinyl and come in a beautiful array of colors to accent your RV exterior design. The fade pattern is subtle, graduating from white to vibrant shades of blue, maroon, and tans. They apply the color to both sides of the fabric, so it looks great from above and below.
This awning replacement fabric will fit A&E, Carefree, Dometic, and Carter awning frames that manually operate and do not use a metal cover. You can also purchase replacement awnings for slideouts on your RV at the same time.
Customers like the affordable price range and size selection, so they can always have the perfect RV awning to protect them from rain and sun when camping. They also like that the thick vinyl has an extra weather shield layer that the company heat welds onto the main vinyl which means this awning can stand the test of time.
Even though installation doesn’t take long (especially if you have an extra hand or two to assist), customers did find the installation instructions unclear and that it made the replacement process more confusing than it needs to be.
#3 – Shade Pro RV Vinyl Awning
BEST FOR: RVers on a budget with the right type of awning frame that wants a quality RV awning replacement fabric that fits well and looks good.
- Easy-to-follow instructions
- Great fit
- Good color/pattern selection
- Some flaws in the painted design
- Unclear measurement instructions
The Shade Pro awning is another fantastic replacement fabric for your RV’s faded or torn awning.
You can quickly install the awning on many standard RV awning frames like A&E, Carefree, and Faulkner. Replace your RV awning fabric with this cost-effective brand when you have damage from rain, wind, falling branches, or age.
You can also use this awning with a power awning frame, as long as you don’t have the metal wrap that covers the roller when you close it.
Customers find that the color selections fit with most RV design schemes and the fun checker pattern will make your RV stand out from the crowd. Some buyers did note that the painted on topcoat design had tiny flaws, but that they weren’t very noticeable.
#4 – ALEKO Retractable RV Awning
BEST FOR: RVers who want an awning fabric that is more resistant to fading, or for those who wish to upgrade their complete awning framing.
- PVC material
- Manual and electric options
- Variety of colors
- Replacement awning fabric, parts, or whole framing systems available
- UV, mildew, and water resistant
- Electric frames/fabric kits are expensive
The ALEKO RV awning fabric replacement is a fantastic deal for a heavy-duty vinyl RV awning with tightly woven fabric that will last for years.
The 100% PVC material is mildew, UV, fade, and water resistant which will keep the elements from destroying your awning prematurely. Several color options in a gradient design are available in a wide variety of widths to fit any RV.
Customers note that not only can you purchase replacement RV awning fabric to fit many size campers, but that they can buy the entire frame in either manual or electric versions. This option is perfect for RVers with older awning systems that want to upgrade to a new frame when they replace their old RV awning fabric.
#5 – Shade Pro RV Vinyl Awning
BEST FOR: RVers who camp often and want an awning that can handle not only the elements but also the wear of the continual rolling open and closing of the fabric.
- Heavy, 3-ply fabric
- Easy installation
- Pull strap
- Fits major awning brands
- Basic colors and design
The Shade Pro RV Vinyl Awning makes replacing your RV awning simple because it is made to fit major RV awing frames like Lippert, A&E, and Carefree.
The awning comes in a one-piece design that covers the roller with the poly cords sewn into the fabric, so they easily slip in at the roller and rail and hold firm.
Customers like the heavy material, which is a 3-ply fabric that is the heaviest on the camping accessory market. They also appreciate the precise instructions that make installation easier and the pull-strap, so they didn’t have to reuse their dirty, old one with their new awning.
Three RV Awning Extras You May Want to Consider
You have a new awning, so you may want to take your RV to a new level of comfort by adding in some of these extras that will make your next camping trip even better!
#1 – Awning Mat
You can find RV awning mats in any camping store but large sizes and some really cool designs you can only find online.
These mats are lightweight and water, sand, and most dirt drops right through the material, keeping it the surface clean. These mats are great for pet owners who want to let them hang outside on the patio without them getting dirty.
These are perfect for making the outside of your camper look inviting and keep excess dirt from entering your RV, especially if you park where the campground does not have cement pads.
#2 – Awning Screen Room
Carefree Vacation’r Screen Room might seem expensive, but for those who want the most in privacy and space, this addition to your RV is ideal.
Protect your patio furniture, bikes, and other camping gear from rain, sun, and maybe even the sticky fingers of unsavory campground guests.
Screen rooms are made to fit a variety of awning sizes, and installation and removal take around fifteen minutes.
#3 – Awning Attachable Shade or Shade Cloth for Sun and Privacy
An RV awning sunshade will block the worst of the sun’s rays, keeping your awning area more comfortable. Sunshades or screens also give you a bit of privacy from your camping neighbors.
These shades slide right into your awning roller bar track in seconds and wind will flow through so that you can enjoy the breeze on warm days. They are lightweight and fold up easily for storage.
Tips and Tricks to Help Eliminate Awning Damage
Preventing damage to your RV awning is the first step in keeping it in good condition.
Unfortunately, every day I see campers with awnings not secure. One good rain storm or gust of wind could cause tears to the awning fabric, or bend or break the metal awning mechanisms, which will lead to bothersome repairs.
Below are five quick tips to make sure your awning stays in good shape!
#1 – Extend Fully
Make sure you pull that awning out completely until the fabric is as tight as you can make it. Manual or electric set-ups both need to extend fully.
When the fabric has any dip or looseness to it, the slightest wind will lift the awning then drop it down.
Over time, this movement will weaken the seams of the awning fabric where it attaches to the roller and the RV, and it will tear. The motion will also cause undue stress on the metal rods that hold the awning to your RV.
#2 – Tighten Those Knobs
Manual awning systems found on many RVs have a knob to lock the arm into the outstretched position, so the fabric pulls tight. When you fail to tighten that knob sufficiently, the slight movement of the awning from wind or rain will cause the metal to slide back inside the outer pole.
If the pole slides enough, the fabric of the awning gets loose and will start flapping about and tear the material.
If the pole slides more, the arm will collapse into the other completely which will cause the heavy roller arm to fall down and toward your camper (this happens most when rain weighs down the awning fabric) and possibly bend or break some of the awning parts.
#3 – Add Ratchet Straps and Spiral Stakes
Prevent lift of your awning and frame by screwing into the ground two spiral stakes, one at each end of your extended awning. Run a ratchet strap around each end of your roller bar and connect and tighten it to the spiral stake. Do not over-tighten; just get the slack out of the strap.
This five-minute step can allow you to confidently leave your awning out without fear a bit of wind won’t pick up and throw your entire awning over your RV and ruin it. It happens more often than you think!
#4 – Deflappers
My RVing life got a whole lot better when I finally gave in and bought a set of deflappers for my awning. It got absolutely perfect when I went overboard and bought three more sets.
I usually park at a campground for a month at a time. When I set up, my awning comes out, and I leave it for the entire month even through rainstorms. I only bring my awning in if the wind will exceed 30 miles-per-hour.
How can I keep my awning from tearing during storms?
I not only secure it down using the ratchet straps, but I put four deflappers on each side of my awning which keeps it very tight, even when heavy rains strain the fabric.
I found that adding in those extra deflappers made a world of difference in how well my awning held up to the wind and rain. The best thing is that deflappers are a small investment that has a significant impact on the longevity of your awning fabric and frame.
#5 – The Rain Tilt
Yes, I know, the rain tilt is RVing 101, but this is another mistake I see over and over again. It’s such a shame to see an awning get destroyed by rain when it was preventable.
So, please always keep one awning leg lower than the other by a few inches to allow any rainwater to run off quickly and not build up on the natural dip that occurs in the awning when you set the legs up at the same height. Water gets very heavy, very fast, and will blow out that awning in the blink of an eye.
When age or a storm wreaks havoc with your RV awning, finding a perfect replacement is easier than you think. Investing in the best RV awning fabric for your needs will bring years of enjoyment to your camping experience, by protecting your family and guests from the sun and rain.
The Solera Universal Fit Awning is the first choice for awning replacement fabric since it can fit any RV size with manual or electric RV awning frames.
For those who need to change their RV awning by themselves, you should watch the below video for some excellent tips and tricks to make the job much less stressful. I sure wish I had seen this video before the struggle it took to put a new awning on my RV by myself!
I hope this guide to the top five best RV awnings was helpful when it comes times to change out your RV awning.
Did damage happen to your RV awning and you had to replace it? Share your story in the comments below!