How to Install an RV Awning Yourself

RV Awning

Are you planning to purchase a new awning for your RV, and would like to know how to install an RV awning yourself? Even for someone who isn't mechanically inclined, installing an RV awning isn't rocket science as long as you understand how to properly prepare before you purchase one and take your time as you go through the installation.

Easy Instructions on Installing an RV Awning Yourself

If you want to know how to install an RV awning yourself, then you're likely preparing to purchase one soon. If you've already purchased an awning, make sure that it's the appropriate size (see Step 1 below) before you begin the installation. The following procedure will walk you through the entire process of installing an RV awning yourself, from purchasing the awning all the way to keeping it safe from the elements.

Step 1: Purchasing an RV Awning

The most important step of your RV awning installation is the purchase. If it isn't sized appropriately for your RV, the awning will interfere with storage compartments or any crank out windows you may have. This is why taking appropriate measurements prior to your purchase is so important. Follow these steps to take your own measurements.

  • RV awning measurements
    The top railing/track is attached to the top railing shell frame of your RV, so this spot marks the top of your measurement.
  • Measure from the ground all the way to that top railing - this is the height.
  • To measure width, start at a point beyond the edge of the door where there are no windows or compartments that the awning will block or obstruct. Measure the same distance to the other side of the door where there are no obstructions as well. The total side-to-side distance is your width.

Keep in mind that when you measure width, you should look at the floor line of your RV because that's where the bottom brackets are going to be attached. There shouldn't be anything that could complicate the attachment of those bottom brackets. Additionally, make sure to buy vinyl or canvas awnings (not acrylic) so that if your awning has any tears or holes, it will be easy enough to repair.

Step 2: Installing the Supporting Hardware

Now that you have your new awning and you're excited about attaching it to your RV, it's time to get started.

  • The most important step in the entire installation is attaching the awning railing to the top of your RV. If you've already taken measurements, this will be easy enough. Just make sure to use the screws or bolts that came with the awning. Carefully place the railing according to your previous measurements and attach with the screws. However, make sure not to tighten the screws with a power drill as you'll likely strip or "over-torque" them, which reduces the structural integrity of the whole railing.
  • Once the railing is completely secured, go ahead and unroll your new awning by pulling on the awning tube down and toward you until the awning is fully unrolled. Slide the upper awning arms in place, and then, while holding the awning taut with one hand, adjust the tension arm using the tension knobs on each side. Once you've adjusted the tension for each tension arm, you're ready for the next step.
  • With the awning in the fully extended position, unfold the support legs and place them against the floor line of the RV and mark where they are located.

Your awning likely came with bottom brackets. Using them is optional, because many people stake the legs into the ground instead. However, bottom brackets are highly recommended because they provide far greater support. Attach them to the floor line of your RV at the location you just marked. Attach each leg to the bottom bracket.

Step 3: Protection From The Elements

There are several important things you can do to dramatically extend the life of your awning. The most important of these is securing the awning properly so it can handle wind and other elements. The following steps will ensure that yours isn't susceptible to the weather.

  • Avoid flapping by purchasing an "awning deflapper," installed halfway along the awning, that adds tension to the fabric. Violent flapping often leads to damage, so avoid it with this simple step!
  • Properly secure everything by buying tie-downs and stakes. These take additional time to install and many campers feel that they get in the way. However they provide so much additional support and protection from damage that they should always be used.

Step 4: Preventive Care

Want your new purchase to last? Make sure to protect all parts from the elements as well as wear and tear. Apply silicon spray as a lubricant to the inside of the sliding tension arms as well as the adjustment knobs. Also, adjust the awning so that one end is higher than the other. This allows the rain to roll easily off the top instead of collecting there. Be sure to clean your awning often, but use vinyl cleaner that's specifically formulated for that material in order to deal with mildew, which most other household cleaners won't clean. When you wash it, don't forget to clean the bottom as well! Finally, always make sure to apply appropriate sealant to the bracket and rail screws to avoid any water leakage into the RV itself.

Performing Your Own Installation

For many people, an RV awning installation may feel like an impossible task, but once you get started you'll quickly realize that it's a task you can handle and one you'll feel proud of once you're finished.

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How to Install an RV Awning Yourself