Installing a slide-out awning on your RV is one of the easiest DIY tasks. Slide-out awnings or slide-out toppers are quite useful. Aside from keeping the debris out from the slides, they are instrumental in protecting from the adverse effects of harsh weather. Slide-out toppers dispel rain and snow away from the slides which help in protecting them in the long run.
However, when it’s time to look for a replacement slide-out awning, some things should be kept in mind. The first and foremost thing is to get an accurate measurement of your RV’s awning. Getting an accurate measurement may seem like a no-brainer but there are some big catches.
Prior to detailing the procedure of measuring your RV’s slide-out, we have highlighted below some of the most important points. Be sure to go through them as well, before jumping on to the main topic.
The Difference between Fabric and the Awning
Most RV owners often confuse awning and its fabric as the same. This confusion leads to an inaccurate measurement which, in turn, can lead to lengthy refund and return procedures. The fabric is the cloth that rolls onto the awning and it is attached between the two endpoints (brackets) of the awning itself. In simpler words, an awning is a whole package that contains cloth (fabric), brackets, and other rail components.
Therefore, it is a good idea to take the measurements of both the whole awning and the fabric separately before you go out to place an order for your RV’s awning. This way, you would be crystal clear about the measurements of your awning which will set a good base for the little DIY project.
Measuring an RV Slide-out Awning/Topper
Now that you have familiarized yourself with the difference between a slide-out topper and fabric, it is high time to take a measurement. Note that here we are going to mention the process of measuring the fabric width and not the width of the entire slide-out awning assembly. However, if you want to measure the entire awning assembly, then follow the procedure mentioned below and add 2.5 inches on both sides.
Measuring a slide-out topper is pretty much similar to measuring your house’s drapes/shades. Begin by locating the flange/trim piece of the slide-out room. Both the flanges extend on either side of the room. Before you ask what a flange is, it is a component of slide-out that hangs off the edge of the frame. Also known as T-molding or trim, it provides a streamlined view for the slide-out when it has been retracted into the RV.
Back to the measuring process, take one side, and start measuring using the measuring tape till the other end of the flange. Once you have reached the other edge, note the distance (preferably in feet) on paper or your smartphone. It is recommended to measure twice for better and more accurate results.
Once done with the measurement of the fabric, the next task is to calculate the necessary material for the awning. This is fairly simple as you will only need to multiply/times half (0.5) to the total length of the slide-out (in feet) plus half (0.25).
The final step involves measuring the pole material. This again resembles quite closely to the above process. Just multiply the total length of the RV slide-out (in feet) and add 12 inches to every foot. For angled poles, instead of adding 12 inches, you will need to divide it by 0.25. Having sufficient fabric ensures that all of the awning flaps when there’s a need for it.
Deciding the Color of the Awning
Once done with all the measurements and calculations, proceed to the next step. The next step is to decide the color of the awning. Most people residing or using their camper van in a hot climate prefer to pick the white color as it reflects the majority of the heat. On the other hand, black is better suited for cool regions as it absorbs heat. Regardless of the color, you should expect equally good quality fabric when ordering from a reputed RV parts/awning supplier.
Using a Protective Cover
RV awnings aren’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination and installing isn’t something an RVer frequently does. Therefore, a protective cover becomes a necessity. Aluminum protective covers are a good option in this regard as they provide a good shield to the fabric against bright UV rays. Aside from scorching sun heat, a protective cover also protects against mold and mildew that grow from the moisture of wet or snowy weather. Installing a protective aluminum sheet along with the awning fabric is a better alternative compared to installing both separately. Doing so will save quite a bit of your time and money too if you are hiring professionals to do the job.
Does the law require slide-out toppers?
RV slide-out toppers or awnings aren't mandated by law, but they are quite helpful in protecting your RV's slide and for an additional layer of security. The toppers protect the slide by keeping debris and rainwater away. Without any toppers, these external elements can seep into the slide and the RV, thereby causing expensive repairs.
How can an RV slide-out be replaced?
Replacing a slide-out isn’t a daunting task. However, you will need an additional pair of hands and a step ladder to help you with the task. Important to note here is the fact that if you are installing a slide-out awning from the ground up, then you will need some other tools and supplies such as an awning rail, mounting brackets, rollers, etc.
Are slide-out toppers/awnings good for stopping heat?
A white or light-colored topper reflects a good amount of heat and therefore makes for a good option for hot regions.
Can I fit an awning on my RV if it didn’t come with it?
Yes, you can fit your RV with an awning if it didn’t come with it. In fact, there are a wide variety of awning sizes available that are good for use above windows and entryways.
How much does it cost to install a slide-out awning?
There isn't a specific quote for a slide topper, instead, the price depends upon the material, brand, and whether you are doing the task by yourself or whether you are going to hire a professional. Nevertheless, you can expect the total cost to hover between $150-$500.
Are all awnings prone to leakage?
Awning fabric is made from a water-resistant fabric, so there are minimal chances of leakage from the fabric. The only thing to look out for is the cracked or worn-out seals. As a rule of thumb, seals should be replaced every 2-3 years. Also, make sure that your RV is properly leveled as parking on an uneven surface can cause water to accumulate at a specific spot which can lead to greater chances of water seeping into the RV.
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