Last updated on September 26th, 2023 at 06:52 am
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Awnings might seem like a simple addition to an RV, but it’s surprising how often you’ll find yourself using one. Even though they can seem like extra, they’re not just for luxury RVs and just about any RV can benefit from the addition of an awning. As such, they can be susceptible to deterioration and damage quickly, not to mention they are fairly fragile. I’ve seen plenty flapping about in the wind!
Chances are you’ll have to replace the fabric of your awning a few times if you use it frequently. However, knowing your awnings’ proper measurements is crucial before you go out and purchase new fabric or a protective cover.
So, how do you measure your RV’s awning?
Luckily, it’s very simple! Avoid measuring the awning’s fabric itself as this won’t give you the complete dimensions of the awning’s frame. Instead, using a tape measure for accuracy, measure the distance from the center of one awning arm to the center of the other.
Getting the correct measurements is essential for correctly maintaining your awning, especially when the time comes to replace the fabric! Your RV’s awning completes the outdoor setup. If you’ve ever passed by different rigs and seen picnic tables set up under large umbrella-like cloth extending from the roof, then you know how important awnings are for outdoor comfort!
How To Measure RV Awning Replacement Fabric
Like most things in the RV world, there’s usually a correct way of doing things. Measuring an RV awning is no exception, and when the time comes to give your awning some love, it’s best to try and get it right the first time!
Measure Between Awning Arms, Not Fabric
Let’s say you’ve measured the distance between your rig’s two awning arms, and it comes out at 10ft. You might be tempted to purchase an awning fabric of the same length, but this is a mistake!
The correct method of measuring an RV awning is by determining the length between the arms and not the fabric as shown in the video below:
Getting measurements right the first time makes such a difference in the long run! No one likes doing the same job time and time again, so be sure to measure your RV awning correctly and you’ll be on track for good results.
Purchase Awning Shorter Than Arm Distance
It’s important to buy awning fabric around 10 inches to a full foot shorter than the distance between the arms. This is because fabric that’s too long may get caught in the awning’s end caps as you extend it, leading to tearing and potentially even more damage.
Most awning fabrics on the market are at the 8 feet mark as this is standard for most rigs. RVs that don’t fit this measurement may instead need custom fabrics compatible with a 10ft – 15ft awning frame. Incorrectly measuring the difference between your awning arm length and the fabric is how many travelers end up with custom fabrics that just aren’t made for their rig.
Measure Twice, Purchase Once!
Since custom fabrics are often non-refundable, not taking the time to measure accurately can end up being a substantial waste of time, and money. I always find it best to measure twice, purchase once, and this is the key to success with RV awnings.
Options For Awning Fabric Replacement
Having an awning on a rig is fantastic, and means keeping cool even during the height of summer! When an awning becomes damaged, worn, or simply in need of fabric replacement, there are a couple of different options to explore.
Professional RV Awning Installation
It’s possible to get the professionals to replace the awning fabric. This is undoubtedly a pricey option as you’ll have to fork out for both the new fabric and the labor required for installation. Awning fabric prices vary depending on the awning size, but most tend to range between $200 and $500. Fabrics designed for extra-large setups tend to cost even more, so if you have a large RV equipped with a big awning, replacing the fabric may be a hefty cost!
Then comes the cost of labor. Installation prices vary even more than fabric prices, with $500 being around the low end and up to $1000 being the high end. All of this depends on the size of the fabric being installed, location, hours, and so on.
DIY RV Awning Installation
Replacing an RV awning yourself is possible, but it’s important to be prepared and not just dive straight into the deep end! The cost of labor is high for a reason, and there’s a lot going on with RV awning installation. If you want to install one yourself, completing research is a must.
Whether through the internet or by consulting people around you with RV awning experience, research will save time and money later down the road, and even prevent injury.
That’s right, installing the awning fabric can lead to injury when done incorrectly. For example, the risk of an awning collapsin greatly increases if it isn’t secured to the awning’s frame before removing the canopy or parts of the frame. Even having just one other person can make the process less difficult.
There are a lot of different, large, potentially dangerous parts of an awning and an extra helping hand can make securing an awning way easier, either by holding it or strapping it down with zip ties. This alone already drastically reduces the risk of injury. Plus, a helping hand will make time fly by when installing the fabric and let you enjoy the awning’s shade way sooner.
Awning Fabric Maintenance
Properly maintaining RV awning fabric is crucial in ensuring you don’t have to go through the replacement process again. Measuring an RV awning incorrectly can cause the fabric to tear when extending the awning out, but the same thing can happen if the fabric is rolled out when it’s wet. Therefore protecting an awning from the elements is super important!
Heavy rain can weaken the fabric and allow mold to grow when it’s rolled up while wet. Additionally, leaving your awning extended during heavy winds or storms is a recipe for disaster. An awning is meant to provide shade, not protection from the wind, and heavy gusts can quickly tear the fabric straight off the frame.
Avoiding these conditions is a big part of awning fabric maintenance, but so is cleaning it. It’s impossible to completely avoid the elements when using your awning, so dirt and grime will build up on the fabric. A quick fix is to routinely hose your awning down with light water pressure. The key is to let it dry completely and not roll it back up while it’s wet. The best way to clean your awning, however, is to use one of the many cleaners specifically designed for the job.
How To Measure For RV Slide-Out Awnings?
Rigs with traditional awnings come equipped with a fabric to protect them. Some rigs, however, have an awning that is attached to the RV’s slides to protect them while also providing shade and all the benefits associated with regular awnings. If you ever need to replace your rig’s slide-out awning, then knowing how to measure for one is very important as it’s a different process from regular awnings.
When measuring traditional awnings, the arms of the frame are your measuring points. For slide-out awnings, your reference point is the flange. The flange, also sometimes called the T-molding or the trim, refers to the portion of the slide that extends off the frame’s edge. It’s the part that when it retracts into your RV, gives a seamless transition into the rest of the wall.
To measure your slide-out awning, use a tape measure to record the distance from the edge of one flange to the other. It’s super easy just like using the arms of an awning frame to measure for replacement fabric. Measuring from flange to flange will give you the dimensions you need in order to replace the awning for your slide.
How To Measure RV Awning Arms?
We’ve already talked about how essential it is to correctly measure an RV awning, but what about the awning arms? If the arms on your awning are worn or broken and need replacing, you’ll need to make sure you purchase the correct size arms for the repair. Buying the wrong size RV awning arms will mean the awning won’t work as efficiently, or even at all!
You’ll have to return the arms and purchase the correct ones, which can take more time and money than necessary. To measure RV awning arms you need to grab a tape measure and work out the dimensions from the length of the awning wall-mount from top to bottom. RV awning arms come in different sizes to suit the wide range of RVs on the market today.
Choosing the correct arms for your rig is vital as it means you’ll achieve optimal sloping for water to drain off the fabric. It also means the front of the awning won’t be too low when fully extended, as this would make getting in and out from under the awning way harder than needed. If you get really stuck when trying to measure RV awning arms for replacement, check your user manual or give your RV manufacturer a call. They will be able to provide more in-depth guidance for your specific rig.
How Do You Measure A Roll-Out Awning?
RV roll-out awnings are a convenient, easy way to enhance the immediate outdoor space of your rig. Measuring a roll-out awning is simple, all you have to do is measure from the center of the front arm to the center of the rear arm. It’s tempting to take measurements from the length of the roller tube or fabric, but avoid doing this!
Measuring the roller tube or fabric is a gateway for an ill-fitting awning. Instead, stick to taking dimensions from the two arms and you’ll have a roller awning the family will thank you for during a scorching summer at the lake!
Knowing how to correctly measure an RV awning may at first seem trivial, but as we’ve established, it can save you from wasting time and money in the future. One simple adjustment is all it takes! Luckily the process of measuring an awning is simple and easy.
As long as you note the difference between the length of the arms and the fabric itself, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the comfort of your RV awning shade every summer camping season!