Trying to refresh your old RV with an updated new awning? You are in the right place!
RV awnings are one of the most common parts of an RV I see needing replacement.
This is usually due to extended outdoor storage or idling in one place, with minimal protection from the elements. Often water creeps in, even for a properly secured and sealed awning and can create discolorations, smells and even mold that don’t inspire fun camping experiences.
I see this frequently with older RVs, but sometimes as recent as 5 years into ownership. The rest of the RV is in great shape, but the awning needs TLC. Once the awning gets mold, it’s often easier (and sometimes cheaper) to just replace it.
In this guide I’ll walk you through the top RV awning fabric options, what to consider, and where to find them for easy ordering online
Understanding the Role of RV Awnings
An RV awning is more than just an accessory; it’s an integral part of the RV lifestyle. It not only offers a shady retreat from the sun’s heat or a dry shelter during a rain shower but also extends your living space, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors right outside your RV door.
RV Awning Lifespan
Generally, an RV awning can last anywhere between five to fifteen years, depending on several factors. These include the awning’s material, the level of maintenance, and the weather conditions it’s exposed to.
Here’s a generalized overview of what to expect:
|Type of RV Awning||Average Lifespan||Key Factors Affecting Lifespan|
|Vinyl Awning||5-10 years||Exposure to UV rays, weather conditions, proper maintenance|
|Acrylic Awning||10-15 years||Climate, frequency of use, proper cleaning and maintenance|
|Metal Awning||15-20 years||Material quality, weather conditions, regular upkeep|
|Fabric Awning||8-12 years||Weather exposure, material quality, routine care|
Please note that the lifespans mentioned are estimates and can vary based on many factors. Always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions to extend the lifespan of your RV awning.
Regular cleaning and proper care can significantly extend the lifespan of your RV awning. Also, decisions such as retracting the awning during strong winds or storms can prevent unforeseen damage and prolong its use.
RV Awning Sizes
RV awnings come in various sizes, and the size you need depends on your RV’s dimensions and design.
The length and extension of the awning can differ, with some extending as far as 14 feet from the RV. It’s essential to accurately measure your RV and understand the sizing specifications before making a purchase.
Here are the most common RV awning sizes you’ll find on the market:
|Awning Size (Feet)||Description|
|12 Ft. RV Awnings||These awnings are suitable for smaller RVs. They provide a decent amount of shade and are compact in design.|
|13 Ft. RV Awnings||A bit larger than the 12 Ft. awnings, these can offer more shade and are ideal for medium-sized RVs.|
|14 Ft. RV Awnings||These awnings are commonly available and can fit a variety of RVs. They provide a good balance between size and functionality.|
|15 Ft. RV Awnings||Slightly bigger than the 14 Ft. awnings, these can provide more coverage. Suitable for larger RVs.|
|16 Ft. RV Awnings||These awnings provide extensive coverage and are suitable for larger RVs or those wanting more shaded outdoor space.|
|17 Ft. RV Awnings||Ideal for larger RVs, these awnings provide ample shade and are durable.|
|18 Ft. RV Awnings||These are large awnings designed to provide a significant amount of shade. Suitable for big RVs.|
|19 Ft. RV Awnings||The largest standard size, these awnings are designed for the biggest RVs, providing maximum shade.|
|Custom Size Awnings||RV Supply Warehouse also offers custom-made awnings on special order. These can be made to fit any size of RV.|
Vinyl vs Acrylic RV Awnings
When it comes to RV awning fabrics, the two most common materials are vinyl and acrylic. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between the two largely depends on your specific camping conditions and requirements.
Vinyl awnings, being non-breathable, are waterproof and highly durable, making them a popular choice among RV owners. However, they may limit airflow, making them less ideal for hot conditions.
On the other hand, acrylic awnings offer excellent air circulation due to their lightweight and breathable fabric. While they aren’t as durable as vinyl, they dry quickly, making them suitable for humid environments. However, because they’re not waterproof, acrylic awnings require frequent cleaning to prevent mildew growth.
Here’s my high level summary of the trade offs compared:
|Feature||Acrylic RV Awnings||Vinyl RV Awnings|
|Material||Made from woven acrylic fabric.||Made from laminated vinyl material.|
|Durability||Durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions. However, they may fade over time.||Very durable and resistant to UV rays, thus less likely to fade.|
|Maintenance||Requires regular cleaning to prevent mildew and mold.||Easier to clean and maintain as it is resistant to mildew and mold.|
|Water Resistance||Water-resistant but not fully waterproof. Water can seep through if it rains heavily.||Fully waterproof, providing better protection against rain.|
|Breathability||Breathable, allowing air to circulate and reducing heat build-up under the awning.||Less breathable compared to acrylic, which can lead to more heat build-up.|
|Price||Generally more expensive due to the quality of the material.||More affordable, making it a popular choice for many RV owners.|
|Appearance||Has a more natural fabric look and feel.||Has a more plastic look and feel due to the nature of vinyl.|
|Lifespan||With proper care and maintenance, can last up to 12-15 years.||Typically lasts around 10-12 years with regular maintenance.|
My Top Replacement RV Awning Choices
When it’s time to replace your RV awning fabric, it’s worth investing in a high-quality product that will provide shade and protection for years to come. Here are some of the top choices in the market:
SunWave offers replacement awning fabrics that are tri-laminated and made of durable vinyl.
They fit various awning models and come in lengths ranging from 8 feet to 22 feet. SunWave stands by the quality of their products, offering a limited three-year warranty on fabrics.
Shade Pro offers awning fabrics in heavy-duty vinyl or marine-grade acrylic. They are available in various colors and can even create a custom color to match your RV.
In addition to being durable, Shade Pro awning fabrics are mildew-resistant, providing long-lasting protection against the elements.
RecPro awning fabrics are made of durable vinyl that resists tears and punctures.
The material is also waterproof, UV-resistant, and mildew-resistant, ensuring that it withstands various weather conditions.
RecPro awning fabrics are a cost-effective solution for your awning replacement needs.
ALEKO offers full replacement awnings made of 100% PVC fabric, providing protection from the sun and rain.
ALEKO awnings are not only resistant to mildew and fading but also come in various sizes, catering to a wide range of RVs.
The Cost of Installing a Camper Awning
The cost of installing a camper awning can vary greatly depending on the length, type, and fabric of the awning.
The installation process can be complex, so hiring a professional may be a wise investment. However, DIY enthusiasts may opt to install it themselves, saving on labor costs.
Here’s what you can expect in general (including installation cost):
|Material Type||Average Cost (including installation)|
|Vinyl||$200 – $1,000|
|Acrylic||$300 – $1,200|
|Polyester||$250 – $1,100|
|Canvas||$500 – $1,500|
A major caveat here is that “it depends” on many local considerations like labor and local supply availability, but this is a good general guideline.
Is Replacing Your Camper Awning Worth It?
The decision to replace your camper awning ultimately depends on how often you use it and how much value you place on the comfort it provides. It may just be easier and more cost effective to remove your the awning altogether and just carry an umbrella stand or jerry rig a sun sail as needed.
That said, considering the pivotal role an RV awning plays in enhancing your RV-camping experience, investing in a high-quality replacement fabric can be a worthwhile decision.
Top RV Awning Alternatives
When I was researching RV awning replacements, I came up with this list of top substitutes to consider.
- Alion Sun Sail Shade: This is a practical alternative to traditional RV awnings. It provides ample shade, is lightweight, and easy to store for travel.
- Slumberjack Roadhouse Tarp: This tarp can serve as a makeshift awning, providing protection from the sun and rain.
- Unigear Camping Tarp: Similar to the Slumberjack Roadhouse Tarp, this camping tarp can be used as an RV awning alternative.
- Sunshades: Sunshades are an affordable and easy to install alternative to traditional RV awnings.
- Patio Awnings: These can be attached to the side of the RV to provide shade and protection from the elements.
- Mesh Sunscreens: These screens can block the sun’s rays while still allowing you to enjoy the view.
- DIY RV Awnings: By using materials like acrylic, vinyl, canvas, or tarps, one could create their own RV awning. They can be fastened to the RV using tracks, Velcro, suction cups, or magnets.
There’s actually a few instances where I opted to completely remove the RV awning assembly, instead opting for one of these.
Conclusion: Finding the Best RV Replacement Awning
Selecting the best RV awning replacement fabric involves careful consideration of various factors such as the awning material, the expected weather conditions, and the awning’s size.
The right awning fabric can significantly enhance your RV experience, providing comfort, protection, and an extended living space.
Personally, I’d recommend starting with SunWave and working on down the list based on your RV specific criteria.