Last Updated on October 16, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Are you asking, “How do you attach an awning to an RV?”
While most modern campers come with an awning already attached to them, this isn’t always true of smaller ones. Additionally, many older campers were built without awnings because they simply weren’t a priority. It’s also possible that the awning you originally had became damaged, and you need to replace it.
To attach an awning to your RV, you should start by choosing an awning that’s fitting for the size of your camper. Next, you will need to gather the tools needed to complete the job. Finally, you should follow the instructions we’re about to lay out in this article from start to finish.
If you’re looking to attach an RV awning, whether new or old, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go over everything you need to know about how to attach an RV awning, as well as a list of things you’ll need. We’ll also look at what to do when you simply need new awning fabric rather than a whole new awning. Ready? Let’s get started!
RV Awning Installation Instructions From Start to Finish
Attaching RV awnings to campers is a tall task, but it’s one you’re more than capable of if you follow the instructions in this article. Installing your own RV awning will also save you a ton of money on installation costs. Here’s everything you need to know from start to finish.
Choose the Right Awning or Awning Kit
The first and most important step to installing an RV awning is purchasing the right one. It should fit your RV and not appear too big or small. Choosing the wrong-sized RV awning won’t just look strange. It could also interfere with other parts of your camper. The lower brackets might get in the way of your storage compartments or even your door.
Because of how important choosing an appropriately-sized RV awning is, you should take careful measurements before you buy one. Here’s how to measure for your RV awning.
Measure from the ground to the top railing on your RV for height.
Measure from one side of your awning to the other to determine the width.
You should start your measurement on the far side of the door so that it’s under the awning but so that the awning runs past it.
You should measure as far to the other side of the RV as you desire, ensuring that your measurement doesn’t end on a storage compartment because the lower awning arm would interfere with it.
You can choose whatever RV awning size you like, as long as it doesn’t look strange and doesn’t interfere with the everyday use of your RV.
Manual Awning Vs. Automatic Awning
It’s also important that you decide whether or not you want an automatic awning rail or a manual awning rail. Automatic awnings are controlled electronically with the push of a button. You can extend and retract them very easily. Manual awnings are the more traditional option, where you have to extend and retract the awning rail by hand.
You can optionally add an electronic control at a later date, but it’s much easier to install one right off the bat.
The Different Parts and Tools You’ll Need
The best way to ensure you have everything you need to install your RV awning is to purchase an RV awning kit. RV awning kits are extremely handy because they come with the RV awning fabric, the arms, the legs, the brackets, the mounting hardware, and detailed instructions.
As far as tools are concerned, here are some of the main ones you’ll need.
During the process of your RV awning installation, it’s important to stay safe. RV awnings are heavy, so you should always have one or two helpers with you during the installation. You should also watch out for sharp edges so that you don’t cut yourself.
Installing the RV Awning: A Step-by-Step Guide
Choose the Right Location and Take Measurements
The first thing you’ll have to do is take measurements from side to side and up and down to determine the location of your awning rail. The awning rail is the component that goes from side to side and will house the awning fabric.
Once you know the exact location of your awning rail, you should use a pencil to mark its start and end points. You can then either draw a line from side to side so that you have an exact visual of where the awning will attach. You can also skip this step if it’s overkill.
Mount the Awning Rails
Next, mount the awning rail to the top edge of your RV. You may want to put a layer of butyl tape beneath where the rail will get mounted to help with waterproofing. It’s crucial that you mount the rail so that it’s level. Otherwise, your RV awning will be permanently crooked.
It’s best to fasten the rail on either side of the RV with a single self-tapping screw. You can go through later and add extras.
Attach RV Awning Roller to the Mounting Brackets
Next, attach the RV awning roller to the RV arm that will go on either side of the awning rail. There will be a metal rod on either side of awning rail that inserts into either awning arm. You can then position the awning arms to either side of the awning rail. Fasten the right awning arm first and then the left, or vice versa.
Install the Lower Brackets
Next, you will need to fasten the lower brackets in place. The lower brackets will hold the awning arms in place for when you want to extend and retract the RV awning. Each mounting bracket should be directly below the awning arms on either side, at the bottom edge of the side mounting brackets.
Push the Bottom Foot of the Awning Rail Into the Mounting Bracket
With the awning arms in place and the lower mounting hardware fastened, you can insert the bottom part of each awning arm into the lower mounting brackets.
Fully Extend the Awning
With everything fastened and in place, you’re ready to fully extend the awning. In order to do that, take your needle nose pliers and pull out the tension pins holding the awning fabric taut. Then, pull the awning to full extension and hold it in place. If you installed an electronic control for your RV awning, extend it using that.
Adjust the Tension
After you’ve extended the awning, you can adjust the torsion or tension as needed. There are tension knobs on either side of the awning arms that you can turn accordingly. You may need vice grips or pliers to do this, as the tension knobs can be a little tight at first.
Finish Attaching the Various Parts of the Awning Rail to the RV Exterior
Next, go along every piece of hardware that you attached to the side of the awning. Use self-tapping screws where necessary, and be careful not to overtighten them. You may need to pre-drill holes with a drill bit and install the screws with a ratchet set to keep from over tightening them.
Make sure that you have a layer of butyl tape beneath every screw that you fasten. If not butyl tape, then use a dab of silicone spray near each screw to ensure it doesn’t leak.
Roll and Unroll the Awning Several Times
To ensure your RV awning is installed properly, extend and retract it several times. If everything is moving smoothly, you can then adjust the level and height of each side of the awning to your personal preference.
What to Do When You Need New Awning Fabric?
In cases when you simply need a new awning fabric instead of the entire thing, you don’t need to purchase an RV awning kit. It’s common for awnings to tear because of strong winds or overextension. If you have a ripped awning, you only need to replace the fabric and not the arms or rail.
Instead, simply measure from one awning arm to the other to determine the width of your awning. Next, determine the length of awning you need. You can then purchase the new awning fabric and install it in place of the old one.
Take Measures to Protect Your New RV Awning
Now that you have a new awning, it’s important to take measures to protect it. You should regularly check the tension on your awning to ensure it isn’t overextended or too loose. For protection against strong winds, it’s a good idea to use tie-down stakes to secure the awning to the ground when it’s fully extended.
You should also coat your awning fabric with a sun protectant to protect it from direct sunlight.
How Do You Attach an Awning to an RV? – Final Thoughts
Using the instructions and tools in this article, you should be able to install an RV awning. If necessary, you can also read the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your awning. No matter what it takes, installing your own RV awning is very rewarding and will save you tons of money. Whether you’re replacing an existing awning or installing a new one, adding an awning to your RV is always a good investment.
Before you go too far, check out some of these other great RV articles that can help you out.