Awnings allow RVers to enjoy the great outdoors with protection from the elements, so it’s a sad day when you step out of your RV to find the fabric in the awning torn, faded, or worn away.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like that for long! Replacing an RV awning yourself is an easy DIY job. It’ll take a little handiwork and some time, but you can replace an RV awning all on your own with the help of our step-by-step guide.
The first step is purchasing new fabric. Because there is more than one type of awning material, you may have to do a little research on which will be best for your RV.
Luckily, there aren’t too many to choose from— the two main players are vinyl and acrylic. Vinyl is usually the cheaper option. It’s pretty easy to take care of and keep clean and is waterproof to boot.
Acrylic, on the other hand, might be a bit harder to clean and is the more expensive option. However, it typically looks nicer and stays cooler than vinyl. Since it “breathes”, it's usually the fabric of choice for those who RV in warm-weather locations.
It’s also important to purchase an awning that matches the size of your frame. Be sure to measure your existing setup for the right dimensions or refer to the manual that came with your awning or RV. If you measure the fabric yourself, measure from the center of one arm to the center of the other.
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Next, you’ll want to take the awning off in order to replace the fabric.
Start by taking out all the bolts that are securing the awning to the RV. Extend the awning out just a bit from the RV (about a foot is fine) and start unscrewing the bolts. You’ll find that there are a few at both ends of the arms, as well as inside the track that the fabric slides into. It’s wise to keep a bag with you for this step so you can store any bolts you take out and avoid losing them.
If you’re having trouble finding the track, it’s the narrow slit that the fabric slides out of and into, and the bolts should be attaching the fabric to the track itself. Unscrewing these bolts will allow you to easily remove your original torn fabric and replace it with the new fabric.
After the bolts have been removed, take off the whole awning. You want to carefully and slowly lift it up and take it away from the RV to rest somewhere safely. Be cautious and avoid hitting anything with the awning; you don’t want damages to your motorhome from what should be a simple repair job! Having another person to help with this step is a great idea if you can swing it.
The awning roller should be on the ground and detached from the RV now. There should be a tiny cap on the back end of the awning’s arm; take this off and insert your screwdriver into the hole in order to lock the spring.
Next, you’re going to release the tension on the awning’s front side. Using a wrench, remove the bolt attaching the leg to the roller tube, then remove the leg as well.
After this, you must secure the bracket (you can use your hands, but a vise grip is a safer bet) and rotate it forward until the spring rolls out. It’s vital that you count how many rotations you do here and remember this number, as you’ll need it to secure the tension properly for the new fabric later. Make a mark on the lever of the rolling tube so that you know the exact position it was in, allowing you to reassemble everything correctly.
Now, you can remove the bolts that are attaching the end cap to the tube. This will let you take out the cap and spring assembly. Once you’ve done this, put it somewhere safe.
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Unroll your original fabric and mark the channels where it’s inserted in the roller; you’ll be inserting the new fabric in the same spots. Some RV awnings have a valence section in their rollers as well, so mark those points if yours does (it’s common to mark these sections with a “V”.).
Take off the old fabric from the roller and dispose of it. Now, we’re finally going to put in that new fabric you bought. Roll out your new fabric and insert it carefully into the proper sections (ensure the valance section goes into the “V” channels). Make sure it’s centered and slide the fabric down the roller tube just as you slid the old fabric off of it. This is another step where having a second person there to help would come in handy.
Once the fabric has slid onto the tube, roll it around the tube again and again until it’s tight.
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You’re almost done learning how to replace an RV awning! The fabric should be tightly secured to the roller tube, so now all we have to do is reverse the process of removing the awning assembly in order to put it back together.
Insert the spring assembly where you removed it from, ensuring that the lever is in the same position it was before, indicated by where you marked it. Reinstall the bolts and hold onto the bracket the same way you did earlier, whether it was with your hands or a vise grip, and rotate it back the same number of times that you rotated it forward. You’ll now reattach the arm as well, screwing the bolt back in place.
Next up is putting the awning back on the RV. Lift up the arms and start moving the awning towards the RV, sliding the fabric into the track that you pulled it out from earlier.
This part becomes a whole lot easier if you spray some silicone lubricant to ensure easy sliding. After this is done, the awning should be in place. Lock in the lower parts of the legs for safety measures. Screw the bolts that you removed at the beginning back into the tops and bottoms of the arms and pull the awning out like normal to test it. If need be, you can slide the fabric around until it looks how you want it to, but once it looks good, replace the bolts that secured the fabric to the track.
Pull the awning out one more time to make sure it works right, and you’re done!
Congratulations, you just replaced your RV awning by yourself for a much cheaper price than you would’ve shelled out to have someone else do it. Enjoy your new awning and hit the road for your next adventure!
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