If you discover a hole or tear in your camper awning, it can be disheartening. It is unpleasant to look at, and you might be worried about the expense of repairing or replacing it.
Will you have to buy a new one? Is it possible to stop the hole or tear from getting worse?
The good news is that you probably won’t have to replace the whole thing. With a couple of supplies and some effort, you can fix the problem yourself.
By reading our guide, you’re going to learn how to repair your RV awning from the comfort of home (or camp). What else is there to do during the COVID-related lockdowns? I will also cover how you can prevent tears from occurring again in the future.
Why Is My Camper Awning Torn?
If you’re wondering how one or more tears suddenly appeared on your awning, don’t worry. It’s probably not due to neglect on your part. A torn shade screen isn’t always the result of poor maintenance or misuse.
The vast majority are made of either vinyl or acrylic.
This is due to the durability of these fabrics. Cloth or canvas materials, on the other hand, cannot survive the rigors of camping and are the most easily torn.
Although, regardless of material, none are invincible and many factors can lead to their damage.
They eventually wear out, just like everything else in your trailer.
Repeated use can progressively thin the awning fabric. Regular exposure to sunlight over time can also cause thinning.
Even if you take special care to maintain it, age is a big factor. Older ones are naturally more vulnerable to tears than newer ones.
Not all trailer manufacturers will provide you with a quality awning.
The fabric quality is likely to be lower in less expensive models of campers. This means that it probably won’t be as resistant to general wear and tear.
Violent weather conditions can cause a fair amount of damage to the material.
Sometimes it’s not possible to roll up your awning before the storm hits.
Hail, blizzards, and strong winds can all cause tears.
While they don’t require intense maintenance, you do need to take some care of your shade sheet.
For example, bad habits such as packing it up wet, can significantly shorten its lifespan.
Driving with a broken awning can also be dangerous for you and other drivers.
What You Will Need
Before you rush to take it down and get started on the repair, slow down. You’ll need some supplies beforehand to fix the tear.
Unlike many other DIY repairs, the repair is a straightforward project.You don’t need much in the way of expertise.
Check your camper’s owner manual before you begin. You need to know the type of material, which will help you choose the right replacement.
Contact your camper’s manufacturer directly, if possible. They may be able to sell you the same color or design of the previous fabric to keep things looking good.
Other supplies you’re likely to need in your repair kit (depending on how severe the awning damage is) include:
- A tape measure
- A screwdriver
- A flat board (plastic or wood, your choice)
- Fabric scissors
- Standard sewing supplies (including a canvas needle)
- Awning cleaner
- Replacement awning material
- Repair tape. Make sure it’s waterproof
- Waterproof glue
You can find most of these at your local retailer.
1. Remove Your Camper Awning
The first thing you’ll have to do is remove your retractable awning. Be particularly careful while removing the window awnings, as a wrong move can cost you an extra window for your RV—or the very least a nasty scratch.
You won’t be able to fix the fabric while it is still attached to your trailer. Removing it will also allow you to check the extent of the tear.
If it isn’t removable by just zipping off, your owner’s manual may include instructions for its removal. If there aren’t any, that’s fine. Getting the awning off your camper isn’t difficult.
Although, it will not just drop off your camper all at once if you remove it properly. It still goes a long way to have another person helping you to avoid accidents or injury.
They’re almost always installed in more or less the same way. Two metal arms on either side of the awning, holding it in place. Each arm includes a travel lock and cam lock. These keep the material attached to your RV.
Release the travel locks and turn the cam locks to allow it to roll down. Once your awning is fully extended, you’ll see the end caps. Don’t try to take them off—they are spring loaded. Instead, remove the cotter pins from each side of the end caps.
Next, find the tag bolts and remove them. Finally, remove the remaining screws attaching to the metal arms.
2. Assess The Damage
Now that your awning is down, spread it out and take the time to thoroughly examine it.
Feel different areas to check if the material is starting to thin out in other places too. Now is the time to determine how bad the damage really is.
Small tears are going to be barely visible. You might find minuscule holes or thinning fabric upon careful inspection.
The actual tear that prompted the repair is likely small (for example, no larger than a finger’s length).
Moderate rips and tears are a little more serious. The fabric is still intact, but there are one or more decent sized tears. The fabric isn’t hanging off, but the tears are still very noticeable. It’s a good idea to tackle these types of tears quickly before they get any worse.
Even from a casual inspection, it’s clear your awning is in terrible shape. You probably have a good view of the sky through gaping holes. The fabric may be hanging or tattered.
3. Repairing Minor Damage
If you only have small holes or tears, consider yourself lucky. You’ll be able to patch up the fabric and get it back on your camper quickly.
First, bring out a cleaning solution.
Use as directed and clean both sides as carefully as possible.
Of course, you could just clean the areas that are ripped. Be aware, however, that your awning might look strange if only certain patches are clean and the rest of it is dirty.
Don’t hurry through this—the area you’re repairing needs to be clean. If you rush, you could actually make existing tears worse.
Once the fabric is pristine and fully dry, it’s time to start fixing. Set your board underneath each rip and flatten the fabric.
Grab a tape to cover each rip completely. Take the time to flatten the tape to get rid of air pockets. Then, repeat the same process on the other side.
4. Fixing Moderate To Severe Tears
If your tears are serious, awning tape won’t do the job. You’ll have to use your replacement material for repair.
Begin by measuring each mid-sized to large tear. Write down the length and width of each, adding three inches to both numbers.
Don’t try patching the exact dimensions of the rip. There’s a good chance the patch won’t cover the entirety of the tear and it will progress anyway.
Measure out each patch on your replacement fabric. Then, use fabric scissors to cut them out. If you want more accuracy, you can use a rotary cutter.
You can either use waterproof glue, or sew each patch on.
Set your board up under the tear before you get started, and flatten the fabric. Draw the edges of the rip as close together as you can.
If you have chosen to go with glue, use as directed. Allow the glue time to dry before shifting it around or working on other areas.
When sewing, don’t forget to trim and tie off all loose threads. Otherwise, all your hard work might be in vain: the threads can unravel when you roll up the fabric again.
5. Reinstalling Your Repaired Awning
Pat yourself on the back—you’ve fixed all the damage.
All you have to do is reattach it to your RV, and you’re ready for your next trip.
To get your awning back where it belongs, you should have a helper with you. You’ll be performing all the same actions you did to take it down, but in reverse.
Ensure you have all your screws and bolts on hand. When reattaching your awning, take the time to be sure it fits correctly. If it isn’t set up properly, it increases the risk of new tears.
You also don’t want it to come crashing down all of a sudden. If something doesn’t align or screw in properly, don’t force it or ignore it.
While you’re doing all of this, remember to leave the end caps alone. There’s no reason to remove them unless you’re replacing the entire thing.
Preventing Future Tears
It isn’t possible to permanently shield your awning from getting torn. With age, it will eventually suffer some tearing.
But there are ways you can reduce the risk of that. These habits will also extend the lifespan of the fabric.
Don’t let snow or rain water accumulate on your awning, as this can cause it to stretch.
Overstretching any fabric isn’t good, particularly when it’s taut. It causes the fabric to become weaker and more likely to tear.
Try to keep it at an angle to prevent rain or snow accumulation.
On the same note, putting it away while it’s wet should be avoided at all costs. Wet fabric is prone to mildew and mold.
Protect From Bad Weather
Keep an eye on the weather forecast while you’re camping. If a storm is heading your way, roll up the shade beforehand.
Bad weather might hit while you’re out. You don’t want to come back from a grocery run to find a sopping wet, windblown awning.
So make it a habit to roll up your awning if you’re leaving camp. Unless someone who can roll it up for you is staying back at camp, it’s a necessary precaution.
Maintaining Your Camper Awning
Add your awning to your list of regular maintenance chores. While improper care isn’t always the cause of tears, proper care will still lower the chances of getting a torn trailer awning.
Your awning needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Mold and mildew aren’t just nasty, they’re also bad for the fabric.
You won’t have to take it down every time you clean it.
You can also use a product for long-term protection against UV light. Consider a silicone or other type of spray that works on vinyl awnings.
Check Your Awning
Get into the habit of examining your awning every once in a while. It will only take a maximum of 10 minutes of your time.
You should always do a thorough check of the awning before storing it.
It’s best to get any repairs done before storing your RV for the winter months.
If you see any small holes, rips or tears, you can deal with them early. Why wait for tears to get bigger and bigger?
As you can see, repairing a torn RV awning is easier than you think.
The most time-consuming part is going to be taking it down and putting it back up again.
Don’t let rips get worse by ignoring them or pretending they aren’t there. It is much more cost-effective to handle them by yourself before you end up needing a whole new awning.
And remember—you can always employ specialized repair services to do this job if you find it too tedious or out of your reach.
Have you tried any other techniques for awning repairs? Do you have any tips to add?
Please let us know in the comments. If this article helped you with your torn camper awning, share with other RV owners.