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 whole new awning?
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 awning.
With a couple of supplies and some effort, you can fix the problem yourself.
You’re going to learn how to repair your camper awning from the comfort of home (or camp). 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.
Damage to your awning might not be due to neglect on your part. A torn awning isn’t always the result of poor maintenance or misuse.
The majority of awnings these days are made of either vinyl or acrylic.
This is due to the durability of these fabrics. Cloth or canvas awnings, on the other hand, cannot survive the rigors of camping and are the most easily torn.
Regardless of material, no awnings are invincible and many factors can lead to their damage.
Your awnings wear out, just like everything in else in your camper.
Repeated use can progressively thin the fabric. Regular exposure to sunlight over time can also cause thinning.
Even if you take special care to maintain your awning, age is a big factor. Older awnings 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 your camper awning.
Sometimes it’s not possible to roll up your awning before the storm hits.
Hail, blizzards, and strong winds can all cause tears in your camper awning.
While they don’t require intense maintenance, you do need to take some care with camper awnings.
For example, bad habits such as packing it up wet, can significantly shorten your awning’s lifespan.
Driving with broken awning can be dangerous for you and other drivers.
What You Will Need
Before you rush to take down the awning and get started on the repair, slow down.
You’ll need some supplies beforehand, to fix the tear.
Unlike many other DIY repairs, fixing your camper awning 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 what material your awning is made of. This will help you choose the right replacement material.
Contact your camper’s manufacturer directly, if possible. They may be able to sell you the same color or design of awning fabric to keep things looking good.
Other supplies you’re likely to need (depending on how severe the 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.
1. Remove Your Camper Awning
The first thing you’ll have to do is remove your awning.
You won’t be able to fix the awning while it is still attached to your camper. Removing it will also allow you to check the extent of the tear.
If the awning isn’t removable by just zipping off, your owner’s manual may include instructions for awning removal. If there aren’t any, that’s fine. Getting the awning off your camper isn’t difficult.
Your awning will not just drop off your camper all at once if you remove it properly. It still pays to have another person helping you, to avoid accidents or injury.
Camper awnings are almost always installed in more or less the same way. Two metal arms on either side of your awning hold it in place. Each arm includes a travel lock and cam lock. These keep your awning attached to your camper.
Release the travel locks and turn the cam locks to allow the awning 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 awning’s tag bolts and remove them. Finally, remove the remaining screws attaching your awning 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 to your awning really is.
Minor rips 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 awning fabric is still intact, but there are one or more decent sized tears.
Your awning’s fabric isn’t hanging off, but the tears are still very noticeable. It’s a good idea to tackle these types of tear quickly, before they get 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 your awning and get it back on your camper quickly.
First, bring out the awning cleaning solution.
Use as directed and clean both sides of your awning 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 your awning is pristine and fully dry, it’s time to start fixing. Set your board underneath each rip and flatten the fabric.
Grab your awning 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 of your awning.
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 awning 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 your awning 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 your awning is rolled up again.
5. Reinstalling Your Repaired Awning
Pat yourself on the back—now your torn awning is fixed.
All you have to do is reattach it to your camper, 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. If you have rotated your awning so many times you’re not sure which end is which, check it’s in the correct position before you start.
When reattaching your awning, take the time to be sure it fits correctly. If your awning isn’t set up properly, it increases the risk of new tears.
You also don’t want your awning 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 awning.
Preventing Future Tears
It isn’t possible to permanently shield your awning from getting torn.
With age, your awning will eventually suffer some tearing.
But there are ways you can reduce the risk of your awning getting torn. These habits will also extend the lifespan of your awning.
Don’t let snow or rainwater accumulate on your awning, as this can cause it to stretch.
Overstretching any fabric isn’t good, particularly when it’s a taut awning. It causes the fabric to become weaker and more likely to tear.
Try to keep your awning at an angle, to prevent it from catching and holding rain or snow.
On the same note, putting your awning 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 awning before it arrives.
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 camper maintenance chores. While improper care isn’t always the cause of tears, proper care will still lower the chances of getting a torn camper awning.
Your awning needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Mold and mildew aren’t just nasty, they’re also bad for awning fabric.
You won’t have to take your awning down every time you clean it.
You can also use a product for long-term protection against UV light. Consider 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 camper 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 camper 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.
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 camper owners.