All About Awnings

By joanne lemna | September 5, 2017

Awnings are pretty much a necessity if you spend any time at your trailer when you’re camping. It’s great to have some shade to enjoy the afternoon in or a place to take cover if it’s raining. It extends the living space of your trailer too especially if you go with a full blown “added room” concept. You can also get awnings for your slideouts windows and doors to help protect them from the elements.

Retractable vs. Standard

Retractable awnings fold up into the RV easily and are good for frequent use or if you move around with your RV. These are generally fabric and can be automatic or manual.

A standard awning is usually made of hard plastic or fiberglass.These are quite stable and durable. They also offer far better protection from the elements. They cannot easily be removed however.

Automatic vs. Manual

Automatic awnings are growing in popularity and have improved drastically over the year. Their biggest benefit is that they’ll open close and adjust with a push of the button. Powered by a 12V battery you don’t need a hook up. Some models even have auto-retraction that will pull the awning in if it gets windy. The cons? These can get expensive some models don’t allow you to control the pitch and you can’t tie them down if they have auto-retraction technology.

Manual awnings are the ones most commonly seen. They’re cheaper adjustable and can last longer as there isn’t really anything to wear out. They work better with enclosed patio areas as well. However you do need to tie adjust and tighten them which can be difficult. They also must be put away when it gets windy.

What Size?

Awnings come in a variety of sizes to fit the length of your RV. Usually they’re a third to half of the dimensions of your trailer or motorhome. As for width that’s up to you. A standard awning is 8 feet but they can be customizable. Keep in mind that the longer it is the more likely it will be caught by wind. It may also be an issue height-wise when it comes to pitch.

Smaller awnings are easier to pack up and require less support. They will also be less expensive. However the smaller it is the less protection it will provide.

Pitch Adjustment

Manual awnings will have some kind of pitch adjustment and many electric models will as well. How much you want to adjust it will depend on what you’re using it for and what kind of campsites you’ll be staying in.


Stationary awnings come in plastic and fiberglass. You will have a selection of colours available.

Fabric awnings are usually vinyl or acrylic. Vinyl can be washed with soap and water whereas acrylic can only be washed with water making it harder to get clean.

Generally the more expensive the fabric the more durable it will be. Weaker material is often cheaper but you’ll have to replace it more frequently.

Don’t forget to consider added treatments that provide weather protection. Depending on their cost they can be worth the investment to protect your fabric.

Special Features

Some awnings have light fixtures and storage added on. You can also get screens and build an enclosed patio with your awning as a roof. There really are many different options. Knowing what you want to use your awning for will help you decide on which awning to purchase.

Awnings are the most common RV insurance claim!

Awnings are easily broken or damaged by wind and rain. They can tear or be wrenched around in transit as well. Buy quality fabric and ensure everything is installed properly. Don’t forget to stow your awning when you’re not at the campsite or at the very least invest in stakes and rope to stabilize the awning if the weather gets windy. You can also get awning repair tape for a quick fix and to prevent further damage.