Should RV Awnings Be Tied Down

RV with tied down awnings

An RV is effectively a home on wheels. And just like your house, it has many integral parts to keep it functioning – the structure, the plumbing, the drivetrain, and much more. These are the crucial things that keep it running and in shape. Without these, the RV loses functionality. 

Then, some things boost comfort. Let’s name some: comfortable mattresses, kitchen appliances, a TV, and so on. The awning is another one of those things. 

RV owners like to take as much of their home with them as possible when they go on an outdoor adventure. So it’s no wonder that the comfort in their vehicle is just as important to them as the engine specs. And an awning is a great way to improve the luxury of your motorhome. But should RV awnings be tied down or not_

Your RV awnings don’t really have to be tied down. However, tying the awnings down can help to keep them in place in light winds. Some manufacturers design RV awnings with flex built into the arms while electrical awnings can quickly be retracted in high wind.

Read on to learn more about what exactly is an awning, how does it work, how to maintain and secure it.

Table of Contents

An Awning Improves and Expands Your RV Living Area

An RV awning is a canopy that you can extend to the side of your RV, creating an outside shelter against the rain and the sun. They also enlarge the living area of your camping vehicle and give you a protected open space to relax and take in the fresh air. 

The benefits of an RV awning

An RV awning provides more room and boosts your comfort while camping in RV, but it does more. But you need to pick the right one to maximize the benefits. Some of the advantages are:

  • · Keeps you cooler in the sun
  • · Protects your camper and the stuff inside from direct sunlight and UV-related fading
  • · Shelters the area outside the camper from the rain

RV awnings, naturally, come in many different shapes and sizes. They vary in material and the way they attach to the vehicle. The most common materials are acrylic and vinyl, but there are other ones to consider, too. 

Types of RV Awnings, By Material…

Vynil is one of the two most common materials for awnings. It is tough, doesn’t fade quickly, and is scratch-resistant. It deflects ultraviolet rays. As it is also waterproof, it serves well both as a shelter against the sun and the rain. On the downside, dirt and dust tend to stick to them and provide nutrients for mold and mildew.

Acrylic is the other most frequent material in awning manufacture. It is highly breathable, allowing good air circulation. An acrylic awning works in sun, rain, wind, snow, or ice. However, it isn’t waterproof – it repels water, so it will eventually allow some through. Touching an acrylic awning will compromise its ability to repel water, dust, and dirt, so you need to handle it as instructed. This type of awning is also more prone to flapping in the wind than the other usual type.

… And by Deployment Method

Fixed awning permanently sits on the door-side of an RV. Extended, it shelters the side of the motorhome and the area underneath from the sun and the rain. It’s an easy, practical solution, but it also isn’t flexible in terms of positioning.

Slide-out awning rolls out easily when you need it. Mostly you do it by hand, but if you want luxury – get a power-awning. This type of awning is maintenance-friendly. Typically made of canvas, it is also usually affordable. It may, however, be susceptible to water pooling in heavy rain.

Patio or sheltered awning can effectively unfold to make an additional room alongside your RV. It can cover only the top, but you can deploy it down the sides, as well. They come with a door on one side and usually with transparent-plastic windows that open and close. This awning provides complete privacy. When you walk out of your camper, you arrive in a fully enclosed room.

So, a patio awning can serve as a bedroom, living room, kitchen, or whatever else you need it to be. It’s especially advantageous in poor weather, which would otherwise force you into the cramped quarters of the RV. On the flip side, it is bulky and may be challenging for beginners to set up. 

Powered or automatic awning is the comfort solution. It deploys and retracts per touch of a button. It, however, comes with a price tag. The automatic awning is the most expensive of them all – even before the added cost of the installation. You should leave that, as well as the regular maintenance, to a professional service. 

Cleaning and Care

It’s essential to understand the differences between the two main types of fabrics. Each requires specific care. That also applies to awnings made of some other material. Proper care safeguards your shelter from wear and damage.

  • Acrylic

Acrylic is breathable, which means it allows air to circulate through it. Hence, acrylic awnings dry faster than vinyl ones. If you have that type, you should hose it off regularly to wash out the dirt particles before they embed into the fibers. But do not scrub it because that may cause damage.

  • Vinyl

Alone, vinyl isn’t conducive to mildew and mold infestation. But dirt and dust particles that tend to stick to it are, particularly in humidity. Regular cleaning will help, but also inspect your vinyl awning regularly for stains. If you see one, it could be some fungus, and a commercial cleaner should do the trick of removing it. Spray on, let it sit, then rinse thoroughly. You may have to scrub stubborn stains off but never with something abrasive. When done, allow the material to dry before storing it.

Everything wears and tears, and so will your awning, whatever kind it may be. Inspect the fabric regularly and fix any damage before it expands. If you’re handling the awning railing, be careful if it’s the kind with a spring – a recoil may be dangerous. 

Parked white RV

Awning Tips

  • Washing it

Usually, it’s a simple hosing. You may wash both acrylic and vinyl awnings that way. If stubborn spots defy the hose-down, wash gently with a soap specialized for RV awnings. Again: use a soft brush and be gentle. Scrubbing hard will damage the waterproof coating and the fabric.

  • Tilt it in the rain

If your awning is up under rain, tilt it since there’s no point leaving it out while there’s heavy raining present. That will prevent the pooling of water and sagging of the fabric. Water is heavy, and too much of it could damage the construction holding it. 

  • Dry it before stowing it

Rolling a damp awning up will benefit fungus. Runaway mold will stink, cause dry rot and, eventually, ruin the fabric. It’s easy and fast, allowing the awning to dry once the rain peters off and the sun appears. If you have to put the awning away while it still rains, make sure to open it and dry it as soon as possible.

  • Sounds funny, but still: keep it out of sunlight

Of course, the awning is there to shield you and your equipment from the harmful part of the sun’s radiation. But when you’re not around and if it isn’t necessary, roll it up until you return. Ultraviolet radiation will not only fade the color of the awning fabric. It will, over time, actually damage its very structure and render it unusable. So, the less time in direct sunlight, the longer the awning will last.

  • Use De-Flapper Clamps

Specialized clamps will limit the whipping and the flapping of an awning in the wind. The clamps will reduce the noise and, more importantly, the risk of damage to the awning construction and fabric.

Tie Your Awning Down and Lock It

You can stabilize and secure your RV awning, whichever kind it may be, with a simple, inexpensive tie-down. It is a handful of stakes or pegs and tension cords. It takes just a few minutes to hammer the pegs into the ground and anchor the awning. Of course, if you’re sure there is no storm rolling your way behind the mountain, it isn’t necessary. But if it does come, the tie-down could mean having the awning after it blows over instead of not having it.

There is an exception, though. Advanced automated awnings have a wind sensor and will roll the awning up at a certain wind speed. Tying it could damage it if the automatic retraction kicks in.

  • Use an awning lock while driving

The lock is an additional simple measure against potentially significant damage. It will prevent a rolled-up awning from unrolling while the RV is on the road.

The Pros and Cons of Tying Your Awning Down

Now that we’ve explained the different methods of tying RV awnings, let’s see what are the pros and cons of doing it.

The pros of tying RV awnings:

  • Prevents your awning from being damaged by high winds.
  • Adds an extra level of security and gives you more peace of mind.
  • Both your RV and your awning can be damaged by sudden winds in case you don’t tie it down

The cons of tying RV awnings:

  • Awnings don’t help against strong winds or storms.
  • In sudden winds, the awning may be ripped, potentially causing damage to your RV
  • If you have an electric awning and forget to detach the ends of the awning, it could be destroyed when retracted automatically. 
  • If tied down too tight, awnings may be easy to rupture when under little pressure.
  • Tying down an awning may cause damage in soft soil (i.e., sand) as the wind can rip out the anchor that ties down the awning.
  • You need to untie the awning every time you want to leave your RV.

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