If you’re an RV owner, adding an rv awning can provide some great benefits. An awning creates shade and protection from rain, and also allows you to extend your living space outdoors. In this comprehensive DIY guide, I’ll walk through the complete process of installing an awning on your recreational vehicle.
About RV Awnings
RV awnings come in two main types – manual and electric. Manual awnings have arms that allow you to crank the awning open and adjust the pitch by hand. Electric awnings make opening and tilting the awning as simple as pressing a button.
Depending on your RV type and personal preferences, you can choose either a vinyl awning or an acrylic awning. Vinyl awnings are less expensive, while acrylic fabrics provide better shade.
No matter which type you select, installing an RV awning yourself can save money on labor costs. With proper materials, tools and adequate assistance, DIY installation is totally feasible.
In this guide, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions to successfully mount and assemble an awning on your recreational vehicle. Let’s get started!
Gather the Necessary Awning Parts and Tools
Installing an RV awning requires several key components. Having all the right parts on hand will make the job go smoothly.
The awning rail is an extruded aluminum or plastic channel that mounts to your RV’s exterior sidewall or roofline. It provides the foundation for mounting the awning assembly.
- Available in different lengths
- Attaches with screws drilled into the RV
- Allows the awning fabric to slide in and out smoothly
The roller tube is the horizontal bar that houses the awning fabric and allows it to roll up.
- Manual or electric operation
- Attaches to the outer and inner awning arms
- Provides support for the fabric
The outer arm, inner arm, and pitch arm connect the roller tube to the RV.
- Outer arm mounts to roller tube
- Inner arm secures to coach bracket
- Pitch arm sets awning tilt angle
- Manual arms have adjustable joints
The fabric attaches to the roller tube and extends outward when unrolled.
- Vinyl or acrylic
- Available in custom sizes
- Protects from sun, rain, and weather
Brackets provide attachment points for the arms. The coach bracket mounts the inner arm to the RV wall.
Nuts, bolts, screws, and cotter pins are needed to assemble and mount the parts.
To complete the installation, you’ll need:
- Drill with various drill bits
- Wrenches and socket set
- Ladder for roof access
- Level to ensure parts mount evenly
Prepare the Installation Surface
Proper surface prep ensures the awning rail mounts securely.
- Clean the roofline mounting area
- Remove any dirt, debris, old caulk or sealant
- Apply butyl sealant tape to the back of the rail
- Creates a watertight seal between the rail and RV roof
- Use shims if needed for uneven areas
- Ensure surface is smooth and level
Mount the Awning Rail
With surface prepped, it’s time to mount the awning rail.
- Position the rail at the desired roofline location
- Consider height and proximity to doors and windows
- Use self-tapping screws to secure the rail
- May need to pre-drill holes
- Space screws evenly over full length of rail
- Verify rail is completely level
- Adjust if necessary
- Apply silicone lubricant inside the rail cavity
- Allows the awning fabric to slide smoothly
Assemble the Awning
Before mounting the awning, assemble the components.
- Attach the roller tube to the outer and inner arms
- Use provided hardware and cotter pins
- Attach the pitch arm to the mounting bracket
- This sets the awning pitch angle
- Attach the inner arm to the coach bracket
- And the outer arm to the roller tube
Lift and Mount the Awning
Now the fully assembled awning can be mounted.
- Have 2-3 helpers to hold the weight
- Lift the awning assembly against the RV exterior
- Position the arms evenly under the rail extrusion
- Carefully slide the fabric into the rail as you walk the awning along the RV
- Take care not to snag or tear the fabric
- Secure the outer arm to the RV sidewall
- And the inner arm to the coach bracket
Finish Up with Final Adjustments
With the awning mounted, complete the installation.
- Fully extend the awning and make final adjustments
- Ensure the canopy is taut and even
- Use polycord screws to secure the fabric edges
- Prevents shifting inside the awning rail
- Test the awning operation multiple times
- Retract and extend to confirm smooth function
- Make any additional needed adjustments
Installing an RV awning takes some work, but armed with the right materials and information you can do it yourself. This step-by-step guide covers the complete installation process and will help ensure awning success. Follow the instructions and soon you’ll be enjoying your recreational vehicle’s new shade and weather protection.