Are RV Awnings Waterproof? (plus Durability and Cleaning)


rv awnings waterproof lg

RV awnings offer a great way to enjoy life outside your RV in the hot sun or rain. And many of us enjoy sitting under them in the rain. But are RV awnings waterproof?

Here’s what I discovered:

RV awnings made from vinyl are waterproof, while those made from acrylic or fabric are not waterproof. But those that are not 100% waterproof will still be water-resistant. Most awnings are either made with vinyl or acrylic. 

There are a lot more interesting facts to know. So, read on.

In this article, we’ll explore whether it’s okay to leave your awning out in the rain and how long an awning lasts. But, we‘ll also check out how to keep your awning from molding.

Let’s dive right in.

Can I leave my RV awning out in the rain?

It is OK to leave an RV awning out in the rain. But if the rain comes with heavy wind or thunderstorms, it is better to retract it to avoid damaging the awning. Heavy winds can bend the metal frame or blow tree branches onto the awning which can tear the fabric.

The severity of the weather is the key factor to consider.

The fact is that it’s hard to predict the effect of rain on your awning, as this is determined by many factors.

So, if you sense that the rain will be accompanied by heavy wind, it’s better to remove the awning and keep it inside the RV.

The time of the day also matters.

During the day, you can simply leave it out if it’s not stormy or super-windy. But if it starts raining when you’re about to retire for the night, it’s best to simply roll the awning up, as it’s hard to know whether the rain would eventually become heavy while you’re sleeping.

There are cases where heavy rain accompanied by wind rips awnings apart. The last thing you want to wake up to is a ripped awning!

Also, in cases of snow, it’s best to keep it retracted, as snow can put too much weight on the surface of the awning and possibly damage the metal frame.

Say you’re a new RVer and are wondering whether RV awnings are covered by insurance.

Check out a recent article where I looked at what RV insurance actually covers and what sort of extended warranties are needed. But I also looked at whether Progressive insurance cover awnings.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How long does an RV awning last?

On average, the fabric, vinyl, or acrylic on an awning will last 5 years, whereas the frame and motor can last up to 15 years.

Because the frames are often made of aluminum, they usually last a long time.

Some awning manufacturers offer a 10-year warranty. So, if you take good care of your awning, you shouldn’t have any worries for years.

The fabric is obviously not as durable as the frames.

Most RVs have a high-quality awning to start with. Just ensure it is cleaned regularly and rolled up when not in use. Also, roll it up when there’s the likelihood of heavy rain or a storm. Treating it like that, many RVers find their awnings last as long as the overall RV.

Of course, if you start experiencing things like it not retracting as smoothly as it should, make sure to get it fixed as soon as possible.

If you plan to live in an RV full-time, there’s a lot to learn.

Luckily, in a recent article, I shared the top 25 pros and cons of living full time in an RV. I even got into the 1 thing that can turn the dream into a nightmare for most full-timers.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do I keep my RV awning from molding?

To keep an RV awning from molding, avoid retracting it when wet. But it is also ideal to occasionally rinse it off with a mix of water and white vinegar or a very small amount of bleach.

If leaving the campground after a rainstorm is necessary, plan to unroll it as soon as possible to allow it to dry. Do not leave it rolled up wet for days at a time.

Mold loves dark and damp environments.

When it’s time to clean it, you want to make sure it’s done right. How you clean an awning made of vinyl is different than how you’d clean one made with acrylic.

Acrylic awnings, because of the nature of the fabric, are more susceptible to mold.

So, you want to let the solution you’re using stay on the awning for a while so that it can penetrate it before you start brushing it.

So, clean the awning regularly, ensure it’s dry before rolling it up, and you’ll be fine.

Can I use bleach on my RV awning?

Small amounts of bleach mixed with water can be used to clean most types of RV awnings. Just ensure to not use more than 1/4 cup per 5-gallon bucket, and ensure the awning gets thoroughly rinsed afterward.

A Swiffer is a great way to clean it due to its long handle (not the Swiffer Wet-Jet solution; just use it for the length.)

And if you’re willing to scrub a little on a ladder, Magic Eraser is great for getting rid of stains and streaks. But as for bleach, ultimately, it depends on what the awning manufacturer advises.

Some manufacturers say to go ahead and use bleach while cleaning an awning, while others discourage its use. So be sure to check the manual or ask them at the store you bought it.

To bleach or not to bleach.

This is an issue on which RVers differ. There are RVers who suggest that it’s okay to use bleach on awnings made with canvas and not on those made with other fabrics.

Some say it’s okay to use it on acrylic; others say it’s not. Those who say it’s okay to use bleach advise that it must be mixed with water and not used on the awning in its undiluted form.

It’s believed that bleach would gradually weaken and degrade the threads in an awning made with vinyl. Bleach, as you know, is a strong chemical. So, you want to be careful that you don’t spill it on any of your clothes while using it to clean your awning.

Based on my research, many RVers use bleach or solutions that contain bleach on their awnings. But it’s best to go by the awning manual or the manufacturer’s website.

How much does it cost to replace an RV awning?

On average, most RV awning fabric can be replaced for between $150-$200. To replace an entire awning, including the metal frame, the price will range from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on size and whether it is motorized or hand-crank.

Like most things in life, the cost of replacing an awning depends on many factors.

Are you replacing the fabric alone or the whole awning? Also, know that small holes in the fabric or vinyl can usually be patched.

And a metal frame that is bent can sometimes be bent back into shape.

And there are tons of YouTube videos on replacing the fabric on a variety of RV awning models. So, once you get the fabric, chances are, you can do that yourself. But for the entire awning, I would personally leave that to the pros.

Having an extended warranty in place helps.

In a recent article, I took a deep dive into RV extended warranties. I revealed the type of warranties available, and I looked at whether they’re transferable. But I also shared the best extended warranties available and how to know which ones to avoid.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

In the article, we explored whether it’s okay to leave your awning out in the rain and how long an awning lasts.

But, we also checked out how to keep your awning from molding. Then, we considered if it’s okay to use bleach while cleaning it.

Lastly, we looked at how much it costs to replace an RV awning.


Image by Koun G from Pixabay and Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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