How to Install an RV Awning From Scratch

One of the best parts of RVing is enjoying the outdoors. However, a glaring summer sun or a light shower can keep you on the inside looking out—and probably looking at all those other campers lounging under the protection of their awnings.Luckily, just because your RV didn't come with an awning doesn't mean you can't add one yourself. This can sound like an intimidating project, but it's actually easier than you'd think. See for yourself—watch an installation demonstration below, or check out our step-by-step guide to installing an RV awning to get started.
Shop RV awnings or read on to learn:
  • What Parts Do I Need to Install an Awning?
  • How To Install an RV Awning from Scratch
RV Awning
RV Awning Kits vs Parts

What Parts Do I Need to Install an Awning?

Awning Kits vs. Separate PartsThe first step when installing an RV awning is to—well, have an awning to install (tip: it also helps if you have an RV). If you don't have an awning to install, you can either purchase an awning kit, which will come with most of the parts you need (minus an awning rail extrusion in most cases), or you can purchase the parts separately.In most cases, we recommend purchasing the awning kit to save yourself the trouble of piecing your setup together. However, you may want to buy the parts separately if you want a custom size or color. We offer awning kits in popular sizes and colors—16-ft., 18-ft., and 20-ft., with black or white fade canopies. If you wish to piece together a custom setup, our roller and fabric kits range in size from 10-ft. to 21-ft. wide, with 4 color options. NOTE: Make sure to check all dimensions for parts you purchase to ensure they will fit on your RV!
RV Awning Kit Parts
Parts included in our RV awning kits:
  • Outer arm
  • Inner arm
  • Pitch arm
  • Roller tube
  • Canopy
  • Wall-mounted bracket
Hand-crank models also include a crank wand.You will need to purchase an awning rail extrusion, sold separately. Check the product description for your kit to determine which part number you need.
RV Awning Drive Head
If you buy the parts individually, you will need:
Tip: Measuring for the Rail ExtrusionYour awning rail extrusion should equal the length of your awning (measured center of arm to center of arm), plus several additional inches. This is necessary in order to support the tension on the awning material. The length of rail needed varies by awning model. Check your product's description or manufacturer's instructions to determine the required length.As an example, many Solera awnings require 6 inches of rail extrusion on on each side of the awning (so 1 foot total). For instance, if your awning will be 14 feet long, you'll need a 15-foot rail extrusion.Our awning rails come in 8-foot sections, so you'll want to make sure you round up when ordering. In our example above, you would need two 8-foot awnings for your 15-foot extrusion. The rails could then be cut to size and fitted together in the center of the awning.

Manual vs. Electric/Powered Awnings

A big part of purchasing an awning kit or parts is deciding which type of awning you want to install. There are four main awning styles available, including pull-style (in which you pull a strap to open the awning), hand-crank (in which you rotate a rod to open the awning), hardwired (which have a motor and must be wired to the RV), and battery-powered (which have a motor and do not require hardwiring). So which should you choose? The answer depends on personal preference and budget.

Manual Awnings

If you go with a manual awning, we recommend going with a newer-style, hand-crank awning (rather than the pull-style type). These awnings open by means of a rod that hooks into the drive head and is rotated to extend/retract the awning.Pros: Manual awnings are easy to adjust and are typically a bit sturdier than their powered counterparts. They also work no matter what—you don't need a power source to open or close them. These awnings are also more economical, so if you're fixing up your RV on a budget, hand-crank manual models are a great choice.Cons: Manual awnings are not as convenient and easy to open as powered awnings. However, with new advancements in RV awning design, manual awnings have become much easier to use (for instance, with hand-crank operation).
RV Manual Awnings
Featured: A pull-strap manual awning (left) and hand-crank awning (right).
Powered AwningsPowered awnings can either be hardwired in or battery-operated (the battery-operated models are easier to install).Pros: Convenience! Powered awnings can be extended or retracted with the push of a button. Some even retract automatically once they detect high winds, so you don't have to scramble to retract it when you feel the breeze kick up.Cons: The convenience of a powered awning only applies if you have power (powered awnings come with a manual override in case of a power outage, but that really defeats the purpose). Powered awnings typically aren't as sturdy in strong winds. They also cost more, though sometimes this price gap is relatively small (in many cases less than $200) for what you are already paying for an awning. Powered awnings can also be harder to install, though battery-powered models eliminate the need for hardwiring.
Battery-Powered RV Awning
Featured: A battery-operated awning.
RV Manual Awnings vs Powered Awnings

How To Install an RV Awning from Scratch

Watch a quick video demonstration on installing an RV awning, or go step by step through our guide below.NOTE: The following installation was completed using the Solera 14' Awning Roller and Fabric # LCV000223179, the Universal Awning Conversion Kit for Solera Hybrid Awnings # LC434726, and the Solera Rail Extrusion # LC281928. Solera is one of the most popular RV awning brands. Although the general process will be the same for most awnings, installation procedure varies by manufacturer and model. Always check any manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper installation.
Install an RV awning (video demonstration)
Butyl Tape
Step 1Place butyl tape # CAM25013 along the back of your extrusion rail. The butyl tape will help keep out moisture and prevent leaks.
Screw in Awning Rail
Step 2With a helper, hold the extrusion rail against the RV in the location of your choice. Make sure the ends are lined up evenly. Secure with a self-tapping screw on both sides and in the center. Double check that the rail is level, then add screws to the remaining holes in the rail.If your awning requires wall brackets, you can install those now as well. Mark the bracket locations as specified in the manufacturer's instructions, then secure the bracket with screws.NOTE: If placing an awning over your door, make sure you achieve the proper amount of clearance, as indicated by the manufacturer's instructions. Manual awnings typically require a greater clearance than powered awnings. Also be sure your arm and rail placement will not interfere with vents, lights, speakers, etc.As always, be sure to check the instructions for your specific model.
RV Awning Roller and Arms
Step 3Attach the roller to the arms by sliding the post at the top of the arm (in the head assembly) into the hole drilled into the roller.Make sure the holes in the roller and arm are aligned, then secure with screws. Do the same on both sides.
RV Awning Feed Fabric Into Track
Step 4You'll want a few helpers for this step! Have two people hold the awning against the side of the RV and slowly walk it down while a third person feeds the fabric into the rail track. Make sure to keep the arms parallel to one another so you don't damage the unit.Pro-tip: If necessary, use a screwdriver or other tool to pry open the awning extrusion track on one side. Be careful not to cut yourself or snag the awning—the edges of the track will be sharp (you can file the edges down if needed). Use a silicone lubricant in the track to ease installation.
Secure Awning Arms to RV
Step 5Make sure the arms are level. Put one screw into each side to hold things in place. Then add another screw on each side to further secure the awning.
RV Lower Arm Mounting Holes
Step 6Extend your awning. With the awning extended, you can install the rest of your hardware on the awning arms. Secure the arms' lower mounting holes to the RV with screws, then do the same for the middle holes. Use butyl tape or silicone sealant to prevent leaks.Or, if your model uses wall brackets, lock each foot in the bracket you previously installed.
RV Awning - Secure Top of Arms
Step 7Use screws to secure all available mounting locations at the top of the arms.
RV Awning - Secure Fabric in Place
Step 8Roll the fabric back up to ensure there are no wrinkles and that the fabric doesn't bunch up. Once you are satisfied, use a self-tapping screw at the ends of the track channel where the fabric lies in place. This will prevent the fabric moving on the track and bunching up at one end or the other.
Fifth Wheel with Awning
Step 9Enjoy your new awning!
Still have questions?Give our experts a call at 800-298-8924, or contact us online. We're happy to assist any way we can!
Save or Share This Idea:
Related ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 1/4/19

Questions and Comments about this Article



Departments

Towing

Sports and Recreation

Trailer Parts

Vehicle

What our customers are saying:

"wow! very fast shipping! thank you very much for being so prompt with my order. ~Lili~"

Lili
Gaithersburg, MD

Popular Vehicles