You can’t always predict the weather, especially when you’re travelling around the UK. You can experience blistering sunshine and torrential downpours all in the same day, making an awning an essential accessory for any motorhome trip.
Awnings provide some cover to sit outside your motorhome, protecting you from the extremities of weather while increasing your living space considerably.
But if it’s going to protect you from the elements, you need to look after your awning to ensure that it can keep on doing its job for many years.
While awnings can be covered on motorhome insurance, you don’t want to have to make a claim unnecessarily, so it pays to show it a bit of TLC.
Sure, every now and again you might need to repair a bit of damage on your awning, with the right care and attention this shouldn’t cost you much at all.
In this article, we’ll run through the golden rules of awning care which, if followed, will help prolong its life.
Types of awning
How you go about caring for your awning depends on what type of awning you have. With such a variety of motorhomes on the market, awning tend to vary a fair bit, too – but they usually fall into one of two categories:
A drive-away awning attaches to your motorhome’s awning rail but can be easily removed should you want to go out for the day – hence the name.
It’s effectively a tent you attach to the side of your motorhome and they are even erected in the same way.
A drive-away awning can double your available living space while providing a nice bit of privacy for when you want to block out the rest of the campsite.
If you put down a groundsheet, it will also help keep the mud out of your motorhome – just make sure you take your boots off at the door!
Drive-away awnings come in different sizes depending on the amount of space you require. Just remember, the bigger the awning, the longer it might take you to assemble and dismantle.
If you’re not an expert at putting up a tent, you might want to opt for a canopy awning instead, which usually just requires a couple of integral poles to be erected to form legs for stability.
You can fix a canopy awning temporarily or permanently to the side of your van.
Permanent ones unfurl like a roller blind – at the top end of the market you will find electric canopy awnings, which can provide the cover you need at the flick of a switch.
However, fitting a permanent canopy awning is normally a specialist job, so it’s worth speaking to your motorhome dealer about your options.
Pitching your awning
Understandably, you want to get your awning up as quickly as possible; especially if it’s raining, but also to have more time to explore the local area. But rushing the construction of your awning will make accidental damage more likely.
Poles, for example, can bend, fracture or break if forced when you thread them into their sleeves. One expert tip is to use a little silicone furniture polish to help them slide but not oil or grease as they can damage the awning fabric.
So, take your time and don’t rush things. Sure, you might spend an extra 15 minutes during pitching but that’ll be time saved on repairs.
Cleaning your awning
Arguably the most important part of keeping your awning in good working order is ensuring it’s cleaned regularly.
Of course, we’re not going to teach you how to suck eggs, but there are certain things you need to bear in mind when it comes to cleaning your awning.
Unfortunately, putting it in the washing machine is probably not the best idea for the sake of both the awning and your white good.
Instead, clean your awning while it’s still upright. Here’s a five-point cleaning ritual to follow:
- Brush off any dirt – you might have to use a piece of plastic for any stains that have been burnt on by the sun (a credit card is as good a tool as any).
- Clean the fabric with a cleaning fluid, ensuring that the detergent is suitable for the fabric.
- For tough stains that don’t come off on the initial clean, use some highly diluted bleach to remove them.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
- Allow to dry naturally before reapplying an appropriate reproofing liquid.
Storing your awning
Once your awning is clean and dry, it’s time for storage. The better job you do of packing it away, the better it will perform the next time you use it.
Rather than just stuffing your awning into a bag, take the time to inspect all of its components: check the fabric, poles, pegs, guy lines, seams, zips, and windows/vents for any damage. If you haven’t got the time to repair any damage there and then – even a temporary repair is better than nothing – make a note of it so that you can take a proper look when you get back home.
With your awning neatly packed and all tears repaired, store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Storing it where there’s moisture could allow mildew or mould to set in.
Look after your awning rail
It’s not just your awning that you need to look after – keep an eye on the awning rail, too, ensuring no sharp edges or projections form that could tear the awning’s fabric.
What does motorhome insurance cover?
While you’re in the business of protecting your motorhome, it’s a good time to check you’re getting the best motorhome insurance available.
Motorhome insurance can come with many different benefits to help you enjoy your travels to the fullest. These can include:
- Unlimited cover across all the countries that are part of the European Union.
- Cover for camping personal effects for up to £3,000.
- Up to six months to complete a self-restoration.
- Cover for motorhomes with a value up to £150,000.
- Unlimited mileage cover.
- Introductory NCB allowed.
- Consideration of all claims and convictions.
Note that these features and benefits are subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria. Get in touch with us to see which features apply to your motorhome.