When choosing an awning, there are many options to choose from. Do you want a full-size or a porch?... Lightweight nylon or a more robust acrylic?... Awning prices range from a few hundred pounds to thousands of pounds, so look at the features of each awning and really think about how you will be using the space.
Remember, don't expect a nylon awning with fibreglass poles to stay up all year round. If you are permanently pitched, or pitched for long periods you will need to spend the extra money on a strong steel frame and a heavier canvas.
Measuring up for an Awning
If you want to buy a full size awning, you will have to measure your awning to channel to get the right size. (Porch awnings tend to be more universal and will fit most caravans, though it is worth measuring the height at the top of your awning rail. Also, note the position of the door and windows on your caravan when deciding on a porch awning.)
To obtain your awning channel measurement (or 'A' measurement as it is often referred to) follow these guidelines:
o Get a long piece of string (about 12 metres or more)
o Thread the string along the awning rail (like the red dotted line in the diagram). It is very important that you measure from the ground.
o Take the measurement of your string in centimetres
Erecting an Awning
These are some general guidelines for setting up an awning. Each awning is different, so always refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
o Before erecting your awning at the beginning of the season, spray some awning rail lubricant (or any silicone based lubricant, even furniture polish will do) along the awning channel. This will make it a lot easier to slide your awning onto the caravan.
o Lay out the poles neatly and nearby (it really pays to be organised)
o Take the canvas, making sure you don't have it inside out. Check that all the panels are zipped in place. Start feeding the awning through the channel - this is much easier with two people. One can feed and the other can pull.
o Starting with the centre upright poles, put them together and fit them inside the awning. Then do the same with the remaining front uprights.
o Fit the centre roof poles together, attach it to the centre upright and tension (not too much). Then fit the remaining roof poles and tension these.
o Now, fully tension the leg poles to the correct height. You may need to adjust the tensioning on the roof poles again.
o Peg down the corners of the awning first, then peg down the rest of the pegging points.
o Fit your storm straps if you have them.
o Fit the wheel arch cover if you have one.
Looking after your Awning
It is important to take good care of your awning. There are some simple tips to help you look after your awning well.
o Buy storm straps. These are invaluable in rough weather conditions. Most awning manufacturers produce their own types of storm straps specifically for their own awning models. However, there are plenty of universal storm straps available, such as Blue Diamond's Tie Down Kit.
o Always make sure that, when packing up your awning, the canvas is dry. If mould or mildew takes hold of your awning, it can literally eat away at the fabric.
o If you need to clean your awning, use a non-detergent cleaner like Nikwax Tech wash. Detergent will destroy the waterproofing on your awning canvas. If a cleaner is not available, a sponge and hot water will do a good job.
o If you have a nylon awning, use a UV blocker such as Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarproof to get the longest life possible out of the fabric.
o Don't use a pressure washer to wash your awning. This can damage the seams
If you look after your awning well, you will have many years of enjoyment out of it.