If you are fortunate enough to own an RV with one or several slide-out rooms, then you surely enjoy the benefits of having a lot of extra space in comparison to conventional RVs. However, because of the complicated slide-out mechanism, it also pulls dirt and debris from the outside into the RV’s living space.
This usually happens whenever the slide-outs are retracted. To prevent this kind of problem, you need to study how to install RV slide-out awning. The great thing about slide-out awnings, aside from keeping dirt and debris out, is that they are also easy to install. You just need a couple of basic tools and a couple of hours of your free time.
Some Parts that you will Need
The components that come with your RV slide-out awning will largely depend on the maker of your choosing, but the following are the basic instructions that you usually need to install most of the awnings that are available these days. Furthermore, they usually do not differ that much in terms of design. Here are the basic components that you will need:
- The awning rail
- The roller assembly with awning fabric
- Tall and short mounting brackets (2 of each)
- Striker plate
- Pin tab
- 12 Tek screws
- 2 pan-head drive screws for attaching the striker attachment
- 2 pan-head drive screws for attaching the roller tube
- 4 pan-head drive screws for attaching the extension
- 2 flat-head screws for attaching the pin tab attachment
- 2 HWH screws for the fabric attachment
- A plunger kit
Mounting the Brackets
To install the slide-out awnings, you need to learn how to mount the brackets first. Here are some steps involved in mounting the brackets:
Step 1 – First, make sure that the surface you will be mounting the awnings on has enough framing or is thick enough to give the brackets and screws something to hold onto. Aluminum or fiberglass skins are insufficient unless you fabricate a mounting frame underneath them.
Step 2 – Align the mounting brackets to the inside edges of the top and side room flanges.
Step 3 – Coat the mounting surface with silicone sealant. Pay extra attention to the edges of the mounting holes. This will prevent water from leaking into the RV from the drilled holes.
Step 4 – Load Tek screws into your drill and use them to mount the brackets onto the exterior of the RV.
Installing the Awning Rail
It is also crucial to learn how to install the awning rail. The first step, in this case, is to measure the rail to find out its center point. Mark this point using a marker. Spread silicone sealant all over the back of the awning rail to prevent water from seeping into them once mounted.
Using the center point mark, align the awning rail until it is centered between the brackets. Use the flat-head screws to connect the pin tab attachment to the centerline. Position it so that the slot points downward.
Mounting the Roller Tube
Another important step in installing slide-out awnings is to mount the roller tube. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1 – Use a flat-head screwdriver to slightly open up one end of the awning rail. This will promote ease in sliding the awnings into them. Before installing the awning, clean the end of the rail and spray the insides with silicone lubricant.
Step 2 – Insert the end-caps on either side of the mounting bracket.
Step 3 – Unroll some of the awning fabric from the roller tube and slide it into the awning rail. Make sure to center the fabric.
Step 4 – Get rid of the slack by rolling up the extra fabric back into the roller tube.
Step 5 – Insert the end-cap into the right side of the roller tube. Position the flats so that they are aligned with the flats of the end cap. Also, twist the tube so that the spring locking pin faces out.
Step 6 – Use one pan-head screw to affix the end-cap of the roller tube.
Step 7 – Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the other end.
Step 8 – Position the roller tube and fabric until it is centered over the slide-out.
Step 9 – Secure the end-cap arms onto the mounting brackets using two screws each for both ends, starting from the bottom.
Step 10 – Take out the spring locking pin from the roller tube assembly. To ensure that the fabric is rolling straight into the roller tube, open and close the room a couple of times.
Step 11 – Finally, use the two screws left to secure the fabric roller attachment to the awning rail and you are done.
Pros and Cons of Slide-outs
Slide-outs can be handy if you have a large family or if you are just the kind of person who needs more room to feel at home. However, they come with their own set of pros and cons. When you are out shopping for an RV, you need to weigh the pros and cons of getting one that has awnings.
You will have all that extra space – Having very limited space in RVs and motorhomes has always been an issue, but thanks to slide-outs, you can now get more room than the usual.
You can use the extra space as an added sleeping area, a breakfast nook, or even as a guest room in case you have friends who tag along with you on your trip.
They are easy to extend and pull back – When slide-outs first came into production, most of them were manually-operated. This means you have to unlatch them and then pull out and fold open the extra room.
However, now, you have the convenience of electric linear actuators. You can extend and pull back the slide-outs with just a push of a button.
You can bring more guests – With a regular-sized RV, you can bring along maybe up to four people without the RV feeling cramped. With a slide-out RV, you can designate each slide-out as a sleeping quarter so there is still plenty of room inside to sit comfortably and rest.
Requires additional maintenance – Some people would rather forego investing in slide-outs with the additional maintenance that comes with them. Because of all the moving parts that come with slide-outs, they require more upkeep compared to traditional RVs.
After a couple of years, even with regular maintenance, the slide-outs will slide in and out slower than before and the motor will start to weaken. Sometimes, they will even fail and need replacement. The slide-outs can also damage the stationary walls as they go in and out of their enclosures.
They are too big for most trailer parks – Most trailer parks were built long before slide-outs became popular, which is why their spaces are not big enough for trailers with their slide-outs fully extended.
You might need to rent two spaces or rent a space that is meant for slide-out RVs. These are much more expensive than regular RV spaces. This is why you need to check out the RV parks beforehand so that you are sure to have a space for your RV.
Higher insurance premiums – The larger your RV, the more insurance coverage it will require. Even though slide-outs give you additional living space so you can feel comfortable, you will also need to pay higher insurance premiums due to the added hazards and potential damage that it can potentially acquire.
With the high potential of the slide-outs’ linear actuators failing or even causing a fire, it is only natural for insurance companies to charge a higher premium.
You need to take these pros and cons into consideration, so you will have an idea of whether or not an RV with a slide-out is the best for you. On the other hand, there is no denying that slide-outs are quite convenient.
This is the main reason why I highly recommend giving it a try. It is advisable to avoid those RVs with three to five slide-out rooms, though, as those will be too heavy and quite expensive to boot. RVs with one slide-out room should be plenty, especially if you are just a casual RVer who usually just go on trips with your family.
RV slide-out rooms can truly give you numerous benefits. However, all that extra functionality and space come at a price. When you pull back the slide-out, all of the leaves, dirt, and debris also come in with it. If you do not clean it up immediately, the decomposing organic matter will cause a lot of damage to your slide-out.
Fortunately, you can avoid this problem simply by learning how to install RV slide-out awning. These covers will prevent fallen leaves and twigs from getting inside the slide-out room. It is easy to install RV slide-out awning, which makes you think why these features do not come standard with RVs.
With the help of awnings, you just eliminated the possibility of the electric slide-out malfunctioning or weakening because of the dirt and debris that came from outside.