1. Practice makes perfect and saves you a lot of time (and embarrassment) on site!
When you buy a new caravan awning (or if you simply haven’t used your caravan awning for a while) if you have the space try setting it up at home, or at your storage site.
2. Preparing the Frame
Assembling the frame first will give you an idea of the position of the poles and the overall size. It is a good idea to mark the ends of the poles to match with their relevant partners; 1 to 1, 2 to 2 etc…
If you are worried about marking your poles you can always use coloured insulation tape, as this can be removed and cleaned easily.
3. Attaching the awning material
When feeding the awning through the channel, start from the openings in the caravan awning channel rather than from ground level. It’s often easier to work from the opening just above eye level at the rear of the caravan.
Feed the awning through until the piping is a couple of centimetres in advance of the opening.
The tail end of the awning will now be at eye level and fully located in the channel, and the front end of the awning will be overhanging at the far end.
To finish, simply pull the whole awning in the rail back on itself and down to the required ground level.
For awnings that allow the end and side panels to be removed, it may make the whole structure easier and lighter to handle, if these are removed while sliding the roof panels into the awning channel. However remember to refit them before pegging out and final tensioning of the frame.
4. Erecting the frame
Start from the middle poles and work outwards as this will help with stability. Assemble the central upright pole and connect the central roof strut, feeding it through and material loops in the roof, or into any spreader pads, tensioning it lightly against the caravan wall.
Now add a cross strut along one half of the front wall, and couple it to an end vertical pole, finally connecting an end roof pole in the same manner as the central roof pole.
Repeat this for the opposite front wall, corner pole and other end roof pole.
Insert any short roof valance poles, before tensioning of the roof. You may need to use the caravan step to reach the roof.
The basic structure will now be free standing, so now is the time to zip in any panels removed earlier for ease of assembly. Larger awnings may require additional roof and vertical poles to be utilised, so these should all be fitted now.
The awning can now be pegged down, before final tensioning of the whole frame, and adding the guy ropes, and any storm straps provided.
It is always easier for two people to erect an awning, but strategically placed guy ropes can be used as a third hand, if you are working alone, or there is a slight breeze.
5. Keeping it smooth
Ensure that the awning channel is clean whenever you wash the caravan and it is a good idea to lubricate it with furniture polish or silicone spray. This will make it easier to slide the awning bead through. Be careful however, never to spray the awning as this could damage the material.
6. Packing away
If you are forced to dismantle your awning when it is wet, remember to lay it out to dry as soon as you arrive home. If you do not, the older cotton awnings will rot, and the newer acrylic ones can grow mildew and smell horrible if you don’t dry them.
Even if it’s raining, it’s better to leave the awning in open air getting wet, rather than packed up tight before drying. Hang it over a washing line or similar if necessary.
7. The better the quality – the easier it is to use
As is often the case with these things; our members have noted that the more expensive awnings tend to be easier to set up. They often use better quality zips making them easier and smoother to fit together, and are more suited to frequent use than the budget models.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to put up an awning, so take your time and find a routine that works for you. Practice make perfect, so you’ll just have to enjoy lots of caravanning trips to get the erecting of your caravan awning down to a fine art!