How to Restore an Antique RV Awning

How to Restore an Antique RV Awning
If you have an older RV or travel trailer you may have dry rot, corrosion or massive sun fade on your awning. This is most likely the case on RVs and travel trailers from the early 1970s through the early 1980s. If you are trying to extend the life of the trailer or RV's awning, you can restore it back to near its original luster. Plan on spending a few hours on the project, and try to make it on a nice day as you will be outside using water for a majority of the project.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Garden hose attached to water faucet
  • Bucket filled with warm soapy water
  • Bleach
  • Sponges
  • Rubber gloves
  • WD40 or spray-on lubricant
  • Fabric softener
  • Sewing machine and scissors
Step 1
Open the awning and extend the poles down. Secure the awning in its full open position. Inspect the fabric around the stitching for any tears, worn-out threads or dry rot. Take time to look at the edges of the fabric where there is a lip that holds a weighted line or coil. See that the thread locking in the weighted coil is in good shape. If there are tears, broken threads or dry rot, remove the awning form the RV.
Step 2
Find a thread color that matches the color that needs to be replaced or redone on the awning. Use a nylon thread rated for outdoor use. On the sewing machine, use a heavyweight needle on the awning canvas as it is heavy and stout. Inspect the stitching style used and make sure to use the same style as you repair the dry rot, tears or ripped-out stitching. You want to maintain the continuity of the design as your repair and restore.
Step 3
Set the awning outside on a picnic table or large work bench. Hose down the awning and then, starting from one end, gently scrub down the fabric of the awning with a large, soft sponge dipped in warm soapy water. Repeat this on both sides. If there is mildew or mold on the fabric, use a .5 percent bleach and water mix and go over the entire fabric to maintain continuity in the color. Use rubber gloves when washing with bleach.
Step 4
Repeat the washing process with the warm soapy water and .5 percent bleach and water mix. Rinse the awning fabric with the garden hose water and let dry. Inspect the awning after it dries as the color will change as it dries. Look for color continuity on the entire awning. If there are trouble spots, use the bleach and water solution to go over it until the color throughout the entire awning is the same.
Step 5
Empty the bucket, rinse and refill with warm water and three to four caps of fabric softener. Use a new sponge and wash the awning with the fabric softener to get rid of dry rot and to loosen the stiff canvas from the years of sun drying and stiffening. While it is drying, inspect the awning poles and spray the lubricant on the telescoping areas to give them new life and freedom of movement when extending and closing.
Step 6
Attach the awning back onto the RV.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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