Caravan awnings are not cheap to buy, but they will give you many years of reliable service if properly looked after. Here are some tried and tested tips to help you keep your awning in tip-top condition.
General advice on erecting your awning
It's important not to cut corners when putting up your awning. Make sure you have the tension correctly adjusted so that it can't be damaged by windy weather. If the awning material is firmly pegged, it will place much less strain on the rail and ground pegs than a loose, flapping sail of fabric.
You should still use guy ropes, even when the weather is calm. They help to hold the awning in shape on its frame and will prevent it from becoming dislodged should a sudden breeze spring up. Fit the draught skirt and wheel cover too; this prevents the awning from filling with air and ballooning should wind blow inside it from beneath the caravan.
Awning zips do become stiff and difficult to adjust over time. Sometimes this happens simply because you have the tension set too tight. Release the pressure on the zip by loosening the tension or moving some ground pegs or guy ropes. If this doesn't work, try applying some proprietary zip lubricant or petroleum jelly, or if you don't have any on hand, rubbing a wax candle stub along the zip's teeth is also very effective for shifting a stuck zip.
The aluminium awning rail is important in helping the awning to hold its shape, especially in breezy conditions. Keep the awning rail in good condition by carefully sanding off any rough patches at the ends of the channel or at the joints. This will stop the awning material from snagging and becoming damaged when you slide it onto the rail. A quick spray with furniture polish inside the awning tube will help it slide smoothly over the rail without sticking.
When the awning rail is disassembled for storage, make sure that you place the tubes in a protective bag and hang it up or stand it upright. If you leave the tubes lying flat, there's a good chance they'll be stood on and crushed. Squashed, kinked or badly-bent aluminium tubes will have to be replaced with new ones as they can't be repaired.
Make sure any rubber tensioning straps are kept clear of the awning's plastic windows during storage. These can cause nasty brown staining on the windows if left in contact with the clear plastic for any length of time. Marks like this can be removed with washing-up liquid and warm water and a soft cloth. Don't use an abrasive pad on the windows as you could scratch the plastic.
Any creases that form in the plastic window material during storage can be easily removed by playing warm air from a hair dryer over them or simply by laying the awning out in the sun for an hour or so. The heat will soften the plastic and smooth out the creases. Once the awning is erected, the tension will remove any remaining wrinkles from your windows.
Talk with someone from a business like Wilfords Annexes to learn about different awning styles that could suit your caravan needs.