RV Patio Awning Fabric Replacement – Carefree of Colorado Manual Pull-Down

TheRVgeeks Awnings & Slide Toppers, Great RV Products, Replacement 26 Comments

You’ve heard us say it before… replacing awning and slide topper fabric is just about our favorite DIY RV project. That’s because it saves a lot of $$, yields better results, and is easier than it looks (when you know how… which we’ll show you, of course)!

The whole idea of being a DIY RVer is that we handle as many of our own maintenance, repair and update projects as we can. One of the worst situations we can imagine is getting a repair bill from an RV shop, and having the epiphany that we could have done the job ourselves for a LOT less. After all, labor is usually the lion’s share of most RV repairs.

In those instances where you’re unable to take on a particular project yourself, you should have the consolation of knowing that the job was done by a pro, so at least you got the most professional results possible, right? Well… not always.

Slide topper and awning fabric replacement is one of those things where the planets generally align against you in almost every way if you pay an RV shop to do it. Here’s why:

  • The cost of labor goes from zero to about a bazillion dollars an hour (well, it seems like it anyway).
  • Shops almost always use OEM (original equipment) fabric, which is:
    • More expensive than other options (like Tough Top Awnings material)
    • Oh, how to say this diplomatically…. low-quality CR@P! Why do you think it failed in the first place? Not to name names, but Carefree must use the worst fabrics on the planet. And A&E is right behind them. The idea of paying more for it, and for the labor to install it, is… distasteful.
    • Not always readily available, so it has to be ordered, with long lead times being pretty common.
  • It requires an appointment in a specific location (us full-timers hate having to lock into being in an exact place and time, possibly weeks or more in advance).
  • You have to be out of your rig (again, anathema to full-timers… the waiting room in an RV shop is to be avoided like the plague)!
  • You’ll find out later… maybe after watching this video wink … that you could have done it yourself.
  • You have to look at yourself in the mirror after leaving the shop with your expensive-but-inferior new awning or slide toppers knowing that your DIY RVer cred is now at serious risk!

Seriously, you don’t have to be a super-capable DIYer to replace your own fabric. It’s just not that hard to do, and very rewarding, since it appears difficult… until you’ve done it.

We know that not every RVer is confident, competent or physically able to replace their own awning or slide topper fabric. But even they probably have friends who could do it for them for the cost of some pizza & beer (after the installation please)!

Bottom line… friends don’t let friends pay an RV shop for awning or slide topper replacement.


Visit www.toughtopawnings.com and enter the
Discount Code “RVGEEKSROCK”
for a 5% discount on your entire order!


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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, but our opinions are our own and we only feature products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence. The RVgeeks participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


Comments 26

  1. Followed your video to replace our awning. We bought an av used and the awing material had been removed except on the track of the camper and the tracks of the roller. We purchased a new awning and after removing the scraps of awning both off the camper and roller we followed the instructions and replaced the awning. Great video and very complete. We also changed out the screws and oiled the springs.
    After replacing the awing and securing it we tried to retract the awning. The awning will not retract. We can wind the awning up manually and pull it down but it will not retract by itself.
    Can you give us some suggestions on what we can do to determine if there is something wrong with the springs or if we did something wrong with rewinding the springs or something with the arms.

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      Author

      Hi Evelyn,

      Glad to hear that our video was helpful, but sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Our only experience with a pull-down Carefree of Colorado awning was for the purpose of this video shoot with Tough Top Awnings (hope you got your 5% discount on the new fabric if you ordered from them!)… so we don’t have any experience troubleshooting them. From what you’re describing, it sounds like either:

      • The spring isn’t tensioned enough for it to be able to retract the awning on its own. Which means you’ll want to dismantle the left-hand arm again to the point where you can add extra windings to the spring, being careful to wind it in the direction the arrow points on the end cap. Not sure what model awning you have, but on page 8 of this PDF document from Carefree of Colorado, they list the total number of winds needed for different size awnings. Start there, but if your spring is old, it may require more winds than they recommend. Or…
      • The latching mechanism on the right-hand arm isn’t releasing properly and isn’t allowing the spring to roll the awning back up. Be sure that, if you have it, the extended release arm mechanism (that brings the “Retract/Extend” switch down the arm so it can be triggered without using a rod) is engaging that switch correctly. When in the “Extend” position, and you pull the awning out, you should hear a ratcheting sound as that mechanism ensures the awning won’t retract… and when in the “Retract” mode, it should release and allow the spring to rewind the awning.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

    2. RVGeeks

      Thank you for your suggestions and the manual information. With all that info we were able to get our awning to retract. My husband using a screwdriver added an additional 5 turns and made some minor adjustments to the support arms and with that the awning retracted. Thanks again for making this project one that we could do ourselves and save us money and time.
      Evelyn

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  2. Very helpful video as we have to replace the awning fabric on our 19′ A&E awning.

    One addition I would make would be to change all set screws and mounting hardware to Stainless steel, as I think it is criminal for manufacturers to knowingly use unprotected plain steel hardware on external applications, knowing it will only rust. This was VERY obvious in this video, showing rusty, unsightly screws & bolts.
    (As an aside – this is especially true in many other places on my rig, such as on my hydraulic leveling jacks and other areas of undercarriage chassis which are rusting badly.) But in this case upgrading a few awning set screws & mounting bolts to stainless will have it look better and last forever for only a couple of bucks.

    A 2nd addition I would make would be to clean and lubricate the arms and hardware on the awning, while it is all dis-assembled. It’s the perfect time to clean out dirt and grime in the support arms and to provide some lubrication to the pivot points and sliding support arms. Also a great time to lubricate the tension spring as well while it is out. I would wipe down the spring thoroughly with some synthetic motor oil (will not evaporate) as it is fully protected in the tube so should not attract dirt This will not only let it operate smoothly but also protect it from corrosion and rust.
    Thanks for the great video!

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      Author

      Thanks for mentioning all the great additional tips, Richard! One thing we love about doing this sort of job ourselves is that we’re free to choose how deeply we want to go into rehabbing a piece of equipment like an awning. We understand that when someone else installs new gear for us, it’s hard for them to decide how far they’re going to go with replacing parts, especially when they don’t have an inventory of assorted new parts with them. That was the case with Tyler, with him traveling to a remote spot to do the job, and not knowing anything about the condition of the RV before arriving (He actually did do some of the things you mentioned to make sure the awning was working correctly, but since this video was all about fabric replacement, we didn’t include any extra details). But thanks again for reminding all of the other DIYers our here about all the additional tasks that can go along with a larger project.

  3. Hi, I’m a first timer renting an RV and I really need your help… I need to rent a good RV from 25th to 31 this month in Denver, Colorado… Im looking for the best option… please guys, help me, I have traveled from far away with my wife and two kids for this trip. Thanks a lot!!!

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      We’ve never rented an RV before, but we just Googled “denver colorado rv rental” and came up with about two dozen local places. Give that a try and you should be able to compare prices, equipment and availability among lots of companies.

  4. Kathy & I were in a kinda remote no-wifi-no-cell-service Provincial Park this past week and, when driving south on Hwy 97, we entered a cell service area. My phone boinged that emails were waiting i.e. your new video email notice. This was my first indication that we were getting back to civilization. At least civilization as internet users call it; and I’m very glad to be on your email list as I look forward to watching and learning.

    Once again your planning/video/editing skills continue to impress. Also impressive is the star of the show. Tyler does make the job look easy, even with you sticking a camera near his chin every so often. I’m thinking he made a special six hour service call on his own dime to be the movie star and if that is so, it was worth every penny.

    Looks like Birgit & Greg live in a very beautiful place with some handy neighbours. ;)

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      “No-WiFi-or-cell-service Provincial Park” – describes some of our favorite places! Hope you & Kathy had a great time, John. Thank you so much for the nice comments. You are very kind. Tyler always prepares himself for our shoots by allotting an entire day for something that would normally take him an hour. He knows the drill by now when it comes to videos, and he’s a great sport about it… although there’s often a lot of laughter at my (Peter’s) expense, since I’m always the one saying “can you do that again, please” when he got his part right on the first take. LOL

  5. Hi Gents,
    Once again you come up with a video that is planned out well which walks us through a project step by step to a hassle free perfect finish. Your clear instruction and the footage that takes you through the start to finish makes it so easy to do. You seem to take just about any DIYP and make even us who have 27 fingers one each hand but all being thumps easy to do. I think I have just about enough instruction to attempt the project. I will send off a short question to Tyler and ask if this video also apply to awning replacement in a pull down awning found on the deck outside one’s home. If so I think it will be my second DIYP of this nature on our home!
    Thanks again gents…you gents sure take the worry out of ” getting er done”!

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      Author

      Thanks for the nice note, Mike! You really made our day. :) Please let us know what Tyler says about replacing awning fabric on a sticks & bricks house… with 54 thumbs. LOL

  6. Hey guys, we’ve been a fan of your videos for quite a while now and appreciate your research and “how to” videos. Two questions:
    1. Is there a reason you didn’t put sealant into the arm attachment screw holes before reattaching the arms?
    2. I did notice your answer to Seann above. We live in Florida so if we do a local trip during the summer it is really hot under the awning; feels like baking in an oven. I wonder if you could ask your contacts in the RV awning industry if there is a reason awnings don’t come with a reflective layer on top? Maybe a thin mylar sacrificial sheet we can replace once a year. I’m not sure what would work but anything would help. Thanks again.

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      Author

      Hi Dennis!

      Thanks so much for your nice comment and great questions.

      1) We’ll ask Tyler about those screw holes and see if we can get him to reply here.

      2) We’ve never RVed in FL during the summer, but we’ve BEEN in FL during the summer. So, with all due respect to your Floridians, where ISN’T it like baking in an oven down there during the summer?! LOL We spend most winters in the Desert SW, and have lingered into spring a few times. Because the humidity out here is very low, all you need to do to escape the heat, up to about 100 degrees F, is step out of the sun into the shade… any shade… and it’s quite comfortable, even under our dark green awning.

      Have you been RVing in the Desert SW? That joke about it being a “dry heat” is no joke! We spent a week in 105 degrees F in the RV one time (plugged into 50-amp shore power of course), and it was more comfortable outside than any 90 degree day in the Eastern US (which is where we both grew up). Humidity is the worst, since there’s no escaping it.

      As far as a reflective coating, we know that one of the main problems with Carefree fabric is the fact that it’s two layers sandwiched together. That leads to mold and mildew growth, and the breakdown of the material. That’s why Tyler’s fabric is one very sturdy layer… to prevent it from coming apart. And since it’s a shinier surface than our old acrylic awning, we’re guessing that it reflects the heat a little better (although as we mentioned, we’ve never had a problem sitting out under our awning because of heat.

      Hope this helps a bit. If you haven’t been out west in your RV yet, it’s fantastic, and worth the trip any time of year. But to be fair, we can’t imagine RVing in the middle of summer in the Desert SW OR Florida! While we don’t head north every single winter, we NEVER stay south in the summer!

    2. Hello,
      Good Questions!
      Of course there is a lot of things that go on behind the scenes in these great videos. John and Peter are always setting up for different shots leaving a lot of free time and one thing i always do is clean up and inspect the surface of the arm mount before re attaching it. sealant is never a bad idea! i didn’t use any in this install because of how tight the screws felt. if i ever feel like they wobble or don’t feel tight or i suspect water could become a issue i will apply a little to the tips of the screws before installing.

      We don’t use a layer of protected fabric to the top of our fabrics because the fabric we use is UV resistant and mildew resistant and the whole thing is made out of the protected fabric. No need:-)

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      Hey Tyler! That’s my (Peter’s) Mom asking for those new screws!! Don’t encourage her, or we’ll have to get her an RV! LOL Thanks so much for a great collaboration on this video. As always, the camera loves you. ;-)

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      Author

      You’ve got it, Mom! As a matter of fact, we’ll get you a whole new awning, instead of just the fabric! Now all we need to do is get you that pop-up trailer to put it on. ;-)

  7. Another a good video. I noticed that Tyler’s RV appears to have an unusual window to the left of the door. Is that something special?

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      Author

      Hi Rich! That’s actually our friend’s Birgit & Greg’s RV not Tyler’s, and yes indeed they have a very cool window to the left of the door. It’s a flip-out bay window! They can put little plants and things in there where parked, and it’s right where their booth dinette is located, so it makes for a very open, light area when eating meals. :)

  8. Just a comment on choosing awning color. Do not go with a dark color they radiate heat down and on really hot sunny days make sitting under the awning impossible.

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      Author

      Hi Seann! We had a white awning on our first RV, which we owned for 2 years, and have always had a dark-colored awning on our current rig, which we’ve had for 12 years. While we probably do get a little more heat radiating off it than the white one, we’ve never been uncomfortable under it. And since our RV is a dark color, a light colored awning would look awful! LOL You may have seen our video last year where we replaced our original dark green awning with the same green color as used in this video, as we had no issues wth heat. We’re okay sacrificing a few degrees, since it’s never been a problem for us.

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