RV Awning Replacement- #1 Trick to DIY and Save Money

RV awnings are extremely susceptible to breakage due to wind or even heavy rainfall. Most of these awnings have a wind sensor that will automatically close them if high winds are detected. But in our case, a heavy Florida downpour of rain (no wind) caused the water to puddle on the awning canvas quicker than it could run off and broke the arm. We share the #1 tip we learned for how to do your own RV Awning Replacement.

RV Awning Replacement
Broken Girard Awning Arm

RV awning arms can be replaced, but they are expensive! For the automatic Girard RV Awning arms, expect to pay about $1200+ each to just get the parts. We are pretty handy with repairing things on our RV. We did a lot of research online and decided that based on the instruction video that Girard provided us below, they should be easy to fix yourself. That was not our experience at all.
RV Awning Replacement, especially on a tall Class A RV requires the ability to support the awning about 13 feet in the air on the side of your RV to attach the awning arms.

In this article, we share the #1 best tip we learned when we decided to do our own RV Awning Replacement.

RV Awning Replacement Instruction Video Courtesy of Girard Group Companies

Replacing The Girard Awning Arm

We weren’t anywhere near a repair facility that could replace the awning arm for us and summer was on the way. It gets very hot in Florida during the summer and we needed that awning. After watching the video above, we figured that the awning arm replacement looked pretty simple and we would do it ourselves.

We ordered the awning parts, read the installation instructions, and watched the video provided by Girard. It did not look that complicated… many hours later we decided that it wasn’t that it was complicated it’s awkward! The video that is provided is filmed in a factory setting where the awning is only about 5 feet off the ground. This makes working on the awning pretty easy. Our Class A RV is about 13 feet high, so the first challenge is getting up that high plus it’s not so easy to work on above your head.

RV Awning Replacement
Girard Replacement RV Awning Arm

Difficult to Support the Awning Without Breaking Another Expensive Arm

To replace the RV awning arm the awning has to be open or extended to get the broken awning off and install the new one. Our RV awning is about 15 feet long and is heavy. We struggled with trying to use the suggested technique of leaning the awning on ladders, but what they don’t tell you is you need multiple very tall ladders! One to hold either side of the awning and then one to climb on yourself. Not many RVers carry 3 ladders that are at least 13 feet high!

Using Scaffolding to Support the Awning- Fail

The other suggestion that Girard has is to use scaffolding to support your awning during replacement. Great idea, right? Except most scaffolding only comes 8 feet high which is pretty standard. Remember in our case with our big rig, we needed to have a support system that was 13 feet high. The only way to get that high is to put a ladder on top of the scaffolding- terrible idea! Very unsafe and not worth taking a chance of falling off and getting hurt!

#1 Secret Tip To Help You Replace A Girard Awning Arm

RV Awning Replacement
RV Awning Support

After much frustration, I tried calling Girard back to ask for advice. This time I spoke with an experienced awning installer who said he often goes into the field to perform RV Awning Replacements at RV shows. His advice was simple and invaluable.  

He said we should purchase four 2” x 4” pieces of wood about 4 feet long. The next step requires two people to accomplish. Once you have those have the wood pieces, one person gets on the ladder while the other person slowly opens the awning. The person on the ladder then slides the wood under the awning to support the open awning. Then you can open the awning as far as you need to without the risk of further damage.

Once you have the awning open, you can follow the replacement instructions provided by Girard. This worked perfectly and in under an hour we had our RV awning repaired!

Tip: Be careful when you slide the wooden supports in to avoid damaging your RV paint.

RV Awning Replacement
RV Awning Replacement

Cost for a replacement awning for RV Girard Awning Arm

Depending on the model of the awning, expect to pay approximately $1,200 per awing arm. In our case, we have 3 retractable awning arms on our front long awning and two on the smaller ones in the back. RV Awning Replacement can be very expensive depending on the brand and type of RV awning system you have!

Never, ever leave your RV awnings open during a heavy rainstorm. And do not depend on the wind sensors to retract your awning before serious damage can occur.

What Is A Girard RV Motorized Awning? Many of the luxury Class A RVs have Girard motorized awnings installed. The awnings are designed to provide shade and protection from rain and other elements when you are sitting outside your RV. Girard makes about a dozen different RV awning types including ones that cover your RV door and windows

Do All RVs Come with Girard Awnings? No, not all RVs come with Girard Awnings. Many smaller RVs do not. Since Girard is considered one of the industry pioneers, many of the more luxury RVs use Girard Awnings exclusively. RV brands like the high-end custom-built Foretravel, Newmar, and some Tiffin models use Girard awnings exclusively.

What Are the Advantages to Girard Awning Systems?

RV Awning Replacement

Girard has been in business for over 20 years and actually developed the first automatic lateral arm retractable awnings. Their specialty is RV awnings and they offer many different power options making them compatible with most RVs.
The other reason that many RVers chose Girard Awning Systems is that the lateral arm design means they are mounted on the roof of your RV. When closed they look like a part of the RV sidewall and are often painted to match the RV.

Other RV awnings are mounted with the support brackets on the top and side of your RV. This side mount brace gets in the way. RVers often complain that they constantly un into the brace as it’s always in the way. The top mount lateral arm system keeps you from hitting your head on the awning arms.

Are Girard Awnings Good?

Yes, we have found Girard Awning systems to be very good. It is a quality product and company and that is why the most expensive RV brands use them. We had them on our Tiffin and now also have them on our Newmar Big Rig.

How Long do RV Awnings Last?

Generally, you can expect your RV awning to last 5-10 years depending on how well you care for it. Some people get several more years of use but sometimes the canvas needs replacement due to sun damage.

How Much Are Girard RV Awnings?

You can expect to pay $6,000-$8,000 for a Girard RV awning. Girard is more expensive than some other competing awning brands. They are considered an RV upgrade that many luxury Class A RVers want since they offer quality and automation.

Does Girard Offer Lighted Awnings?

Yes, Girard offers RV awnings with LED strips along the edge of the awning. They also sell kits that you can add to your existing Girard awning.

When Should You Close Your RV Awning?

According to our Girard Awning Manual, Girard Systems awnings may be operated in light wind and rain conditions. When periods of heavy rain and/or wind are expected or you leave the awning unattended, the awning should be closed. Damage caused by wind and rain is not covered by warranty.

You should also close your awnings before you leave your motor home. We also close ours at night before we go to bed since we never know when a storm may come through.

Also, all awnings must also be closed prior to moving the vehicle for any reason. As an extra safety precaution, you should do a visual check that the awning is fully closed. We made that part of our trip departure checklist.

Can You Perform a DIY RV Awning Replacement Yourself?

Absolutely you can perform an RV Awning Replacement yourself, we did. But I think this may be one of those jobs that might be better left to a professional awning installer. If you do decide to repair your Girard awning yourself, I hope these tips help!

Click on the link if you want to reach the company directly: The Girard Group

People Also Ask

  • How much does it cost to replace the fabric for an awning on an RV? RV awning replacement fabric costs $150-$300 depending on the size of the awning and the fabric you choose.

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Should You Paint or Vinyl Wrap Your RV?
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Carol Ivey

Carol is a long-time adventurer who loves traveling in her 44 foot Newmar Mountain Aire Class A RV with her husband Mike, and their Black Standard Schnauzer aptly named "Rider". Carol has been sharing travel stories and advice for years and their newest adventure chronicles what luxury RV living and travel is all about. Tips, tricks, and lessons learned about Glamping- seeing the country in style and comfort while cruising behind the wheel of a luxury RV. They definitely know how to RV-N-Style.

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