AWNING INFO - About AwningsAwning Fabrics

Awning Fabrics

When you buy an awning you need to look at how it will mount on your vehicle, how easy it is to use and the way the frame is constructed. In among all this it’s easy to forget what the awning is all about – holding a sheet of fabric above the space beside your vehicle so you have some shelter from the elements. A mistake some people make is get so caught up in other things that when it comes to the fabric itself they basically think “Well, cloth” and leave it at that. This is a mistake, because it’s that cloth that will be doing the job for you, and you need to get it right.

The main material used for awnings is canvas. This is a traditional tent fabric and it’s tough and hard wearing. Most canvas these days is polyester cotton and it comes in a variety of weights. We’d recommend something around 300 grams per square metre; anything much lighter than that and you’ll lose durability, but any heavier and you’re just adding weight and bulk. That won’t help things when you’re putting your awning up on a windy day.

Canvas itself isn’t completely waterproof, so a good awning will be treated or coated to make it completely weather resistant. Look for one that’s laminated with a waterproof fabric; that should keep the rain out. One thing we’ve seen recently that we like a lot is awnings that combine a waterproof lamination with a reflective layer. This reflects sunlight away from your awning and it makes a big difference to the temperature under it.

Another reason for reflecting sunlight away is to reduce the hazard from UV light. Even in the shade under canvas some UV is getting through, so awnings should be graded with a protective factor. You want a radiation factor of 30 or better; this will ensure you won’t burn or come to any other harm while you’re under it.

It’s the nature of awnings to get wet; they’re out in the weather, after all, and sometimes it rains. Packing a damp awning can lead to mould or mildew, which will smell pretty bad, stain the fabric and can eventually badly damage it. Make sure you buy one that’s treated to prevent that. Most good quality ones should be, but if in doubt check.

The main alternative to canvas is modern breathable materials like Gore-Tex. These look attractive but we don’t recommend them. They’re perfect for jackets, swags or small tents, but they’re almost never completely waterproof; if rain’s hitting them hard enough some will get through. You don’t need breathability in an awning anyway because it’s just a roof; the condensation that breathable fabrics are meant to prevent can get out the sides. If you’re adding a tent they might be a good idea, but we’d say avoid them for the awning itself.

What you should be looking for in awning fabric is a good heavyweight canvas that’s been waterproofed and treated against mould. That will give you a sturdy shelter that won’t let any water through and should last you for years. Just make sure it’s properly cared for and you’ll be perfectly happy with it.