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September 1, 2022  |  Home

Our DIY expert weighs in on replacing your awning

Awnings aren’t cheap. A homeowner can pay as much as $3,600 or more for a new one. Unfortunately, just like everything else, awnings don’t last forever. Eventually, the UV rays of the sun and normal wear and tear damage the fabric, making the awning unusable. When that happens, you can either replace the whole awning — mechanisms, frame and canopy — or just replace the canopy.

We asked our resident DIY expert Beth Allen, founder of HIP Chicks (Home Improvement Project Chicks), about the best approach to solving this problem. She offered detailed information not only about what to do when your awning needs to be replaced, but how to do it yourself.

Useful awning information to consider

What’s the purpose of an awning?

Depending on the type and size of the awning you have, it can serve a variety of purposes. Primarily, it keeps direct sunlight off your home or RV. This can help protect you and your home or RV from UV damage and lower your summer cooling bills. An awning can also help protect your home or RV from the elements and increase the curb appeal and value of your home. Lastly, if it’s a large awning, it can extend your living space.

Should I replace the whole awning or just the canopy?

The frame and mechanism of your awning are much more durable than the canopy. Chances are, if this is the first time you need to repair your awning, the frame and mechanisms are fine. In other words, there’s no need to discard them. Additionally, replacing the fabric costs much less than replacing the entire unit.

Our expert’s advice is that installing a new canopy is an easily doable DIY project, but replacing and installing the entire awning is a task that should be left to professionals who do that kind of work on a regular basis.

What tools do I need to replace an awning canopy?

According to Allen, there are four things you need before attempting any DIY project. The first three are knowledge, skill and guts. If you have them or you can gain them by research and practice, all you need are the proper tools. However, if you’re missing any of these elements, the wisest strategy is to seek help from a professional.

When it comes to replacing an awning canopy, you need a set of screwdrivers, two stepladders (or step stools, depending on the height), a couple pieces of rope and a helper or two.

How do I replace an awning canopy?

Our DIY expert broke down the process of replacing an awning canopy into four easy steps.

1. Take off the old canopy

The first step is to take down the old canopy. To do this, Allen said you need to retract the awning and use the rope to tie the canopy arm mechanisms together at each end of the awning. This will keep the arms from extending when you unroll the fabric. After the fabric is completely unrolled, use the appropriate screwdriver to remove the end covers on one side of the awning (preferably the side without the cranking mechanism). If there are stop clamps holding the valance and canopy in place, you’ll need to unscrew those as well. With the stop clamps and end covers removed, you can slide the valance and canopy off with ease.

2. Measure the old canopy

“After you take the old canopy down, you measure its exact width and length and then you use that to make your new purchase,” Allen informed. “Don’t try to measure the canopy while it’s up because that won’t be as accurate. Take it down, lay it on a flat surface and get your width and your length, so you know exactly what you need. And don’t forget to get the valance. That’s the short, decorative piece that hangs down from the front bar like a window treatment valance.”

3. Clean the area

According to our DIY expert, once the fabric is down, it’s a great time to thoroughly wash and wipe down the frame and mechanisms of the awning. She recommends using warm soapy water. Allen also said this is a good time to powerwash the house because you can easily get to all areas without worrying about hitting the awning canopy and tearing through it with the spray from your power washer.

4. Install the new canopy

Before installing the fabric, feed the spline cording that came with your canopy into the ends and cut it to size, leaving roughly 2 inches of overhang on each end. Allen pointed out that this next part is where you need one or two helpers and both stepladders. “Take the canopy and hold the two ends up while letting the middle hang, like you’re holding two ends of a sheet. Slide the top and bottom of the canopy into both tracks at the same time. The trick here is to make sure that as you’re sliding the canopy on, it isn’t getting caught on any metal pieces and snagging,” she said. “Your buddy should be lifting the canopy up as flat as it can go on the sides so it can feed in straight.”

Once you have the canopy centered, Allen said that’s when you should install the stop clamps and carefully roll up the canopy, making sure it stays straight as you roll. Finally, slide the valance into place, and secure it the same way you did with the canopy. Reattach the decorative metal caps on the side. 

FAQ

Q. How do I know when it’s time to replace my awning?

A. According to Allen, if your awning is torn, it needs to be replaced. You should also consider replacing it if it’s faded to the point of being unappealing or it has significant mold growth or grime buildup that you just can’t remove anymore.

Q. How long does a canopy last?

A. “Canopies are expected to last anywhere between seven and 10 years, depending on the grade of fabric that you buy,” Allen said. Additionally, the amount of care and cleaning you perform has a direct effect on how long your canopy will last. Like any item, if you don’t take the time to maintain it, its lifespan will decrease significantly.

Q. Can I make my own canopy?

A. Our DIY expert spent three years making window treatments for a living. She says the amount of fabric you need to manage, the special thread, the hemming process and the special equipment required make the idea of starting from scratch and sewing your own canopy a bad choice. It’s much more cost-effective and time-efficient to simply measure your old canopy and buy a new one.

What you need to buy to replace your awning

Craftsman Screwdriver Set

This comprehensive screwdriver set from a trusted manufacturer has everything you need to remove and replace the canopy on your awning.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Little Giant Ladders Velocity Ladder

This versatile tool can be used as an A-frame ladder or an extension ladder. It is made of aluminum and has a weight capacity of 300 pounds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Gorilla Ladders Three-Step Pro-Grade Steel Step Stool

It’s tiny but tough — this three-step professional grade step stool has slip-resistant steps and a 300-pound weight capacity. 

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot and Amazon 

Attwood Neon Colored Diamond Braided Polypropylene Marine Utility Cord

The rope you need for this project must be rugged, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money. This braided polypropylene utility cord is affordable and more than up to the task.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Outsunny Replacement Awning Fabric 

If you need a piece of fabric that is 13 feet by 8 feet, this is a great option. It is water-resistant and comes with the canopy, valance and an awning cord.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

SunWave Awning Fabric

This replacement fabric is suitable for RVs with an 18-foot awning. It is made with two layers of vinyl bonded together for increased protection and features a straight-edge valance for a clean look.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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