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DIY van and camper awnings

Updated November 21, 2016

Many campers come with awning included, but vans and older campers sometimes lack this amenity. In those cases, you might want to buy one and have it professionally installed, or construct your own. Creating a functional and attractive awning for a camper or van takes some very common materials, available from any hardware or home improvement centre. If you're handy, installation takes approximately an hour.

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  1. Lay a tarpaulin out on the ground of the size desired for the awning. Use a sturdy, durable tarpaulin and not one that tears easily or one designed for light-duty use.

  2. Fold the front and back of the tarpaulin over a length of 2.5 cm (1 inch), and staple a seam to create a pocket along the entire length. Be sure to have the seams fold over on the down-facing side of the tarpaulin.

  3. Slip 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) PVC pipe through the front and back pouches. Cut the two pieces of pipe with a hacksaw so they extend out beyond the pouch 2.5 cm (1 inch) on both sides.

  4. Attach two clamps to the van or camper side where you plan to connect the awning. Place the clamps roughly 3 m (10 feet) apart across the camper. These will hold the rear bar of the awning securely to the structure.

  5. Place 90-degree PVC corner pieces onto the ends of the four PVC pipe poles at the front and back of the tarpaulin. Clamp the back pole to the camper side securely and test it to make sure it is not going to fall free.

  6. Insert tent poles into the PVC corners and stand the tarpaulin up to examine it. Make any adjustments to the camper or van's side edge necessary to get it straight and balanced.

  7. Cut four 3.6 m (12 foot) lengths of tent line with a Stanley knife. Tie the end of one length securely to one of the rear PVC corner pieces. Tie a loop in the other end of the line and attach it to the ground using a tent stake and rubber mallet. Repeat this step with another length of tent line and the rear PVC corner piece on the other side, pulling the tarpaulin taut as you go. Tie one end of each of the remaining lengths of tent line through the grommets at the front corners of your awning. Tie the other ends into loops. Stake the lines into the ground.

  8. Adjust the tent poles or staked lines to get the awning placed so that there is no slack in it and it is tight across the front.

  9. Tip

    Tent poles that have points to embed into the ground add stability to the awning.


    Avoid pulling too hard when staking the tarpaulin to avoid ripping it.

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Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-duty tarpaulin
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Two 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) PVC pipes
  • Hacksaw
  • Two clamps
  • Four 90-degree PVC corner pieces
  • Four 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) diameter tent poles
  • 14.4 m (48 feet) of tent line
  • Stanley knife
  • Tent stakes
  • Rubber mallet

About the Author

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