Unless you are on the road a lot or live in your RV full time, your RV probably spends a fair amount of time in your driveway. If you leave it exposed to the elements, the exterior will wear out much more quickly than if it is protected. If storing your RV in an enclosed facility isn't an option, there is an easy way to protect your investment - use an RV cover.
RV covers have a variety of benefits. First, they keep your exterior in good condition and minimize your preparation time when you're ready to hit the road again. But let's discuss a few other reasons why using an RV cover is a smart choice.
Why Use an RV Cover?
To be clear, the infamous blue tarp is not the kind of RV cover you want to use. While it can be a short-term option in a pinch, when it comes to maintaining the resale value of your RV, a cover specifically designed for RVs can provide the highest level of protection.
Here are some of the things an RV-specific cover can protect against
Whether you're lounging by the lake or on the road looking for a new campsite, it's hard to argue that a beautiful, sunny day in your RV is rare. But when your RV is parked in the driveway, the sun's UV rays can cause paint to fade, degrade decals, create cracks in the roof and cause damage to your entire cabin.
If you leave your RV in the sun without a cover, the interior and exterior temperatures can rise dangerously. If your RV heats up too quickly, it can damage critical, heat-sensitive components. Using an RV cover can reduce the temperature of your RV by deflecting direct sunlight.
Over time, UV exposure can even degrade a high-quality RV cover, but the cover is much less expensive to replace than repainting the entire RV. The best way to avoid UV degradation is to park your RV in a covered storage area. The second best way is to use an RV cover.
Water can be an RV's worst enemy, especially when trapped under a tarp. If condensation is trapped between the RV and the tarp, it can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. In extremely cold temperatures, it can cause freezing and cracking around the roof.
Most good RV covers are waterproof, but still breathable. The tiny pores in the fabric allow moisture to escape without preventing water droplets from entering. As long as you choose a cover that is made specifically for RVs, you shouldn't have to worry about moisture being trapped underneath.
If you find that your RV has moisture on the exterior walls while covered, consider running a portable, battery-operated fan to promote air circulation under the cover. Run the fan for at least 2-3 hours per week to minimize moisture and condensation buildup under the RV cover.
In long-term RV storage, you can also remove and clean your cover periodically. Wait until you have 3-4 days of warm temperatures (above freezing) and no chance of precipitation. Remove the cover, clean any visible spots of mold growth with a sponge and mild soap, then allow the fabric to dry completely before replacing it.
Whether it's related to your RV cover or curtains, here are some more tips on how to manage moisture and condensation inside your RV.
Wind can blow leaves, pine cones, pollen and any other airborne debris you can imagine onto your RV. If it's not covered, your RV can be damaged by flying particles when high winds blow through.
Breezy conditions can even catch tarps and covers, causing them to blow apart. This causes any straps, bungee cords or ropes that hold them in place to come under pressure. If this pressure is too great, it can tear the fabric, rip the bungee, or cause loose straps to hit your RV dangerously. That's why high-quality RV and toy hoods have vents to reduce heaving.
Unless you are tempted to wash your RV weekly, a good cover is the easiest way to protect it from dirt and grime. Over time, this sediment can cause wear and tear on parts, components and the appearance of your RV.
Leaving your RV uncovered can expose it to anything in the environment. With a cover, you won't have to worry about bird droppings, leaves stuck to it and other general muck when you spring clean your RV before you hit the road.
How to Choose the Right RV Cover
Recreational vehicle covers are made to fit all RV sizes and designs. For example, a cover for a Class A RV is a very different shape than a cover designed for an R-Pod trailer. You can even customize a cover to best fit your order.
Here are some tips to help you choose the right cover for your RV.
- A cover made of weather-resistant fabric provides maximum protection from rain and snow.
- Breathable materials are best for preventing mold and mildew growth
- Reinforced corners reduce the chance of tears or abrasion
- Polyester or polypropylene covers are best at blocking UV rays
- UV-treated double or triple coverings provide additional UV protection
- Ventilation baffles are key to reducing waves and strain on straps
- Elastic at the bottom and straps underneath will keep your cover in place in high winds
- Lighter colored covers stay cool in hot climates or direct sunlight
Things to consider when covering your RV
While they are the best way to protect your RV from the elements, putting your cover on your RV can be a challenge if you haven't done it before. One of the best ways to do this is to choose a day with minimal wind to install your cover for the first time. In doing so, here are some more tips for getting your cover in place without damaging it or your RV in the process.
Step 1: Clean and Dry Your RV
There's no point in putting a cover on a dirty RV. Cleaning and sanitizing your vehicle after each trip is a best practice for RV travel and it will reduce your preparation time when you are ready to hit the road again. Just make sure you let your RV or trailer dry completely after cleaning so you don't trap moisture inside when you put the cover on.
This is also a good time to double-check that your RV furnace and water heater are still working. The heat coming out of the exterior vents of these units can easily melt a hole in your RV cover if you leave them running.
Step 2: Unfold the cover
Unfold your cover completely and disconnect all the straps along the edges so that nothing gets caught during installation. Then, find the front of the cover and roll it from the back to the front, keeping it unfolded across the width. This will allow you to start from the front and when you stand on the roof of your RV in the next step, you can start from the back.
Step 3: Put cover on the roof of your vehicle
You may need to fold your cover into thirds by width to make it easier to place it on top of your vehicle. If your vehicle has a permanent RV ladder, use that to climb up onto the roof. Otherwise, you'll need a folding or telescoping ladder to get your cover and yourself up there.
If you have someone nearby who can assist, have them hand you the lid. Or, use a 15-20 foot piece of rope and secure it to your lid before you climb up the ladder. Bring one end of the rope and use it to hoist your cover once you are safely on the ladder.
Step 4: Install Cover From Front to Back
Take your cover to the front of your car and unroll it from width to width. Then unfold it once or twice along the length so you can start putting the front edge onto the front of the RV. Walk backwards, unfolding the cover as you move toward the back of the carriage. Be careful to avoid the RV air conditioner and any roof vents that may be in your way.
Also, make sure your cover doesn't get hung up or caught on any of these roof accessories as you go. Make sure the cover is draped over the sides of the RV so that it will fall naturally to the ground as you bring the trailing edge over the rear of the vehicle.
Once you reach the rear of the RV, carefully climb down the ladder and bring the cover down the rear wall as you descend.
If your RV does not have a walkable roof, you will need assistance and two ladders to slowly work your way from front to back, section by section, as you install the cover.
Step 5: Attach the straps
You may need to use a portable ladder to get around your RV and make sure the sides of your cover hang all the way down to the ground. Once your cover is sufficiently in place, find the edge with the longer straps. Often, these straps will have male ends with buckles on them.
Some RV covers have weighted straps that make them easier to throw under your compartment so you don't have to crawl underneath. However, regardless of the specific design, your final step is to attach all the straps under the vehicle and tighten them into place. This will help reduce waves. If you anticipate high winds, it's a good idea to go back and retighten these straps, as they will loosen over time.