RVs with a slide-out (or multiple) offer more interior living space and comfort when camping. They also require additional maintenance that RVs without slide-outs don’t. One piece of slide-out maintenance to consider is how to protect its roof. It is for this purpose that manufacturers install an RV slide-out topper over their slide-outs.
But do you really need an RV slide-out topper for your motorhome or towable RV?
What is an RV Slide-out Topper?
A slide topper is a small RV awning that extends above your slide-out to protect its roof. Slide-out toppers automatically extend and retract with slide-outs, unlike your standard RV awning that extends or retracts using a manual crank or an electric motor. A slide-out topper isn’t a standard feature on all RVs with slide-outs, but they can be installed with the help of a certified RV technician.
The Benefits of an RV Slide-out Topper
- Improving water’s ability to shed from the roof
- Extending the life of the slide-outs roof by minimizing sun exposure
- Protecting against falling debris (leaves, pine cones, bird droppings, etc.)
- Keeping your RV cooler by reducing direct sun exposure
The Downsides of RV Slide-out Toppers
- Collecting rainwater if not kept tight
- Catching wind and causing annoying noise
- Giving you another RV component to maintain
- Making it tough to clean the roof of your slide room
Do You Need RV Slide-out Toppers?
So should you run out and buy slide-out toppers if your RV isn’t currently equipped?
Equipping your RV’s slide-out rooms with topper awnings isn’t a requirement. However, these small awnings can save your slide-out rooms from bigger issues. Slide toppers are easier and more affordable to replace than resealing the roof of a slide-out room.
They can also reduce the chances of damage to your slide-out room’s motors. In rare cases, large debris can be caught on top of your slide-out room while it’s extended. If you attempt to retract your slide-out with large debris in the way, it can damage the room’s roof, weather seals, motor, or other mechanical components.
On average, replacement fabric for a slide-out topper costs $300 to $400. Replacing the roof of a slide-out room, resealing its seams, or replacing damaged slide-out motors can cost much more.
So, are slide-out toppers a requirement? No.
But are these awnings a smart investment to protect one of the more complicated mechanical conveniences of your RV? Absolutely.
How to Maintain RV Slide-out Toppers
For RVs equipped with slide-out toppers, regular inspection is your primary task. Visually inspect the awning material of your slide toppers as part of your annual RV roof inspection.
While you’re on the roof, use a soft-bristle brush, water, and a recommended awning cleaning solution. A small collapsible bucket will also be useful for mixing your awning cleaner with the recommended amount of water.
Beyond regular inspection and cleaning, the easiest way to maintain RV slide toppers is to operate your slide-outs correctly, including retracting them before bad weather rolls in. Read our full tutorial on proper RV slide-out operation.
How to Choose a Replacement RV Slide-out Topper
Here are the steps for choosing a replacement slide topper if yours is broken, damaged, or simply unsightly:
1. Consider the extent of the replacement. Do you simply need to replace the fabric? Or do you need a full replacement kit with mounting hardware, roll tube, head assemblies, and more?
2. Measure the length of your slide-out room. Use a tape measure to measure the outside dimensions (front to back) of your slide-out room from flange seal to flange seal. Add five inches to ensure the topper extends beyond the total box length of your slide room.
A flange seal (also known as trim or T-molding) is a rubber seal that extends from the edges of the slide room’s frame to seal it from dust and moisture, both when the slide is extended and when it’s retracted.
3. Measure the width of your slide-out room. Verify how far your slide-outs extend from the main body of your coach to ensure you choose a topper that matches that measurement.
4. Consider the materials. Most slide-out toppers are made with vinyl or acrylic fabric. Vinyl is typically thicker, more durable, and provides better waterproofing. On the other hand, acrylic usually breathes better, reducing the likelihood of mold or bacteria growth.
5. Choose your color. There’s usually little color variation for RV slide-out awnings; it’s typically a black-or-white decision. White is better for reflecting sunlight, but black might be a better match for the exterior finish of your RV. Choose whichever suits your preference.
With all these factors considered, search our inventory for a replacement slide-out topper. You can also contact our RV service centers to speak with an advisor about replacing your RV’s slide-out topper.
The Best RV Slide-out Toppers from Camping World
Here are a few of our favorite slide-out toppers to consider for your RV:
Lippert Solera Slid Topper
- Length: 5’6” up to 16’
- Width: Up to 48”
- Material: Vinyl
The Lippert Solera Slider comes with mounting hardware that matches most competing brands to reduce the need to patch holes after installation. Once installed, it remains permanently attached and works automatically with the movement of your RV slide-out.
Dometic Deluxe Slide Topper with Vinyl Weathershield
- Length: 5’ up to 30’3”
- Width: Up to 42”
- Material: Vinyl
The mold and mildew-resistant slide topper comes with the fabric roller tube assembly, awning rail, and all required mounting hardware. It’s made for slide-outs with a maximum extension of 42 inches and includes a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.
Carefree SideOut Kover III
- Length: 5’1” up to 15’9”
- Width: Up to 42”
- Material: Vinyl
Carefee’s replacement slide-out topper integrates with Carefree patio and window awnings to limit your RV’s sun exposure. It comes with an awning rail and all mounting hardware, which is made of extruded aluminum to provide more durability.
Here are a few more resources to help you care for your RV’s slideouts:
- How to Extend and Retract RV Slideouts
- How to Manually Operate RV Slideouts
- Should I Use Slideout Supports?
outDo you have any questions about RV slide-out toppers? Share them in the comments below.