Cover Me: Selecting the Proper Cover Helps Keep an RV Looking Nice and Cuts Cleaning Time
At some point, most RVers have to consider putting their rig away for storage. Seasonal changes, employment, family gatherings, etc., all happen, and we can’t always take our RV along for the ride. But when you do decide to store your RV, whether at home in the driveway or in a storage facility, it’s a wise decision to invest in an RV cover.
An RV sitting in the driveway or the side yard is subject to the best (and worst) that Mother Nature has to offer, and not giving it any protection can be a recipe for expensive wear and tear, not to mention the affect on the exterior aesthetics.
“UV degradation is probably one of the biggest problems facing RV owners today,” says Morgan Ein, managing partner at ADCO Products Inc. “The UV light will essentially destroy everything in its path.” And that UV exposure goes beyond simply fading the RV’s color; it can lead to much more expensive repairs. “Not only does covering your RV preserve its appearance, but you must remember that the paint itself is a protective barrier used to keep metal and plastic components from breaking down,” says Lane Wilkinson, merchandise manager at Classic Accessories. “If an RV’s paint is not protected, the components underneath will eventually be exposed and begin to show signs of damage.”
Paint is not the only subject of damaging exposure. Gel-coated fiberglass can oxidize over time, losing its luster and looking dull and chalky. This damage can greatly affect an RV’s resale value. And since an RV is an investment, it should be protected as such. It’s no secret that, when buying a used RV, the first thing that grabs a buyer’s eye is the overall condition of the exterior surface. Faded decals, chalky front/end caps and sun-damaged roofs can seriously impact the selling price.
But the sun isn’t the only element that’s hard on an RV. “Tree sap can also be very damaging to the paint, causing staining and erosion to the finish,” says Marina Monet, sales manager at CoverQuest.com. RV covers are also designed to protect vehicles from bird droppings and acid-rain situations, and obviously help keep the exterior clean — especially EPDM roofs. “If you use an RV cover, it’s very easy to see that you’ll spend less time washing it and more time enjoying it,” says Ein.
So now that we have established the need for an RV cover, it’s time to do a bit of research. Remember, an RV cover is protection for your investment, so it’s not always wise to pick the cheapest option at the local warehouse store. “If you’re going to get a product, get a brand,” says Skip Mckee, CEO of Eevelle Covers. “We’ve seen an onslaught of overseas covers being produced, and shipped here with the promise of a lifetime warranty. There’s no way you’d get a lifetime warranty on an RV cover.”
Generally, an RV cover is made from polypropylene fabric or polyester, with varying methods of doubling or even tripling the layers for additional protection on the roof section. The fabrics are sometimes treated (or formulated) with different water and UV repellants, and also must allow water and moisture to evaporate to avoid mold and mildew forming beneath. There are, of course, higher-end and custom covers that contain different construction materials (see roundup). Essentially, the more expensive options offer more protection (don’t they always?), and custom covers tend to billow less in the wind than universal covers due to their tighter fit.
Once the covers are in place (see sidebar), they are generally connected with straps beneath the belly of the RV. Good-quality covers will feature vents to reduce billowing, and some offer zippered panels to allow access to the doors and compartments, which come in handy when loading for a trip. Also, the better quality covers may be lighter, which makes handling — and storage while the RV is in use — much easier.
Next comes the decision to buy a universal or a custom-fit cover. Custom covers are indeed more expensive, but their exact fit can mean a longer lifespan for both cover and RV finish. And they fit better, usually requiring fewer tie-downs, if any.
When selecting a cover based on the RV size, measure it yourself; don’t rely on the model numbers or the registration paperwork. “Measure end to end, bike rack to ladder,” says McKee. “That is the key.”
Covering an RV is a wise choice to protect your invest-ment. You likely have a cover on the grill in your backyard; why not your home on wheels?
To help you with your search, we’ve listed some of the top companies in the RV cover field. Many also offer tire covers, which we do recommend you purchase even if the cover appears to conceal most of the tires.
ADCO RV covers are produced in both universal and custom configurations in a variety of outdoor fabrics. ADCO’s core products are what they refer to as Designer Series Contour-fit RV Covers, available in SFS AquaShed and DuPont TyvekRV product lines. Both lines feature three-ply polypropylene side walls, while the roof of each cover features either the SFS AquaShed or the DuPont TyvekRV fabrics.
The SFS AquaShed is a three-layer fabric, the outer two layers being polypropylene and the middle layer a high-tech film that allows moisture to pass through. It’s intended to be used in moderate climates or for short-term storage. The fabric is gray and very gentle on automotive finishes, according to the company.
DuPont TyvekRV fabric is engi-neered to block up to 98 percent of dirt and dust particles larger than 3 microns, and also blocks up to 99.8 percent of the sun’s damaging UV rays, according to DuPont. TyvekRV is also resistant to solvents, acids and alkalis, offering the RV improved protection from bird droppings and acid-type rain. This fabric has a two-toned yellow/beige body and a white roof, and is available in contour-fit and custom-fit configurations.
Produced in custom-fit configurations only, Sunbrella fabric by Glen Raven Mills is made from woven acrylic, meaning it is resistant to cold-cracking, and the color of the fabric is placed into the fibers as it is extruded, to make the material fade-resistant. This fabric is offered in tan and gray and is recommended for anyone who plans to own their RV for many years and wants a tailored-fit RV cover.
ADCO products are available at www.campingworld.com. Visit the site for pricing.
ADCO Products | 800-541-ADCO | www.adcoprod.com
Camco RV Products offers a variety of RV accessories, including RV covers. The UltraGuard is recommended for cold, snowy climates. The triple-layer SFS top panel is formulated to repel water, allowing for maximum resistance to rainfall and snow. The sides are constructed using heavy-duty polypropylene, and the vented design helps battle mold and mildew. The integrated vent flaps reduce wind lofting and inside moisture.
UltraShield covers are recommended for use in warm, sunny climates. The lightweight
woven polyester offers protection from the elements, and vent flaps reduce billowing in the wind. UltraShield covers also feature an integrated self-adjusting hold-down system. Visit the website for pricing and ordering.
Camco | 800-334-2004 | www.camco.net
Classic Accessories offers three product lines for covering RVs. The most advanced line is PermaPRO, which is made from polyester using rip-stop technology, which can also be found in parachutes. PermaPRO is a thin material that is treated to keep water from penetrating the fabric. The covers carry a four-year warranty.
Classic’s midline cover is called the PolyPRO 3, and is made from polypropylene. The roof features three layers of poly for extra UV-protection, in addition to preventing moisture damage to the RV’s roof. PolyPRO 3 covers feature a three-year warranty.
The entry-level cover is the PolyPRO 1, which is constructed from a single layer of polypropylene. The covers feature a two-year warranty. Visit the website for more info and pricing.
Classic Accessories | 800-854-2315 | www.classicaccessories.com
Covercraft covers are available in three fabrics.
Ultratect Custom covers are made from solution-dyed SaturaMax yarns, offering superior shape retention and water-shedding capabilities. Ultratect covers are recommended for RVs that are subject to prolonged sun exposure and extreme elements, and are available in two colors.
WeatherShield HD covers are woven by Glen Raven Mills using solution-dyed UV-resistant polyester fibers, and then finished with an immersion encapsulation process, wherein a finish is placed inside the fabric to bond to each individual thread.
Sunbrella covers are also made by Glen Raven Mills, and are made of the same fabrics used in the marine industry for bimini tops, sail covers and deck enclosures. Sunbrella fabrics provide superior UV blockage while still allowing moisture to evaporate out from the RV. Visit the website for more info and pricing.
Covercraft Industries | 800-426-8377 | www.rvcovers4u.com
CoverQuest.com offers ADCO products (mentioned previously) in addition to Carver covers. Carver covers are made in the USA and are constructed of a woven, 6-ounce polyester material that is significantly lighter than many covers on the market, according to the company. The polyester material is made of 300-denier filament polyester yarns, and is treated with marine-grade water-repellent and UV and mildew inhibitors. Available in two colors, Silver Cloud and Desert Sand, CoverQuest covers carry a five-year-warranty.
CoverQuest | 888-726-9300 | www.coverquest.com
Eevelle offers three universal covers at varying price points designed for the RV market. All covers feature straps every 3-4 feet for securing to the RV, and vents in the fabric work to allow moisture to pass through to help fight mold and mildew. The covers are treated with a No. 8 UV finish to minimize sun damage.
The entry-level Traveler is a lightweight polypropylene cover that doesn’t have any
zippers. It is recommended for light use and carries a one-year warranty.
The midline Expedition covers are Eevelle’s most popular selling brand. They are also made of lightweight polypropylene and feature straps and roof vents, but offer the additional feature of a zippered side entry. Expedition covers are designed to be a bit more durable and thus carry a three-year warranty.
The top-of-the-line Goldline covers are made of a marine fabric and offer all the features of the Expedition. Goldline covers are semi-custom in that the sizing pattern comes within 18-24 inches of the actual RV make/model. Visit the website for more info and pricing.
Eevelle | 760-434-2231 | www.eevelle.com
Covering Your RV
Placing a cover on an RV is often looked upon as an all-day event, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips from the pros:
Get a buddy! Anytime you’re on the roof, it’s a good idea to have somebody on the ground helping you.
When the cover is taken out of its packaging, spread it out on a clean surface, such as a lawn. Unclip all the clips, zippers, etc., and get a good look at the geography of the cover before you take it to the roof.
Once you’ve stretched it out a bit, apply it inside out so that it falls into place. Some companies even package their covers inside out for this reason.
Installing a cover does not come without necessary precautions. Climbing on the roof can be dangerous and should only be done if you are confident of your footing and balance and the roof is designed to be walked on. A safer way to roll out the cover is to use a ladder on the side of the rig.
Over the years owners have devised methods for installing covers. One method is to roll the cover off the roof, fold the sides neatly into the center and place it in a 55-gallon trashcan for storage. When it comes time to cover the rig, a rope is tied to the end of the material, lifted to the roof and dragged to the front and the sides unfolded as the user walks toward the rear.
Regardless of the method for installing and/or removing a cover make sure any sharp edges — gutter spouts, antennas, accessories, etc. — are prevented from rubbing against the material. Premade insulators for ladders, gutter spouts and other rough edges are available from most cover manufacturers. Owners have also used swim noodles and pipe insulators to protect the covers from sharp edges.
Using a cover to protect an RV may require a little effort but there are tremendous upsides, like spending less time cleaning and protecting the finish. Considering the cost of a nice full-body paint or shiny gel-coated fiberglass, a cover is a good investment in money and time.