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What is a Slide Topper?
An RV slide topper, or a slide out awning, is a durable vinyl fabric sheet that is connected to a reel. The reel extends and retracts automatically over an RV slide out room. It covers the roof of the slide out and protects it from rain and debris, so all of that mess doesn’t come into your rig when you pull in the slide out.
We recently installed a Dometic Elite SlideTopper EZ and couldn’t be happier. The slide out awning fabric is made from a heavy duty durable material that is either white vinyl or black. We went with the black to match the colors on our RV slide.
It is very easy to install and using it is even easier as you don’t have to do anything to protect your RV from various weather conditions. As your slide out goes out, so does the slide topper, so it’s a piece of cake.
Benefits of a Slide Topper
The main benefit is to protect the top of the slide out from harmful debris like leaves and sticks that can fall onto the slide out roof. This debris can cause damage when falling. Having the slide out awning as an extra layer of protection definitely adds peace of mind.
The slide toppers are situated so that there is a slight angle from where the topper is secured to the side wall of your RV, down to the end of the slide out. Any bigger things like acorns or pinecones will typically roll right off and a heavy rainfall will stream right off of it.
Without a slide topper any of that remaining debris, like leaves, will remain on the slide out roof unless you get up on the roof of your camper or motorhome to sweep it off. This isn’t the easiest thing to do and very easy to forget. Once you start bringing the slide out in, all of that water and anything else that found its way on top of the slide out will come in as well.
Slide toppers also protect from sun damage to the roof of the slide out. The sun can do some major damage to fiberglass and rubber roofs, so having the slide topper protect the slide out roof is a major plus.
Along with protecting from the sun’s UV rays, the slide topper can also help keep your RV cool. While the sun is beating down on the slide out roof eating into the rubber or fiberglass that is up there, it’s also cooking that side of your rig.
The slide topper will act as a shade awning over your slide out and since there is about 4 or 5 inches of space between the slide topper fabric and the slide out roof, the heat will dissipate and barely any of that will make it’s way into your rig.
We had a professional install our Dometic slide out awning, but I did help and it was much easier than I thought.
The first part of the installation required us to take down the existing rain gutter that was mounted above the slide out. Removing the gutter gave us the perfect mounting point for the awning rail which is how the slide topper fabric connects to the side wall of the RV.
Mounting the awning rail was easy as it only took a few screws as well as some butyl tape behind the screws to make it is water tight. Make sure the awning rail is level with your RV, not necessarily level in general since your RV may not be perfectly level. Since we were able to use the markings from the rain gutter, we had an easy guide.
Next was attaching the mounting brackets to the slide out. These brackets support the reel that extends and retracts the slide topper.
The brackets attach to the top corners of the slide out with a few screws, however, make sure they mount to the slide out wall and not the trim piece that goes around the slide out.
When the awning rail and the brackets are installed, the next part is to feed the fabric of the slide topper through the awning rail. At the end of the slide topper’s fabric, there is a bead that fits into a slot on the awning rail.
A pro tip is to spray a little WD-40 all along that slot so it slides easily. Also, if you had to cut the awning rail, or use more than one awning rail, to fit the length of your slide out, you may want to use a file to file off any burrs at the end of the awning rail that may snag the slide topper fabric.
This part requires 2 people and 2 ladders as most slide toppers are pretty long. In my case, it is 12 feet. We were able to easily feed the slide topper through while each person stood on a ladder.
When the slide topper is fed all the way through and is aligned over the slide out, you attach the reel to the brackets. This is done by pulling the brackets out a bit (they are extendable) so they fit around the awning reel. The reel will slip into the brackets and then they are secured with a cotter pin on each side.
After the cotter pins are in place you can test that it works by bringing your slide all the way in then all the way out. You should see the slide topper moving with the slide out.
That’s pretty much it! Our install took about 3 hours and went very smoothly.
Should you get a Slide Topper on your rig?
Most newer RV’s are including slide toppers over their slide outs and for good reason. The protection they offer is fantastic and there is nothing you have to do to use it.
If your rig doesn’t have one, I’d definitely recommend installing one. The cost of the slide topper pails in comparison to water seeping into your slide out and causing water damage somewhere in your rig. Or that terrible crunch sound of a big branch getting crushed on the slide out roof as you bring in the slide out.
You can check out the SlideToppers Dometic offers here.
This post is in paid partnership with Dometic.
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