Slide outs are a popular addition to RVs. They are extensions to the vehicle that allow you to enjoy a larger living space inside your camper. Many people opt for RVs with this feature, but it is important to know the best way of protecting them. The most common solution is an awning-style slide out topper, but they may not be suitable for everyone. So let’s dive right in. Do you need slide out toppers, and how much do they cost?
Do you need slide out toppers and how much do they cost? Your need for slide out toppers will depend on where you use your RV. They are great for keeping debris and other elements out of your slide outs, as well as protecting your slide outs from leaking. Slide out toppers will cost you between around $150 to $450 depending on the product you choose.
Slide outs for RV’s yes or no?
Slide out toppers are made up of a roll of fabric material that is fixed to the side of your RV, just above the slide outs. The material rolls out as your slide outs extend outward, providing a layer of protection between the slide outs and elements such as precipitation, leaves, and other debris. It may seem like an obvious choice to install these for additional protection, but there are a few factors to consider before adding these to your camper.
Below we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of slide out toppers, how much they cost, installation advice, and other things to look out for when making this decision for your vehicle.
Pros of Slide out Toppers
When discussing slide out toppers, it is important to keep in mind that people use RVs in vastly different environments. Toppers will be especially ideal for people with RVs located in wooded areas with regular precipitation, and infrequent exposure to wind. Here are a few advantages to consider:
- Protection from the sun: The tops of your slide outs need to be protected, just like the roof of the RV itself. The sun can speed up the aging process of all parts of your RV, threatening to damage sealants, fade or crack paint, and cause deterioration of plastic, rubber, or vinyl parts. A topper will act as a barrier between your slides and the sun, which will help avoid these factors and also help keep the RV cool on a sunny day.
- Protection from debris: Slide out toppers will catch any debris that may fall on your slide outs. When you roll the slide outs back into the vehicle, these elements will simply roll off of the topper, instead of getting trapped inside the slides. This means you will not have to spend time getting up on your roof to sweep pine needles, leaves, and sticks off the top of your slides.
- Moisture protection: Precipitation poses the threat of leaking into your RV, which can lead to mold and mildew problems among a slew of other frustrating situations. RV owners without slide out toppers often have to sweep off snow or puddles of water manually, or even hand dry their slides with a towel in order to prevent moisture from entering their vehicles.
Cons of Slide out toppers
While slide out toppers are great for catching debris and moisture, they may not be ideal for RV owners in flat, windy climates. If you mostly travel with your camper in these types of environments, it may be worth reconsidering the decision to purchase slide out toppers. The main disadvantage to consider is as follows:
- Movement due to wind: In particularly windy areas, slide out toppers may pick up wind and begin to flap up and down repeatedly. This movement can damage both the top of your slide outs, as well as the toppers themselves. When the wind catches the topper material in this way, the fabric becomes looser, developing slack when it should pull out tight from the roll. This can also be annoying when trying to sleep hearing the slap slap slap of your topper.
To correct this, you will have to manually wind the material back into a tight roll, and reextend it over the slide out. If the wind persists, this issue will as well. For this reason, toppers may not be useful in this particular type of climate.
There are a few solutions RV owners have used to combat this specific issue. Here are a couple options you have if the wind affects your ability to protect your slide out toppers:
- Use a beach ball or kickball: Place a beach ball or kickball beneath the topper material. This will create a slope out of the loose fabric so that it is tight once again. This will also prevent the material from hitting the top of the slide and causing damage. This will also keep water from pooling on top of your slide out further stretching it.
- Buy a hard-shell topper: Although they are much less common, it is possible to purchase a hard-shell topper if needed. If the wind is a frequent issue for you, this option may be more suitable to your needs.
Will my slides leak if I don’t have a topper?
Slide leakage has more to do with your sealants than whether or not you have a topper. If your slides are properly sealed, the RV should be thoroughly protected from leaks. However, it is common for seals to become damaged with time and wear. A sealed area of your slide may become compromised without your immediate knowledge. In this instance, slide out toppers will provide an added layer of protection against any possible leaks until you can reseal the area.
How much is a slide out topper?
The price of a slide out topper will depend on the type, brand, and materials used. Typically, these mechanisms run between around $150 and $450. If you need a professional to help with installation, this will add to the total cost of your slide out toppers.
What to look for in a slide out topper?
When looking for a slide out topper, it is important to keep several factors in mind. First of all, you will need to know the size that you need. This will depend on the size of your slides. Make sure to get proper measurements before purchasing your toppers.
You will want to choose toppers that are made of durable materials. Reading the reviews online is a great way to see how others rate different toppers. Here is one of the top toppers on the market. Viewing the toppers in-person and having a professional explain how the materials hold up against weather and other elements are both great ideas as well.
Color is another component to consider when deciding on your slide out toppers. You will want to choose a color that will go well with the colors of your RV, and keep looking good well into the future. Black is always a great option for a timeless look, but ultimately this aspect of the decision is up to your personal taste.
Can I install a slide out topper myself?
Yes, it is possible to install slide out toppers yourself. However, due to the size of these toppers, you may want assistance with putting them together. Another thing to keep in mind is that improper installation can lead to leakage, mold, delamination, and other problems for your RV. Making sure the topper is properly sealed to your vehicle is the best way to prevent these issues from occurring.
If you think you may need assistance, it is a good idea to hire a professional to make sure the mechanism is securely installed. While you can install it yourself, hiring assistance will give you the peace of mind that your slide out topper is
Whether or not you need slide out toppers for your RV will largely depend on your location, and where you plan to take the majority of your trips. If you’re traveling near trees and frequent precipitation, adding this feature can add protection and convenience to your RV adventures. Camping in a windy, flat area may not require the same amount of protection. Weigh these factors against your other needs, and you’ll be sure to make the right decision for protecting your slide outs.
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