Owning a large, fully-equipped RV isn’t for everyone. For starters, they’re both incredibly heavy and expensive. Some people and their families simply don’t need a complicated rig to take on their camping trips. They’re fine with a simple, no-frills setup that just involves a cozy bed and dining area to escape the outdoors.
A pop-up camper is perfect for this. These campers are a great option for those looking for something that’s better than tent camping, but doesn’t come with the hassle of owning a big RV or travel trailer. Their walls are normally made of high-quality, weather-resistant canvas that drastically reduces the camper’s weight, thus making it towable by even light duty SUV’s.
However, overtime these canvas walls can break down, compromising the integrity of the camper. Should this occur, you might need to consider a canvas replacement. Fortunately for you, this guide will give you everything you need to know about replacing your pop-up camper canvas. Let’s dive in!
- Can You Replace the Canvas on a Pop-Up Camper?
- Is Re-Canvasing Necessary?
- How To Tell When It’s Time For a Pop-Up Camper Canvas Replacement
- The Best Way to Clean a Pop-Up Camper’s Canvas
- How Hard is it to Replace the Canvas on Pop-Up Campers?
- How Much Do Canvas Replacements Cost?
- Professional Cost to Re-Canvas your Pop-Up
- DIY Cost of a Pop-Up Camper Canvas Replacement
- Are You Ready to Replace Your Pop Up Camper Canvas?
Can You Replace the Canvas on a Pop-Up Camper?
You’ll be pleased to learn that the canvas installed on your camper is completely replaceable. Most often, this canvas is attached to the body of the pop-up through a variety of fastening mechanisms. Screws, velcros, zippers, and heat bonded material connections are commonly used around the camper.
Many third-party manufacturers create model specific replacement canvas. This product is ensured to seamlessly replace the old canvas. If you’re willing to pay the cost – normally $1000 – 1500 for a basic pop-up – the replacement canvas will show right up at your door in a matter of weeks.
Is Re-Canvasing Necessary?
There are a variety of situations where re-canvasing your pop-up camper could be necessary. While not every slight damage will require a complete replacement, certain circumstances might. These include:
- Rips and Tears: If your canvas sidewalls have numerous amounts of tears, replacing the entire canvas could be much more time efficient than patching.
- Lack of Waterproofing: Deteriorating material can allow rain to seap through the canvas, making your camper damp. In this case, a canvas replacement is the only option.
- Excessive Mold Growth: While mold and mildew can be tackled with the appropriate cleaning products, it often comes back. Excess growth may be better off just replacing.
How To Tell When It’s Time For a Pop-Up Camper Canvas Replacement
Recognizing the signs of severe canvas damage are pretty obvious. Extreme tears and gouges that allow light, air, and water to penetrate the camper are the most concerning. A minor tear can often be repaired by the use of patching kit, although this is normally a temporary fix and doesn’t permanently solve the problem.
Water seepage from the sidewalls and drips from the roof are another major indicator that it is time for a replacement canvas. The canvas found on your pop-up is not built to last forever. In general, pop-up camper canvas only lasts 15 years if meticulously cared for.
If your camper is an older model, or it has been sitting for an extended period of time, the canvas material has likely deteriorated. Swapping it out is the only solution.
As mentioned in the previous section, mold and mildew growth can also be a sign. While minor mildew (white and fuzzy) can be successfully treated and cleaned, mold (green, black, other colors) is much more difficult and will often return. If mold has engulfed your pop-up camper canvas, changing it out is the safest option.
The Best Way to Clean a Pop-Up Camper’s Canvas
If your canvas has only accumulated mildew, or very minor mold, it can be successfully removed with the appropriate cleaning regimen. Normal dirt and debris that has built up in tight folds of the canvas can be adequately cleaned with mild soap, some water, and a scrubby.
Mold and mildew on the other hand, will require much harsher chemicals. Your best bet is to pick up some anit-mildew spray, which is found in most hardware or home repair stores. This solution will not only kill the fungal growth, but prevent it from reoccurring by sealing the canvas with a protective layer, thus breathing new life into your camper.
You can also take a DIY approach to this and avoid harsh chemicals by utilizing a standard solution of bleach, dish soap, and water. Just make sure to wash away any excess when you’re done cleaning! For best results, always make sure to do a deep clean at least once a year. This will keep your canvas in pristine condition.
DIY vs. Hiring a Professional to Re-Canvas Your Pop-Up Camper
The RV community is divided into two groups: those that do their own repairs, and those who bring it to a shop. Both methods are completely valid, and your personal choice will depend on your handiness and the amount of free time you have.
Going the DIY route has the potential to save you a lot of money on labor if you’re willing to sacrifice your own time. However, there is no guarantee the job will be done perfectly. Bringing your pop-up camper to a certified repair specialist will ensure that you receive a long lasting repair, as these technicians do this sort of work day in and day out.
Can You Replace the Canvas on a Pop-Up Campers Yourself?
If you’ve got the will, the average determined RVer can take on a recanvasing project pretty easily. Purchasing an entire replacement canvas from a certified distributor is your best option.
Many DIYers choose to utilize their own materials, but this is generally a bad idea. Firstly, its highly likely that the average canvas you purchase from a store is not designed for pop-up campers. Secondly, crafting your own canvas is going to require some advanced sewing skills.
Purchasing the correct type of canvas is imperative to the success of your replacement job.
How Hard is it to Replace the Canvas on Pop-Up Campers?
Replacing the canvas on your pop-up camper is a straightforward process so long as you buy a factory replacement. As discussed before, the canvas is usually fastened to the body and canopy of the camper with a variety of hardware.
Always remove the canvas carefully, as hardware has a tendency to degrade over time. It’s a good idea to have a replacement hardware kit handy, as these fixtures can often become rusty and wornout.
Some specialty tools might be required for this job, such as a heat gun for adhesive seals, so ensure you have these on hand before tackling the job.
What Material is Used for Pop-Up Camper Canvas?
The walls of a pop-up camper are generally constructed with either cotton canvas, or vinyl. Each have their own unique properties, so lets look at some of the defining characteristics.
- Cotton Canvas: Cotton is what is found on most of the older pop-up campers, but it is still has its own benefits. Cotton canvas is breathable, meaning humidity produced inside your pop-up camper has some sort of ventilation. Cotton also can withstand extremely cold temperatures, as it doesn’t crack. \
- Vinyl: A vinyl finish canvas is a much more modern solution than cotton. It has better natural waterproofing, and it can be much more easily cleaned as mildew has a tougher time penetrating itl. It does however crack at low temperatures, and has no ventilation properties.
How Much Do Canvas Replacements Cost?
Recanvasing pop-up campers is undoubtedly an expensive process. After all, the canvas is a highly specialized product that has to be uniquely made to your camper. Most canvas stitching is incredibly intricate and requires hand-sewing to ensure the highest quality. These factors alone contribute to the majority of the price, but labor costs can easily bump up the price if your pop-up is being brought to a professional.
Camper canvas pricing is also very dependent on the number of slideouts and on whether it’s just one, or as many as four slideouts.
Let’s compare the price of full canvas replacements from three of the leading companies.
Example: Pricing for a 2008 Coleman Arcadia 4321 (individual model prices vary)
* Pricing is just for the canvas, no labor included.
Replacing Your Pop-Up Canvas with Bear Creek Canvas
Bear Creek Canvas is a favorite in the RV community for its dedication to customer service and made-to-order replacement canvasses. As you can see from our price breakdown, their prices are substantially lower than competitors. This doesn’t mean their quality is inferior either – quite the opposite.
Their pricing scheme is extremely streamlined and easy to understand. Additionally, they also offer canopy replacements, priced by the foot. They cover nearly every pop-up camper model imaginable, and are still family-owned and operated to this day. While we can’t speak on the shipping times, Bear Creek is still a go-to option for those looking to replace their damaged canvas.
Professional Cost to Re-Canvas your Pop-Up
Once you’ve purchased your replacement canvas, you may want to hire an RV service shop for your canvas installation. This is a great option if you’re not super DIY inclined and are afraid of damaging your camper inadvertently or installing the canvas incorrectly.
RV repair shops generally charge between $150-170 per hour, and you can expect 2-3 hours of work, minimum. The shop will have to remove the entire canvas, replace hardware, and install the new canvas. This is normally a two person job, thus reflecting the price.
In total, expect an additional $500 to have your canvas professionally installed.
DIY Cost of a Pop-Up Camper Canvas Replacement
The cost of a DIY job really only involves the cost of the canvas itself, some additional tools you might need, and a complete hardware kit. After the initial canvas purchase, expect to pay less than $50 for additional materials.
You should also factor in the amount of time this project may take you. While a professional team can get it done in a few hours, setting aside an entire weekend will likely be more accurate for an at-home job.
Are You Ready to Replace Your Pop Up Camper Canvas?
Pop-up campers are an amazing RV choice for the camping family that is looking to feel one with nature, while still retaining some comforts from home. Pop-ups are affordable and easy to tow, but their canvas is susceptible to damage.
If you own an older pop-up or your canvass has become ripped or mold infested, installing a replacement canvas is the best way to extend the life of your rig. While pricing can be expensive, replacing the canvas yourself is luckily a simple DIY job.
This guide provided you with everything you needed to know about canvas replacement, from the job itself to the pricing. So, go ahead and order your pop-up a new canvas so that you can get back to enjoying the great outdoors!