Anyone who enjoys RVing has had to clear dirt, leaves, and bird droppings off the tops of the slides. RVing is great, but clearing debris off the tops of the slides is nobody’s favorite part.
So are RV slide toppers worth it? Yes! If you have $300 to spend, a slide topper can be a great investment. Whether you have a slide topper installed, decide to install it yourself, or purchase an RV with a slide topper included, this extra equipment can save you time and money in the long run.
RV-ers benefit from added roof protection for their slide out, convenient maintenance, and even reduced energy usage when using a slide topper. So let’s look at some of the benefits, as well as any downsides, to decide if a slide topper is worth it for your RV!
What Are RV Slide Toppers?
A slide topper, or a slide out awning, is a weatherproof vinyl fabric sheet installed above the RV slide with a reel. This allows it to extend and retract with an RV slide out room automatically, saving time and ensuring the slide out top is always protected.
What Does An RV Slide Topper Do?
The awning extends out with your slide-out, keeping it protected from debris. This saves RV-ers time that is usually spent cleaning the top of the slide. The slide topper also retracts with the slide-out, keeping both protected when not in use.
How Does A Slide Topper Work?
Slide toppers are installed at a light angle from the top of the slide, just like a roof or awning.
The topper connects to the RV’s side wall at a downward angle, going over the end of the slide out. This way, anything from tree bark and pine cones to small branches will simply roll right down to the ground.
What If I Don’t Have A Slide Topper?
Without a slide topper, there is nothing to protect the top of the slide out from damage. Falling branches and debris can easily dent or damage the top of the slide out.
Also, all the slide out cleanup is left to the RV-ers. Any remaining debris, like leaves and dirt, will remain on the slide out roof.
The next best solution is to get up on the roof of your camper or motorhome and sweep it off. This isn’t the easiest thing to do. It can also be very easy to forget to do.
What If I Forget To Clean The Top Of My Slide Out?
Many RV-ers have had this experience. They forget to clean off the top of the slide out, so when they bring the slide back in, any water, dirt, and debris that dropped onto the top of the slide out will come inside as well.
Having a slide topper prevents any unwanted dirt and grime from entering the RV while bringing the slide out back in. That way, when you’re ready to hit the road, there’s no last-minute cleanup.
Pros Of RV Slide Toppers
Overall, RV slide toppers are a great way to add extra protection to your RV while saving money on repairs and power in the long run.
Some benefits of slide toppers are
- Protecting from damage from falling debris
- Preventing leaves, bird droppings, and dirt from collecting
- Preventing water buildup
- Keeping your RV interior cooler, cutting down on AC usage
Types Of Protection
The main benefit of a slide topper is protection. The slide topper stops falling debris like twigs and sticks from damaging the top of the slide.
The slide topper also keeps the slide clean from dirt and bird poop. This gives RV-ers one less thing to worry about while also saving time when ready to roll out.
UV rays can do serious and expensive damage to rubber and fiberglass roofs. Slide toppers provide an extra layer of protection, shading the slide’s roof and the sun.
The shade provided by the slide topper also helps regulate the temperature inside the RV. A slide topper sits 4 to 5 inches of space above the roof. This added space allows heat to dissipate rather than heat the inside of the slide out, making it much easier to keep cool.
Cons Of RV Slide Toppers
Clearly, there are many benefits to purchasing a slide topper with your RV or having one installed. They protect against damage and can help save on energy usage.
However, it is always good to note any possible downsides as well. These can include:
- Added difficulty when cleaning, especially underneath the slide topper
- Added noise from the wind moving the slide topper
- Longer slides often do not have the support to stop sagging, resulting in pooling water
- They can be expensive to add, ranging from $250 to nearly $1,000!
Cost To Repair Or Protect
Still trying to decide if a slide topper is right for you? Price is often the make or break factor when choosing any upgrade for your vehicle.
Roof repair costs for an RV typically range from $300-$325 per linear foot, not to mention the entire roof! Meanwhile, an economical slideout cover typically averages around $300. And that one add on will protect your entire slide out.
There are many models of slide toppers available, with two of the most highly rated being Solera and Carefree slide toppers. Carefree slide toppers tend to cost in the $200-250 range, while Solera toppers of the same size are usually priced from $250-300.
Regardless of which brand you purchase, the cost of a 6-foot slide topper will still run you about the same as it costs to repair a single foot of RV roofing. And that slide topper is likely to last for years, providing your roof with protection from the sun, rain, and falling debris.
How Much Wind Can A Slide Topper Withstand?
Standard slide toppers can withstand winds up to 30-40 mph. They can flap in the wind without being damaged, but the sounds can be annoying to RV-ers.
Can I Install My Slide Topper Myself?
Slide toppers are fairly easy to install, though it is a two-person job. Southern Glamper has a great post detailing their DIY installation process.
Slide toppers are the best option for protecting your RV’s slide out roof. Whether you’re worried about UV damage to the roofing material and paint, the ease of cleaning, or dents and dings from falling branches, a slide topper will have you covered.