DIY – Tips on Installing Slide-Out Covers
Our 2012 Keystone Montana has a total of 4 slide-outs. To reduce the potential of fouling the slide seals from debris, we installed a cover over the top of the slide-outs. Each slide cover is an awning that extends/retracts with the slide operation. The design ensures that anything collected on the top of the slide cover falls to the ground when the slide is retracted.
There are 2 main reasons for our decision to purchase and install the slide covers. First, when the slides are retracted, it is best practice to ensure that all debris that has collected on the slide is removed to prevent interfering with complete slide closure and sealing from the weather. Without slide covers this requires standing on a ladder or being on top of the camper, either can be a safety concern. Installing the cover, eliminates this safety concern. Second, the slide covers offer some shade from the top of the slide, reducing the heating of the camper. This was very evident to us during June while we were in Texas.
The installation process was a fairly simple process – one person could handle about 75% of the install but will need a second person to complete the installation. Overall, it took between 60 and 90 minutes to complete each slide cover installation. A cordless drill with drivers and two 8ft step ladders makes the job much easier. Also, suggest obtaining some butyl tape and external silicon sealant to be applied to the hardware where attached to the camper.
We have a handful of lessons learned from the installation of the covers.
- I purchased the slide covers from eTrailer.com. Follow the directions to determine what size you need. Be careful to identify any potential interferences around the slide cover.
- For instance, the big slide (~13’ long) has the trailer awning hardware within about 5” of the slide-out. When I talked to the folks at eTrailer.com, the solution is the downsize the slide cover length by 1 size (13’1” instead of 13’9”). The cover still covered the slide and gave enough clearance to miss the trailer awning.
- A main installation focus is to ensure that the slide cover is parallel to the top of the slide not the trailer roof. This is to ensure that it rolls up and unrolls correctly.
- There are many YouTube videos showing the installation, the one provided by eTrailer.com, seemed to be a good reference (Slide-Out Cover Installation).
- For budgeting purposes, I would conservatively estimate about $60 per linear foot of slide out for the material cost (I ordered 36.33 ft total of cover at just under $2100).
- I did run into 2 problems with this installation
- One of the slide covers can wrapped backwards from the factory. Didn’t figure that out until we unclamped the cover after we had it in place on the camper. We did have indication of a problem, just didn’t figure out what was going on until it was in place. Cost us about 20 minutes, as we ended up rewrapping in the right direction and worked the slide in and out to get the tension even.
- There is a bracket that the awning end attaches to the trailer, called the Awning Rail. This didn’t come with one of the kits from the factory. Didn’t pick-up on this until we unpacked the kit. Contacted eTrailer.com and was able to get a replacement and then complete the installation. Lesson learned – be sure to do a good receipt inspection as soon as accepting the order. I could have saved myself some headaches if I had followed this basic maintenance principal.
Overall, we feel that the addition of the slide covers has been a good investment.