The Guide to Replacing Your Pop-Up Camper’s Canvas

The Guide to Replacing Your Pop-Up Camper’s Canvas


George Cummings
November 26, 2021

A pop-up camper is a simple approach to camping and it suits those looking for something smaller and lighter to travel with.

One of the biggest issues with these campers is the canvas on them wearing out or becoming damaged, and it’s the most common repair that people need to make.

How do you replace a pop-up camper’s canvas? A replacement canvas for a pop-up camper might not need to cover the whole thing, as it’s possible to use a repair kit just for the damaged areas.

Otherwise, removing the entire existing canvas and replacing it is a possibility if required, but it’s a much larger project.

This is a job that doesn’t come cheap but you can save some money if you’re committed to the DIY approach.

With our help, you’ll know the steps to take the project on yourself and the other things you can do to prolong the life of your pop-up camper’s canvas.

How Often Should You Replace the Canvas?

How Often Should You Replace the Canvas?

Not all pop-up campers are created equally so the lifespan of one’s canvas might be considerably more than another. The best way to tell when it’s time to replace the canvas is by looking for one of these signs:

  • A build up of mold or mildew that cleaning can’t remove
  • Tears or holes in the canvas
  • Canvas that has dried out and started to deteriorate
  • Untreated canvas that’s been exposed to rain and sun
  • A canvas that’s been closed before it’s properly dried
  • Broken and separate zippers, seals, and seams

You’ll also need to assess the extent of the damage and see whether the canvas has to be replaced entirely or if it’s just one area that needs to be repaired.

If you’re only working on a single issue, it’s possible to use a repair kit on the problem area while the rest of the canvas remains in good condition. However, this will likely only hold it off for another season or two.

The Professional vs DIY Approach

The Professional vs DIY Approach

One of the biggest decisions any camper owner has to make is whether they’ll tackle the maintenance of the canvas themselves or leave it to the professional.

Of course, there are pros and cons in both corners, and you’ll need to weigh up the complexity of the job at hand to see if you’re even able to do it.

For a project like replacing the canvas of a pop-up camper, you can stand to save around $500 doing it yourself.

However, the project time is roughly five hours from start to finish, and this is for someone who is fairly confident in their repair skills. If you’ve never attempted anything like this before, you can expect to spend even longer.

If your camper is at the point where the entire canvas needs to be replaced, we recommend that this is a job best left to the professionals.

However, fixing one or two areas of the canvas that have been damaged is easy enough to do, even by the most amateur handyman.

How to Replace a Pop Up Camper’s Canvas

The most important part of this process is assessing the canvas on your camper and looking at what areas need to be fixed.

This could be just one small portion of a few areas that have started to tear, and for those in dire need of help, you may need to call in the experts to replace the whole thing.

Open up the trailer and extend the tent portion out so you can assess it carefully. You’ll want to look both inside and outside of the canvas tent, the windows, and screens, and then measure and note the size and location of the problem areas.

To ensure you have enough material, order one inch more on either side than what you measured, and double the amount as you’ll need to repair on both the inside and outside of the canvas.

Choosing the right material is also important and the best way to do this is by consulting the owner’s manual of the canvas as they’ve likely made a recommendation, and might also produce repair kits.

The most common material is canvas but it could also be made with vinyl, window screen material, or Sunbrella.

Tools and Equipment

  • Brush
  • Canvas cleaner
  • Stanley knife
  • Adhesive
  • Waterproofing spray

The Steps To Take

  1. Clean the entire portion of canvas on your pop up camper and give it time to dry. Start by brushing the dust and dry debris off, and then scrub it with a detergent and water mixture before hosing off.
  2. Find the area that needs repair and cut the two pieces of replacement material to the exact measurements, with one inch of extra material on either side.
  3. Use the recommended adhesive that matches the material and starting on the inside of the trailer, glue them into place. Spend a few minutes smoothing out the edges and getting rid of any air bubbles. Each adhesive has a set time that you can do this before it starts to cure, so make sure you’ve read the instructions.
  4. Give the adhesive time to set and cure, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  5. Once you’ve applied all new patches of material, spray the entire surface with a waterproofing solution. Allow this to dry before putting the pop up portion of the camper back down again.

Tips for Prolonging the Life of the Canvas

Tips for Prolonging the Life of the Canvas

Knowing how to replace and repair the canvas of your pop-up camper is a helpful skill, but it should be the last effort.

Here are a few things you can do to ensure your camper is cared for, so having to do repair projects will be less frequent.

  • Always make sure to dry the tent before you pack it away. If you’re leaving the campsite and it’s still raining, pop it back up when you get home and let it dry adequately.
  • During storage, place the camper somewhere it gets adequate airflow. Avoid placing a tarp over the top as it can restrict ventilation, which will lead to a build up of mildew on the canvas.
  • Never leave any marks on the canvas for too long and make an effort to clean them off as soon as you see them. This includes droppings from birds, dirt and debris, and any other stains you can see on the camper.
  • Don’t spray any insect spray, hair spray, or other chemicals inside or near the camper. These can damage the water resistance of the fabric and make it more susceptible to damage.
  • Make a point of repairing even the smallest signs of damage as soon as you see them. Leaving what looks like a minor tear for another season can lead to a huge rip, and means you’ll have to replace the whole canvas.
  • Always park somewhere with adequate shade to protect the canvas from as much rain and sunlight as possible. Even with protective coatings, the camper can still be exposed to the elements which cause it to wear down even faster.

Pop Up Perfection

The canvas on your pop-up camper is one of the most crucial parts to its comfort and shelter-giving abilities, and it should be treated as such.

At the first sign of wear or damage, take action to repair the canvas, and don’t be afraid to jump into this DIY project if you believe it needs a full replacement.

Related Questions

A pop-up camper is a lighter alternative to traveling with a large RV or motorhome, but although simple, there’s still a lot to learn about them.

If you’ve been thinking about investing in a pop-up for yourself, we’ve got the FAQs and answers that you need to know.

How Much Does a Pop-Up Camper Weigh?

Pop-up campers come in all shapes and sizes but the average weight of a standard hard-sided or tent camper is around 2,000lbs.

Some models reach up to 3,250lbs but these are the exception and pop-up campers are known for being a lot lighter than other traveling recreational vehicles.

What Does a Pop-Up Camper Look Like Inside?

What Does a Pop-Up Camper Look Like Inside?

A pop-up camper can be as basic or advanced as possible, with some of the higher-end models featuring a kitchenette and bathroom, and the simpler models having only sleeping quarters and a mess room.

All models collapse down to a smaller size and expand once set up, so you get a lot more space than it appears from the outside.

Are Pop Up Campers Waterproof?

All modern pop-up campers are designed to be waterproof but they may need some additional care and maintenance to keep them that way.

You might want to provide extra shelter over the camper with a tarp, especially if there’s any damage to the canvas, roof, zippers, and windows.


George Cummings

George Cummings enjoys connecting with nature, meeting new people, and making friends from all over the world. RVing and camping create the perfect opportunity for [him/her] to take part in these activities. After spending several years on the road and exploring the great outdoors, George Cummings shares some of his best pieces of advice on how to make the most of your time while camping. TourTheOutdoors is his way of helping outdoorsy individuals like [him/her] start on a right footing with amazing recommendations and buying guides.