Unlike many campsites today, here at Horton Common I don’t have a specific policy on the use of breathable groundsheets for awnings. Is it that I don’t think they keep the grass greener? Not at all, a breathable awning groundsheet/carpet definatley leaves the grass in a better condition. I just don’t think its an enforceable policy, but I do encourage our guests to use breathable awning groundsheets where possible. However, as noted above many other campsites have a specific policy on the use of breathable groundsheets. With this post, I wanted to discuss what makes good quality breathable groundsheet/carpets often your best option. I’ll also discuss some other awning flooring products I’ve seen our guests using.
The best breathable groundsheets on the market will keep your feet dry and the grass green (in most cases). The problem is some of the cheapest breathable awning groundsheets do let quite a bit of moisture through. Therefore some people have gone back to using non-breathable options. Using a non-breathable groundsheet may get you in trouble with some caravan site owners. However, it can also present other problems which I’ll discuss below.
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Introduction to the Best Awning Ground Sheets for Awnings and Tents
Here at Horton Common, we have clay subsoil. Hence, in the wetter months of the year, the ground surface can be quite soft. However, in the warmer/drier months it can be like concrete. Now we have our road and hard standing pitches I don’t worry about cars, caravans and motorhomes getting stuck. However, when it comes to pitching an awning on the grass surface it can be a bit of a dilemma. I don’t enforce the use of breathable groundsheets because I don’t think that’s practical or viable. I do however discuss groundsheet options with our guests when the subject comes up and why I think a good quality breathable groundsheet is the best option. However, some guests have also shown me some other awning flooring products they use which I think can add further value which I’ll discuss below.
I do believe woven/breathable awning groundsheets are the best choice, and its not just to protect the grass: Image – Amazon.co.uk
The Problem With Non-Breathable Groundsheets
Ok, to discuss why I think good quality breathable groundsheets are generally the better option for awning flooring I should explain what I have observed as to the problems with non-breathable groundsheets. So a typical example of a non-breathable awning groundsheet would be a polypropylene tarpaulin. Commonly used to provide weather protection for various applications, but is also used by some as a groundsheet.
A typical example of a non-breathable polypropylene tarpaulin sometimes used as an awning groundsheet: Image – Amazon.co.uk
However, as a polypropylene tarpaulin is not a particularly nice/comfortable material to walk on a carpet may then be placed on top. Now depending on the quality of the particular polypropylene tarpaulin, it may be some time before holes/tears in the fabric start to appear. However, I know from speaking to our guests, with the cheapest polypropylene tarpaulin they can get punctured after just a few uses. The issue is if the ground conditions are very wet a punctured tarpaulin now creates its own issues. And sooner or later, with any PVC/polypropylene fabric, a puncture will happen.
Non-Breathable Groundsheets Trap Moisture
If water is able to come up through a hole/tear in the polypropylene tarpaulin, the only way it can go back down into the ground again is through that same hole. Hence, as the fabric is not breathable, every time you walk on the polypropylene tarpaulin moisture is pumped up through the puncture and it then sits on the surface of the groundsheet, trapped. If you have put a carpet on top of the tarpaulin, the carpet will then become saturated.
Heavy Rain/Surface Water Issues
Furthermore, for a non-breathable tarpaulin to keep the top surface dry it will need to be oversized and come up the sides of the awning. If not, under heavy rain surface water may run on top of the tarpaulin. As its not breathable that moisture then just sits on the surface of the groundsheet/carpet, and you get wet feet.
Awning Condensation Issues
During certain times of the year and with awnings made from non-breathable awning fabrics there can be issues with condensation forming on the interior surface of the awning fabric. This can be a particular issue with air awnings, but why is that the case? Well, you can get air awnings made from breathable fabrics, however they are the most expensive. Air awnings are expensive to start with, therefore having to spend even more for a breathable air awning just isn’t within many peoples budget. Furthermore, as the poles are full of air, condensation likes to form against them. As air poles are generally pretty thick, quite a bit of condensation can form against the surface of the air poles.
Condensation can be a particular issue with some air awnings made from non-breathable fabrics and without sufficient ventilation: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Now you may be thinking, ‘Chris, why are you going on about awning condensation in a post about the best awning groundsheets?!’. Well, that condensation is going to drip from the awning ceiling and run down the walls on to your awning floor. If you have chosen a non-breathable awning flooring solution such a PVC or polypropylene that water is going to sit on the surface of the groundsheet and not drain into the ground.
What are the Best Breathable Awning Groundsheets?
With the above issues in mind with regards to non-breathable groundsheets, I generally think good quality breathable groundsheets are a better option for awning flooring. However, you want to make sure you choose a breathable groundsheet which is made from a tightly woven fabric. Some of the first breathable groundsheets that came onto the market were very ‘breathable’. However, the fabric was made from quite large/open weaves. Therefore, quite a bit of moisture could come up through the fabric, and there could further issues with worm casts/mud. One of the first brands to start offering tightly woven breathable awning fabrics was Milenco with their Carpetina product as can be seen in the video below.
Now, I know several of our guests use Milenco Carpetina as their awning flooring solution and they are very happy with it. While I do believe Carpetina is a good breathable awning groundsheet, I don’t believe its the best solution. Why? Well, its the manufacturers recommend restrictions on how you should clean it. If the ground surface is wet/muddy you are going to want to clean that groundsheet on-site or when you get home. As breathable groundsheets are a woven fabric mud can get really stuck into the fabric. Hence, the best solution to clean a woven groundsheet is a pressure washer. However, Milenco states the following with regards to Carpetina:
“To clean: Use a sponge, soft brush or a hose with warm soapy water. Do not machine wash, wring out, or use a power wash, as this may cause damage to the Carpetina.” – Milenco.com
Therefore, I personally think the best breathable awning groundsheet/carpet currently available is produced by Maypole. Purely for the reason that Maypole state their Epson Woven Awning carpet can be cleaned with a pressure washer:
I currently think Maypole Epson woven awning fabric is the best breathable awning groundsheet/carpet available: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Epson woven awning carpet is UV stable, root proof, has securing eyelets and is obviously breathable. The sizes available range from 2.5m x 2.5m suitable for a porch awning up to 2.5m x 6m. Unfortunately, if you have a 3m wide caravan awning there is currently not a single version of the Epson woven carpet to suit. However, you could overlap several of the smaller carpets to cover the ground under your awning.
Other Awning Flooring Solutions
So while I think the Maypole Epson carpet is currently the best option for the floor of an awning, I do want to reference a few other products I see our guests using. For instance, I do see quite a lot of our guests using the interlocking foam floor tiles offered by brands such as Kampa in the image below:
Many of our guests choose to use these interlocking foam floor tiles on top of their awning groundsheet: Image – Amazon.co.uk
The ‘cool’ thing about these tiles is they can provide a warmer/cushioned surface on top of your breathable awning groundsheet. For instance, as I’ve stated above, in the summer months the ground here at Horton Common can feel as hard as concrete. Hence, as you walk off your caravan step depending on how cushioned you groundsheet is it can be quite uncomfortable underfoot. However, these foam interlocking floor tiles even if you just using them around the caravan/step door of the caravan can make a big difference.
How to Keep Your Pets Warm
Quite a few of our guest will have their dogs sleeping in their awning. However, I also know at the colder times of the year some use a portable electric heater in the awning to keep the pets warm. Now, as a site owner, I don’t particularly like this idea as it costs me a fortune. However, its also not actually the best method to keep your pets at a reasonable temperature. First off, with an electric fan heater running in the awning its using up quite a bit of the 16A power allowance to the pitch. Hence, you have less power available in the caravan/motorhome before tripping the supply. Furthermore, not all caravan sites will actually provide you with a full 16A supply. Therefore the chance of tripping the power supply increases.
But on top of those reasons, trying to heat inside an awning with a fan heater is a losing battle. As the sides/roof of the awning provide little to no insulation resistance. Therefore the fan heater will run pretty much constantly at colder times of the year. If you are concerned about your pets getting cold a better solution for your pet and the site owners electrical bill is a heated carpet mat/pet pad.
If you are concerned about keeping your pets warm a heating carpet mat is a much better solution than using a fan heater in an awning: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Conclusions on the Best Awning Groundsheets/Carpets
In reference to my comments above, while I don’t enforce the use of non-breathable groundsheets here at Horton Common I do encourage our guest to use them for the reasons stated above. I believe that a good quality breathable groundsheet is a more suitable solution to address wet ground conditions/awning condensation while also not killing the grass. As shown, you can make the awning floor even more comfortable with the use of interlocking foam floor tiles which many of our guests do. Finally, if you do want to keep your pets warm while they sleep in the awning, a heated carpet/pet mat is the best solution. When taking down your awning its also a good idea to try and fold the awning on the groundsheet if possible.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found my comments above interesting/useful. If looking to buy a new awning my post on the best caravan awnings may be useful and best awning draught skirts. I also hope at some point in the near future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common caravan site to experience our amazing views over the Staffordshire Moorlands and Peak District National Park. 🙂