Caravans are limitless in their ability to add new levels of fun and functionality to your camping experience. The area just outside your caravan has immense potential for use as an additional semi-open space for group activities such as meals, barbecues and musical evenings. Caravan accessories such as awnings and drop-down picnic tables can help you make the most of this bonus space. In this article, we’ll be going through the process of adding a picnic table to your caravan’s exterior.
Precautions and considerations
Before proceeding to install a drop-down picnic table to the exterior of your caravan, make sure that its power (or gas) supply is disconnected. Check to see that your caravan is on level ground, and perfectly horizontal (use a spirit level to confirm). Brakes should be engaged and all wheels secured with clamps to keep the caravan perfectly still.
Things you will need
In addition to the picnic table, its backing plate and arms, you will need a drilling machine (preferably cordless), a measuring tape, some masking tape, a screwdriver (regular or Philips-head, depending on the kind of screws you’re using), screws, and some sealant. Also, since you’ll be drilling into the body of your caravan, make sure you have safety goggles, gloves and shoes. A stud finder, though optional, is a good implement to have at hand while installing your caravan’s picnic table.
Installing the picnic table
Step 1: Fixing a location
Decide where you’ll be mounting your new picnic table on your caravan’s exterior. Fixing the table on the caravan’s studs makes the installation stronger, so use your stud finder to locate these around the chosen area. As an added precaution, ensure that the chosen location doesn’t correspond with the back of a cupboard or an appliance inside your caravan, and that it misses all gas or water pipes and electrical cables.
Step 2: Marking the drill points
Mark the outline of the picnic table’s profile, making sure it’s aligned to the horizontal and vertical axes. If your caravan has an aluminium clad body, you can use the folds for reference. If it has a fibreglass exterior, things can be a little more difficult, but you can still double check to see that the caravan is level, and then use the spirit level again to mark the position of the new picnic table.
Prop the arms of the table against the outline on your caravan’s exterior (you can hold them up with masking tape), and use a pencil to mark the locations of the points you’ll be drilling into.
Step 3: Drilling
Drill the holes, making sure you’re wearing all your safety gear. If your caravan has a fibreglass exterior, the drill might tend to slip. To avoid this, stick some masking tape on the caravan’s body and mark the drill points directly on the tape. Drilling through the tape will be much simpler. An important point to remember while drilling is that the drill bit you use should be just a size lower than the size of the screws. Otherwise, you can run the risk of drilling holes that are too big for the screws, making it impossible to fasten the picnic table.
Step 4: Mounting and assembly
Mount the arms of the picnic table and partially tighten the screws to check that all the holes are properly aligned. Now unmount the arms and apply silicone to the drilled holes. Reattach the arms to the caravan’s exterior, tighten the screws, and wipe off any excess sealant. Proceed to attach the backing plate, cover strips and table surface as per the specific instructions in your product installation guide. As an added precaution, you can line the junctions of the backing plate and the caravan’s body with sealant, thus making the installation airtight and waterproof.
And that’s it. Your new caravan picnic table is all set to host your camping meals. Remember to not overload it (beyond its recommended capacity), to be able to continue using it for a longer period of time.
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.