Choosing the right groundsheet and flooring for your awning isn't quite as simple as it sounds. A number of different options exist, each with their own pros and cons. Some options are also banned at various camp sites and caravan parks, so it's important to take your travelling habits into account before you choose your awning flooring.
Traditional ground sheets
There ground sheets can be bought either in fixed sizes or cut to fit your awning and are generally composed of PVC or polyethylene. They are cheap, versatile, and very tough. They can also be fitted in minutes, either by affixing them to the ground with pegs, or to the awning walls and support poles to provide an effective barrier against insects. These ground sheets are completely waterproof and will effectively keep mud and moisture out of your awning; although, they will perish more quickly if not allowed to dry fully before being stowed away.
Unfortunately, this option is rapidly becoming limiting for caravan owners who prefer to stay at privately owned caravan parks. Because these ground sheets block out all UV light, they can kill patches of grass very quickly, and many caravan parks and camp sites have chosen to ban them except on hard-standing pitches. If you're more into wild camping or travelling in the bush, they are a much better option, especially when it comes to keeping out some of the nastier bugs and spiders..
Eco-friendly ground sheets
A more environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic ground sheets, these ground sheets are generally made from polyester and vinyl and are perforated to allow sunlight to reach grass and other plants beneath. These sheets are inexpensive and can be bought cut to size; although, they are slightly more difficult to cut at home than regular ground sheets. They are largely immune to rot and will not perish for many years, but they can be prone to attracting mildew while left in storage.
The obvious downside to this variety of ground sheet is that they are not waterproof, an important consideration in rainy seasons, or when camping in lowlands. The perforations in the sheet are small, and most insects and arachnids will be kept out, but smaller bugs can find their way through these floors. As such, these sheets are more suited to caravan park holidays - many of which now require use of these types of sheets.
Designed to be used alongside a regular ground sheet, these foam pads are available as individual tiles, or can be cut to size by specialist awning retailers. Designed purely for comfort, they don't make suitable water barriers, but when combined with a fitted ground sheet, they can make your awning a very pleasant place to be. When staying on a caravan site or camp site that bans solid ground sheets, the individual tiles make for cheap and easily-moved padding that doesn't kill off large patches of grass. Just remember to keep them as dry as possible, as they tend to absorb large amounts of moisture and are prone to rot.
Slotted laminate or wood flooring
An uncommon but notably luxurious addition to a large awning, these wooden or laminated plastic slats are designed to slot together, allowing you to create large, solid temporary floors without the need for tools. These floors should always be combined with a solid ground sheet to protect them from excessive moisture and should generally be used with a padded underlay for added comfort and evenness.
Obviously, these floors aren't really aimed at the more adventurous company. Equally, to say they are frowned upon at many camp sites would be an understatement, as they wreak havoc on grass after even short stays. However, they really come into their own on hard-standing pitches on caravan sites. Other options don't provide enough padding or thickness to protect feet from uncomfortable hard-standing ground (usually poured concrete or gravel), but slotted flooring provides a very stable and comfortable floor, especially for longer stays. For more information, contact a business such as Wilfords Annexes.