RVs are primarily designed to only be used as homes when traveling, but sometimes extended stays in one location make sense. When this is the case many RVers choose to “skirt” their RV, including us. Let’s take a look at why we did this and what benefits it brings.
What Is RV Skirting?
RV skirting is material placed around the bottom side of the RV or trailer. The primary purpose is to help keep the RV warmer in cold weather, or for looks.
Skirting blocks out wind and cold air from getting under your RV, which helps keep you warm. It can also help prevent your plumbing systems under the RV from freezing if paired with a heat source.
For longer-term stays in warmer weather skirting still offers the benefits of a cleaner look as it covers up the axles and structure of the RV. It can also provide ample storage, particularly for fifth wheels under the elevated front area
How Does RV Skirting Work?
RV skirting works by preventing airflow under your RV. If you contain the air below your RV, you can heat this space without the warm air escaping. Consequently, the warm air under your rig leads to a warmer RV!
When Do You Need RV Skirting?
You need RV skirting any time you are camping in cold weather. It is especially important when temperatures are below freezing because you need to ensure your plumbing and tanks don’t freeze. This is where an RV skirt comes into play. Even in just above freezing temperatures, RV skirting can help keep your rig warmer so you stay cozy and save money on propane.
Benefits of RV Skirting
Warmth: RV skirting keeps your RV much warmer. The RV skirt works by acting as insulation to stop the cold air movement underneath your rig. Heat rises, so a warmer undercarriage means a warmer interior.
Saves on Propane: Using RV skirting prevents you from losing as much heat. As a result, you won’t have to use as much propane to heat your RV. By using less propane, you will save money. You also don’t have to worry about getting an extend-a-stay setup for your propane or constantly driving your rig to the nearest propane fill-up location.
Keeps Pipes From Freezing: You may need a heat source, such as a heat lamp or heat tape, under your RV to ensure your pipes don’t freeze. But it makes the job significantly easier by keeping the warm air locked in.
Extends Camping Season to Year-Round: Camping doesn’t only have to be for the summer. Using RV skirting means you can continue to use your RV in all weather. Think hunting, ski trips, or holiday gatherings. You can stay warm and have your own space to return to without spending a premium on lodging.
Bonus Benefit of Fifth Wheel Skirting – Front Storage: If you have a fifth wheel, you also get the added benefit of having extra outdoor storage space during the winter. The skirt encloses the front section of your fifth wheel, turning it into a makeshift garage. Especially for full-timers, space is a major concern in an RV, which is why having extra storage definitely comes in handy!
RV Skirting Options (Pros & Cons)
Many materials can be used for RV skirting. Here are the most common choices and the pros and cons of each:
Pros: Vinyl is a great material for RV skirting because it is reusable and durable. It can also be custom-fit for your RV size and shape, giving it a clean look. And for all of the DIY RVers, you’ll be happy to know you can save money by using an old billboard!
Cons: On the other hand, if you’re not interested in going the DIY route, custom-made skirts can be expensive. It can also be difficult to get a custom skirt made because RV skirting companies need to take measurements in-person. Meaning, you have to drive your RV to the professionals to have it measured. Vinyl skirts also take up precious storage space when not in use and the heavy vinyl material adds weight to your RV.
Pros: Plywood is easy to acquire and is fairly inexpensive. It’s a good option for stationary RVers as it can last a long time once installed. Another bonus: it creates optional storage space under the RV for your outdoor gear.
Cons: If you are an RVer on the move, like us, plywood is a single-use option. Plywood is heavy and takes up a lot of space, so you wouldn’t want to carry it with you all year long. Plus, it can get dirty or damaged over time from exposure to the elements. Additionally, when thinking about the cost, you do have to factor in the tools and work it takes to cut the plywood to size and then decide if it’s really worth it.
Pros: Insulation boards are another inexpensive option. They are easy to install and don’t require specialized tools. These styrofoam boards also have more insulation value to them and can help provide even more heat retention.
Cons: Usually foam insualtion boards end up getting damaged and are commonly only used one season. Having to rebuild each year takes more time and costs add up. This RV skirting option can also look cheap or tacky, depending on your level of effort.
Pros: This is one of the easiest options for RV skirting because no installation is required. All you have to do is line the RV. The thickness of the bales also provides good insulation.
Cons: Despite the ease of straw/hay bales, they do come with a few significant problems. Unfortunately, they are likely to attract mice or other pests. They also increase the fire risk around your camper providing more material to burn. In some cases, hay bails can spontaneously combust if they are wet and set your RV on fire. In our opinion, this easy option is not worth the risk!
Pros: Tarps are another good option for RV skirting. Similar to vinyl skirting, they are durable, reusable, and easy to keep clean.
You can also cut the tarps to fit any rig. Some RVers prefer insulated tarps because these keep heat in well in the winter. However, if you’re not as concerned about the heat and looking for an inexpensive option, reused billboards are a durable choice.
Cons: This DIY option can be a lot of work because you have to measure it yourself and get the layout just right so all of the pieces fit together. Not to mention, if you choose insulated tarps, they can be expensive and a costly risk when measuring and cutting the tarps yourself.
It’s also time-consuming to make your own RV skirt, and you may need specialized tools to get the job done. Like with other skirting options, you will need to consider the space the tarps will take up when not in use.
DIY vs. Professionally Made
There are a lot of options for DIY RV skirting, including many of the options listed above. While DIY could save you money, it will almost certainly be more time-consuming to make and install. It may also be less efficient than a professionally made RV skirt.
When your skirt is designed and made specifically for your rig, you will have a perfect fit and a classy, sleek look. The biggest downside to professionally made RV skirts is that you may have to travel to a specific location with your rig so they can properly measure it. Professionally made skirts are also much more expensive than DIY options.
However, a professionally made skirt may actually save you money in the long run. The best insulation means you will save money on propane year after year. You also reduce the risk of significant expenses if you need to repair burst pipes and the damage they will cause. Plus, you don’t have to purchase single-use materials every winter.
Our RV Skirting Solution: Custom Skirting LLC (Installed on Our Fifth-Wheel)
Custom Skirting LLC was our choice for RV skirting.
Custom Skirting LLC is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota and makes custom skirting for motorhomes, fifth wheels, and bumper pull trailers. They offer several options for getting the perfect custom fit.
You can stay for free at their RV park in the Black Hills for 3-5 days while your skirt is designed and made for you. Don’t have time to stay? Don’t worry, you can also make a quick stop to get measured and then have the product shipped to you once completed.
Or, if you are in some specific geographic regions in or around South Dakota, they may come to you to complete all the measurements needed for your custom skirt.
Custom Skirting – Measurements & Installation
Measurements of your RV will need to be completed to ensure a perfect fit. Custom Skirting LLC uses a unique design for installation. They have a patented channel system that prevents air gaps and keeps air locked in tight.
The installation will involve the addition of a channel along the entirety of your RV. Then, when it is time to put up your skirt, all you need to do is slide it into the channel. No holes drilled in your RV, no rust, no air gaps, no problem! When the skirting is off, the channel has a clean appearance that you don’t even notice unless you know to look for it.
Once on, the skirt is held in place by stakes with clamps or water bags placed along the inside edge.
The vinyl rolls up nicely and is portable – weighing only about 50-70 lbs to take it with you.
Custom Skirting LLC offers vinyl skirting in a variety of colors to fit anyone’s needs and preferences. We definitely recommend you check them out for one of the classiest RV skirting options out there.
RV Skirting Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices
While camper skirting does a lot on its own, there are a few tricks to can do to get the most out of your skirting.
Tip #1: Place an electric heater under the RV, particularly under the slide area (less insulation in the floor), on low to keep the air pocket above freezing. This heat will bleed up into your floor, and create thermal mass.
Tip #2: Hang an outdoor thermometer under the RV, ideally with an alarm, so that you can monitor just how cold it is getting under there.
If you’re tired of being cold or forgoing winter camping altogether, we can’t recommend investing in an RV skirt enough. Whether you install one yourself or hire a professional, like Custom Skirting LLC, you can be certain your RV will be warmer than ever this winter.
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