Winter RV Skirting Dos and Don'ts
Winter RV Skirting Dos and Don'ts
If you’re considering an RV skirt for cold-weather RV living or camping, there are a few practical things to know, like how to pick the right material, how to install it, and ways to prolong the skirt's lifespan. Just as important is knowing the dos and don'ts of RV skirting.
In this post, we have highlighted all mistakes to avoid when it comes to RV skirting to ensure the air-tight enclosure offers maximum protection throughout the harsh winter.
And if you’re looking for the ultimate winter RVing upgrade, get a tailor-made RV skirt from Custom Skirting. Here, we design and install RV skirts that fit like a glove.
Wait, What is RV Skirting?
Put simply, RV skirting is the process of attaching a protective wrap around the bottom of a camper to block wind and protect the rig from frigid temperatures. By eliminating the gap between the ground and your rig, cold air from the outside can’t reach the undercarriage, and warm air under that space is trapped, helping keep your RV warm.
RV skirts are usually installed when camping in the winter season for a number of reasons. Most importantly, they protect your camper's plumbing system from freezing and bursting. In addition, a properly fitted RV skirt decreases the RV’s energy consumption when camping, makes the interior more comfortable, creates extra storage space underneath, locks pests out, and enhances the looks of the camper.
Now, let’s dive into the meat of the post.
Do’s and Don’ts of Buying an RV Skirt
What to Avoid:
Here’s what to steer clear of when shopping for the best RV skirting solution.
All-size Fits All RV Skirts
Browse online for RV skirting, and you’ll find a number of products that claim to fit campers of different sizes and shapes. Chances are these skirts won’t fit your rig tightly, as each camper has a unique shape. Remember, a poor fit won’t prevent warm air from escaping, and will be ugly.
Self-Install RV Skirt Kits
Another type of RV skirt you need to be careful of when shopping is DIY skirting kits. While they may be cheaper, these products are designed around a rough estimate of your RV’s measurements, so you can’t expect them to fit neatly. Also, you’ll have to install them yourself, which can be a nightmare.
Homemade RV Skirts
Of course, you could be tempted to watch some YouTube videos on how to build your own RV skirt. While it isn’t a bad idea, it can’t be recommended for anyone who has no handy skills. Plus, most homemade RV skirts aren’t portable and long-lasting. We will dive deeper into this in the RV skirting material section.
What to Do:
When it comes to something that protects your rig’s vulnerable plumbing system and shields your living quarters from the harsh winter cold, you can’t afford to compromise on RV skirting. We suggest you reach out to a custom skirting service and have the professionals take the exact dimensions of your RV.
That’s because there are so many variations even in RVs of the same model, and these differences, no matter how small, can affect how well the skirt does its job. Skirting specialists know how to take the exact measurements of your RV’s, sew a skirt that’s unique to your trailer's shape, install the system that will hold the skirt in place, and then neatly attach the skirt or ship it to your new location. This all guarantees the tightest seal around your RV locking in warmth.
Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing an RV Skirt Material
Not all materials are ideal for skirting an RV. In this section, we will go through some materials you should be wary of.
Think Twice Before Using these RV Skirting Materials:
Stacked Hay Bales
One RV material that we definitely don’t recommend is hay bales. While some winter RV campers like to use good old-fashioned straw as an easy, affordable, and effective skirting solution, it has plenty of risks. First, hay can easily catch fire and set your precious rig ablaze in minutes. The use of hay around your RV can void your insurance policy.
Also, hay can attract pests like rats, mice, and bugs looking for a warm winter home. In addition, snow melt may cause the hay to soak moisture, affecting its insulation capabilities. Plus, you’ll need a gigantic pile of hay to cover a fifth wheel’s raised front section. What about the inconvenience of disposing the hay after the camping season?
Plywood has always been a trusty RV skirting material for campers who stay stationary for extended periods. It insulates well when properly installed, and is sturdy, meaning it can’t be easily blown away. However, plywood is difficult to cut, install, and remove. Furthermore, it’s heavy, making it difficult to transport to the next campsite. If the ground shifts it will no longer fit.
Storing plywood until the next winter may not be feasible, as it will consume a lot of space, and even rot when stored incorrectly. So, it often ends up in the trash at the end of the camping season. While the initial cost may seem lower than other RV skirting options, the fact that you may have to buy new wood and install it every winter makes plywood a costly RV skirting solution. Many RV parks also have rules against plywood skirting because it’s unsightly.
Foam Board RV Skirting
Skirting your camper with foam board is another low-cost and effective way of keeping your underbelly warm. You can quickly find the material at your local big box retailer. Foam is also relatively easy to work with depending on the length of your rig and how high it sits off the ground. However, this type of insulation has some major drawbacks.
One of the main cons of foam board is that it can’t be easily reused or transported when you need to move to another campground. That means you have to dispose of it whenever you need to hit the road, which isn’t ideal for anyone looking to minimize their footprint. Again it’ so light, it can easily be blown away. Many RV parks also prohibit the use of foam board. We visited a park that had a foam skirt blow apart in the wind and then kill the cattle adjacent to the park when they ate it.
Billboard or Home-Made Tarps
Skirting an RV with billboard tarps is another popular option for RVers who want a budget-friendly option. And sure, this method is cheap, but only in the short term. The main upside is that billboard tarps are made of vinyl that is usually waterproof, wind-resistant, UV-resistant, and durable. However, the major downside of using a billboard RV skirt is the installation process.
Measuring, cutting, sewing, fitting, and securing the DIY skirt around your rig is mentally and physically demanding work. Figuring out how to maneuver the skirt around the different shapes, angles, and nooks of your RV is tough. And if you make mistakes, you'll ruin the material and be forced to order more. Plus, without the proper skills, you may leave gaps that can cause air leakage.
Wind skirts are specifically built to prevent wind from blowing underneath your RV and coming out of the other side to blast sand and debris all over your outdoor setup or even putting out your campfire. Basically, it’s a wind barrier that helps improve your outdoor lounging experience.
These skirts can also be used in winter to reduce heat loss. The issue is that they won’t be as effective as traditional RV skirts because they are made of a lighter material. When camping in a harsher winter, they won’t offer the amount of insulation you desire, thus exposing your water system to dangerous conditions.
Some RVers who camp in areas that receive significant snowfall opt to pile snow around the base of the RV. While snow may do a great job of insulating your RV, it isn’t reliable in the long term, plus it’s difficult to cover the raised section of a 5th wheel.
And what happens if it doesn’t snow enough or the snow thaws sooner? In addition, don’t forget that the heat coming from your RV can melt the snow, forcing you to constantly shovel more snow.
Apart from the materials mentioned above, avoid any fabric that can’t hold up when exposed to harsh environments.
Best Material to Consider for Winter RV Skirting:
When it comes to choosing a material for winter RV skirting, you need to look for a few properties. First, it should be capable of providing a solid barrier to cold and wind. Second, it should be easy to install and remove as well as durable. Third, it should be light, foldable, easy to move with, and reusable when you break camp.
At Custom Skirting, our rugged reinforced vinyl skirt ticks all the boxes. It’s made of 18oz vinyl-coated polyester that is designed not to crack in temperatures as cold as -40 degrees. This material not only keeps your RV’s underbelly and inside warm, but it can also take heavy abuse from the elements. Installing, removing, and transporting our skirts is easy!
Do’s and Don’ts of Installing an RV Skirt
Just as important as choosing an RV skirting material, is the installation process. Keep reading to learn what mistakes to avoid and how to do it right.
Mistakes to Avoid When Installing an RV Skirt
Delaying the Installation
Of course, you don’t want to install your RV skirting when it's already too cold. Your pipes could get damaged before you order or set up the skirt. This process is best done at the end of fall.
And if you haven’t ordered a skirt, you should do it as early as the summer. That’s because most custom RV skirting experts tend to get busier the colder it gets, and it can take months before they come to you. Bad weather can also hamper their movement.
Working With Unqualified RV Skirting Professionals
RV skirting is a job best left to the experts. There’s a lot that can go wrong when you hire the wrong craftsmen, from costly delays, low-quality materials, poor fits to RV damage during the installation.
Work with RV skirting craftsmen who have a proven track record and who are willing to showcase their previous work. At Custom Skirting, we have skirted over 1000 RVs, and we have a constantly updated gallery section on our site where you can check out our past work.
RV Skirt Systems that Leave Gaps
The main purpose of an RV skirt is to completely lock in the air under the RV. Unfortunately, most installation systems, especially those that use the button snap/T-Snap system, leave a 10-12" hole between each snap, which allows the trapped heat to escape. These snaps also break easily.
At Custom RV Skirting, we developed a patented channel system or rail system that the RV skirt clings to, creating a nearly air-tight lock around the bottom of your camper. This system also allows installation and removal to be super fast.
Failing to Ground the RV Skirt
No matter how well you install the RV skirt, it won’t offer protection if you don’t secure the skirt to the ground. Weighing down the skirt ensures that cold wind can’t pass through the bottom and hot air can’t escape.
To help you tie down the skirt, all of our tailor-made RV skirts come with 7" galvanized spikes, as well as our plastic clip system to hold your skirt down. If you’re parked on a concrete pad, asphalt site, or somewhere you can’t use spikes, place water tubes or sandbags on the inside of the skirts.
Keeping your skirt as tight as possible will prevent damage caused by wind flapping that will damage unsecured vinyl.
Get a Custom RV Installation Today
Avoid rookie RV skirting mistakes by partnering with experienced professionals. At Custom Skirting, your RV skirt will be tailored to the exact measurements of your rig, ensuring it fits like a glove and protects your R from adverse winter weather. More importantly, you can remove, fold, and reuse it. And you can rest assured the superior material, and quality sewing will last many winters.
Use our free quote generator to get a quote for your camper skirt.