It’s that time of year where most RVers really don’t want to put the camper away. That’s when RV skirting becomes so critical. For those of you lucky enough to camp all year round (or who have to camp all year round because of your circumstances), staying warm is probably on your mind.
If you’re not ready to get your RV ready for winter storage, RV skirting is necessary to stay warm as the temperature drops. Here are the most popular choices for skirting your RV this winter.
What is RV Skirting?
If you’re a new RVer, you might be silently wondering to yourself, “what on earth is RV skirting, anyway?” Well, to put it simply, a skirt is a material that goes around the bottom portion of your RV during cold weather. It helps stop airflow beneath your rig, which allows you to keep the space underneath warmer and keep hot air from escaping.
Having a skirt for your RV can help prevent your plumbing from freezing (when paired with a heat source) and leading to costly repairs. It also keeps your RV warmer so you can enjoy toasty nights instead of shivering until the morning sun rises.
Reasons You Should Consider RV Skirting
If you want to extend your camping season but don’t want to freeze while doing it, skirting is the way to go. By keeping warmth in, you also can save money on heating costs. Propane prices are rising and are expected to increase 54% over last year.
Considering how poorly insulated some RVs are, this price increase could really sting. Skirting your RV can lead to serious savings by helping you lower your propane usage.
Another benefit of using RV skirting is to keep your pipes and tanks from freezing. When my husband, Joel, and I first started RVing (i.e. were total newbies!), we had a night in Indiana where the temperature dropped to just 1 degree. There was frost on our inside steps.
We didn’t have a skirt, a four-season package, or an enclosed underbelly. Knowing what we know now, we are probably super lucky we didn’t do some serious damage to our rig. We have since learned the wisdom of having a skirt and highly recommend everyone else does the same! Hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere right?
Types of RV Skirting (Which Ones Are Best and What to Avoid)
There are many materials you can use to skirt your RV. So how is an RVer to choose? Well, I’ve broken down the pros and cons of the most popular options.
DIY RV Skirting Options
You have a few options when it comes to DIY skirting for your RV. Most of these choices are really cost-effective so if you want to save money, DIY is the way to go.
Insulation Foam Board RV Skirting
Many RVers use foam boards to skirt their RVs. This is an especially popular choice for people who will be staying in one location throughout the winter, or at least for an extended period. That’s because installing insulation foam boards as RV skirting is a lot of work.
The main benefits are that foam board is fairly inexpensive and does a solid job of keeping your RV underbelly warm. It is also easy to cut to size and requires few tools for setup. Some RV parks don’t allow foam board insulation, however, since people often consider it unattractive.
Another downside is that foam board insulation is generally used for one season and then thrown out. Over time, the costs can add up and the environmental impact of thousands of RVers throwing out foam board year after year also can’t be overlooked.
Vinyl or Recycled Billboard Skirt
Joel and I have a recycled billboard RV skirt for our motorhome. After the Indiana incident, we wised up and made one for ourselves before heading back to colder weather. We purchased a recycled billboard and cut it to size.
After that, we folded over about an inch or two on the top and put grommets in to hang the skirt. We added stick-on hooks on the backside of the RV sides so you can’t even see them. You’ll also need something to keep your skirt in place such as 2x4s if you go this route.
Something wonderful about a billboard skirt is that you can use it year after year. It takes up some room, but it isn’t a huge space hog. This cuts down on costs and waste over time. It also looks much better than the insulation foam board skirting. It is also pretty cheap to make your own skirt. Ours cost less than $75 for all the materials.
Some people worry this type of skirting won’t provide enough warmth. However, the main purpose of a skirt is to trap the air under your RV so you can heat it up. Adding a heat lamp does the trick nicely.
Some RVers also use plywood for their skirting. It is not too expensive, although, with the rising costs of lumber, it has definitely become pricier over time. Plywood is also sturdy and won’t blow around as some other skirting materials could.
Using a plywood skirt is best for stationary RVers. For obvious reasons, it is difficult to transport a plywood RV skirt. And if you use it only once before moving, your costs and labor will add up quickly.
Another major drawback is that installing plywood around your RV is a major process. You’ll need tools to cut it to size. It can also be a hassle to attach to your rig. Over time, if you’re stationary, the elements can do a number on exposed wood and it will start to break down.
We’ve probably all seen photos of hay bale RV skirting. The main benefit of using hay bales is that they provide superior insulation. However, there are a number of drawbacks that should probably make you steer clear of them.
First, hay bales can actually spontaneously combust and start your RV ablaze. Although the likelihood of this happening probably isn’t incredibly high, it still seems like a major risk. Especially when you consider all the other skirting options on the market.
Another drawback to hay bales is critters. You’re just asking for mice and other pests to make themselves at home in your RV. If you want to keep mice out of your RV, avoid the hay bales.
Professional Skirting For RVs
If you’ve got some extra money to spend and you want something that works a little better or looks a little nicer, there are professional skirting options. These options provide a great seal to lock in air. They also make your RV look much classier. In fact, there are some RV parks out there that won’t allow DIY RV skirting options.
Here are some of the popular professional choices on the market.
AirSkirts are a bit newer to the RV skirting scene. They are basically inflatable tubes that go on the underside of your RV to lock in air. They offer different sizes based on your RVs length and ground clearance, so be sure to pick the right kit.
They don’t require any hardware like snaps, hooks, or drilling holes in your RV. According to the website, AirSkirts can be setup in under 30 minutes. However, based on reports from actual users in the Cool RV Stuff Facebook Group, the first time, at least, typically takes around an hour or so.
The major downside with AirSkirts is that they are very costly. They will last a long time, but the upfront hit could be enough to turn some RVers away.
There are many custom RV skirting companies on the market. You may even be able to find someone local to you. One popular choice for RVers looking for an easy-to-use, high-end product is Custom Skirting, LLC.
Custom Skirting, LLC is based out of South Dakota with its own RV park in the Black Hills. They travel throughout the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, and Colorado, depending on where they have multiple jobs booked for custom installations. Alternatively, you can stay for free at their RV park while they install your custom skirting.
Since each individual RV is measured you get a perfect fit for your rig. They install an aluminum channel on the side of your RV which prevents gaps that allow air through. It also makes the setup much simpler than having to use multiple hooks or snaps.
The major downside of custom skirting from any company is the cost. These custom skirts look fantastic but expect to pay much more.
So Which RV Skirting is Best?
If finances aren’t a consideration, professional RV skirting options are probably the way to go. However, for the rest of us, there are a handful of DIY options that can get the job done. Regardless of what you choose, remember to properly winterize by adding a heat source under your rig, using a heated hose or heat tape, and so on.
Skirts aren’t magic, but paired with other winter RV essentials can go a long way towards keeping you warm and keeping your rig intact all winter long.