RVing can get interesting when Father Winter does his thing. While many snowbird RVers choose to chase 70 degrees, others post up in places where the mercury dips below freezing. For those folks, RV skirting for the winter becomes a necessity.
RV winter skirting helps keep everyone warm and protects vital RV components like pipes and pumps. Skirting is a form of insulation that can help you and yours better brave the cold.
This post breaks down the dos and don’ts for RV skirting. Learn what it is, why to use it, when to use it, and how to create the best RV winter skirting for your rig.
What is RV Skirting?
RV skirting for the winter is a temporary cover placed all around an RV to create an air-resistant seal for the camper’s underbelly. Cold air seeps into a camper when it is allowed to blow underneath it. These gusts enter through any exposed nooks and crannies below the camper.
Properly installed skirts prevent cold air from burrowing into an RV. Some of the most common forms of RV skirting are vinyl covers that snap on, foam boards that owners customize, and inflatable tubes that conform to the shape of your camper.
Why Use RV Skirting for Winter?
RV skirting helps better regulate the temperature in a camper because you won’t be fighting an extra batch of cold air to keep your rig warm. The underside of your camper is one of the most vulnerable places where temperature can be lost.
By skirting your RV, you keep the cold air out and the warm air in, effectively conserving energy by running heaters less. It’ll also protect vital camper components like water pipes from freezing over. When camping in the winter for a sustained period, we highly recommend properly skirting your RV.
At What Temperature Do You Need RV Skirting?
The simple answer to this question: Skirt your RV for any extended time spent camping in below-freezing temps.
The longer answer is that it depends on the RV type. Four-season campers, for example, are designed for freezing temps. They often feature extra insulation and heated underbellies to battle the cold. However, no camper is unaffected!
That’s why the best practice is to always skirt your camper when subjecting it to extended time with temps below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
How To Install RV Skirting
There are three different ways to put on RV skirting for the winter:
- DIY – With this method, you find the materials yourself (see below for different types of RV skirting materials), take all the measurements along the underbelly of your RV, cut the materials to fit, and then attach the makeshift skirt to the RV’s underside.
- Order a kit – Kits like the EZ snap or AirSkirts come with all the materials needed to self-install.
- Order a custom RV skirt – Some companies tailor-make RV skirts to fit specific campers. They may even offer installation. This is generally the most expensive RV skirting option, but can also be the most effective insulator.
How Much Does RV Skirting Cost?
The costs of skirting vary greatly depending on the size of your rig and the type of skirting you decide to use.
If you DIY your own skirting setup (more on that below), it can cost you between $100-$500+ depending on the type of materials you use and how you source them.
If you use a professionally made RV skirt or have one installed, expect to spend anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 to skirt your RV.
What is the Best RV Skirting for Winter?
The best RV skirting for winter depends on a variety of factors, from rig type to how often a camper gets moved to how low the temps get.
Ready-to-Install RV Skirting Kits
Insulated RV skirting kits are pre-made at a factory and offer customizable options to help get the best fit for a specific RV. While manufacturers work hard to create air-resistant fits, it’s important to research options to ensure a snug fit on your RV.
Here are the main types of RV skirting kits:
- EZ Snap RV Skirting Kit – The EZ Snap Kit comes in a variety of lengths to fit most RVs. The installation process involves placing a series of buttons along the underside of a camper. The skirt then snaps into place and snugs up along the rig. EZ Snap also makes kits for fifth wheel RVs and motorhomes.
- AirSkirts – This relatively new entrant to RV skirting has been making serious waves due to ease of use, effectiveness of seal, and visual appeal. AirSkirts are inflatable tubes customized to your RV’s length. You place the tubes just under a camper and then inflate to create a tight seal between the rig and the ground.
- Fully customized skirts – This is generally the most expensive type of RV skirting for the winter. In this case, a company or RV dealer will take detailed measurements of your rig and create a skirt specifically for you. They may even personally install it.
Homemade RV Skirting
As a general rule, DIY RV winter skirting can be time-consuming and usually doesn’t offer much curb appeal. In fact, many RV parks don’t allow DIY skirting because it can be unsightly. That said, homemade RV skirting can have a time and place in the right situations.
Here are the different types of DIY skirts and the dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
Foam Board Insulation
These styrofoam boards are readily available at most hardware stores and are commonly cut to create a custom RV skirt. The skirt is then pieced together and affixed with silver HVAC tape. If you choose this RV winter skirting method, note these do’s and don’ts for proper use and application:
- Do cut the foam boards to fit properly so they create an air-resistant seal.
- Do use HVAC tape to cover the seams and seal the skirt to your RV.
- Do confirm with the campground that you’re allowed to use foam board insulation for this purpose.
- Don’t waste the foam board. You can reuse it year after year as an RV skirt if you have a place to store it.
- Don’t skimp on measuring, re-measuring, and measuring again. One of the biggest frustrations with foam board skirting is proper fit.
- Don’t use this method if you won’t be stationary for most of the winter.
RVers commonly use plywood for DIY winter RV skirting because it is relatively affordable and readily available. Like foam board, it can be difficult to cut to shape, hard to store for reuse, and isn’t allowed at all campgrounds. However, plywood insulates well and can be cost-effective in the short term.
Remember these do’s and don’ts before choosing this method of skirting your RV for winter:
- Do install on stable ground. Plywood will no longer fit if soft ground shifts under the camper.
- Do cut so the boards fit tightly all around the camper.
- Do confirm with the campground that plywood is okay.
- Don’t use plywood for skirting if you don’t have a way to store it for reuse. This will become an expensive and time-consuming option long-run if you have to remake it every winter.
- Don’t make your first cut before you have a plan. Plywood RV skirts need to hug the camper and the ground tightly to be effective. That means you’ll need a blueprint before getting started.
Billboard and other heavy-duty tarps are another popular material for DIY RV skirting. This can be a budget-friendly option if you are skilled at making cuts that’ll fit the different shapes, nooks, and corners of your camper. The goal is to create a custom skirt that looks something like this EZ Snap RV Skirt.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts if you decide to use this winter RV skirting method.
- Do carefully consider the time this option might take relative to buying a pre-made skirt.
- Do take care to make the skirt visually appealing so RV park managers don’t get angry.
- Don’t leave gaps. Air leakage is the enemy of proper RV skirting.
- Don’t be afraid to reconsider. Tarps are usually inexpensive. If you get started and realize you’ve bit off more than you can chew, it’s okay to change course.
Types of RV Skirting to Avoid
While there are many options out there for RV skirting, a few should be completely avoided.
Stacking hay bales along the underside of a camper is, unfortunately, a common form of winter RV skirting. While it is an effective insulator, hay can attract pesky critters like mice, bugs, and rats. More importantly, hay can also easily catch fire when dry and is prone to rotting when wet. That’s why it’s best to steer clear.
Believe it or not, some folks pile snow around their RV to create an underbelly seal. This is an unreliable option because you might not get enough snow, Mother Nature might thaw it too soon, or the heat you create under your RV could melt the snow.
What is the Best Way to Insulate RV Skirting?
Any of the DIY or kit options we recommend above will provide some of the best ways to insulate your RV. In extreme cold, a combination of foam board insulation and something like the EZ Snap Kit provides maximum insulation and is visually appealing.
Other Winter RV Skirting Dos and Don’ts
These are some other general dos and don’t to bear in mind for winter skirting.
Dos for RV Winter Skirting
Install the RV skirt before winter sets in. A common mistake is waiting too long to skirt an RV for the winter, resulting in frozen pipes and cold inhabitants.
Choose a skirting method that matches your skill level. Because nothing is worse than getting knee-deep into a job to realize it would’ve been better to order from (or hire) the pros.
Consider aesthetics. Your neighbors will thank you for a skirted RV that looks nice.
Ground the skirt. Insulated RV skirting can only insulate if it’s weighed down and sealed to the ground.
Don’ts for RV Winter Skirting
Don’t work with unqualified professionals. If you choose to hire someone to make and install a custom RV skirt, check their credentials, samples of previous work, and references to ensure you’re dealing with a seasoned pro.
Don’t leave gaps. Cold air is the enemy of RV skirting. Make sure it stays out.
Father Winter may have settled in, but RVers have options for keeping him at bay. RV skirting is one of the most dependable ways to help keep a camper warm for the winter. If you plan to park your RV in a cold site for an extended period of time, skirting is a must.
Have you considered skirting your RV in the past? What methods did you try, and were you successful? Let us know in the comments below.