If you RV in the winter, and especially if you’re parked at one location for a long period of time in colder climates, you may have considered RV skirting. In today’s post, we’re looking at RV skirting for winter to see how effective it is, how much it costs, and whether it’s worth doing.
What Is RV Skirting?
RV skirting can actually take many forms. The term “RV skirting” refers to an enclosure built all the way around the base of an RV, preventing the cold and wind from getting in under the rig, and preventing heat from leaving the underside of the RV. RV skirting basically insulates around the bottom of the rig, blocking the outside elements.
RV skirting can be anything from strong vinyl material (that’s specifically intended to serve as skirting), to foam insulation, bales of hay, or anything else that might provide an effective barrier around the perimeter of the bottom of the RV.
Does RV Skirting Help In the Winter?
While we don’t tend to use (or need) RV skirting (it’s usually plenty warm and snow-free in the desert southwest), anyone who has spent any amount of time in their RV in wintry climates will tell you that even a “four season” RV isn’t as well insulated as a traditional house. Drafts are common… and the fact that all RVs are raised up above the ground allows the cold to sap heat from the underside/basement.
Our friends Tom & Cait Morton (Mortons on the Move) have used Custom Skirting LLC’s vinyl skirting channel system with their fifth wheel, and they speak very highly of it, noting that when they’ve used it, it made an incredible difference for them in a very cold climate. In particular, they noted that the floors in their fifth wheel stayed noticeably warmer, and the furnace was better able to keep the temperature more stable & comfortable.
Here’s a photo of Tom & Cait’s rig with the vinyl skirting installed:
Not only does RV skirting keep the RV warmer by keeping the wind and cold from penetrating the rig and keeping the underside cold, it also protects the RV’s plumbing and electrical system by keeping them warmer, too.
By keeping the RV warmer, RV skirting is also likely to save propane because you’re not losing as much heat as you would be without the skirting.
So, the short answer is yes – RV skirting does help keey you warmer in the winter!
How Do You Skirt an RV In the Winter?
There are a number of ways to skirt an RV in the winter, in addition to a custom-designed system like Tom & Cait have. Again, the overall object of skirting an RV is to block the wind and cold and keep the underside of the RV as warm as possible.
So anything that creates a strong barrier to the wind and cold, preferably without gaps, can serve as RV skirting. The chosen material is wrapped or positioned tightly around the perimeter of the RV, completely enclosing the underside of the rig.
What Can Be Used for RV Skirting?
RV skirting can be anything from vinyl material, to canvas, to foam insulation, to plywood, to bales of hay, to plastic sheeting, to large compact mounds of snow.
Yes, that’s right… in a pinch (and, obviously, in a location where there’s enough continual snow on the ground) you can use mounds of snow formed around the perimeter of your RV as a form of skirting. By acting as a windbreak and helping to trap the air beneath your rig, even snow can help to keep you warmer!
How Much Does It Cost to Skirt an RV?
That depends entirely on what you choose to use for skirting. Custom skirting, professionally installed, is going to be the most expensive option. Depending on the size of the RV and the number of slides the rig has, estimates are generally somewhere between $1000-3000 for this option.
If you choose to use foam insulation, you’ll need enough foam board to completely surround your RV. A 4’ x 8’ sheet of 1 ½” rigid foam board is around $33 at your local big box hardware store. (You can pay a little more or a little less depending on thickness.) In addition, you’ll need something like this extreme weather foil tape to hold your skirting together. A 50’ roll runs around $15.
- Conformable to fit corners and joints
- UV, moisture and mold resistant
If you choose to use plywood, you’ll be looking at similar expenses, but there are other considerations at hand. If you’re stationary for all four seasons, plywood might be a fair option to consider. But if you travel in warmer months and only need to skirt your RV in the winter, where will you store all of that plywood when you’re traveling? In addition, it’s a lot of work to skirt an RV with plywood. Tools are required, and depending on how mobile you are, it may not be the most reasonable option.
Bales of hay can not only be expensive, but there are some very serious downsides to using them for your RV skirting. First of all, they’re highly flammable. A spark could set off a bale of hay and send your RV up in flames in no time flat. A secondary concern is that hay bales tend to attract mice and other critters, none of which you want to entertain as guests in your RV.
Is RV Skirting Worth It?
The answer to this question really depends on how you use your RV. If you tend to winter in a stationary location where the weather is cold, RV skirting may be well worth the effort and expense for you. As well, if you’re stationary year-round, RV skirting will not only protect your RV from the elements in winter, but can be left in place all year long and can help to keep your rig a little cooler in summer… and provide a place to store extra gear out of sight.
But if you tend to be on the move year-round as we do, or if you just never really spend a lot of time in your RV in cold weather, then RV skirting is probably not worthwhile for you.
Have You Used RV Skirting?
If you’ve used RV skirting, drop us a comment and tell us about your experience. We’d love to know what you used and how it worked out for you!
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Sunday 11th of December 2022
Has anyone seen or made skirting out of raffia?
Sunday 20th of November 2022
https://media.airstreamsupplycompany.com/2022/07/10134410/Airstream-AirSkirts-12-1200x675.jpg Picture of the Trailer Air Skirts Kit And https://media.airstreamsupplycompany.com/2022/07/10134340/Airstream-AirSkirts-3-1200x800.jpg Trailer showing the air skirts in place.
Sunday 20th of November 2022
Surprised you haven’t mentioned : Airstream Inflatable Skirt Kits https://airstreamsupplycompany.com/ They are available in about seven lengths 16,19,22, …up to 33ft. Costs varies but I saw one set for ~ $1800. Seems to me this is a reasonable trade-off for folks that do serious rv travel in winter zones. Also they appear to be easily set up and down if you move locations.
Cheers: Steve from Canada 🇨🇦 That’s up North (and 🥶 cold in winter ❄️)
Wednesday 5th of October 2022
I'm moving into a travel trailer for the winter here in northern BC. Going to do my skirting this week. I'll fill you in on the cost here and experience of installing a DIY once it's finished. ill be using insulation board...Cheers!!
Saturday 17th of September 2022
I will be living in my 29ft long grey wolf camper. I lost my husband and have a little dog that my 85 year old mother isn't a fan of. so I sold my place of 25 years to move into her back yard with my new camper. I am 65 and need allot of information about heat tape and skirting. I have a heated water hose, but thats about it for now. I live in kentucky
Wednesday 28th of September 2022
@Sandra Yates, Hi Sandra, I am also a single woman, 72 years young and have been full timing for the past 19 years. For the first 10 years in a class C rv and currently in a 31' bumper pull trailer. Being that you're permanently parked I think the best thing you could do for starters would be to skirt your trailer. Go to You Tube and peruse some ideas. It is basically DIY job, although you could hire someone to help or do it for you. There are multiple materials you could consider. I am parked semi-permanently myself. I use a tarp cut to size and anchored along the bottom, but a more efficient and insulating material would be styrofoam panels that can easily be cut to size. For the conditions where I live, I basically want to stop the wind from blowing beneath my trailer as the wind steals the heat. Snow can be insulating but we don't get enough of it here to be able to count on it as a factor.
Also, I would put shrink wrap insulation on the interior of your windows. This stuff is readily available in kit form at Home Depot or Lowe's. You put the double-sided sticky tape that's included in the kit all the way around the inside frame, cut the plastic to fit, attach it and lastly hold a hair dryer up to it on low heat and it will shrink to fit snugly right before your eyes... I would leave one or two smaller windows without the shrink wrap so that you have the option of cracking them open to maintain ventilation.
I have also been known to put a cheapo utility clamp on fixture with a 100 watt light bulb beneath the skirting near the tank valves. I don't leave it on all the time only when the temps dip... I just unplug it when I don't need it.
If it snows heavily you want to be sure to remove it from your roof. Snow will block up the roof vents and the weight of it puts a tremendous strain on the trailer itself. Use a broom and NOT a shovel as potentially a shovel can do damage to your roof. Hope these tidbits help. Best of luck! You can do this!! :)