How To Skirt an RV for Winter
When winter comes around, a lot of people decide it’s time to pack up their RV and put it in storage until the temperature changes for the better. Why deal with the cold when we’re just going to want to stay indoors anyway?
However, if you’re one of the many campers who doesn’t think this way -- if you don’t mind the thought of taking your RV out when the thermometer stats to dip dangerously close (and eventually under) the freezing line -- then you should know already that such an excursion requires some extra steps.
One of the most important steps you can take is skirting your RV to help buffet out the coldest weather. This is also a step that requires some extra time, effort and materials, so let’s get started talking about why and how to do this.
Why You Should Skirt Your RV
“Skirting” and RV simply means to put a barrier around the entire bottom of the RV, stretching all the way to the ground. This skirt acts as a barrier to the outside elements, providing a small amount of insulation.
It might only keep it a few degrees warmer, but trust us, those few degrees can be a game-changer. A good deal of plumbing and electrical work goes on underneath your RV, and in many cases these pipes and wires are pretty much exposed to the outside, with only a small amount of insulation.
In the warmer months, this insulation is fine, but when it gets colder it isn’t basically. Pipes freeze and burst, wires can get wet, and if there’s harsher weather like snow to deal with that also can build up under the RV, creating even more problems.
Even if you’re not dealing with a frozen water line or something drastic like that, freezing temperatures under the RV mean walking around on a freezing cold floor, and who wants to do that! It’s not only unpleasant, but it makes it so much more difficult to heat your RV properly.
You can avoid a lot of these issues by simply putting up a skirt around the bottom of the RV to keep out elements such as wind, rain, sleet and snowdrifts.
How To Skirt Your RV
The basic premise of skirting your RV is simple: you simply have to erect some sort of barrier that goes all around the bottom of your RV. This barrier needs to stretch from the ground up to the bottom of the RV (preferably with at least several extra inches to provide insulation and seal off gaps) and it needs to be impermeable to the elements (so, no chicken wire or fences with gaps between slats).
Other than this, how you do this is really up to you. There are several different methods you can choose to accomplish this, which we will talk about next.
Installation By a Professional
Some RVs come with pre-made skirts. These skirts are custom-fit to the RV’s exact specification, seal off every gap perfectly and match the overall style and decor of the RV. Usually, they also fit right onto the bottom of the RV by using some sort of factory-made installation system (convenient snaps or something like that).
If your RV didn’t come with this, but it sounds like something you wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for, there are professional RV skirting services out there that will do just that. Visit them online, call them or drop by in person. Give them your RV’s specs and they will create a skirt that is built exactly for what you need.
The good thing about this is that you can be sure the skirt will fit your RV and work perfectly. Even more, it will look good doing so. You can custom-pick colors and designs so that the final aesthetic looks amazing. If winter camping is your thing then this might sound like a great, long-term option.
However, these custom-made options are definitely more on the expensive side. Considering it’s easy to make your own skirting for just a fraction of the price, it boils down to whether or not this is something you’re willing to pay for. If you plan on using it a lot (and we mean A LOT) over the next few years, then it might be worth it. If not? Well, there are cheaper options available.
One of the great things about RV skirting is that, even though you can spend a lot of money and have a professional custom-build a setup for you, you absolutely don’t have to. It is entirely possible for you to build your own skirting, just using materials that can be easily found at your local hardware store.
While you can use any material you want, really, one of the easiest to work with is good, old-fashioned plywood. You’ll need a handful of items, including the plywood (obviously), measuring tape, a saw, and some sort of joining device like duct tape.
All it takes in this case is to measure the the underside of your RV and cut the plywood to fill in the space below. It’s a good idea to cut the plywood higher than you need to -- about three inches or so -- but other than that, just cut it to fit. You’ll have to measure and cut around the various ins and outs of your RV, including the extended bays, the stairs and other odds and ends, but for the most part it’s pretty straight forward.
Once you have your pieces cut, we recommend using something easy like duct tape during installation to tape the boards together and seal up any cracks. Of course, you can go a little more high-tech (and better looking) and screw the pieces together at the ends. Either way is fine The important thing is that there are no spots where wind can get through the plywood and wreak havoc underneath your RV.
If you’re not sure about working with plywood and power saws, you can even use a different material like styrofoam, which is available in 1-inch sheets.These sheets of styrofoam can be cut through with a knife (like a boxer’s cutter) which makes this job even easier. Really, it doesn’t matter what you use as long as you have all of the gaps sealed, and you can still easily access your stairs and anywhere else you want to get to.
Use Naturally Available Materials
One final option that people sometimes use is to just try and skirt the RV with whatever natural materials they find handy. This is best for those who don’t plan on being out in the winter weather that often, but just happen to be camping at the wrong time maybe without checking the weather in advance.
Depending on where you are, you might find a lot of big branches that can be used to help block some of the wind. The best option, though? Snow.
That’s right. If you find yourself camping when a big snowstorm hits, you can actually use the snow as an insulation device, and pile it up around your RV to act as a make-shift skirt. It wil keep the wind out and do a good job keeping out most of the bitter chill.
Other Things To Know
In addition to the skirt and other skirting materials, there are a couple of other things you should consider:
Buy a heater. You can put a little space heater under the RV, and this will do a great job keeping your pipes unfrozen, and keeping your floor bearable. You might wonder if having a space heater would interfere with your skirting, especially is you used the make-shift snow option mentioned above.
The short answer is no, it won’t. The heater will keep the underside of your RV warmer than the outside, and you won’t really have to worry about it causing any serious problems.
Buy heated hoses. The most cold-vulnerable part of your RV system is the water hose, and you can take care of this problem by having a heated water hose. This will keep you from having to worry about frozen and busted pipes.
Make sure to seal your RV. All the skirting in the world won’t help you out if there are gaps in your insulation that let in the cold air. You’ll be miserable every time the wind blows, even if the underside of your RV is doing fine. So, make sure your RV is sealed tight!
All in all, skirting your RV is a necessary step for enjoying the winter weather. You can spend a lot of money on a professional skirt if you want. It will definitely look great, and if you plan on using your RV a lot in the winter that might be the way to go.
For the more casual winter RV-er, there are DIY options that you can do on your quickly and cheaply.
Either way, happy RV-ing!