5th Wheel Skirting: Everything You Need To Know

5th Wheel Skirting: Everything You Need To Know

Planning to take your RV for a winter trip? 5th-wheel skirting is a crucial step in preparing your trailer for the cold weather.

But you might not be sure which is the best option for skirting or how to properly attach your skirt to your RV.

No worries, here’s everything you need to know about 5th-wheel skirting!

What Is 5th Wheel Skirting?

Skirting is basically attaching any kind of material to your RV to protect it against weather conditions during the winter season. 5th-wheel skirting acts as a barrier to protect your trailer against heavy snow, rain, and wind. It can also be used to increase storage space during summer.

How Does Skirting Work?

When you cover the bottom of your 5th-wheel with a skirt, you prevent heat loss from the floor of your RV. By preserving the heat inside your trailer, the skirt keeps your 5th-wheel warm and you can stay cozy during winter. On the other hand, during summers, skirts can be an effective method of keeping your trailer cool, cutting down on your cooling costs.

Another benefit of skirting is that it can protect your water lines from freezing. That is why it is very important for you to prepare your RV ahead of your trip and use skirting to shield yourself and your 5th-wheel from the adverse effects of cold climate.

What Are the Best Materials for Skirting?

Skirts can be made from many different materials. You can make it yourself or you can buy a professionally made skirt. The most commonly used materials for skirting include:

  1. Vinyl
  2. Plywood
  3. Tarps
  4. Foam boards covered with waterproof fabric

The question is: which of these options is the best one to guarantee protection during those icy nights? There are pros and cons for every option, but the ideal skirt is characterized by three main qualities:

  1. Firm – your skirt should be firm so it can withstand strong winds.
  2. Durable – your skirt must be durable, so it doesn’t fall apart when surrounded by piles of snow.
  3. Functional – your skirt needs to be functional by trapping heat from escaping which guarantees insulation.
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With those three qualities in mind, let’s examine the different materials used for 5th-wheel skirting.

Vinyl

PROS

  • Vinyl panels are the most durable option. They provide a high degree of insulation against the cold and they are tear-resistant.
  • Vinyl panels are easy to use, you can slide them on and off whenever you decide to move your trailer.
  • They are foldable so you can store them easily.

CONS

  • Vinyl is one of the more expensive skirting materials, it can reach $700. If you are on a tight budget, this won’t be your go-to option. However, you might be able to find it for lower prices online.
  • If you’re not the DIY kinda person, vinyl can be tricky to install but as a solution, you can use RVSkirting.com who provides both the panels and the service of installing the panels for you. The installation service is, however, a paid service, so you’ll be charged extra for it.
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Plywood

PROS

  • Plywood is a strong material; it can endure the winter season.
  • It is not expensive; the average price is around $200. You can buy it from lumberyards.

CONS

  • Plywood is difficult to cut so you will need special equipment to create your skirt.
  • It is not mobile so you can’t take it with you whenever you move your 5th-wheel trailer. This means you will need to have a supply of plywood with you for every stop.
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Tarps

PROS

  • Tarps are made of waterproof plastic so they can protect your trailer from heavy rain and snow.
  • They are one of the cheapest options you can buy.
  • Tarps are easy to find in outdoor supply stores.
  • They are versatile so they can be easily folded and stored.
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CONS

  • Tarps are thin by design and therefore they do not provide the best insulation. For better insulation, you will need to attach multiple layers of tarp. Alternatively, you can add foam boards as an extra measure of insulation but that would be difficult to manage if you move a lot.
  • Tarps can be delicate, so they won’t endure for a long time without tearing or falling apart.

Foam Boards

PROS

  • Foam boards are a cheap skirting option.
  • They can be easily bought from Walmart or online outlets.
  • Foam boards can be cut with a basic knife so no special tools are needed.

CONS

  • Foam boards must be covered with a protective layer like tin or waterproof fabric to bear conditions like heavy rain or snow.
  • They are not reusable so when you decide to move your 5th-wheel, you leave the foam board skirt behind and install a new one on your next stop. This can be impractical if you plan to move a lot during your trip.

How Is the Skirt Attached?

After you’ve picked your skirting material, you will have to attach the skirt to both your 5th-wheel trailer and to the ground. There are several ways you can do that.

First, let’s discuss the methods of attachment to your RV.

Channels

Aluminum channels can be used to anchor your skirt to the base of your trailer. After they are in place, the skirt slides into the channel then it’s fixed at this point.

Pros

  • This is an easy method of attachment; you can freely install and remove it whenever you want.
  • Aluminum channels are very strong, resulting in an airtight lock around your entire RV.

Cons

  • This is not a common attachment method so you may not easily find aluminum channels. You need to locate a distributor.

Buttons or T-snaps

Buttons or T-snaps, famously sold by brands like Ez Snap, are the simplest and most commonly used attachment method. All you need to do is place the T-snap pins on the side of your RV, attach your skirt, then fasten the cap over the T-snaps to fix your skirting in place.

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PROS

  • Snaps look nice and clean.
  • Their installation is very easy.

CONS

  • If your skirting material is affected by the weather and ends up contracting due to the cold, it can become difficult to align the skirt correctly.
  • Because there are gaps between the buttons, this method does not provide an airtight lock around your trailer which can lead to some heat loss.

Suction Cups

Suction cups are pressed on the side of your 5th-wheel and simply attached to the top of your skirt.

PROS

  • Using suction cups is very straightforward so you can easily do it by yourself.
  • Unlike buttons and channels, suction cups are the easiest to pull away when you don’t need the skirt anymore.

CONS

  • Suction cups are not reliable. During bad weather conditions, they may weaken and get dislocated or fall.
  • They may not always attach properly to curved or jagged surfaces.

Tip: Regardless of the type of skirt you use, make sure to keep extra material, around 10 inches, at the bottom of the skirt. This way you can always have coverage even when you’re on uneven campground lots.

Now that you’ve got your skirt tightly attached to your 5th-wheel, you need to make sure it is also firmly attached to the ground. There are different methods of doing that.

Loops

Some skirts have loops at the bottom, and this is why. You push stakes through these loops and fix your skirt to the ground.

PROS

  • Easily installed
  • Very secure
  • Can adjust to different surfaces and levels of land

CONS

  • Using so many stakes around your RV can become a trip hazard, causing accidents.

Straps

Straps are the most commonly used method and for good reason. You simply fit your skirt with straps on the side or bottom then hold them to the ground with spikes.

PROS

  • Easy to install
  • Works with varying levels of land

CONS

  • They do not fix both sides of your skirt.
  • In very windy weather, the straps may detach.

D-ring (Grommet system)

D-rings, also called grommets, can be placed along the length of your skirt at different heights.

PROS

  • Secure system
  • Adjusts to different ground levels

CONS

  • If the heights are not properly measured, you may end up with loose skirting.

Chains

Using chains is an uncommon method because you need to either sew chains into your skirt or create a passage where they can be attached.

PROS

  • Because they’re heavy, chains keep the skirt firmly in place.
  • Unlike straps, chains are long-lasting.

CONS

  • Due to their weight, chains can be difficult to transport.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better idea about 5th-wheel skirting, you can confidently prepare your very own RV for a new skirt.

Product data was last updated on 2020-01-29 at 00:08.

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