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How We Made $200 DIY Vinyl RV Skirting for Winter

How We Made DIY RV Skirting from Billboard Vinyl hung with grommets and adhesive hooks for around $200
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Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

This was the second year we made our own RV skirting out of billboard tarp vinyl for a winter spent in cold weather, so I thought I would do a blog post to show how we made it.

These are the supplies we used along with their cost:

  • Billboard tarp vinyl – enough to skirt our 38 fifth wheel, including the gooseneck and three of its four slides: $92.27
  • Brass tarp grommets & grommet tool.  This set came with 500 grommets, and that was way more than enough.  Last year we didn’t use a grommet tool, just a tool and dye and hammer, and the task was much more difficult and time consuming.  This handheld grommet punch made this job one thousand percent faster and easier.  Both the grommets and grommet punch cost us $42.48
  • Steel tent stakes.  We ended up needing about 75, which cost around $30.
  • Clear adhesive hooks.  We used 65.  The best deal I have seen is this 40-pack, so to get enough for the project at the time we did it cost $37.98.
  • One garment bag (optional) – will explain later! – $10.72
  • Duct tape (I already had this)

Total for the project: $213.45

Grommets, handheld grommet punch, adhesive hooks, and tent stakes used to make RV skirting from billboard tarp vinyl

We didn’t do as good a job of making the skirting last year as we did this year (we improved on our design this year), and by the end of the winter last year’s skirting was really worn and muddy, so we threw it away and planned to have professional skirting made for us this year.  I got a quote from a local guy for around $1,600.  If you’ve priced professionally made trailer skirting, you know this is a great deal.  But the more we got to thinking about it, the more we started thinking about how much money we would save if we made our own again, so we decided to give it one more try.  We are so glad we did, because our homemade skirting turned out so well that feel completely content with it and no longer wish we had professional skirting.

This is what the billboard vinyl looks like all laid out.  It literally used to be a billboard.  The black side is the back; the other side of this piece had a Cracker Barrel billboard printed on it.

Billboard tarp vinyl used to make RV skirting for cold weather and winter camping

The first thing we did was to cut the vinyl into the sizes we needed.  Calculate and measure carefully!  “Measure twice and cut once,” as they say.  Last year I made a few mistakes in my calculations and we ended up having to order more vinyl, which meant paying double in shipping charges.  The vinyl cuts easily with scissors.

Below you can see the adhesive hooks on our RV leftover from last year.  When we put them on I wasn’t thinking about how the ones on the sides of the slides would interfere with bringing the slides in.  We haven’t brought the slides in since we moved to this location, but when we do we will obviously need to remove those hooks.

Clear adhesive hooks used to hang RV skirting made from billboard tarp vinyl

A word about hook removal: These hooks are extremely sturdy.  At one point over the summer I thought I might as well remove all of the hooks since we were planning to get professional skirting (so glad I didn’t), and I had to use pliers to pull one off.  I was so difficult to remove I gave up on the project at that time.  However, once the hook was removed, there was no damage or residue left behind on the fiberglass part of the RV.  I haven’t yet pulled off any of the ones that were stuck to the decals or to the gold painted fender area, but since some duct tape we pulled off the gold area took some of the paint with it, I am afraid these hooks may do the same.  We don’t plan on pulling them off though.

If you’re thinking about doing this project but don’t like the idea of using hooks, I have seen some people who used heavy duty Velcro instead…but I don’t really see how that would be any better since it is also adhesive.  It is also more expensive than the hooks.  It does have the advantage of forming a seal all along the top of the skirting, whereas our skirting has small gaps at the top that may allow some of the warm air to escape – not an issue for us in Kansas City, but it might be for someone farther north.

Some people have also made their own vinyl skirting and hung it with adhesive snaps.  That many snaps are kind of pricey (IMO), but that is an option, though not without some problems to anticipate.  I am thinking about ordering some adhesive snaps for the area covering our propane tank access doors, though.

Last year we originally tried hanging our skirting with heavy duty suction cups, but even with following all of the instructions for using them (cleaning the area, applying in temperatures above freezing, etc.) they wouldn’t stay stuck.  I was very glad to find the adhesive hooks we ended up using.

Suction cup used to hang RV skirting - didn't work.

This is why you don’t use duct tape on your RV, learned the hard way.  We used Gorilla duct tape for some of the tricky spots last year, and to tape foam board to the bottoms of our slides (which made a big difference in the temperature of our slide floors).  If I need to use tape on my RV in the future I will use foil HVAC tape as it can withstand any temperature and supposedly comes off cleanly.

Why you shouldn't stick duct tape to your RV

Here’s what the skirting looks like hung from the hooks with a grommet.  We folded the top of the vinyl over about four inches to make it sturdier and make it look neater.

Clear adhesive hooks and grommets used to hang RV skirting made from billboard tarp vinyl

Below is a photo of last year’s skirt-making process.  First we taped the skirting in place temporarily and marked the places where we needed holes, then we took it down and used a hammer to punch the holes using the small inexpensive tool that came with the grommets we purchased last year.  It took a long time, and that was only doing grommets along the top – we weighted down the skirting on the bottom last year instead of staking it down.  The weights we used weren’t very efficient, though, and we were constantly having to fix and adjust the skirting after a windy day.  Sometimes this new skirting still comes unhooked in a few places and has to be rehung after very strong winds, but it does a much better job of staying put.

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

And here is my husband using the grommet punch this year.  It was so much easier as we were able to just go along punching holes as we hung it – no marking or measuring required.  I wondered if it would be hard for me to use the punch tool since my hands are smaller, but I have no problem using it; it doesn’t require more than a normal amount of hand strength.

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

After we got the skirting hung along the top, we went around the bottom punching holes and pounding in tent stakes.

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

We cut and folded the skirting to go around vents and other things we didn’t want to cover.

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

For the seams between pieces, this year we just overlapped them by several feet.  Last year we tried using Gorilla duct tape to tape the seams together and it did not stay.  It ended up coming untaped, blowing around in the wind, and making a sticky, dirty mess.  Overlapping it seems to work fine since it is fastened at the top and bottom, but if you are concerned about making a tight seal you may want to find a different way to join the seams.  I planned this particular seam to be at the spot where our sewer hose connects so that it can be easily unhooked if we need to access that area.

The part pictured below is kind of ugly. I forgot when I was measuring that there would be a white pipe sleeve along the edge, so I didn’t end up having enough to fold over for that short piece.

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

The steps were kind of tricky.  I ended up going across the front underneath them, and then added a second piece to line the area behind the steps, hung from adhesive hooks from the steel frame.

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

I actually decided to use a heavy duty clear shower curtain (which already had grommets!) weighted down with a few bricks instead of tarp vinyl to line the area behind the steps because our cat loves to play under the RV, and this lets a bit of light in.  He also likes having this little spot under the stairs as a place to jump in and hide if something scary like the garbage truck shows up.

He can slip underneath the RV there too, which I know means our skirting isn’t 100% sealed, but as I mentioned earlier this doesn’t matter too much in our climate; we mainly just need to block the wind.

Here’s what the front part looks like.

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

To access the front storage area without having to remove the skirting, I decided to add a zipper (an idea I got from the EZ Snap skirting website).  Instead of buying an expensive long zipper, though, I decided to surgically remove the zipper from an inexpensive garment bag.  This is an extra long garment bag designed for wedding dresses.

Use a zipper from a garment bag to make a door in RV skirting

I ended up cutting more off the sides until I had about six inches of plastic on either side of the zipper.  I should have trimmed a bit more; I think about two inches on either side of the zipper would have looked better.  Just enough to have something to stick tape to.

Use a zipper from a garment bag to make a door in RV skirting

Then I taped the zipper to the back of the skirting using extra wide Gorilla duct tape.

Next I cut a hole in the front of the skirting over the zipper.

Zipper made from garment bag added to RV skirting

And now I have a zipper opening for my skirting.

Zipper made from garment bag added to RV skirting

All ready for cold weather!

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping

Update: I came across an RV owner named Rob Dodd who used the adhesive hook and billboard vinyl skirting technique, and his skirting turned out so great that I wanted to include some of his photos, along with a few additional ideas he shared:

Idea #1: Rob used sandbags ordered from Amazon and filled with sand from a local supplier to weight down the skirting if you’re on a concrete pad and can’t use tent stakes.  He did this and says his skirting has been able to withstand wind gusts up to 35 mph.

DIY RV skirting made from billboard tarp vinyl, hung with adhesive hooks and weighted down with sandbags

by Rob Dodd

Idea #2: Rob used snaps and a snap tool to attach the skirting pieces to each other.  I love this idea and may do it to attach my front piece to my side pieces if the duct tape I used in one place ends up coming undone.  If you don’t mind screwing into your camper, you could also use screw-in snaps to hang the skirting…personally I was too afraid I would make a mistake and end up with a bunch of holes in the wrong places to try that.

Idea #3: Rob avoided the tricky issue of how to skirt around the steps by folding in his steps and covering them up and building these steps instead.

DIY steps built for winter since RV steps were covered with skirting.

by Rob Dodd

I think Rob’s skirting looks really sharp!

DIY RV skirting made from billboard tarp vinyl, hung with adhesive hooks and weighted down with sandbags

by Rob Dodd

If you have any questions for me about our skirting or any additional ideas to share, please leave a comment!

Homemade DIY RV trailer skirting from billboard tarp vinyl for around $200 to get ready for cold weather winter camping


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7 comments

  1. How We Prepare Our RV For Cold Weather Living | RV Inspiration 29 November, 2017 at 21:00 Reply

    […] I don’t know if we actually need skirting to keep our pipes and tanks from freezing, but we decided to go ahead and use it just to be safe, and it made a huge difference in keeping our RV warmer inside and preventing heat loss.  We made our own removable, reusable vinyl skirting out of recycled billboard vinyl for around $200.  You can read more about how we made our skirting in this blog post. […]

  2. Kermit 6 December, 2017 at 22:12 Reply

    Hello!!
    We are going into cold weather and I had the same idea with, used sign vinyl. Then my wife said this couple has alot of the same ideas you do…haha..its true!! Love your post!!! What millimeter did you get? 11? 15? 17? So glad it works!! Thanks again!
    -Kermit

    • Ashley Mann 7 December, 2017 at 13:16 Reply

      Hi! 🙂 We used the 9 oz. / 11 mil vinyl last year and again this year. There were a couple of places last year where the vinyl wore through because the wind blew it up against a sharp corner, but hopefully that won’t happen this year since the skirting is staked down unlike last year. If it does, though, I will probably just patch it with black Gorilla tape.

      I think a few people have used the 20 mil pond liner, but I think the 9 oz does its job of blocking wind and keeping heat from escaping just fine for us, at least in Kansas City where we are located. It’s still pretty heavy, and when I ordered a sample of one of the professional skirting brands, the weight was comparable.

      One other thing I will mention is that there are a few places where the grommet pulled partway out of the hole punched in the skirting where I staked it down because it was pulled so tight by the tent stake, but I think that may have been more due to the grommet not having been squeezed tight enough rather than the weight of the vinyl.

  3. Kate 9 December, 2017 at 03:39 Reply

    What size billboard tarp did you get? I see several different sizes and I’m unsure how to measure my travel trailer to know how much I need.

    • Ashley Mann 9 December, 2017 at 22:12 Reply

      I think you’re asking about the dimensions of the tarp I ordered rather than the weight, but just in case, we got the 9 oz / 11 mil weight. As for the dimensions, I ordered multiple pieces which I cut and spliced together. To figure out how much I needed, first I determined the height the skirting would need to be by measuring from the highest point, which for us was on the sides of our slides, and allowing a few inches to fold over on top and about a foot extra on the bottom to stake down. Instead of making it the same height all the way around (which many people do), we decided to make the skirting shorter where the cargo storage doors were located to avoid having to cut holes for access. Also I measured the piece for the gooseneck separately. After that I measured the length needed of each height by just walking around the RV with a tape measure. After I had the dimensions I needed, I looked for pieces to buy that had approximately double the height and half the length, planning to cut it in half lengthwise. Of course the exact dimensions will be different for each RV, but I find it helps to draw the tarp on a piece of paper and mark where it will be cut in order to figure out how much to buy without wasting too much. It can definitely make your brain hurt to figure it out. Hope that helps.

  4. Timothy Sunday 13 December, 2017 at 13:24 Reply

    Hey there! My wife and I are going to do this same thing as we have a friend who can hook us up with the billboard vinyl for free. Just wondering how much you used? How big was your billboard vinyl? We have a smaller camper than you guys at about 32′ so I would think whatever you all used would be sufficient for us. Thanks so much!

    • Ashley Mann 13 December, 2017 at 23:46 Reply

      This year I ordered two tarps, a 26’x10′ piece for the gooseneck, and a 47’x10′ piece which I cut into four pieces to make the rest. The dimensions of those four pieces were 47’x5′, 27’x5′, 10’x2.5′, and 10’x2.5′. The 10’x2.5 pieces were used for the front half (before the gooseneck) where we didn’t skirt up so high, but if you are in an extremely cold climate I might recommend going ahead and going up the full height because there is a bit of a gap along the bottom edge of our camper in that section that I’m sure allows some wind to get in.

      Last year I accidentally ordered too little skirting, and that is really frustrating, so I would suggest measuring to be sure you have enough. To determine how much you need, figure out how tall it needs to be at the highest point (don’t forget you might want to fold it over along the top edge and will want extra along the bottom), then measure the distance around the RV (including going around slides). I was able to find a piece to cut that was half the length and twice the height, plus a few extra feet for good measure.

      Good luck!

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