There are lots of options. Doing it yourself is a very rewarding experience. You get a source of accomplishment as well as a burst of confidence. The good thing about doing siding projects yourself is that there are lots of options available to you. The trouble is that some of those options just may not look that good.
One option you could use would be vinyl siding. The problem is that that material needs to be loosely nailed to allow for expansion in the heat and contraction in the cold. But it may look good if you pick the right colors and design.
To learn more about this topic just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can do a good job when you decide to DIY your camper’s siding. You have lots of choices so pick the best one.
To be honest, you can use whatever your heart desires as long as it keeps the elements out and is safe for everyone involved. We have seen a variety of different DIY siding projects and some look really good and others, well… we will leave it to your imagination.
Here are 4 traditional options that should work well for you and make your camper look great:
1. Corrugated Aluminum
This will keep the weight down and while cheaper, they may be harder to install than some other options. The quality factor is something you have to consider as well.
- easy to repair
- a good insulator
- can dent easily
- lower resale value
- age poorly
- need to use more wood which means more possible rot taking place
2. Smooth aluminum sheets
If you want your camper to look like an Airstream trailer, this is the material to use. Coupled with rivets and spray-on insulation, this siding material is very strong.
You do not have to worry that much about rot as the only wood you would need would be in your flooring.
- strong and built to last
- good resale value
- looks good
- very expensive to buy
- very labor-intensive to install
- expensive to repair and dents easily
- lower insulation value
3. Laminated Fiberglass
When you want your home-built RV or camper to look great, this is the material to choose. Laminated fiberglass has become popular for RV siding by the big RV-making companies because it looks so good.
You have to do a good construction job to make sure the end result is durable as well as good-looking.
- resistant to water damage and mold
- can locate holding tanks in with the heat ducts to keep them nice and warm
- high resale value because they look so good
- Does not dent as easily as aluminum
- heavier than aluminum
- lower insulation value
- more expensive than aluminum
- no DIY repairs possible
4. Molded Fiberglass
This siding option is used by those companies that make the
Escape, Scamp, Oliver, Casita, Big Foot, and The Egg Campers. It is not as popular as the previous fiberglass option.
What makes them special is that they do not need a frame to be installed. But you need to be good with sealing fiberglass to make this option work well for you.
- resistant to water damage & moisture build-up
- ages well and always seems to look good
- high resale value
- lightweight because no frame is needed.
- rounded edges cut down on your available space
- only good for smaller trailers measuring under 25 feet in length
- very expensive
If you want to be creative, and innovative and think outside the box, then the sky is the limit for camper siding ideas. However, many of those ideas may not be practical, let alone protect you from the elements.
Probably the worst idea for camper siding we have seen is wood. Not the thin sheets of luan plywood that are used by RV makers. We are talking about the wood used for the sides of traditional homes.
These come in 1/2, 3/4, or 1-inch thicknesses and overlap at the top of each piece (shiplap). What makes them bad is that they need a lot of upkeep, paint or stain, and are heavy. Plus, they do not look good.
Another siding idea people have used that ties the previous one is roof shakes. Many non-traditional camper owners have decided that this makes for great siding because these shakes are made from wood and are lightweight.
They may be both but they just do not look good nor will they last a long time if not installed and treated correctly. For both materials, you would need a wood frame and that adds a lot of weight to your trailer.
You can go with either aluminum or vinyl siding that is used on traditional homes but you would need a wood frame and lots of insulation to keep the interior warm. Plus, they do not always look as great on a camper as they do on a home.
In this spirit of things, some owners have used logs and wood paneling that you put in your den or family room, or plywood. Looks good but is not as practical as it could be.
Other owners have used shallow ridge steel roofing panels. They are strong but they are also very heavy. You would need screws to attach them to any wood or aluminum frame you have.
One good idea that we came across is talking to an RV dealer. They sometimes have a siding line and can supply your siding needs. Not only will you get great siding, but it will look good, be practical, lightweight, and most likely easy to install.
Plus, this siding material is made to be on an RV or trailer. The other ideas may give you problems with the wind or not being able to handle the bounce that comes with traveling rough roads.
We have discussed some of those homemade camper siding ideas already. We know about them because we have seen the images of the completed project. The log cabin-style trailer certainly looks unique.
But you really need to know what you are doing to keep water, moisture, and other elements out of the interior. Plus, you have to make sure it can handle rough roads as the RV bounce takes its toll on the best of sidings.
Another homemade idea would be to use knotty pine flooring or paneling. This product comes in 2 to 3-inch wide pieces and it would take a lot of them to cover the exterior of your camper.
Is this practical? That is hard to say as it does not even look that great. Installation would be easy as you could cut to size in a few seconds but the nailing would get tedious after a while.
Some people have used cheap paneling as their siding. It is unique and covers a lot of territory outside but it may not be practical as the siding is made to sit still not travel the country.
This should get you started on brainstorming some ideas yourself. Some ideas may sound good in your mind and look good on paper, but in reality, it is another story.
There is the cheap aluminum that many DIY camper owners use. It goes on quickly and also covers a lot of area. You just need the right frame to attach it to as well as the right tools to shape the aluminum.
If you want really cheap, you can go with plywood and paint. Plywood is durable and the paint doesn’t cost that much. Once painted the plywood should last a long time.
Or, you can go to the junkyards and cannibalize the older RVs sitting there. The cost will be a lot cheaper than buying new. The only drawback would be how do the panels look.
Even aluminum is getting expensive these days so there may not be a cheap option anymore. Using some of the siding ideas we mentioned above may be cheaper but preparation will take up those savings.
Some people get very creative when they want to make their own camper or refurbish it. The problem is their ideas are not very practical. They may be innovative and outside the box thinking but they are also one of a kind.
That means it is very tough to place a value on the trailer for resale. If you do sell yours, you have to find someone with the same mindset and taste as you to buy your creation. Before you start buying siding, that is something you need to consider. Resale may be difficult.