RV Siding Types: What is RV Siding Made of?

RVs are more than just looks. But how they look is the first thing you notice about an RV. What makes an RV’s looks stand out are the exterior construction materials used. These materials not only have your RV looking good but also do a great job in protecting everything inside.

What is RV Siding Made of? There are two main construction materials used when manufacturers build an RV. You have a choice between aluminum and fiberglass. Both construction materials have their advantages and disadvantages but these materials are far better than the earlier choice, steel.

To learn all you need to know about an RV’s exterior siding just continue to read our article. It is filled with helpful information on an RV’s exterior siding. Knowing what your RV is made of, will help you decide which one to buy when it is time to get a new vehicle.

RV Siding Material Alternatives


Due to weight and mileage concerns, manufacturers have adopted only 2 real exterior siding options for your RV. It can either be aluminum or fiberglass. These two siding options may have different features, like gel coating or arctic white, but those features are used only with the fiberglass option.

On rare occasions vinyl, wood, and composite sidings are used but these types of siding are inferior to both fiberglass and aluminum. The cost to replace damaged portions may also be expensive.

RV Siding Aluminum vs Fiberglass

In today’s world comparisons are inevitable. Everyone wants to know which is better. These comparisons cover just about everything in life, as second best is not a desirable position to be in.


RV exterior siding is no exception to this comparison fad. People want to know which exterior siding on an RV is best- aluminum or fiberglass. Both exteriors have great advantages and we will let you know about those and their negative points.

Aluminum Siding


  • Cost- buying an RV with aluminum siding can save you thousands of dollars. It is just much cheaper than fiberglass
  • Wires and cables- aluminum walls leave room to run the wiring and other cables your RV needs to operate correctly
  • You stay warmer- the wood frame used with aluminum exterior siding does not transfer heat or cold as fast as other frames
  • Easier to repair- you may only need to repair the damaged section on an RV with aluminum exterior siding. You do not normally have to replace the whole exterior wall.
  • Fuel mileage- aluminum is lighter than fiberglass thus it is possible to get more miles per gallon with aluminum siding than an RV with fiberglass siding
  • Durability- aluminum is very durable and strong that is why it has been used as siding for decades


  • Water leaks- if the silicone sealant is damaged, aluminum layers cannot stop water leaks and your wood frame may rot
  • Weather issues- hail can damage aluminum quite easily, leaving you with a heft repair bill

Fiberglass Siding


  • Noise levels- fiberglass is good at keeping the outside sound out of your RV
  • Flexibility- fiberglass is more stable and less flexible than aluminum
  • Easier to clean- your RV will look its best all the time
  • Weather damage- hail does not hurt fiberglass like it does aluminum
  • Resale value- fiberglass stays looking better longer helping you get a higher resale price
  • A clean look- there are no staples, etc., used in attaching the fiberglass to the frame. Your RV looks cleaner and has fewer locations for water leaks to penetrate


  • Water does do damage- if water does leak inside you could face a de-lamination issue
  • Wiring and cables- you can’t run these behind the wall. There is no room as fiberglass walls are solid
  • Cracks- when hit by a solid object spider web like cracks can occur costing you a lot in repair bills.
  • Not DIY- RV users usually cannot fix damaged fiberglass. You cannot fix fiberglass in sections, usually the whole side needs to be replaced
  • Inferior quality- sometimes the front and rear walls are cheaply put together, allowing water to damage the fiberglass backing. This allows for wobbles, dents, and indentations to appear on your RV

Best RV Siding

Most experts tend to find that fiberglass siding is better despite its faults. They are looking at the resale value, the resistance to hail, and other factors when deciding that fiberglass is the best RV exterior siding available.

There are those that disagree as the easy to repair, easy to run wires, the better gas mileage factors convince many to declare aluminum as the best siding. We tend to side with those who like aluminum over fiberglass.

The cost to replace and repair aluminum is much easier on the wallet and makes up for any disadvantages aluminum siding may have. Which one you consider to be the best, will be up to your preferences.

The look of fiberglass is more 21st century, and it does hold its resale value, which makes for an interesting argument. Before you decide, get more opinions and facts on both types of exterior sidings.


What is Filon RV Siding

Filon material is a form of fiberglass that is often used to upgrade the siding on may RVs. It is a popular material because it will not dent, it is very durable and lasts a long time. It also looks a lot better than regular fiberglass and aluminum siding options.


Also, it can be put on your RV in one piece and it does not need painting. Its only drawback seems that it needs a layer of protective gel coating to protect it from being damaged

You need an expert to attach filon siding to your RV. It takes a specific glue and the surface it is being attached to must be 100% dry. The backing of filon is made from Luan or filon and there cannot be any air spaces between the filon siding and the material you are attaching it to.

RV Composite Siding

This type of siding is used when regular RV siding cannot perform up to expectations . They are used more for slide outs, ramps, decking and side walls. Also, they are more expensive to use than regular RV siding materials.

The honeycomb construction option provides the siding with strength while the foam style offers better insulation against the outdoor weather. Overall, the siding is very lightweight but that fact does not make it weak. It is a very strong siding.

The flexibility in how it can be handled allows for RV users to cut the panels to size and can be fitted with trim to make your RV look as good as new. Plus, this siding can and does resist dent.

Gelcoat RV Siding


Gel coat in and of itself is just a waterproof coating that is applied to wood, fiberglass and filon. This coating doesn’t show any of its fiberglass fibers allowing it to look good. It comes with the standard advantages that fiberglass brings to RV use.

A gel coat siding will resist dings etc. But it does add a little weight to your RV. Plus, it is a little more expensive than regular aluminum siding. Another good point for gel coat siding is that it is more durable, last longer, and has a better resale value than most other RV sidings used today.

RV Steel Siding

RV steel siding is better known as RV sheet metal siding. The material is easy to put on your RV and comes in different size sheets to meet your repair needs. Sheet metal is very durable and can withstand different weather and rock issues that may damage weaker RV siding.

When replacing your damaged RV siding, Sheet metal siding can be trimmed with simple hand shears. When repairing your RV with sheet metal siding, it is best to have at least one or two extra hands to help you. The material can be quite heavy and hard to manipulate into position

RV Vinyl Siding

This can be added to your RV and it should not transfer as much heat or cold as other RV siding materials do. One of the drawbacks of using vinyl siding is that it is not a durable or strong product. It may not be able to handle the stress that comes with road travel.

While it is lightweight and can look good, vinyl RV siding does not have the durability other RV sidings have. Also, it would have to be very securely fastened to your RV, which can add more possible water leak openings,so it can withstand the pressure of the wind and vibration.

RV Wood Siding

There are those people who like to give their RV a unique look. They often turn to wood to provide that uniqueness. There are a few problems with using wood as siding material for your RV.

  • Wood can be very heavy
  • Wood can rot if not treated or protected correctly
  • Replacement of broken or damaged sections can be expensive
  • Wood may not be as durable as you mat think
  • Wood can attract bugs
  • Wood may not be able to handle the wind or vibration pressure, as well as other siding material
  • Wood can be time consuming to put on your RV
  • Over time, the look of the wood may deteriorate and ruin your resale value
  • Wood does not have a high resale value over other siding materials
  • Not everyone shares your desire to be unique, making resale a very difficult chore to do

Homemade RV Siding

People like to do projects themselves. These projects are rewarding and can save you a lot of money. Even RVs are subject to DIY projects including placing new siding on the exterior of their vehicle.

Some of the ideas different RV users have is to turn to cedar paneling, vinyl sheets and even interior shower panels to update the look on their RVs. Some have even gone as far as adapting PVC pipe to make their RV look unique and special.

There are as many materials out there as ideas when one wants to redo their exterior siding themselves. The key is when you attempt this type of project, make sure you can securely fasten the siding without ruining your frame and creating potential spots for water leaks.

Also, you should be practical as many materials will not stand up to the vibration that comes from road travel.

Other RV Siding Ideas

There actually is no shortage of ideas when it comes to RV exterior siding. Aluminum siding usually uses wood frames and anything that can be attached to wood is good to use on your RV. Or so you hope.

When you go to add your own ideas to your RV, you need to be aware that you would need to strip your old siding off, and inspect the frame for rot and other damage. Then you would need to replace those damaged frame parts with new ones before you can add your new siding.

Even if you are thinking of just overlaying the new siding on top of your old, you should inspect the frame. Damage frames will not be able to hold the extra weight or handle the extra stress.

Some Final Comments

When you are shopping for a new RV, you do not have to worry about the exterior siding that much. There are basically only 2 options available and any other type of siding used is not frequent and may be part of a DIY project.

The difference between fiberglass and aluminum siding boils down to cost. Aluminum is cheaper to use, cheaper to repair and easier on the fuel bill. The only real advantage that fiberglass has, including the filon, gel coat and white arctic varieties, is that it is very difficult to damage.

The other advantage that comes with a fiberglass is that it looks good longer and has a higher resale value. Other types of siding like vinyl, wood and more may not be the best choice as they may not hold up to weather, wind and vibration issues.

Refurbishing your RV with inferior materials may cause you more headaches than you want to deal with. It is best to stick with either aluminum or fiberglass when residing your RV.

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