The traveling homestead spends much of the winter in below-freezing temps. One way we winterize is by skirting the bottom of the trailer to keep heat in. However, this trailer skirt has to be easily removable and portable, as we make frequent trips during the winter. Last year, I investigated the possibility of using concrete blankets — special tarps made to insulate wet concrete so that it can cure properly despite freezing temperatures. Between the high cost and low availability, I examined several and decided I could make my own. I only got three done last winter, but over the summer I finished the last two. Now I am ready to completely skirt my travel trailer, and it is easily portable for when we relocate. Here is how I made them.
• 16’ x 20’ blue tarp.
• 4, 12” x 100’ rolls of bubble wrap.
• 2 cans of black spray paint.
• adhesive Velcro.
Putting it together:
1. Cutting the tarp down to size.
My trailer measures 8’ x 26’ plus the tongue, which holds the house battery and 2 propane tanks. I figured I might want the tarps to wrap around those as well, so I estimated a length of 80 feet, just to have some wiggle room. I cut the tarp into 5 strips measuring 3’ x 20’. To do this, I had to open it up outside. There was snow on the ground at the time, so the tarp stayed fairly clean. I had my son stand on it to help hold it down and help fold up each piece as we went. We also used rocks to help hold the tarp down as I cut.
2. Sewing on the bubble wrap.
The bubble wrap was only 12” wide, so I had to sew 3 tiers onto each strip of tarp. This was the most tedious part of the project. I was also concerned that it would be hard on my sewing machine, but it did fine. I had to clean the tarp dust out frequently, and had to be careful not to catch the presser foot on the bubble wrap, but otherwise, it was straight seams and easing the bulk through the machine.
3. Black paint.
After sewing on all the bubble wrap, the next step was to paint the outside of the skirting black. This is to absorb more sun and help retain the heat around the trailer. It is very windy where we usually are, so I had to wait for a still day to get the paint to stick to the tarps instead of floating away.
4. Attaching the Velcro.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but I wanted to be able to use any tarp in any spot and make replacing tarps easy. I measured out 3” strips of Velcro and stuck them at 12” intervals across the tops of the tarps. The problem with adhesive is that it destroys sewing machine needles. So, I had to tack one side of the Velcro strip to the tarps by hand-sewing to reinforce the adhesive. The other side just went against the trailer. First I cleaned each point of application with rubbing alcohol, much as you do to place your new car registration tags on your license plate. Then I applied the Velcro adhesive. We will see at the end of the season whether I leave the strips on the trailer for next year or not.
5. Finally, we placed rocks, buckets, and hay bales on the bottoms of the tarp, so that our excessive winds don’t blow them away. I am anxious to see how this works. I am not completely sure the Velcro is going to be sufficient, but I will report on that in a later post!
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