There are numerous factors to consider when purchasing an RV. One of the factors to keep in mind is choosing the right RV siding types.

The outer walls of your vehicle are known as siding. This protects the RV and also gives it a unique look – depending on your tastes. Since the type of siding you choose is such an important decision, you should learn everything you can about the benefits and drawbacks of each before making a selection.

When it comes to RV siding, the two most common options are aluminum or fiberglass. Other options include filon, composite, vinyl, wood, and steel siding. Choosing the right type of siding depends on several factors, which we will discuss in this comprehensive guide.

Buying an RV is a significant investment. It's more like buying a second house, or it may be your only home if you go full-time RV-ing. Regardless, you must locate the RV that is perfect for you, whether you will tow a fifth wheel or a travel trailer. You will also have to ensure that your vehicle can manage to tow.

Choosing the right siding for your RV is a major decision, which is why it is critical to do your due diligence. As RV experts and enthusiasts, we have crafted this detailed guide to help you make the right decision.



RV Siding Types

Aluminum siding is divided into two subcategories: corrugated siding panels and a seamless design.

Though seamless may appear to be more appealing to some, it is significantly more expensive to repair because it requires replacing the entire skin of the RV. In contrast, siding panels only require replacing the damaged panels.

Then there's fiberglass, which is equipped with effective insulation components and has a sleek appearance. When compared to aluminum siding, fiberglass siding can weigh up to a third more.

Fiberglass recreational vehicles are much more expensive than their aluminum counterparts. Depending on your vehicle's ability to tow the weight and your budget, either option may be suitable.

Fiberglass siding can have taped-on graphics, have paint applied to it, or be coated according to your preference. Although it is true that painted fiberglass provides more protection from harmful UV rays, this is becoming less and less true as fiberglass technology advances.

Fiberglass siding is available in smooth and corrugated forms, just like aluminum siding.

RVs are more than just a pretty face. However, the first thing you notice about an RV is its appearance. The external construction materials used on an RV are what truly distinguish it. These materials not only make your RV seem nice, but they also keep everything inside safe.

What is the Composition of RV Siding? When it comes to building an RV, two major materials are employed. You have the option of using fiberglass or metal.

Both construction materials have drawbacks and benefits, but both materials are significantly superior to steel.

Knowing what your RV is made of will help you decide which one to purchase when it is time to replace it.

Aluminum vs. Fiberglass RV Siding

Comparisons are unavoidable in today's environment. Everyone wants to go for the best option for RV siding. Second-best is not a nice place to be in; thus, these comparisons span almost everything in life.

This comparison craze extends to RV exterior siding as well. People want to know if aluminum or fiberglass cladding is better for an RV's exterior.

Pros of Aluminum Siding

  • Thousands of dollars can be saved by purchasing an RV with aluminum paneling. It's just a lot less expensive than fiberglass.
  • Aluminum walls make it possible to run the wiring and other cables that your RV requires to function properly.
  • You keep warmer because the aluminum exterior siding's wood frame does not transfer heat or cold as quickly as other frames.
  • With aluminum siding, you may simply need to repair the damaged portion. Normally, you do not need to rebuild the entire outside wall.
  • Since aluminum is lighter than fiberglass, an RV with aluminum siding can get more miles per gallon than one with fiberglass siding.
  • Aluminum is extremely durable and robust, which is why it has been used as siding for decades.

Cons of Aluminum Siding

If the silicone sealant is compromised, the aluminum layers will be unable to prevent water leaks, causing your wood frame to decay.

Hail or heavy rain can quickly damage metal, leaving you with a hefty repair bill.

Pros of Fiberglass Siding

  • Fiberglass does an excellent job of keeping outside noise out of your RV.
  • Fiberglass is sturdier but less flexible than aluminum in terms of reliability.
  • Fiberglass is easier to clean, so your RV will always look its best as long as you keep it well-maintained.
  • Hail does not harm fiberglass as much as it affects aluminum.
  • Fiberglass maintains its appearance for a longer period of time, resulting in a higher resale value.
  • There are no staples, etc., utilized to attach the fiberglass to the frame, giving it a clean appearance. Your RV seems cleaner, and there are fewer places for water leaks to enter.

Cons of Fiberglass Siding

  • Water can cause damage, and if it leaks inside, you may have a delaminating problem.
  • You can't run wiring or cables behind the wall. Because the fiberglass walls are solid, there is no space.
  • Spider web-like cracks can form when a solid item strikes it, costing you a lot of money in repairs.
  • RV owners are frequently unable to repair damaged fiberglass on their own. Fiberglass cannot be repaired in pieces; instead, the entire side must be replaced.
  • The front and back walls are occasionally put together sloppily, enabling water to harm the fiberglass backing. This permits your RV to develop indentations, dents, and wobbles.

RV Siding at its Finest

Despite its flaws, most experts believe that fiberglass siding is superior. When choosing fiberglass as the finest RV exterior siding option, they consider hail resistance, resale value, and other criteria.

There are people who argue that aluminum siding is the greatest since it gets higher gas mileage, is easy to run electrical, and is easy to repair. We generally agree with those who prefer aluminum to fiberglass.

Aluminum siding is far less expensive to replace and repair, compensating for any disadvantages. However, the choice is entirely yours since it depends on your personal preferences and needs.

Fiberglass has a more modern appearance, and it retains its market value, which makes for an interesting debate. Get additional information and perspectives on both types of external sidings before making a decision.

Alternative RV Siding Materials

Manufacturers have only two true exterior siding options for your RV due to weight and mileage considerations: aluminum or fiberglass.

Composite, wood, and vinyl sidings are occasionally utilized, although they are inferior to fiberglass and aluminum. The expense of replacing damaged parts could be high as well.

Filon RV Siding

Filon is a type of fiberglass that is frequently used to improve the siding on RVs. It's a popular choice because it lasts longer, is extremely strong, and will not dent easily.

It is usually used for recreational purposes. It also has a far superior appearance to standard fiberglass and aluminum siding.

It may also be installed on your RV in one piece and does not require painting. Its sole flaw appears to be that it requires a layer of protective gel covering to prevent harm.

To install filon siding on your RV, you'll need the help of a professional. It requires particular glue, and the surface to which it is being adhered must be completely dry.

Filon siding has a Luan or filon backing, and there must be no air spaces between the filon siding and the material it is attached to.

Composite Siding for RVs

In case normal RV siding fails to meet expectations, composite RV siding can be used. Sidewalls, decking, ramps, and slide-outs are more commonly used. They're also more expensive to install than standard RV siding materials.

The honeycomb structure choice adds strength to the siding, while the foam form gives better insulation from the elements.

The siding is lightweight in general, but that does not make it weak. It's a remarkably durable siding. Because of the versatility in handling it, RV owners can cut the panels to size and add trim to make their RV look brand new.

Vinyl Siding for RVs

This can be installed on your RV and should not conduct as much heat or cold as other RV siding materials. One of the disadvantages of vinyl siding is that it is not a sturdy or long-lasting material. It may not be able to cope with the stress of road travel.

Vinyl RV siding is attractive and lightweight, but it lacks the durability of other RV sidings. It would also have to be very tightly tied to your RV, resulting in more probable water leak openings, and it would have to endure the vibration and wind strain.

Wood Siding for RVs

Some folks enjoy giving their RV a distinctive appearance. They frequently use wood to achieve that distinctiveness. There are a few drawbacks to choosing wood as an RV siding material.

  • Wood is a hefty material.
  • If not properly treated or preserved, wood can rot.
  • It might be costly to replace broken or damaged pieces.
  • Wood may not be as long-lasting as you might expect, and it might also attract bugs.
  • Other siding materials, such as wood, may not be able to withstand the wind or vibration pressure as well as other siding materials.
  • Putting wood on your RV can take a long time.
  • The appearance of the wood may deteriorate with time, lowering your resale value.
  • In comparison to other siding materials, wood does not have a great market value.

Steel Siding for RVs

RV sheet metal siding is also known as RV steel siding. The material is simple to install on your RV and comes in a variety of sizes to match your repair requirements.

Sheet metal is extremely durable, and it can survive a variety of rock and weather conditions that would otherwise harm weaker RV siding.

Sheet metal siding may be cut using simple hand shears when repairing damaged RV siding. It's best to have at least one or two extra hands to assist you when fixing your RV with sheet metal siding.

The material can be difficult to get into place and is fairly heavy.

RV Siding Gel Coat

Gel coat is a water-resistant outside layer that is applied over filon, fiberglass, and wood by itself. This coating hides all of the fiberglass strands, making it look attractive.

It has all of the benefits that fiberglass has to offer when it comes to RV use.

This type of siding will withstand dents and other damages. However, it does add some weight to your RV.

Plus, it costs a little more than standard aluminum siding. Gel coat siding is also more robust, lasts longer, and has a higher resale value than most other RV sidings on the market today.

Final Thoughts

When looking for a new RV, you don't have to be concerned about the exterior paneling. There are really just two siding alternatives, and the usage of any other type is uncommon and may be part of a DIY project.

Cost is the main difference between fiberglass and aluminum siding. Aluminum is far less expensive to fuel, maintain, and use.

Fiberglass, including white arctic versions, gel coat, and filon, has one significant advantage: it is difficult to destroy.

Another benefit of fiberglass is that it has a better resale value and it retains its appearance for longer.

Other types of siding, such as vinyl, wood, and others, may not be the greatest choice due to difficulties with vibration, wind, and weather. Refurbishing your RV with low-quality materials could result in more difficulties than you want to deal with.

RV Siding Made at Home

People enjoy taking on undertakings on their own. These initiatives are both cost-effective and enjoyable. Even RVs are prone to DIY chores, such as installing new siding on the outside of the vehicle.

Internal shower panels, vinyl sheets, and cedar paneling are some of the ideas that different RV owners have for updating the aesthetic of their RVs. Some people have even gone as far as modifying PVC pipes to make their RV stand out.

When it comes to redoing one's outside siding, there are as many materials as there are ideas. When doing this type of project, make sure you can securely affix the siding without destroying your structure or creating potential leak points.

You should also be practical, as many materials will not withstand the vibrations caused by vehicle travel.

Alternative RV Siding Concepts

When it comes to external siding for RV, there are many options. Wood frames typically support aluminum siding, and everything that can be fastened to wood is suitable for use on an RV.

When you go to add your own personal touches to your RV, keep in mind that you'll have to remove the old siding and inspect the structure for rot and other issues. Then, before you can add your new siding, you'll need to replace those broken frame parts with new ones.

Even if you're merely going to put new siding on top of old, you should have the frame inspected. Damaged frames will be unable to support the additional weight or withstand the increased stress.


Anthony Day

Anthony Day

Hi, my name is Anthony, and RVs are what I'm passionate about. I bought my first RV when I was 21, and I've been hooked ever since. I'll guide you on how they work, how they can be used in different environments, and how they fit into our everyday lives.

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