When you start planning a trip in the RV with your family, you imagine all the incredible places your thrilling adventure will take you. But, along with all the breathtaking and picturesque destinations, you have to consider the terrain you’ll be parking your trailer or RV on, so considering a good quality RV camper pad is essential.
Finding a proper place to park is often a real challenge. Some parking surfaces are more suitable than others, and it’s usually difficult to know which surface provides the best foundation for your RV.
To help you find the best place, the following are some of the best RV parking pad ideas. Feel free to adopt these ideas before going on your next adventure!
1. In-Between Adventures? Park Your RV Here
As shown in the picture above, permeable pavers are a do-it-yourself project any individual can undertake. These paving systems are porous, allowing water to flow through the pavement and seep into the ground or sub-base rock present underneath. They’re just as durable and strong as conventional paving materials, including asphalt, compacted gravel, and concrete.
Several different types of porous paving grids are available today, including interlocking concrete grids, permeable concrete, asphalt pavements, plastic grid pavers with flexible joints, and rigid or rolled plastic pavers.
Permeable pavers are the perfect solution to the impervious cover code restrictions, which are designed to reduce flooding risks, protect natural waterways, and regulate stormwater. As a result, they can be used to construct environment-friendly parking lots, fire lanes, driveways, industrial yards, and roadways that absorb and detain water, consequently preventing flooding. In the image above, rolled plastic grid pavers are shown.
This system hugs the ground without developing any potholes or cracks as it shifts. The rolled plastic grid provides optimal gravel or soil retention, along with maximum permeability. It also offers a reliable cover with stormwater detention for greater land utilization. Moreover, the paving system can be rolled, ensuring easy shipping and storage. They are primarily used for foot traffic and light load application, but the system requires staking, which increases its installation cost.
Permeable pavers are cheaper compared to other traditional materials. Plastic rollout systems and plastic grid pavers with flexible joints are both less costly and easier to maintain compared to other traditional systems.
These pavers cost approximately $4 to $6 per square-foot, with the price varying according to the availability of materials. Meanwhile, an average-sized permeable driveway, along with its installation, will cost around $5000 or more.
2. Protect Those Tires From Dirt
Along with killing off the grass, parking your RV in the moisture-laden dirt can significantly damage your tires. Grass is also a pest attractant and can result in bugs and other creepy-crawlers climbing into the RV and building nests. There are a few options available to keep these things from happening. Vapor barriers, leveling blocks, and tire covers can all help protect your investment.
Dirt and grass also retain water, so exposing the RV’s tires to moisture for extended periods of time can increase dry rot, shortening the lifespan of your tires and negatively affecting your expensive investment. However, if you do decide to park in the grass, it is advisable to add a vapor barrier between the ground and the tires, as shown in the picture above.
It’s almost impossible to bring a concrete pad along with you on an RV trip, but leveling blocks are another excellent alternative. Wood or any other leveling block can easily be placed beneath the RV’s tires to disperse the weight of the vehicle on the grass or any soft surface. RV-specialty vapor barriers can cost around $0.50 to $0.75 per square-foot, while leveling blocks have a price ranging from $30 to $50.
Both objects can easily be purchased online. Another cost-effective way to put a barrier in place is to purchase a simple plastic cutting board or a cutting mat. Just make sure that the entire area which comes in contact with the parking surface is covered by the vapor barrier.
You can also protect your tires from moisture and sun exposure by using tire covers. If you don’t have tire covers, you can wrap a tarp around the tire and keep it in place using a bungee cord.
3. On a Budget? Use Gravel For Your parking Pad!
Another cost-effective way to create an RV parking pad is to put down a plot of crushed rock or gravel, similar to the picture above. Both materials allow water to drain and dissipate, making them a lot more tire-friendly. However, determining the thickness of the gravel pad is often a difficult task.
It usually depends on the conditions of the soil on which you plan to park the RV. In some types of soil, you can simply put down gravel, and it will last you for many years, whereas in other areas, the gravel can be swallowed up by the earth in just a short period of time.
You can construct a gravel pad yourself or hire a professional to get the job done. To build your own gravel camper pad, you’ll need to dig and remove about six to eight inches of soil. Large base stones or L-sized stones should then be installed in the bottom to a depth of four to six inches for strength. After compacting the area, finish the pad with regular-sized gravel or choker angular gravel. It’s also advisable to talk to individuals who have gravel driveways, so you can learn from their experiences.
Gravel is cheaper than concrete and allows better water drainage and runoff. A single camper pad measures about 18x9 feet and the cost of one spot of gravel with a depth of three inches is approximately $60. If you do decide to build a gravel parking pad, it’s still advisable to put a vapor barrier between the ground and the tires.
Considerations for RV Parking Pads
If you own a recreational vehicle, you would know the struggles one has to face when looking for an area to park and store their RV. And if you decide to store your vehicle at a commercial facility during the offseason, you know you’ll have to pay quite a big amount, especially if you require indoor or heated storage options. The best solution is to build a parking space for your RV and use camper pads. Here are some benefits and drawbacks:
Build a Parking Space at Home
If you’re home and don’t have plans to travel in the near future, then you will have to park your RV. With parking pads, you can build a parking space yourself at home. You can remove your RV tires to prevent them from getting damaged due to staying in one position on a hard surface.
Moreover, since you can build a parking space at home, you can save the money you'd have to spend at a commercial storage facility. Furthermore, parking pads can actually help make your driveway look stylish if you choose the right one.
You Might Break The Law
Before you install a camper pad at home, contact your homeowner association to see whether or not you’re allowed to do so. You need to check that you're not breaking any zoning laws and that you don’t require a permit to do so. Moreover, you need to make sure that you opt for the right kind of parking pad, as a wrong decision on your part can lead to your RV tires getting damaged.
What Size of Parking Pad Do I Need?
Before you decide to make a parking space for your RV, you must know the size of the camper pad you will need. To get the right size, first, measure the length of your RV to see how much space it requires. Most RVs vary in length, they are mostly about eight to ten feet wide so that they can fit within the standard driving lanes that are about 12 feet in width. So note your RVs length and width and consider the space that other equipment, like mirrors and ladders, needs.
Once you're sure of the area your RV will take up, see that you have enough space on either side so that you can easily park and pull it out. Once you’ve gathered up all that information, check out the different parking pads available. They also vary in length, and range from 20 to 45 feet in length and about 10 to 12 feet in width, so choose the size that suits your requirements.
Types of Camper Pads
If you’re planning on setting up these camper pads yourself, then there are a few things you should know beforehand. The most important thing to know is the different types of parking pads that you can use to build an effective place to park your RV. Some common types include:
Grass Protection Mesh
Grass protection mesh is made using two co-extruded polymers, which are combined to form a mesh grid that you can directly roll over any grass area. This mesh is designed to distribute the weight of the vehicle so that it preserves the roots of the grass and also prevents any rust from forming.
Moreover, this mesh provides you with additional traction as it features cross extruded polymers that allow it to lay flat on the ground. Although this option is both cost-effective and offers easy installation, if you’re going to leave your RV parked on the mesh for a long period, it will create indents on the mesh and will damage it ultimately.
Grass pavers are more stable and are water-permeable, which makes them a more permanent solution. They are basically plastic rolls made using recycled plastic. They have a honeycomb-styled grid that features a quick-connect interlocking construction that allows it to be quickly installed and doesn't require any special clips to join the rolls together.
In order to install these camper pads, you must remove all the existing grass, and will have to add and compact about four inches of crushed rock. Then roll these pavers over the gravel and fill them up with soil. You can then either seed the area or apply sod instead, this way, the grass will grow through the cells of the paver and will provide you with a stable and natural-looking surface that won’t sink.
EGA Ground Grid
EGA Ground Grid units are a great option for you to consider if you want to create a gravel RV Parking pad that offers you stability. Although you can use them for both gravel and grass infills, they are more suitable for gravel areas that use an angular rock infill. This grid features flexible cells that can both open up and restrict the lateral movement of these infills and help create a strong, compacted parking area.
Moreover, you won’t need any aggregate base underneath the grid either, as you have to place it over a geotextile fabric instead. This reduces the cost of the material, labor, and installation. EGA Geocells are a more efficient solution for sloped or inclined areas. These enable drainage downhill and provide the stabilization you require for a camper pad.
Dos and Don’ts of RV Parking Pads
Parking your RV on the grass seems like the easiest and the cheapest option, however, it has a few drawbacks. You not only kill the grass, but the moisture present on the grass can cause damage to your tires, so you’ll basically be dry-rotting your recreational vehicle’s tires.
Moreover, parking on the grass will lead to pest infiltration, so you most definitely need parking pads. However, before you use them, you should be well aware of some dos and don'ts.
Let's start with some dos of these parking pads:
Do Use Gravel
Gravel and crushed rock are tire-friendly as they allow the water to dissipate, hence you should consider a gravel padding for your RV. However, sometimes you just don't know how thick your gravel pad should be.
Many times, you’re working with different types, in such cases, putting down the gravel is a great option as this padding lasts you a long time. Meanwhile, some soil swallows up the entire gravel padding. So, you need to gravel on top of larger stones to offset that issue. Use L-sized stones for the bottom bit and once compacted, top it off with regular-sized gravel, this way, your gravel padding won’t sink into the soil.
Do Try Concrete Pavers
When padding a parking space for your RV, you might think of using regular pavers, however, a better idea would be to swap out these regular pavers with concrete ones. Using interlocking concrete pavers is a better idea as they are much stronger compared to regular ones and can easily take the weight of the RV.
Moreover, they are permeable, therefore, they allow the water to go back to the soil.
Do Use a Vapor Barrier
In case you have an asphalt padding, you need to be careful since direct contact with the asphalt surface can damage tires severely. To prevent this direct contact, you need to use vapor barriers. However, if you’re looking for a cost-effective method, then simply buy a simple plastic cutting board or take a cutting mat, and make sure that you park your RV on top of this barrier only.
Now let's talk about some don’ts:
Don't Use Pavers For Paving
Pavers tend to be an attractive option, and you can easily use them if you’re planning on doing the entire parking space yourself. However, the main concern is that these pavers aren’t that tough and are unable to stand the weight of many RVs, which leads to the cracking or breaking.
Don't Use Asphalt
Although the asphalt parking surface looks good, the main issue is that the oil present in asphalt causes severe damage to these tires. Moreover, if you’re in a humid, hot area, then the asphalt surface will leave an impression on your tires that will not fade away easily.
Don't Use Poured Concrete Slabs for Your Camper Pad
A lot of people wonder whether you can use these slabs for padding. One thing that you should know is that poured concrete slabs are similar to gravel and concrete pads. They do not consist of any petroleum product, which means that they can be used for padding parking areas as they do not damage the tires.
However, with these slabs, the water doesn't flow through, therefore, when designing the pad, make sure the design features a slight crown at the center. This will allow the water to roll off the pad and prevent it from pooling.
How to Build a Gravel RV Parking Pad
Gravel padding is a great option for your parking area. If you want to build a gravel RV parking pad, you need to know the steps you’ll have to follow to ensure that you do the right job. Have a look:
Firstly, remove the grass.
The next step is the paver edging. For that, you need to get the border.
Then put the weed mats in but first spray the area with grass and weed killer.
Once you’ve gotten all the landscaping material down, see that you’ve staked it down properly.
Take the crushed concrete and pour it all across the area and spread it out well.
In case you’re still confused about the steps mentioned above, and you still have some questions, then you can go through the video below.
If you’re thinking of having a parking area made, you need to be well aware of the parking pads that are suitable for your RVs. Since the market is filled with multiple options. You might still be confused about certain things. Therefore, we answered some of the most asked questions regarding these RV parking pads. Hopefully, these will answer some of your queries.
What is the Best Surface to Park an RV on?
The most suitable surface to park your RV on is concrete. Opting for concrete padding is an ideal option as it is a lot stronger. However, it is a lot more expensive.
Other alternatives include crushed gravel and mined rock padding, or you can opt for asphalt padding. However, for the latter, you will need to make sure that you use a vapor barrier to prevent your tires from getting damaged.
How Thick Should an RV Pad Be?
No matter which surface padding you’re opting for, the pad's thickness isn’t that important. What’s more important is the mix that you’re using for it and the type of soil you’re dealing with. You need to use the right amount of mix. Be specific about the type of material you want so that you get the appropriate amount.
Should RV Tires Be Off Ground When Parked?
This depends on how long you are planning on having your RV parked. If you’re parking the RV for a short period of time, it is better that you don’t take the tires off.
However, if you’re planning on parking the vehicle for an extended period of time, you will have to take it out for a spin every now and then to prevent flat spots. Alternatively, you can use the jacks to lift the tires slightly off the ground to prevent damage to the tires. Covering them also protects against damage from the outside elements.
Can I Park My RV in My Yard?
Parking your RV in your yard is probably the most convenient and affordable option. You can use your driveway or your yard. However, you must make sure that you are legally allowed to do so. Also, ensure that you do not cause your neighbors any issue with your RV, it shouldn’t block the sunlight or the sidewalk, etc.
With the right research, all the ideas mentioned above can easily be adopted by any experienced DIYer. However, if you don’t have the time and don’t mind spending a bit, you can hire a professional to get the job done faster. Whichever pad you decide to park your RV on, make sure it covers the entire area of the tire to prevent any unnecessary damage or wear and tear.
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