How to attach aluminum skin to a trailer body

Written by vicki wright
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How to attach aluminum skin to a trailer body
Aluminium skin is the industry standard for trailer manufacturers. (camping,trailer image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Aluminium is one of the most widely used metals in the manufacturing industry. It is extremely lightweight, which makes it the perfect material to use when skinning a trailer, whether it's a horse trailer, camping trailer or a trailer used to haul an ATV or other items. A trailer needs to be aerodynamic to reduce drag, and a lighter-weight trailer is easier for a truck to pull when going down the road. Aluminium-skinned trailers have become the industry standard for the trailer manufacturing business. It's relatively simple to outfit your own trailer with aluminium skin.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Industrial-grade double-stick foam tape
  • Box knife
  • Tin snips
  • Tape measure
  • Silicone caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rag
  • Aluminium skin sheets
  • Trailer frame
  • Pop rivet gun
  • Pop rivets

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure your trailer from front to back and top to bottom on each side. Measure the front of the trailer -- top to bottom, side to side -- and the back of the trailer -- top to bottom, side to side. Take measurements for the top of the trailer, too.

    How to attach aluminum skin to a trailer body
    Measure all dimensions of your trailer frame before ordering the aluminium skin sheets. (tape measure image by Ray Kasprzak from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Order your aluminium skin sheets from a metal dealership or a trailer shop. Know the quantity you need and determine how many sheets you need based on the size of sheets the dealership or trailer shop can order for you.

  3. 3

    Cut the sheets to the size you need. You should allow an extra inch for each sheet for overlap. Cut out any window or door openings before applying the sheets to your trailer frame.

  4. 4

    Clean the trailer frame and aluminium skin sheets with rubbing alcohol to rid them of dust, dirt, grease or oil.

  5. 5

    Apply the industrial-grade double-stick foam tape to each brace or post that the skin will touch on the trailer body. Press firmly to ensure that the tape is adhered well to the frame.

  6. 6

    Place the aluminium skin sheet firmly against the trailer body where it belongs. Be careful to place it in the proper location because, once it adheres to the tape, it is nearly impossible to remove it. Repeat this process with each sheet, overlapping them by an inch as you move along your trailer body.

  7. 7

    Trim away any excess at the corners.

  8. 8

    Seal each corner and seam with silicone caulk from the inside of the trailer. Run a continual bead down the line from top to bottom. Do the same at the top and bottom of the trailer.

Tips and warnings

  • If the tape does not stick to your trailer body, use a pop rivet gun to attach the skin to the frame. The pop rivets should be attached four inches apart anywhere the skin touches the trailer body.

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