This article was originally published on the DoItYourself.com.
Purchasing a mobile home is a cost effective way to obtain a comfortable home. You’ll spend much less per square foot than you would for a conventional home, while still enjoying comparable beauty, style, comfort, and the benefits of home ownership.
Any type of home requires a good deal of work to keep it in optimum condition, and mobile homes are no different in that aspect. However, there are some practical differences in maintaining, repairing, and decorating mobile homes. Even the most experienced do-it-yourselfer may come across a few challenges, but don’t let that discourage you. There are great resources available to help you tackle everything from the simplest to the most demanding tasks, so you can enjoy your new home for many years to come.
The following ten tips will help when performing routine maintenance, making repairs, and decorating your mobile home:
Keep it Level
Making sure your home is properly leveled is one of the most important issues. When your mobile home is set up, it will be leveled, but over time, you may need to have it adjusted. If doors fail to close properly, windows don’t seem to fit right, your floors squeak when walked on, or you are noticing cracks in walls or ceilings; your home may not be level. There are kits available with instructions that will walk you through this process, or you can call a professional to level your mobile home.
Keep Skirting in Good Repair
The skirting around your mobile home is important for energy efficiency and for protecting the belly of the home. Repair holes immediately before they can cause further damage.
One simple way to repair small holes is to apply tape from the inside and then coat the hole with caulk from the outside. Use a paint scraper to smooth it. Apply more if necessary. Smooth again, allow it to dry, and then sand it. Wipe away any sanding residue. You may also be able to find colored caulk that is a close match to the existing color of your skirting.
Keep the Exterior Clean
When it comes to cleaning the exterior of your mobile home, you may consider renting or purchasing a power washer so that you can get the job done quickly. If you do, ask for specific instructions from the dealer before attempting to use it. You can damage your siding or injure yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing. Take care to follow all instructions precisely for the best results.
You can also purchase a long extension handle to attach to a scrubber or sponge, if you like the idea of getting some exercise while cleaning your siding.
Use Appropriate Materials for Home Improvement
When doing interior home improvement projects keep in mind that some materials used in mobile homes are different from those used in conventional homes. For example, you may have paneling or vinyl-covered drywall. First of all, treated paneling and vinyl are difficult to replace (if you want the same style) since they are generally discontinued quickly as styles change. They can also be difficult to paint, but there are products and techniques available to help make the process easier.
Printed Paneling and Painting
Painting over printed paneling requires sanding and wiping away residue. For grooved paneling (generally found in older mobile homes), apply joint compound within each groove. Allow it to dry completely. It will contract, so you will need to use a second application. When it is dry, sand over the compound as well as the rest of the wall, and wipe away sanding residue. Prime the entire wall, allow it to dry according to the directions on the primer label, and then apply paint as you normally would.
Painting Vinyl-Covered Drywall
When attempting to paint vinyl-covered drywall, you may be faced with other challenges. Many times, even after sanding and priming, the pattern will still show through the new paint. Look for stain blocking primers or consider using a faux painting technique and creating your own subtle pattern to camouflage the existing one. Some people suggest textured treatments to hide the existing print completely.
Corner Tubs and Shower Curtains
If you have a corner tub, you may be wondering how you can find a shower curtain to fit it. Shower curtains are more readily available in the standard size (72 x 72”). Instead of looking for a “corner tub” curtain, simply measure and then shop for a larger size (such as 110 x 72”).
Still, you may have to order a curtain since mobile home fixtures are often different sizes and shapes than standard fixtures, but there are many outlets available online. You can also have a shower curtain custom made if you like, or make one yourself after measuring.
Repairing water stains in mobile home ceilings can be a chore. Ceiling tiles can be incredibly difficult to replace. Camouflaging the stain is often easier, and there are products available to help you make a quick job of it. Stain blocking primer is available in aerosol cans that come complete with vertical tips to make overhead spraying simpler. Look for quick drying formulas and choose one that is a muted white instead of a stark white since ceilings discolor with age and you don’t want the primed area to stand out after you paint the ceiling. When the stain sealer is dry, if the color is distinctly different, you should consider priming the entire ceiling before painting.
Fixtures and features may also be a little tricky, such as doorknobs and faucets. Be sure to select those that are made especially for mobile homes It's also a good idea to remove the fixture and measure the holes before purchasing a replacement. You may also need special screws, nuts, and tools for replacing different fixtures, so it pays to bring existing hardware along with you when shopping for new items.
While some home improvement centers or hardware stores carry items that you can use, you’re better off shopping in a mobile home supply store whenever possible. If there is not one nearby, take advantage of mobile home supply outlets online. Many offer a great selection as well as helpful tips and ideas.
These handy tips will help you keep your mobile home in good condition for years to come. You will also be better prepared if you were considering purchasing this type of home for yourself.