The most asked question from mobile home owners is how to deal with the faux wood paneling or vinyl coated walls in mobile homes. Practically every model has them and each manufacturer apparently use their own special brand of the vinyl on gypsum, or VOG panels. Colors and patterns vary drastically, some have a plastic coating and some only a glossy paper coating.  All have the strips or battens that cover the seams of the panels and nobody really knows how to update them. In this article, we’ll cover the most popular options used to update mobile home walls, as well as particular issues you need to to know for each option. We’ll also go over step-by-step instructions for painting mobile home walls.

5 Ways to Cover Vinyl Coated Walls in Mobile Homes

There’s several different ways you can handle the vinyl walls, from painting to papering. Here’s 6 most popular methods of transforming the walls:

  • Paint the walls.

Painting is the easiest and cheapest method to cover the patterned walls. You’ll be amazed at what a single color, as opposed to an outdated pattern, can do for a room. See below for step-by-step instructions and tips.  texture walls using stencil

  • Texture the walls.

Texturing is the easiest way to be able to remove the strips that cover the seams of the panels and make it blend in with the rest of the wall.  There’s several different texturing methods you can use and different tools available to achieve your desired texture. Drywall compound and the stucco texture is used most often because it’s easy to get, easy to work with and easy to clean up. It’s also affordable. You can go with simple textures, like stucco, sand or orange peel, or complex textures that add a 3D design to the wall. You can also use stencils to make raised textures that look great. The following websites provide great step-by-step instructions for texturing walls and stenciling walls with compound:

- WikiHow: How to Texture Walls Domestic Diva: Raised Wall Art Trees PlumDoodles: Faux Bricks Using Drywall Mud

faux brick using drywall mud

 

One of our favorite websites, My Hearts Song, shares step by step details about how they removed the strips and added an orange peel texture to their single wide mobile home walls. If removing the strips is your main priority and you want to texture your walls lightly, then you’ll definitely want to check it out. Geneva, the owner, has a great question and answer section, too.

  • Wallpaper over the walls.

Remove the strips (battens) and hang. Wallpapering is not easy to hang, so get a pattern that can be matched easily. Research on the best hanging methods before you start.

  • Use Fabric, tile, or mirrors to cover the walls.

There’s plenty of industrial adhesive on the market that will work, depending on what you’re using. Just about anything can be used, even paper!

Local codes vary when it comes to using sheet rock or dry wall in mobile homes, so be sure to check before you start. Weight is an issue with mobile homes, not only due to transporting, but also because some older homes have 1×3 framing and it just can’t hold the weight without bowing or sagging. Preferably, you’ll use Ultra Light Sheet Rock, but you may also be able to use a 3/8″, or perhaps 1/2″ thick, if your framing can handle it.

In an ideal drywall situation, you will replace the ceiling before the walls are installed. This is especially true if you are using sheet rock or drywall to replace your ceiling as well as the walls. The new ceiling will be installed first because the wall will act as a support for the ceiling. If your ceilings are fine, or you have already replaced them, you have nothing to worry about.

If you will be re-wiring the home and moving the outlets and switches, it’s probably easiest to completely remove the original walls. Take this opportunity to add additional insulation and inspect your wiring, while you have the chance. If you plan on replacing the doors or windows go ahead and do it before or during the sheet rock installation. You can also use this time to add proper headers for the window framing if your home does’t have them.

If you aren’t re-wiring the home or moving the outlets and you’re satisfied with the home’s insulation, then add the sheet rock over the original paneling, it’s an additional insulator and less work. There are box extensions you can buy to extend the outlets. Use quite a bit of glue as well as screws (into the studs only) to reduce cracking. Getting the cuts correct for windows, doors and corners can be frustrating so plan on using trim or crown molding to your advantage.

Bead-board is installed over the wall and nailed into the studs. Some people install it over the entire wall and some only install it halfway up or to chair-rail height. Add a finishing trim to the edges. You will have to remove the strips or battens under the bead-board installation so there’s no bowing or sagging. If you like the cottage look, this is a perfect option for you. 

How to Paint Vinyl Coated Walls in Mobile Homes

Painting the vinyl coated walls in mobile homes is the most affordable, and perhaps the easiest, option you can choose. Many mobile homeowners have painted their walls with great success but it seems everyone that has been successful followed a certain process and had the same advice to share.

1. The first and most important step is to properly clean your walls.

Paint and primer will not stick to dirty walls. You may not even realize how dirty your walls can get and may think they are ‘clean enough’ but their not and that’s nothing against your housekeeping abilities. Smoke from cooking, dander from pets,  and various airborne particles from the furnace and air conditioner naturally stick to walls.

Some homeowners used expensive cleaners and some just used dish detergent. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as there’s a cleaning agent of some sort involved. The most important things is that every inch of the wall is wiped thoroughly at least two times and allowed to dry. You want the primer and paint to bond to every part of the wall so its essential that there’s nothing between the wall and primer or paint.

2. Purchase top quality primer and paint or paint with primer in it. 

The number one piece of advice, that can’t be stressed enough, is to buy the highest quality paint you can. This is not the time to go cheap or be frugal (unfortunately). At the bottom of the article is a list of primers and paints that have been used successfully to paint mobile home walls by several homeowners.

3. Use high quality brushes and rollers to apply the paint.

This is another popular recommendation from those that have painted their mobile home walls successfully. High quality brushes and rollers transfer the paint to the walls better and give a more uniform finish which is exactly what you need.

4. Several light coats are better than thick, heavy coats.

It’s always better to paint in several light coats instead of one or two heavy coats. The paint will dry faster and the finish will be more uniform and smooth.

What kind of paint do you use for mobile home walls?

This is probably the trickiest part of the whole job. Go to 3 different paint stores and I guarantee you will hear 3 different things. We do know that lower sheen paints bond better than gloss or semi-gloss paints and you want the best bond possible so the paint doesn’t peel. That’s another reason why cleaning the walls is so important. Below is a list of products that we know for a fact work well on mobile home walls. They are listed in no particular order.

Best primers to use on mobile home walls:

  • Kilz Primer
  • Zinnser 123
  • Gliddin Gripper
  • Xium Uma
  • Valspar Bonding Primer

Best paint brands to use on mobile home walls:

  • Behr Premium Plus Ultra
  • Glidden Performance Edge Fill + Prime + Paint
  • Sherwin Williams

 

What about those battens?

You can remove the strips, or battens, and use an acrylic caulk to fill in the gap or crack between the wall panels. Be forewarned though, it is difficult to get the tape even and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get it perfect. The panels in mobile homes are not made like drywall or sheet rock panels, meaning they don’t have tapered edges which makes taping the joints easier. You should prime the walls and the cracks with a primer before you fill in the gap with caulk to ensure a good bond. Tape and mud as you would sheet rock. That’s about it. Many people have painted their mobile home’s walls and you can too! The trick is to get the best bond possible and that’s possible by cleaning the walls well and using a good primer, whether it be a stand alone product or primer that’s mixed in the paint. If you have any questions add them to the comments and we’ll do our best to get you pointed in the right direction.

As always, thank you so much for reading Mobile and Manufactured Home Living!

The following websites were instrumental in collecting information and advice for this article:

Image by John Kannenberg



About The Author

Crystal Adkins
Editor/Author
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Thank you so much for reading Mobile & Manufactured Home Living! You can read more about me here. Please consider signing up for the Mobile Home Living Newsletter via the form above. We feature special articles and free ebooks that aren't available on the site! Thank you! Hope to see you again real soon!

7 Responses

  1. mary

    We have a park model vacation home. We want to add a back splash in the kitchen. Can you tile over the vinyl walls??

    Reply
  2. Jodi

    I was told that I couldn’t use things like tile, grout or mud ((?) to replace the battens.) for the walls/floors because of the shifting my home goes through for Michigan winters and summers. Is this true? My home is a 2013 Redman so the walls aren’t the thin vinyl, but have the vinyl wallpaper over them. I would really love tile, but I am afraid of what could happen.

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins
      Crystal Adkins

      Hi Jodi!

      Congratulations on your new home! A few other homeowners have mentioned that they have heard the same thing and while I always hate to go against advice – I don’t think this advice is as relevant as it may have been, here’s why:

      Manufactured homes are now installed and setup based on a national code so homes are more likely to be setup in a way that decreases substantial shifting. Proper footers, especially on homes that have been permanently installed, are less likely to shift or move a lot. Of course, they have to be able to shift but not enough to cause damage.

      Today’s tiling products like DuraRock and HardiRock and the new grouting products is a lot better than they used to be.

      The tile is set in a way that keeps minimal shifting from causing any damage. There’s even a product for tiling in RV’s – it’s a flexible grid type base attached to the tile in the factory and they even have special grout so movement doesn’t hurt the installation at all.

      There’s a trick with adding grout between the panels, just add really good primer to the crack and let it dry before you grout or mud it – it will allow the grout/mud to adhere to the wall better and keep cracks to minimum.

      I think the advice was good advice years ago but with today’s installation and tiling products, I just don’t think it’s relevant anymore.

      PS I’m not at all familiar with construction techniques for really cold weather. Here in WV we get 0 degree temps and a couple feet of snow at a time but it’s nothing like MN! Good luck!

      Reply
  3. Diana

    I just got an older Mobile Home; 1979 single wide.
    The previous owners already painted all paneled walls with the wrong paint and it is peeling/chipping everywhere. All flat white over dark paneling.
    Kitchen and Bathroom I am going to cover with bead-board but what do I do now with the already painted walls?
    Thank You very much for all this Mobile Home DIY information.
    Diana

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins
      Crystal Adkins

      Hi Diana! It’s great to hear from you! I’ve seen this problem a few times but I was always fortunate to be able to just peel the paint off. It was pretty fun actually..lol…I bet in your case the wall was just cleaner in some parts and was able to bond to the wall better so peeling won’t work. I’d probably try to peel it off and then very lightly use a flat edge scraper and scrape it off using a light steam or heat (steamer or hair dryer).

      There’s a homemade paint remover mixture I’ve seen that may work too. I Googled it and found this article. It has a lot of great tips: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/easiest-way-remove-old-paint-plaster-walls-98841.html

      Here’s another link with some good information: http://www.ehow.com/how_4706971_remove-paint-off-walls.html

      There’s lots of paint remover products you could try but I’d be very careful cause it could eat into the wall itself. One of those articles mentioned that if you do use a home made or store bought paint remover to clean the walls well afterwards so that the chemicals are neutralized. That will also give you another round of cleaning the walls so your paint will bond to the wall wonderfully!

      Good luck! Please take some photos for us – would love to see how it all turns out for you!!

      Reply

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