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 You’ll be amazed at what a single color, as opposed to an outdated pattern, can do for a room.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 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:
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!
- Install bead-board or Sheet rock.
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