Bathrooms are the most remodeled rooms in mobile homes. There’s good reason for this: the tubs, sinks and faucets are often made from a thin material that can warp, discolor and crack easily. Weight is the main reason the products are used but once you have the home set, weight isn’t as much of an issue. Fortunately, you can replace bathroom fixtures easily and give your bathroom a complete new look that’s affordable and stylish. Below is a buying guide we’ve put together, this should get you started on that dream remodel you’ve been planning and allow you to decipher all the information that’s out there.
One point to remember: mobile home sinks, tubs and fixtures are often not the same size as the products you find at your everyday hardware store. You have 2 options: buy products specifically made for mobile homes and simply replace the old with the new or retrofit standard home products to fit the mobile home.
Mobile Home Bathroom Faucets
Faucets come in 5 varieties: center set, minispread, single hole, wall-mount or widespread.
- Single Hole Faucets only require a single hole to be drilled on the counter. They usually come with one or two handles attached to the main spout. These can be tricky to operate for the very young or the elder as getting the right temperature is only controlled by one handle usually. You can buy them with temperature limiting valves to prevent scolding. If you are transforming from a center set to a single hole faucet, deck plates are available and often come with the faucet. This allows the modification to remain stylish and covers up the additional holes that are no longer needed.
- Center Set Faucets are the most often used style in mobile homes. The holes are drilled 4″ apart from the center of the holes. The water temperature is controlled completely through the handles as there are 2 lines, one for hot and one for cold and they are mixed together in the spout. They come in either 2 handle or 1 lever designs that are attached to the base. Their compact size is beneficial for small spaces.
- 4″ Minispread Faucets are also classified as center set yet are a bit different. The have 3 separate pieces which give the look of a widespread faucet but you can still use the standard 4″ openings of a center set faucet. Each handle controls either the hot or the cold water. It’s mixed together in the spout.
- Wall-Mounted Faucets are exactly what they say they are: wall mounted. These are becoming increasingly popular for small spaces because they don’t require additional counter room for the faucet. They are perfect for the modern vessel sink. Make sure to chose one that is the right length for the sink you want. It should extend to the exact middle of the sink upon installation.
- Widespread Faucets come in either 8″ or even 16″ wide styles. The valves and temperature mixing chamber are below the counter. They are usually very large and should be used in the correct environment, with a large sink. Otherwise, the scale will be off and it will overpower everything in the room.
You can put any kind of faucet you want in your home, especially if you are changing out the counter and sink at the same time. If you are simply replacing a leaky faucet you should buy the style that fits the opening you have (most often its going to be 4″ center set in a mobile home). You can get a replacement faucet from a mobile home supply store for cheap or you can spend a bit more on a piece that really makes a statement in the room.
If you are completely remodeling the bathroom, your options are wide open! Most recommend that you buy the faucet first, then the sink based on the type of faucet you’ve selected. You’ll also want to choose a counter to put these new beauties on. All new faucets should come with a template to help you place the holes in the correct spot.
Mobile Home Bathroom Sinks
There are 6 basic sink types: vanity top, console, vessel, pedestal, wall mounted, under counter and counter top.
Vanity Top Sinks are a one piece sink and counter combination. They are simply installed on top of a cabinet or as part of a complete furniture piece. They come in several different types of materials and sizes. Easy cleaning is one advantage but size and weight can be disadvantages.
Console Sinks are similar to vanity top sinks but they are often supported by 2 front legs in the front and wall mounting in the back. They are great for small spaces but there’s little to no storage space under the sink. They come in various materials and sizes. They are easy to clean since it’s one piece with legs.
Vessel Sinks are very popular these days. It’s basically a decorative bowl that sits either on top of the counter or inside the counter, though the top installation is far more popular. Numerous materials are available although glass seems to be the most popular. You must chose the correct faucet for vessel sinks.
Pedestal Sinks are free standing sinks with a base. You often have to buy the 2 pieces separately but that gives you an opportunity to get the exact style you want. There’s no storage under these but they are beautiful and simple. Plumbing is often exposed.
Wall Mounted Sinks are self explanatory. The are attached to the wall and nothing else. They are often small in size and perfect for tight spaces.
Under Counter Sinks are set under the counter. This allows the inside of the counter to be seen around the opening of the sink so it should be decorative or one solid piece such as granite. They are installed under the counter with mounting kits. These are very popular as well and are often referred to as under mount sinks. They come in numerous materials, shapes and sizes.
Counter Top Sinks are the most popular style of any sink. The rim of the sink rests directly on top of the counter inside of a hole. The counter top material can be practically anything as long as it’s water proof. Materials choices are numerous and they come in several sizes and shapes.
Most mobile home bathroom sinks are set with clips placed under the sink opening. The parameter is sealed under the lip of the sink. Unscrew the clips and run a blade between the sink and counter and lift it out. Then replace them with what ever style you want!
Try to get a replacement product that has a warranty and a good company reputation. Kohler Bathroom sinks are known to be good quality with a lot of styles to chose from.
Yellowing Mobile Home Bathtubs
Most mobile home bathtubs turn yellow within 5-7 years. There’s not been 1 home spared as far as I’ve seen. It’s a chemical reaction to the sunlight or the air or just a very bad plastic coating or coloring breaking down over time. Who knows, but really it needs to stop. The manufacturers need to do better testing with the tub suppliers and refuse to install junk in the homes. This is 2013, we can have computers the size of a credit card but we can’t keep a plastic tub from yellowing over time? Really?
Replacing mobile home tubs isn’t that hard but you need to be aware of one main point:
The standard tub in your mobile home is likely not the same size as the tubs at your everyday hardware store for $139. There’s usually a 6″ difference. You can always make room by moving one wall and since the water heater is placed behind the wall that houses the tub faucets, there’s usually a way to nudge just enough room out of that area to use a standard sized tub. You’ll have to really look things over and plan accordingly. Always factor in a surround for the tub walls too. They usually run between $79 and $250 depending on style.
Of course, you can always buy a mobile home tub from any mobile home supplier. That’s going to be your easiest method but oddly enough, it is usually the most expensive. When we priced tubs a couple months back, the cheapest mobile home sized tub with a surround was running in the $400-500 range. That was for your basic tub with nothing fancy. We could knock an entire wall down, move it over 6.5 inches and rebuild, then buy a standard $139 tub with surround and very nice tub hardware for a little over half the price of the mobile home tub.
Mobile Home Toilets
I was given some very good advice about mobile home toilets once. If you can’t find the model or the year that the mobile home was manufactured, look at the toilet tank. The year will be stamped on it. This assumes the toilet has never been replaced, of course. I can’t really say much about toilets in mobile homes. They’ve always stood the test of time with me. Of course, the guts needs replaced occasionally but that’s the case with any toilet.
Mobile home toilets are easily replaceable with any one on the market. You have 2 basic choices; a regular toilet or a handicapped one. The handicapped toilets are higher. All toilets you buy today are going to be low flow which is good, we don’t need to use 10 gallons every time we flush. It’s a waste of water.
Replacing toilets is not complicated: turn the water off, empty the water out of the tank and bowl. Unscrew and lift. Anytime you move or replace a toilet you must use a new wax ring. It’s just not smart to reuse them (yuck!). There’a little more to it but the magic is in making sure it’s level. If it’s not level, you are going to have complications. Leveling brings me to the last section:
Mobile Home Bathroom Floors
Mobile home bathroom flooring doesn’t come with any waterproofing so every drop of water that is allowed to reach the flooring (meaning the sub-floor, the studs or joists under it) is killing the wood. It will rot and cause weak spots and swelling. Chances are within 15 years of buying your home you will need to replace the bathroom floors completely if the appropriate precautions aren’t taken.
In the 80’s some manufacturers had the bright idea to put carpeting in the master bathrooms. What a total mess that decision made! If you have carpet in your bathroom or floating floor without a waterproof membrane under it, get it out now! The mold growing under it is not healthy and I will guarantee that it’s there, you may just not realize it. In my 34 years of living in a manufactured home, I’ve been involved with no less than 5 total bathroom floor replacements. It’s not easy but it’s absolutely possible. Getting the studs level and straight is the biggest complication but once that’s done you simply lay your sub-flooring down and screw it into the studs. Use a waterproof membrane, it will help keep the wood dry and will allow you some peace of mind that you won’t have to do it all again.
If you’re ready to do a complete bathroom renovation in your mobile home, begin from the bottom and work your way up. There’s no since in buying all the fancy new gadgets if the flooring isn’t correct. Factoring in sub-flooring and giving the studs (joists) a good look over before you install anything is the best move.
Alright, that should get you started on planning your bathroom remodel. Good luck!
As always, thank you for reading Mobile & Manufactured Home Living