50 Incredibly Useful Tips about Mobile Homes

If someone is new to Mobile Home Living and has never been around a factory-built home they probably don’t know what they don’t know. While mobile homes are remarkably similar to site-built homes, there are still differences. For example, financing and installation are more complex but the plumbing is more simplified.

Every one of these 50 tips about mobile homes come from the almost 700 articles we’ve published over the years. These are all things that I think can help a newbie or a seasoned mobile home owner.

Over 18 million people are living in a factory-built home in America yet there are no magazines or TV shows and only a few truly helpful online resources for mobile and manufactured homeowners. If someone has never been around a mobile home before they have a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming. Hopefully, this list of 50 tips about mobile homes will help.

50 Useful Tips about Mobile Homes

The tips are organized by topic. There are tips for installation and setup, underbelly and skirting, doors, roofing, and buying the best home. Most of these tips about mobile homes will include a link to an article that goes into more detail about the subject.

Tips about

Installation and Setup

1. It’s been said that improper or incorrect installation of manufactured homes accounts for 80% of all warranty complaints. That tells you just how important it is to make sure your manufactured home is installed properly.

2. For best setup and drainage and to ensure water doesn’t pool under a mobile home HUD recommends the grade under a manufactured home have a 5-6” slope around the first 10 feet around the home. That equals out to a mere ½” for every foot. 

3. A mobile home is built on a cambered chassis meaning it the metal is curved to distribute the weight of the home. Outriggers are the triangle steel attached to the main beams that extend to the edge of the perimeter walls.

Tips about

Underbelly and Skirting

4. The underbelly of a mobile home is way more important than you realize – there should be no rips or tears in the black material covering the bottom of your home. You can repair mobile home belly boards with special patches and tape.

5. Always make sure plumbers and HVAC (or any contractor) repairs any tears or holes created in the belly wrap after they’ve finished repairs or installs.

6. Vents in your mobile home skirting should be within 3-5 feet of every corner to reduce dead air pockets under your home. These dead air pockets are a perfect environment for mold and mildew.

7. Skirting vents should be open during the summer and closed during the winter.

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Tips about

Doors, Windows, Siding

8. Mobile home doors are usually smaller than doors in site-built homes. Upgrading doors is the #1 home improvement based on return on investment figures.

9. You can replace windows in a mobile home with site-built home windows but you’ll need to retrofit in most cases.

10. You can paint the metal siding on older mobile homes with brush, roller, or sprayer.

Tips about

Roofing

11. Flat metal roofs should be recoated with an aluminum-based roof coating every other year. Take the opportunity to check sealants, caulks, and patches – replace if brittle or cracked.

12. Mobile homes with no eaves need a healthy J-channel above doors and windows to act as a gutter and keep water from hitting them.

13. Eaves help keep the rain off those elements. If ordering a new home or re-roofing your current home opt for 8-12″ eaves.

Tips about

Walls, Floors, and Ceilings

14. Most walls in a mobile home are covered with VOG (vinyl on gypsum) or POG (paper on gypsum), you can paint VOG and POG.

15. You can remove the strips or battens that cover the seams of the VOG wallboards.

16. You can remove walls in a mobile home but you must ensure that they aren’t load-bearing. Marriage lines, where the two sides meet to form a double wide and perimeter walls are always load-bearing.

17. MDF subfloors soak up water like a sponge. If you are buying a new manufactured home you should have the subflooring upgraded to OSB or plywood.

18. 3% Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) may whiten your ceilings. Shoe polish and chalk are also options that may work.

19. Replacing subfloors in a mobile or manufactured home is a pain but a homeowner with moderate construction experience can probably handle it. If you can afford it, use marine grade plywood in the bathroom. It holds up against water a lot better than anything else.

Manufactured Home Plumbing Basics
Tips about

Mobile Home Plumbing

20. Every source of water (faucet, tub, dishwasher, washing machine) should have a shutoff valve.

21. Mobile homes often have a lot of ventilation issues in their plumbing systems due to simplified design and smaller pipes.

22. Heat tape is one of the most common fixes for frozen water lines on mobile homes but it must be installed before the pipe freezes.

23. Factory-built homes usually have smaller bathtubs so you can’t easily replace it with a standard tub from Lowe’s or Home Depot. You have 2 choices: buy a bathtub from a mobile home supply store that is double the cost of a standard tub or buy a $129 standard tub from Lowe’s and retrofit it. You’ll need 6″ more inches both ways.

24. Mobile and manufactured home bathtubs are notorious for turning yellow. You may be able to use a special recipe to reverse the yellowing but if not you can paint it.

Tips about

Insulation and Energy Efficiency

25. You should check the flashing and caulking around your windows, doors, plumbing pipes, roof vents every Fall. Replace loose or thin caulking.

26. Having additional insulation blown into your ceiling cavity and under your sub-floor can drastically help your heating and cooling efforts.

27. Older mobile homeowners should try to have insulation blown into their ceiling cavity using the drill and plug process.

28. You must use a mobile home approved furnace in your home.

Tips about

Buying a Mobile or Manufactured Home

29. A double wide will have two titles, one for each section. A single wide will only have one.

30. You should never buy a mobile home from anyone that doesn’t have a legal title in their hand with their name on it.

31. In most states, you do not legally own a mobile or manufactured home until the title(s) has been registered in your name. Do it as soon as you buy the home.

32. Whether buying a new or pre-owned manufactured home, pay the $26 to have an online appraisal done on the NADA website.

33. It’s usually never a good idea to use land that you already own as collateral on a manufactured home.

34. Always, always, always have a licensed inspector inspect a pre-owned mobile or manufactured home before buying it.

35. You can get FHA loans for manufactured homes.

36. It’s been said that the average profit for a dealer on every manufactured home sale is $11,000.

37. There are 3 levels of manufactured home quality. The most affordable has the cheapest materials and lots of staples, mid-grade levels are more like site-built homes, and luxury grade is equal to or better than site-built and equally expensive.

38. Do not add insurances, furniture, taxes, warranties, etc. into a dealer-financed loan. If needed get a second private loan from a bank to cover those separately and pay them off quickly. Otherwise, you will be paying double or even triple by the end of the loan.

39. There are 10 builders building 80% of all manufactured homes in the US. Make sure the competitors are really competitors (and not owned by the same corporation).

40. Never buy insurance from a manufactured home salesperson or dealership. Call a licensed insurance agent – you’ll almost always get a better rate.

41. Only 25% of mobile and manufactured home that sits on privately owned land is permanently installed. The pros of being classified as real property usually don’t outweigh the pros of remaining personal property.

42. There are 38 states that have HUD agency offices that monitor and handles complaints between home buyers and builders. These offices are funded by the builders – they have to pay a $24+ fee per section of each home they produce.

43. HUD’s Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is in charge of the manufactured housing construction and safety standards.

44. Keep the manual and the data plate to your home. There are a certificate and important numbers that will be needed if you ever plan to try to get an equity loan or to sell it (the buyer needs the info).

45. Less than 1% of manufactured home loans through a dealer is ever refinanced.

1991 Double Wide Tips About Mobile Homes Washougal WA00002
Tips about

Misc Mobile Home Tips

46. Check to make sure your mobile home is level 90 days after installation, 1 year after installation, and then every 3-5 years. A water level is easy to make.

47. Your dryer should never ever be vented directly under your home. You’re just giving mold and mildew a perfect home and possibly damaging your home. Be sure to seal caulk and seal around the dryer vent.

48. The term ‘mobile home’ was coined by Elmer Frey, the man that fought the state’s highway system so the homes could be 10 foot wide. The additional width allowed for a hallway instead of walking through one bedroom to get to the next. This small improvement made vintage mobile homes viable for full-time living.

49. Mobile home additions aren’t actually attached to the home at all. They just look like it. Additions, porches, and decks must have their own footers.

50. It’s usually best to buy mobile home supplies from a local supply center because returns and shipping are problematic.

More Help for Mobile Home Owners

If you know how to maintain and repair a factory-built home you have an advantage. Fortunately, modern manufactured homes are becoming more like site-built homes every year. They now have similar framing, sheathing, siding, and roofing materials. Still, there are a few things like financing, skirting, and odd sizes that will always be different from site-built homes.

In addition to the 50 tips about mobile homes, we’ve collected a few of our most helpful articles:

Mobile Home Bathroom Guide

How To Seal Heating Ducts In A Mobile Home To Save Money

18 Ways To Finance A Manufactured Home Remodel

How To Install A Wood Stove In Your Manufactured Home

How To Find And Repair Leaks On Mobile Home Roofs

If you have any questions or tips you’d like to share please list them in the comments below.

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

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17 Comments
  1. Quisha says

    Hi crystal we r mobile home owners n we live in Victorville ca. Its a older one n we would like to remodel exterior n inside but i am disabled i took sick in 2014 my question is is there anyone out here or resources that help us to fix up my home .thank you n God blessyou quisha.

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Quisha,

      This article should get you started: . This article should help too: .

  2. Hunter Hampton says

    Crystal, This is invaluable, I learned so much from this one article….. thank you.

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Thanks, Hunter!

      Glad you liked it!

      1. BRIDGETTE GUZMAN says

        I’ve been trying to locate info specific to set up/properly installing ground contact bladder tanks for private wells. I can’t find ANYTHING that details insulating the crock against freezing at the ground level. When the tank is located UNDER the home, should it be perched above the grade, below, doesn’t matter?…. etc. I keep checking MHL but still yet to see comprehensive explanations on properly locating/ set up. Hope to soon! And ps…. DRIPPING SHUT OFF VALVES/BAD PACKING NUTS are a major cause of well-freeze ….in these types of installations! Thanks for the great work you guys do!

      2. Crystal Adkins says

        Hi Bridgette,

        If I’m understanding you correctly I think the tank just needs to be level and only the waterline adaptors/connections (in and out) would need to be insulated since the tank doesn’t have water in it, only pressurized air. Hope that helps!

  3. Michelle DiGesare says

    I am wondering how everyone manages to hang anything on the thin walls in the mobile home.

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Michelle!

      Great question! The walls are super thin so for anything heavy you will need to hit a stud (2 if possible). There some products like the drywall hangers but they don’t work well on VOG or POG wallboard. The gypsum is just too brittle and weak. I have had good results with the biggest Command strips for framed photos and canvas art.

      With shelving, you’ll want to make sure it is long enough to hit 2 studs so it’s important to know how far apart your framing is. Usually, it will be 12″, 16″ or 24″ apart and the studs on new homes will be 2×4’s so you have about 1.75″ to screw into. Older mobile homes may have smaller interior studs.

      Thanks!

  4. Kathleen Kane says

    Thank you for this great information. We just purchased a MH and I will use this for the inspection coming up. I wish we could take you along!

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Thanks, Kathleen! I’m happy to help. Just comment or email me at crystaladkins @ mobilehomeliving.org. Best of luck!

  5. Robynne Catheron says

    This is a fantastic resource, Crystal! Thank you for compiling it. I’m a relatively new mh owner, retired and newly single, and I know I’ll be referring to this frequently. Bless you!

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Thanks, Robynne! Glad you like it. I’m always here if you have any questions. Just comment (it may take me a day or so but I will answer). Thank you!

  6. mike says

    hi I liked your article on plumbing! we are repairing a Fleetwood mobile model 2663L-61 I need a wiring diagram for the whole trailer.thanks

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Mike,

      Unfortunately manufactured home builders rarely (if ever) release schematics on any model. I guess it’s because they build so many different models with different upgrades. Fortunately, mobile and manufactured homes are fairly simple to figure out. I’ve read that wiring is often run from the breaker box to the outlets at outlet level (about 12″ from the floor) or between the outlet and the switches on the perimeter walls with ceiling fixtures being run from the switches. I’m not at all knowledgeable about electrical stuff though so hopefully another reader can help.

      1. LLC says

        Home improvement stores sell wire sensors that can detect and trace wiring through the walls of a home. This should be even easier with the thin wallboard in mobile homes. If you just need to know what wires go where, you can determine that by shutting off the circuit breakers one by one and testing the switches and receptacles (outlets) to see if they are on or off. One good thing about mobile homes compared to site-built homes is that very few homeowners make modifications to the wiring. So you seldom have to worry that someone has done some unconventional “cowboy wiring” that’s not to Code and the wiring will generally follow predictable wiring conventions. Your stove and dryer will be on its own circuit and will have its own switch in your panel. Your receptacles (outlets) will usually be on separate circuits from your wall switches (unless the switch controls a receptacle rather than a light fixture) and the wiring for these is run at the level of the outlets. Copper wiring is expensive, so manufacturers don’t run wire up and down the walls needlessly.

  7. Larry Walton says

    You have created a very informative blog. I with my design wife have transformed our MH into a living space that is unique, modern and comfortable. Our park has over 300 spaces. I am proud to claim we are in the top 3.

    I am retired. Many of our upgrades have been purchased through re-use stores. This is keen for maintaining a positive value proposition. Most of our projects, interior-exterior have been completed by us.

    I would be happy to provide photos or answer questions should there be additional interest in simple improvements that help reduce the stigma of a “trailer in a park”

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Larry!

      I would love to share your home and get some tips and ideas! Could you please email me at [email protected] and we’ll get started. Thank you!