The teenaged flooring guy at Home Depot once told me I could never use tile in a manufactured home because they ‘couldn’t handle the weight.’ I restrained from going into a 5-minute speech about the various flooring options for mobile homes and why he was so very wrong. I could’ve pulled up images and spreadsheets to prove just how wrong he was, too (well, at least that’s the way I played it out in my head later that night). Instead of being the superhero mobile homes needed that day, I just replied that I was pretty sure he was providing misleading information and he may want to double check that before repeating it, not that I knew anything about mobile homes or anything.
Hopefully, this little article will help you sift through all the flooring options for mobile homes and clear up any wrong information that you read on that DIY forum full of angry people that have never been around a mobile home but know everything about them because their second cousin’s boss’s uncle stayed in an RV for one night, in 1974.
The Real Truth about Mobile Homes and Flooring
Flooring is the foundation of good interior design and protection from water and weather. It’s also one of the quickest ways to update your home (though not the cheapest or easiest). And while you absolutely can install tile in a mobile or manufactured home, there are a few things you need to know when it comes to choosing flooring options for mobile homes.
Don’t be Squared
First, your mobile home is probably not going to be perfectly square. To be fair, you’re not going to find too many square walls or floors in an older site built home, either. Manufactured homes usually need to be re-leveled every few years (at least checked to make sure it’s not unlevel), but many homeowners don’t know about that. Settling usually occurs the first year or two after installation and if it’s not fixed, there will be stress on the home’s structure.
Secondly, subflooring plays a huge factor in choosing the right flooring for your mobile home. Some of the older and lower end model mobile homes have subflooring made from sponges (not really, but they may as well be). They often used a product made from sawdust and glue, and it does not stand up against water well at all.
If you want to install tile in your master bath you will likely need to upgrade your subflooring. Same goes for real wood flooring.
Read these articles about subflooring:
Yes, you can add tile to a mobile home.
Tile can go anywhere in the home. However, you should not have tile crossing the marriage line in a double-wide or space without proper subflooring (as mentioned above).
Tile is especially great for kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
You will need to remove the old flooring, check the subfloor for any damage and repair if necessary, lay down the backer board and secure it, lay the tile, then finally grout it. It is definitely a process! However, the result will be a beautiful room that is easy to care for.
What you Need to Know about Weight and Tile
The weight of tile flooring is only an issue if you want to to use the heavier tiles on the market. Stone tile is fairly heavy but synthetic tile made to look like stone is much lighter.
You may not know this but, ceramic tile contains feldspar and clay. The color is achieved from the glaze used on the surface during firing. There is also natural clay tiles, also known as Terra-cotta. I happen to know that natural unglazed terra-cotta absorbs water so it must be the glaze applied that makes it water resistant. The reddish orange color comes from the clay itself. There is also a white clay that is used in tile making. Ceramic is available in several finishes: high gloss, glass, and matte.
Another kind of ceramic tile is porcelain. Porcelain contains a mineral called kaolin. Kaolin makes the tile very dense and strong. It would be an excellent choice for any high-traffic area in your home.
Stone tile is usually made from travertine, limestone, slate, sandstone, marble, and granite. Natural stone options are not perfect, but that’s what makes them so beautiful in my opinion.When buying stone tiles, it is smart to buy all that you are going to need at one time. By purchasing in lots at the same time, you have a better chance that they all came from the same seam and at the same depth of the cut. Don’t forget to include a 10% overage allowance in case of breakage and installation mistakes.
Of course, carpet is the most popular flooring options for mobile homes.
It turns out there is much more to know about carpet other than what color to choose. Quality and durability are both factors when selecting the type of carpet you want. It is definitely a ‘get what you pay for’ product. When pricing carpets make sure you include the padding into the final price. I highly recommend professional installation for carpet, too. Make sure to comparison shop to get the best deal! Many suppliers offer free installation with a minimum purchase.
Carpet quality is determined by the kind of fiber used, the density of those fibers, and the way it is twisted on the backing. Thickness is misleading when looking at the carpet.
The durability of the carpet refers to how it withstands high traffic and how fast it begins matting down. You will want to be sure to buy the most durable carpet for high traffic areas such as hallways or anywhere that there is high foot traffic. Also, you may want to consider medium or darker colors as well as textured carpet to help hide dirt in those high traffic areas. You couldn’t want white, cream or tan plush carpet in an area that the kids track in and out of all day long!
A sign of a good quality carpet is to pull the fibers apart and see how close together they are attached to the backing of the rug. This will show you how dense the carpet is and will be a sign as to how fast it will look worn or start matting down. The closer together, the denser the carpet, the better quality.
Carpet tile is another popular option for flooring. The quality has improved a lot since they first came out. If you have to DIY your flooring, you should look at carpet tile. It’s a lot cheaper to ruin one tile than a whole room of carpet.
Also, carpet can range from $1 a square foot to more than $15.
Laminate flooring has come a long way in the past few years. No longer are you stuck with limited choices of colors or designs.
Laminate, aka floating floors in my area, is one of the least expensive types of flooring you can use. It’s easy cleanup, too, which makes it great for a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room.
Be sure to check the thickness of any laminate flooring, and you want to be sure it isn’t going to tear easily. Laminate can cost anywhere between $2 to $10 a square foot.
Wood flooring has to be one of my favorite choices for a manufactured home floor. There are so many types of wood to choose from.
Real wood flooring is not an inexpensive choice for flooring though, depending on the size of the room. However, it is fairly easy to keep clean and is very durable.
Wood flooring cost can range anywhere from $10-$20 per square foot. It isn’t cheap, but it sure is pretty.
Vinyl Tiles or Linoleum Flooring
Vinyl tiles or linoleum flooring are probably one of the least expensive types of flooring to use.
Linoleum usually comes in a roll, and all you do is unroll it, stretch it out, cut what you need and glue it down. The perimeter cuts are not easy, however. You will need to be extra careful, so you don’t mess up. Personally, I’d hire an experienced installer just to ensure a bad cut doesn’t ruin my investment.
Vinyl tiles are also a very inexpensive choice for flooring. Usually, these come in tile-like squares or rectangles that you simply peel and stick or use an adhesive. Installing vinyl tiles isn’t as difficult – if you make a wrong cut you’ve got plenty more tiles to work with.
Both of these options come in a variety of designs and colors. Also, they are both water resistant which makes them perfect for bathrooms or kitchens through the seams are troublesome.
Cost of vinyl and linoleum flooring usually range from less than $1/square foot to around $2-$3 square foot for linoleum flooring.
Installing Flooring in a Mobile Home
While going through all your flooring options for mobile homes, you should keep in mind whether you want to make this a DIY project or hire a professional. Here are a few helpful tidbits regarding DIY and professional installations:
Hiring Professional Flooring Installers
You can save a lot of time and headache by hiring a professional installer, especially for carpet and vinyl or linoleum. I’ve seen commercials offering free installation if you spend a minimum amount or if you buy floor covering for so many rooms.
Carpet installation requires special tools. Without them, you cannot get the rug stretched adequately across the surface area.
Vinyl and linoleum (on rolls) installation are way more difficult to cut than you think (I learned that the hard way but when you’re poor you do what you have to do sometimes).
Tiling installation in a bathroom, especially if you are tiling a shower or tub surround, should only be done by a pro. Having to replace your subflooring, walls, and studs because you didn’t install tile correctly costs more than just hiring a professional from the get-go.
I’m a huge advocate for DIY, but water and wiring are my two no-goes.
DIY Flooring Options for Mobile Homes
If you are on a tight budget, you may want to consider laminate flooring or floating floor. It’s not too difficult to install, and you can do it with relatively basic tools. You can find it at most outlet stores now for $19.99 for 21 square feet. Just be sure to buy it all at once, including a 10% overage, so you’ll have a better chance of getting a good match.
Vinyl tiles are another decent DIY flooring choice. The prep work will be most important and of course getting the lines squared as much as possible.
Summary: Flooring Options for Mobile Homes
With all the flooring options for mobile homes, It’s a wonder anyone ever narrows their choices down. If you are anything like me, you’re going to change your mind several times, especially if one of my choices goes on sale.
Flooring isn’t cheap. Spending a few hundred to a few thousand on your home is an investment. But, it’s smart to do all the research you can. Don’t stop here, go to Lowe’s and Home Depot and your local flooring stores to see what’s available.
Do you have a favorite flooring? Want to share a flooring installation success story? We’d love to add it!
As always, thanks for reading Mobile Home Living!
(Updated October 12, 2017)
All images from Home Depot.