New doors add a lot to any home but especially a mobile home. A larger decorative door has the highest return on investment plus it makes a mobile home look terrific. That’s why a new door is easily one of our favorite DIY home improvement projects for mobile homes.
Smart Home Improvement Project
As with any mobile home improvement project, homeowners need to understand the return on investment or ROI. One article defines ROI as “a percentage point that identifies the validity of a project. In other words, ROI is used to determine which investments are worth your while.”
Installing new mobile home doors is always the highest-ranked home improvement project based on the return on investment alone.
Zillow lists a few common home improvement projects and their ROI:
- New siding or decking has a 70-80% ROI
- Minor kitchen remodels 70-80%
- Major kitchen remodels get about 65%
- Window replacement comes in at 68-78%
- Roof replacement is a top mobile home repair project and it pulls in 60-70%
- A bathroom remodel can bring in around 60-70%
Replacing your front door is a fairly affordable project compared to those above delivers an amazing 85-100% ROI.
Because of their high functionality and drastic upgrade to a home’s curb appeal replacing mobile home doors can be one of the smartest and most affordable home improvement projects you can do. You can recoup the price of a new door, plus installation costs, and still get to enjoy the safety, insulating qualities, and added style for years.
Benefits of New Mobile Home Doors
New exterior doors add several advantages to a home. In addition to the fresh new look, you will have added security and additional insulating qualities. Some doors have good R-value and insulating values. Some have better soundproofing and privacy.
The best advantage for most homeowners will be the added insulation and security. You can save a good bit of money on heating and cooling costs by installing a new mobile home door. Doors and windows leaks conditioned or warmed air which costs a lot to replace. Caulking an old door or window is always recommended but being able to replace a door with one that has higher energy efficiency and safety is best.
Buying a Mobile Home Door
Replacing your mobile home doors is a smart mobile home improvement project because it’s not that expensive. You can replace mobile home doors for less than $1,000. Even if you get a fancy special-order door that has to be retrofitted you can expect to spend less than $1,500.
As with all mechanical building elements, there are a lot of parts to a door and each one has a name. Here’s a handy image that shows each element of a front door:
A mobile home door has the same elements as a door for a site-built home so you’ll need to choose which type of door you need.
In-Swing, Out-Swing and Left-Hand, Right-Hand
First, you’ll need to determine whether you need a left or right-hand door. Left-hand doors open inward or in-swinging and have hinges on the left. A right-hand door also opens inward but have their hinges on the right side.
There are also left-handed and right-handed reverse doors. They are the same as the doors above but they open outward or out-swinging.
The images below from Doors 4 Home shows an outswing and an inswing door in both a left-handed opening and a right-handed opening. To determine which kind of door you need just stand outside and look toward the home. Are the hinges on the left or the right? Does the door need to swing into the home or out?
Which Material is Best for Mobile Home Doors?
Mobile home doors are available in many materials. To choose the right one for your home you’ll need to consider which quality is most important to you: security, energy efficiency, soundproofing, privacy, or cost.
The most popular materials for mobile home doors are vinyl and fiberglass. Of course, wood is still a popular material.
Steel exterior doors are actually made from a combination of materials. The interior structural components (rails and stiles) are often wood, the inner core is filled with insulating foam and the outer skin is made of galvanized steel. The inner wood structure gives it stability and strength. The foam core provides good insulation and the steel skins are durable, resistant to warping or rotting and require little maintenance. Steel exterior doors can be painted in any number of colors. They are also available with pre-finished PVC coatings that simulate a wood-grain finish.
Fiberglass exterior doors are constructed in the same fashion as steel exterior doors with wood stiles and rails and an inner core of injected foam. The outer skin is fiberglass. Fiberglass is very strong and durable. In addition to a flat painted surface, fiberglass can also be embossed to give it the texture and appearance of wood.
Vinyl exterior doors are a mix of steel, aluminum or wood re-enforcement that adds strength and prevents distortion. Vinyl doors are good thermal insulators because of their multi-chambered designs and offer good thermal performance ratings. It’s a very durable material and is resistant to extreme weather conditions. It is also very resistant to breakage and provides good protection against forced entry through the door. Vinyl doors will not rust, dent, or scratch, and require no special maintenance.
Aluminum doors are the most popular material for mobile home doors. They are affordable but still offers a ton of advantages. While aluminum is a weaker material than steel, it holds up remarkably well in extreme temperatures. There’s a reason Airstreams are made from aluminum, it doesn’t rust and it’s lightweight. Today’s aluminum mobile home doors are designed with other materials to create a longlasting and more durable product.
Hollow-core doors can save money but they aren’t that great at insulation, soundproofing, or security. Glass doors are popular, in sliding and french door style. They have a decent R-value but security and privacy aren’t the greatest.
There are a few mobile home door styles that are most common:
- The solid style is just that, solid, with no windows.
- The diamond window is especially popular in my neck of the woods.
- The slider and the cottage are popular backdoors for mobile homes.
- The 6-panel steel is perfect for the front of your home and is especially smart if you are in a very hot or very cold climate.
Measuring for Your New Door
Now that you’ve picked the right door material for your home and understand the swings and the common terms associated with mobile home doors it’s time to measure so you can find the perfect door for your home.
Measuring for your new door is simple. You measure both height and weight from stud to stud. In other words, you measure the outside of the door frame.
Measure the width of the door using the outer jamb, not the door itself. Also, measure the height of the door from the inside of the top jamb to the floor. Select the door that is closest to those measurements.
Your jamb is the thickness of your exterior wall. Most manufactured homes have 2x4s so 4-inches would be the jamb of your door. If your home has 2×6 studs your jamb is 6-inches.
What’s the Difference Between Mobile Home Doors and Doors at Lowe’s?
Lowe’s and Home Depot have dozens of doors all stacked perfectly in an aisle and many are very affordable. Unfortunately, if you own an older mobile home or a smaller manufactured home you probably can’t use them because they are too wide and/or tall or the hinges aren’t the same. This isn’t as much of an issue in newer manufactured homes, thankfully.
Mobile home doors are usually flush mounted or non-mortise, meaning the hinges are not hidden or set into the door. Site-built homes usually have the opposite, called mortise hinges. Their exterior door hinges will be set into the door.
Where to Buy your New Door
Unless you plan on buying a larger door and retrofitting it, we recommend you purchase a pre-hung exterior door from a local mobile home supply center. Of course, you can buy doors online and probably at a reasonable price but shipping and returns can be troublesome. Many online mobile home parts stores won’t cover return shipping should an item be damaged or not fit. They may only charge you $50 or $75 to ship large items but they have accounts with shipping companies, you don’t. Your shipping costs will likely be double or even triple
Installing Your New Mobile Home Door
Installing a new mobile home door is best left to professionals or to homeowners with moderate DIY or construction experience. You will need a few tools and other supplies.
The Foremost Mobile Home Guide lists the following materials needed to install a new mobile home door:
Drip Cap or J-Channel
16d, 8d Nails
Door Knob and Lock
Always read the manual for the new door before you begin. Do not open your new door until it is installed in the home. There will likely be a cross brace, do not remove those or the door will not remain square.
Once you have the materials you can begin to replace your mobile home door.
Remove the trim, caulk, and the threshold so you can remove the old door from the exterior. There will probably be screws in the Z-bar and the frame that you’ll need to remove before the entire unit will lift out.
Follow your new door’s manufacturer’s instructions to install. You can read more about how to install mobile home doors here.
Not only will new mobile home doors improve the look of your mobile home, but they can also help reduce heating and cooling costs, make your home safer, and add equity of your mobile home.
New doors are a great investment and you should make it one of the top projects on your mobile home remodeling to-do list. If you need to repair or just want to get ideas to give your doors a makeover we have a separate article here.
Thanks for reading Mobile Home Living!
This article was originally published on Aug 5, 2018, and updated on July 9, 2019.