Mobile Home Ceilings Guide: Gypsum Ceiling Panels
Mobile home ceilings are a popular topic amongst homeowners. They play a major impact in every room so it’s important that they look great. We’ve already covered how to paint mobile home ceilings so in this article we cover the different designs of gypsum ceiling panels and how to buy replacement panels.
Most mobile homes and older manufactured homes (or lower end, more affordable models) have ceilings made of gypsum instead of drywall.
Gypsum is a natural mineral used for blackboard chalk, drywall, and wallboards in mobile homes. It’s affordable, lightweight, and doesn’t require finishing which makes it a perfect material for ceilings. Manufactured home builders use gypsum wall panels and ceiling panels.
Gypsum ceiling panels are a close cousin to drywall. The major difference being drywall is usually thicker and has a paper wrapping on all sides making drywall smooth. Mobile home gypsum panels are not smooth, they have a slight texture that most homeowners dislike.
The gypsum panels will usually run the entire width of a single wide or half the double wide. They are typically 16″, 24″, or 48″ wide and 5/16″ or 1/2″ thick.
There are four major disadvantages of older gypsum ceiling panels. First, they are delicate and easy to damage. Secondly, the older mobile home ceilings tend to sag or become unattached from the trusses. Finally, they also tend to turn yellow.
Popular Mobile Home Ceiling Designs
The image below shows a typical 4-foot wide gypsum ceiling panel system with a slight texture. Notice the roses?
Ceiling Panels with Rosettes
One of the most common mobile home ceiling designs uses 4-foot wide ceiling panels screwed into the roof trusses every 24″ or 16″ (the typical space between the roof trusses). A flat plastic trim covers where two seams meet and rosettes are used on the trusses in between the seams.
Rosettes are decorative washers used on the screws to attach the ceiling panels to the roof truss. They are screwed into every roof truss except where two panels meet. In the image above, the rosettes are used at 16″ intervals on a 48″ wide panel (meaning the trusses are 16″ apart). A batten, also called a spline or strip, covers the seams where two panels meet.
Ceiling Panels with Beaded Profile
Another mobile home ceiling design uses 16″- 24″ wide ceiling panels with a spline covering the seams where two panels meet.
Dodi Dolendi painted her mobile home ceiling recently. You can see how the battens yellowed more than the panels because they are made of plastic.
Ceiling Panel with Channel System
A channeled ceiling divider is another way to install ceiling panels. The lip is stapled into the top of the truss and the next panel sits in the C-channel.
Another popular method of installing gypsum ceiling panels on a mobile home are these integrated strips. They are glued over the seams of the panels. You will need to loosen one of the ends and then use a serrated blade to slide behind it to loosen the adhesive and pull the strip down.
False Beams in Mobile Homes
Many ceilings in older mobile homes have flat battens (also called splines or strips) that cover the seams where each panel meets. However, some builders were a bit more creative and gave their ceilings a mini-coffered design with dimensional beams, aka false beams.
Some builders even installed lights into these boxes for a little added flair like the home below.
This mobile home has a more rustic wood beam design that both conceals some of the seams and helps give the home that peaked gable roof at the front door:
In order to use shorter ceiling panel lengths and give the home a custom coffered ceiling design, some manufactured home builders installed false beams that span straight down the middle of the ceiling and down each side to cover the ceiling panel seams.
Mobile Home Ceiling Panels are Not Easy to Find
The chances of finding the original ceiling panels that match your home are slim to none. Sorry!
It would make life too easy for us lowly mobile and manufactured homeowners if we could actually find and afford replacement materials for our homes. Bathtubs, doors, vinyl patterned wallboards, and gypsum ceiling panels are difficult to find and if you can find them they are expensive.
Your best (and probably only) chance of finding the gypsum ceiling panels you need is at your local mobile home supply store.
SeaSpray, the Brand Name of Gypsum Ceiling Panels
You’ll want to ask your local mobile home supply store for gypsum ceiling panels. The most common brand is SeaSpray Brand Hi-Strength MVR Ceiling Panels by National Gypsum but many mobile home suppliers sell them as C-Spray instead of SeaSpray. I’m not sure if that’s a licensing thing or if it’s a whole different product to be completely honest.
It’s nearly impossible to get these panels for a few reasons:
- They are 14′ long and very thin and delicate. You have to fully support the panels while in transit so they don’t break.
- Gypsum ceiling panels are easily damaged
- The chances of finding an exact match replacement panel for your ceiling is slim to none
If you can find a local mobile home supply store that carries them (or will order them for you) consider yourself lucky. But that still won’t help because you need a panel that has the same texture as yours.
Ordering Ceiling Panels
Supply houses will not deliver or ship these panels and they offer no guarantee or exchanges after you order them because they are so easy to damage and hard to handle.
The SeaSpray panels are available in 5/16″ and 1/2″ thicknesses and are 4-foot wide and between 84-192″ in length. You’ll probably want the 5/16″ panels that are 4 foot wide and as long as the width of your single wide mobile home (or half the side of a double-wide).
The 4-foot x 13.9 foot and 5/16″ thick panels cost around $58 each last I looked. If you are just repairing or patching a ceiling panel you’ll want to order the size of the original panel.
Tip: If you are able to find these panels buy at least 15% more than you need to compensate for damage and install errors.
To be honest, your best option for replacing mobile home ceilings is probably drywall or one of our favorite mobile home ceiling replacement materials we listed in this article.
Notes on Mobile Home Ceilings
Have you replaced your mobile home ceiling with a unique or creative material? Have you done a ceiling replacement with sheetrock? We’d love to see and hear from you in our new Facebook group, Mobile Home Living: Remodels and Repair. We’ve managed to get over 2,000 members in just a few months and everyone is so friendly, supportive, and helpful.
As always, thank you so much for reading Mobile Home Living®!