The Mobile Home Skirting Guide
Mobile home skirting is absolutely necessary. Skirting can be made from a variety of materials but the most popular is vinyl and metal. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize just how important skirting is to their home.
In this mobile home skirting guide we will cover why healthy skirting is vital to a home, skirting materials, ventilation requirements, and a few tips that can save mobile home owners money.
Skirting does many things for a manufactured home. Most importantly, it hides the structural elements, adds an environmental barrier to keep pipes from freezing, protects the home from critters, helps retain heat in the winter, and gives the mobile home a finished look.
Skirting Saves Money
Correctly installed skirting can help maintain an average temperature beneath the home and that will save you money. Preventing cold winds, hot summer sun, and extreme temperatures from building under the mobile home can reduce your heating and cooling costs.
Mobile Home Skirting creates great storage space for seasonal goods such as holiday decor, mowers, and weed-eaters. Every mobile home should have skirting and in most parts of the country, it is the law.
How to Calculate How Much Skirting You Need
Regardless of the type of skirting you choose you will need to measure your home to see how much of the material you will need.
The basic steps of calculating your skirting needs:
- Add together the length and width of all 4 sides of your mobile home and the three sides of your porches and decks (see image below). This is how much framing and channeling you will need to buy for your skirting.
- Next, figure out the average height between the ground and the bottom of your home by measuring the height of your home at each corner and in the middle of each long end. Divide that total by 6.
To Measure How the Length of Skirting you Need:
The linear footage for the home in the image would be 70+70+14+14+10+10 = 188
Real Life Example to Calculate your Skirting Needs
Let’s take my mobile home as an example. It’s a 1978 Homette single wide siding on a sloped property that measures 58′ long and 12′ wide. The back of the home is on 5′ piers while the front of the home is only about a foot off the ground. The slope makes finding the average height of my home difficult.
My home has a deck on the front that sits directly on the ground so I don’t need skirting for it. The porch on the back is almost 5′ high so it needs a lot of skirting material.
Calculate Linear Footage
The first step to calculate the linear footage that I need is a simple math problem. I will add the two lengths of my home and the two widths together first:
58 + 58 + 12 + 12 = 140
Because I have the porch on the back I need to add that to my final number. However, I’ve already accounted for the width of the porch in the first equation. Therefore, all I need to worry about is the two ‘sides’ of my 8′ x 8′ porch. My porch is 8′ long from the house so I need to add those sides together (8 + 8 = 16) and add that total to the 140.
58 + 58 + 12 + 12 + (8+8) = 156‘
Only include the 2 long sides of your porch since the width of your porch has already been accounted for.
That end amount will be how much, in feet, you need to purchase of the channeling, trim, ground tracks, and footing for the skirting.
Find the Average Height of your Home
Next, you will need to find the average height between the ground and your home to calculate how much actual material you will need.
To determine the average height you will measure the distance between the ground and the bottom of your home at each corner. By ‘the bottom’ of your home, we mean approximately 2″ above the bottom of the siding.
Once the 4 corners have been measured, go to the middle of the length of the home (the long sides) and measure. You’ll do this on both the front and back side of the home.
Add all the measurements together and then divide by 6, the number of times you took the measurements. That’s going to be your average height in inches.
Now that you know the linear footage and average height of your home, you can figure out what type of siding you want and get a good estimate of the total cost.
17 + 37 + 49 + 19 + 17 + 31 = 170.
Now, divide 170 by 6 to get the average height of 28.33.
Some companies recommend measuring where you want your skirting to start at the bottom of the home. Adding extra to the calculation is always a smart idea. Skirting Direct has a handy skirting calculator that you can use here.
Mobile Home Skirting Tips and Expert Advice
The following tips are valid for all materials and the expert advice may help you choose the right material for your home’s skirting.
Tip #1: Venting is Vital for a Healthy Mobile Home
As stated above, venting and circulation are vital for a healthy mobile home. You must allow air under your home and the way to do that safely is with vents. If your skirting isn’t properly vented mold and mildew will have a perfect place to call home. Moisture rises from the ground and you need air flow to help dry that moisture up before it turns into a petri dish.
Venting Ratio: 1 Foot of Venting for Every 150 feet of Flooring
Venting and circulation are so important it is regulated in a majority of states. Most experts agree that you need around 1 foot of venting to every 150 -250 square feet of floor in a mobile home.
For example, my mobile home is 58′ x 12′ so there are 696 square feet of flooring. Divide that by 150 and you get 4.64. Therefore, my home needs at least 4 vents.
You’ll need to be careful where you put the vents in your skirting. You don’t want a vent near the plumbing pipes. However, you do want a vent within 3′ of your end corners so the air can circulate efficiently and you don’t get dead air pockets in the corners.
Skirting vents are similar to the registers in your floor. You want small slits or holes with screening so critters can’t get it but air can.
Tip #2: Ground Vapor Barriers are Just as Important as Skirting
Before spending a ton of money on new skirting please consider installing a new ground vapor barrier. To be honest, your home should already have one but unfortunately, many homeowners don’t know about them. A ground vapor barrier is not a belly wrap. Ground barriers are thick plastic that lies directly on top of the ground under your mobile home. It does exactly what it says it does, creates a barrier so the earth’s moisture doesn’t have a chance to damage the home.
If you have a good ground barrier you can get away with less venting. John Krigger, of Your Mobile Home, writes that you should only need 1 vent for every 300 square foot of flooring if you have a ground vapor barrier.
Ground Vapor Barriers Should extend Past Your Home 6″
When installing a vapor barrier you should have it extend about 6″ past the perimeter of your home. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, your skirting’s ground frame (or C channel if your skirting is vinyl) to go over the barrier and act as a staple to hold the barrier in place. Secondly, it helps keep weeds and grass from growing close to your home. If there are no weeds you won’t need to weed eat so close to your home. Therefore, you reduce the chance of damaging your skirting which is common with vinyl skirting.
Tip #3: Buy all the Skirting you Need at One Time
Regardless of the material you choose as your skirting, you should buy it all at once. Building materials like vinyl and brick are manufactured in bundles or lots. A small change in temperature or a slight mismeasure of dye can create differences from one day to the next. This also reduces the chance of backorders and not having the material available anymore at your local suppliers. Buy all you need in one lot plus an additional 10% for damage or mistakes.
Popular Mobile Home Skirting Options
There are several different kinds of materials you can use to skirt your home. Brick, stucco, tin (metal), cinder block, T1011, plywood, hardy board, faux rock, and vinyl are just a few.
The supplier will help you determine how much you need to order as different materials come in different sizes. Here’s a little break down of the types you can choose from.
Vinyl skirting is the most popular choice for mobile home owners for a few reasons: it is easy to install, affordable, and attractive. Vinyl siding and skirting are very environmentally friendly. Most think vinyl comes from oil and the refining process, but that is incorrect. All vinyl productions start with chlorine from common salt and ethylene from natural gas.
According to Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) software, vinyl siding outperforms brick, stucco, and wood on how it affects the environment based on a combination of environmental criteria.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Vinyl Siding
Unfortunately, the vinyl siding on many of the affordable manufactured home models is not the best quality. It’s usually a thin weak product that is made from recycling old vinyl building blocks. This vinyl isn’t as energy efficient as other vinyl, specially insulated vinyl. If you have this thinner vinyl you should consider upgrading it as soon as possible.
Vinyl skirting does not do well with weed eaters and budget brands do not age well.
Most vinyl skirting kits run about $600 and up for a common-sized single wide and will include all the pieces you need to completely skirt the entire home.Thicker, sturdier vinyl will cost more.
Buying a Complete Skirting Kit
There are 4 basic pieces needed for vinyl skirting: the panels, the U-channel ground tracks, the top J-channel, and the trim.
12 Foot Panels
The panel itself which is usually sold in 12-foot lengths. This is to make it easy for homes that are sitting on an incline, you simply cut the panels at the right dimension you need for the area. You can start at 2′ on one side and end up with 12″ on the other. You’ll need to use the average height method to order the correct amount of skirting.
Ground Track – U Channel
The ground track which is what is bolted into the ground with long rods. It is a U-shaped channel and the panel will fit down into it and keep is secured.
Top Frame – J Channel
The top back is what goes on the bottom of the home before the panels are set into place. It has a top J channel that the top front piece will fit into.
The top front piece is the horizontal strip in front of the panel. It gives the entire system a more polished appearance and allows the skirting more security. It’s the last part you add. There are V-guards you can add around the bottom edge of thinner skirting to keep the weed eaters from eating it.
See the process of installing vinyl skirting on a mobile home here.
Novik Panels, Reil Rock, Faux Rock, and Brick Panels
Novik is a favorite of mobile homeowners because it’s so beautiful. It can be expensive but it could still be the right choice for your home. This skirting requires metal framing and some brands require professional installation to honor their warranty.
Most faux panels are made from polyurethane and come in 46 ¼” wide × 24″ high × 1 ¼” thick panels. They look remarkably like real stone. You can frame the area to be skirted with metal 2×2 or 2×4′s and then screw the panels into the frame. You can also completely frame the area with plywood and screw onto that for a sturdier installation. They are light but sturdy, and they can withstand temperature fluctuations very well.
They are a bit expensive but cheaper than real stone and much easier to install. MHPS has Novik panels that are48″ x 18 1/2″ for $21.98. Corner pieces run about $15 each. See installation steps for Novik here.
The second most popular skirting option is the Reil Rock panels (aka Mason’s Rock). They are made of sturdy plastic, have the look of stone and come in 3 colors. They come in 5-foot sections with 3 height options: 2’6″, 3′ and 4′. Also, they are very easy to install because you simply use a U channel or J channel on the ground and screw the panel into a board attached to the home (some just attach directly to the home and some don’t even use the ground channel). There is a track you can put on top of the panel, but it’s not needed either. If your panel is just shy a couple of inches you can use the top track to cover the issue.
A 5-foot section costs about $32 at MHPS. While it’s more expensive than vinyl it’s sturdier and can handle a bit more.
To calculate for Reil Rock, simply convert your linear foot to inches by dividing by 12. Then use your average height calculation to get the correct panel height to buy. There is a lip on these panels that are about 2-3″ so keep that in mind. See how to install Reil rock skirting here.
Concrete, Brick, and Cinder Block
If you want absolute permanence concrete, brick, or cinder block is probably your best choice.
Adding brick or cinder block to a home is a labor-intensive ordeal, but the advantages are worth it. Being practically indestructible is the best advantage.
Concrete panels are easier to install but have similar indestructibility and longevity as brick and cinder block. There are companies that specialize in concrete skirting but you can purchase precast concrete panels, too.
There’s a little misunderstanding surrounding cinder block and brick skirting and ‘permanent foundations’ for mobile and manufactured homes. FHA loans require that all manufactured homes be permanently installed but that has little to do with the skirting material. A manufactured home can be permanently installed and have vinyl skirting. Permanent installation is all about the tie-downs and foundation, not the skirting.
Metal can be steel or tin. Both are great products that are affordable. Simple installation is an added advantage. A simple 2″x4″ frame with the panels attached by screws or nails (rust free only). You can also attach the top of the panel to your home via attached board (or straight to the frame) and then dig a channel in the ground and backfill the ditch. It’s quick and easy and the dirt can’t hurt it at all.
These days the designs for metal mobile home skirting are getting more attractive, too. The old cinder block or large brick stamped pattern has been the most popular design but with a little research, you can find new patterns.
Metal mobile home skirting can be easily painted. Metal can withstand a weed eater which is always a plus.
The price for metal skirting is around $10-15 per 5-foot panel.
Foam Insulated Skirting
Insulated mobile home skirting has made headlines lately but it may not be the best place to spend your money. The NREL tested mobile home energy conservation techniques and found that installing new insulated skirting to a mobile home increased 7% while blowing insulation under the home increased it by 11%. Adding wall insulation increased efficiency best, at 13%.
Therefore, you may be better off spending the money on insulating the floor of the home, not the skirting.
Foam skirting can be used along with frame but some brands state they don’t need a frame.
You can get complete framing solutions that act like frames but have channels to put the foams into. Most suppliers recommend this. The price of the panels is approximately $10-15 per foot. The installation kits depend on the linear foot needed. You can learn about the installation process of insulated skirting here.
Plywood, OSB, and T-111 Skirting
Wood has always been a well-known construction material. Using wood for skirting isn’t the best option unless it’s treated and your property isn’t overly wet. Wood is susceptible to rot and insects and soaks water up quickly.
Hardiboard and OSB are very sturdy. OSB is cut with the trees grain and the engineered together to make a very strong product.
Wood products that are not waterproof are going to get swelling from moisture. Price depends on what you chose and installation can be simple or complicated. Some people suggest that you use a sealer and caulk the ends of the boards before putting them up just as an added precaution against moisture. You can use planks and get the look of siding, too. Lots of potential with wood!
Other Skirting Options
The sky is the limit when it comes to skirting materials for mobile homes. Of course, the materials listed above is probably your best bet you can save money by thinking out of the box. Perhaps you could reuse material or keep construction scraps out of the landfill. For example, a damaged metal roof panel could become a nice access panel for your skirting.
Old barn tin has already stood the test of time and it’s gorgeous. One of our featured homes has antique barn tin as a skirting, and it is gorgeous! Railroad ties and straw are two unique mobile home siding options we’ve seen.
Really, you could use just about anything that is weather resistant and rigid. Keep flame retardancy in mind before you decide to use a unique material.
Mobile home skirting is vital to a healthy home. In fact, it’s mandatory in many areas of the nation. New skirting can completely change the look of your home and save on heating and cooling costs for years.
Thanks so much for reading Mobile Home Living!
Photo Sources: Faux Panels, Reil Rock