Home Repair - Other

Tips to Update a Mobile Home

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"Tips to Update a Mobile Home"
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Updating a mobile home can be affordable and easy with the proper planning, patience, and a little know-how. Do-it-yourself projects, to transform the mobile home's look instantly, can be completed by the first-time or veteran homeowner in a single weekend for minimal cost.

Curb appeal.

Every home should have curb appeal. As people drive by or arrive for a visit, they should be greeted by a home that is clean, freshly painted or sided, and has an uncluttered lawn, garden, or driveway area. Most mobile homes do not sit on large lots; therefore, the lawn area is small in comparison to a sprawling ranch or cottage-style house. Keeping the lawn mowed and trimmed is the first step to curb appeal.

Take a good look at the outside of the mobile home. Homes that are dirty and dingy can be quickly refreshed with a simple washing. Power washers are available for rental at most home improvement stores and rent by the hour or weekend. Power-scrub the outside of the home, removing, dirt and/or mildew and then turn the washer onto the windows and screens. Make sure that the inside window is closed to avoid indoor water damage.

Replace any broken downspouts or trailer skirting. Check with the trailer park's main office regarding the skirting, as sometimes they will be able to replace broken pieces for you for little or no charge.


Spruce up the outside by removing any old flowerpots, decorations, or rubbish. Add or update old planters with carefully selected flowers and greenery that are colorful, cheerful and easy to care for. Remember when adding any landscaping details, simple is best and less is more. Avoid the temptation to clutter your front garden area with gnomes, angel statues, and other garden art. If you want to add garden art, choose one piece and design the rest of the landscape to showcase that piece.

Clean decking and entrance stairs.

If the mobile home has an older wooden deck or stairs that are caked with mildew and grime, homeowners can easily brighten the wood by washing it with TSP or Trisodium Phosphate. Found in any hardware or home improvement store, a 16-ounce container costs approximately $7.99. TSP is a great product for any heavy duty cleaning. To remove the mildew from the deck and stair unit, dissolve one cup of TSP in three quarts of warm water with one quart of bleach. Be sure to wear protective glasses, gloves, and long-sleeves when working with any chemicals.

Indoor paneling and wall treatments.

Many mobile homes built in the 1970's or early 1980's feature dark wood-like paneled walls. Changing these walls is one of the best ways to update the home and it can be done with minimal expense. Ripping out the paneled walls and replacing with drywall will cost more than painting or papering. Before either paint or paper can be applied the walls must be prepared.

The first step is to clean the walls with TSP as they most likely have been treated with varnish or wax. Do not use bleach like on the deck and stairs. Dissolve only one-half cup TSP in two gallons of hot water. Wash the walls with a mop and squeegee, washing from the bottom up to avoid streaking. Rinse with clear warm water and let thoroughly dry.

Most paneled walls have grooves that need to be filled before paint or paper can be applied. Fill these grooves with painters caulk and allow to dry completely. Lightly sand the caulk. If paint is to be applied, a layer of primer must go down first. Choose a good quality primer like Kilz but don't be surprised if it needs two coats. After the primer has set and dried, the walls are ready for paint. Stay away from deep, dark colors and focus on keeping the main rooms of the mobile home, light and airy. Good color choices include champagne, light sage, and taupes. If papering the walls, bargains can be found at many home improvement stores and even online. Shop around and see if any of the clearance or discontinued styles will suit your mobile home. Some stores will offer discounts as low as $2 a roll.

Mobile homes that have vinyl wallboard attached with tack strips can also be primed and painted. If your main rooms are lacking baseboards, attaching laminate moldings can help to finish the look of the room.

Updating the walls is one of the biggest remodeling projects that is affordable and can be completed in a long weekend but don't forget about some of the little changes that can take your home from 1970 to totally modern.


In the kitchen, replace all old handles and pulls on the cabinets. Buy the new ones in bulk or on sale. Look online or in magazines like Kitchens & Baths to get ideas on what modern look will fit your budget. If the cabinets are structurally sound but need updating, paint them. For tips on techniques, primers, and paint get step-by-step instructions from professionals online at sites like thisoldhouse.com.


In the bathroom, change out the old shower curtain pole for a modern curved shower pole. These newly styled poles allow for more room in the shower, retail for under $35 and give the bathroom a quick update. Splurge on matching towels, curtain and rugs to complete the bathroom's new look.

Changing out the faucets in both kitchen and bathroom(s) will also update an older mobile home. Big-box home improvement stores frequently put these items on sale making them very affordable. Replacing old faucets with a new Delta or Kohler can add sleek styling to any room.

Window treatments.

Replace all broken, plastic, or discolored mini-blinds or shades. Instead of heavy draperies, choose new window toppers to compliment your room's color and decor. Inexpensive yet stylish valances can be found at discount stores, in the clearance aisle at many retailers, and online at places like Overstock.com.

Updating a mobile can be a fun, affordable, and satisfying experience. It takes planning, budgeting both time and money, and plenty of elbow grease, but the result will be a mobile home that looks fresh, modern, and well cared for.

More about this author: Barb Hopkins

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