Mobile Home Roofing Options: Materials, Performance, and Cost for Repair and Replacement
The topic of mobile home roofing raises many questions and considerations. Among these considerations are whether the home may need a new roof, and if you should replace the existing roof.
We will cover some of the different roofing options for different roof systems across the various types of manufactured homes. The major distinction will be between mobile and manufactured homes, those built prior to June 1976 and after, respectively.
There is a very simple reason for this distinction.
Mobile homes, constructed prior to the 1976 implementation of HUD code, mostly have flat or bowed roofs. Manufactured homes, the coded homes built after ’76, tend to have more pitched or peaked roofs.
Many homeowners who have a flat or bowed roof are in need of a roof repair or replacement. This is because the original roofing system is aged to the degree it has water leaks or wind damage. Flat roof systems hold water, which is detrimental to the home if not quickly repaired. A flat roof also takes more direct sun than a peaked or pitched roof.
What to Do With a Damaged Mobile Home Roof?
Let’s start with the older, flat or bowed roofs. These, again, are highly susceptible to water, ice, snow, sun, and wind.
People who know manufactured or mobile home roofing will talk of “a roof over”, which can be a bit misleading. Roof overs are a very popular solution to mobile home roofing problems. In general, this means you simply build a new roof on top of your old roof.
But, as ever, there are caveats.
What Is a Mobile Home Roof Over?
A roof over is the process of adding a new roof or layer of roofing material over your existing roof system. This can be anything from a vapor barrier spread evenly across an existing roof to the independent carpentry of a new roof.
So what is the right solution for you? Chances are, a variety of roof overs will meet your needs.
This is particularly true if you’re looking for something that’s easy to install, cost-efficient and will provide the protection you want.
Bill Burnside is the general manager for RoofWrap, a Seattle-based company that markets a product of the same name nationwide.
RoofWrap is a EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber that comes off a roll that is wide enough to cover an entire single-section home. It’s like inner-tube rubber in a vehicle tire, but thicker. And it stretches to several inches beyond the roofline, where it can be anchored with an included hardware kit.
“EPDM has been around since the mid-’60s and is widely used in low slope roofing all around the United States,” Burnside said. “It’s easy to install for homeowners with maybe some friends or family lending a hand. We keep the manufacturing costs low and provide as much support as possible for people to be able to do the work themselves.”
With a single section, there is little prep work beyond clearing debris.
RoofWrap comes in black and white. Often the white surface is preferred because it reflects sunlight. This keeps away heat that otherwise would strain an AC.
Burnside said many of his customers will come to him after they’ve tried a liquid sealant. The sealant is spread across the roof in multiple layers. However, it works best for smaller repair and maintenance projects, if the area has been properly prepped.
What To Do With the Existing Mobile Home Roof?
Any time a roof over is done, the problem areas for the existing roof need to be solved first. Areas in need of attention will be inaccessible once the roof over is complete. So look for and fix holes in the roof, cracks in seam seal or rips in the chimney putty. And remember, interior water damage isn’t necessarily immediately associated with an adjacent problem. Often moisture gets into the roof and travels through the system before being revealed inside.
All problem areas on an existing roof should be ground, sanded or wire brushed to a bare surface, then re-sealed and allowed to cure. If the amount of repair work for the existing roof is overwhelming, either due to time or money considerations, removal of the existing roof should be a consideration.
What Can I Expect for Energy Savings?
Burnside said he often is asked how much energy savings will be realized with his product. It’s a difficult question to answer, he said, because of the many other factors involved in the home, from climate to shading, the quality of windows in the mobile home and R-values of your mobile home insulation.
However, any roof covered with a new white surface will provide some amount of energy cost reduction.
TPO and PVC membranes for Mobile Home Roof Repair
The TPO (thermoplastic olefin) membrane has been used for roof repair of all kinds for about 25 years. It is highly regarded because it costs less than EPDM and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) membranes and is still relatively easy to install.
TPO is flexible for a variety of dimensions and home types, partly because it comes 5-foot wide rolls that can easily be adapted for small sections of roof. However, because TPO comes in widths lesser than a single-section home, it will have seams that need to be properly prepped, managed and maintained.
Any seam that is created in TPO requires a metal brush or grinder cleaning of the metal roof below for proper adhesion. When tacked down, the next section of TPO is overlaid and heat melded to the underlying section.
With proper preparation and attention, TPO seams can remain secure for many years. However, absent the proper prep, application, and maintenance, the seals can become damage and provide an increased likelihood of allowing water and or/ice to get in the roof.
Much of the same can be said for PVC. However, PVC for commercial and residential roofing has been in use for twice as long as TPO. This means its longevity and performance record is much more understood. Additionally, PVC is available in multi-ply fabrication that creates a substantial barrier to moisture and heat even if used in black, beige and colors other than white.
What do I do with my pitched or peaked roof?
Ok, we’ve covered the lion’s share of mobile home roof repair in talking about flat or bowed roofs, which are more prevalent on older homes.
So what if you have a pitched roof? This is where some different materials come in, and, in many cases, will be the point where a homeowner might call a contractor to perform the work.
Synthetic membranes can be applied to a pitched roof, and perform very well. But, the look is less than pleasing for most. On a flat or slightly bowed mobile home roof, most of the time there’s no vantage point to see the rooftop or consider how good or bad it looks. With pitched and peaked roofs, they’re always looking back at you, so many homeowners (and their neighbors!) prefer more traditional roof materials with added aesthetic appeal.
Asphalt Shingle for Mobile Home Roofs
Asphalt is the industry standard for pitched roofing systems, regardless of where the home was built. A felt paper, or underlayment of some kind, is put down on roof board and then strips of asphalt shingles are pinned in place, one overlapping the other side-by-side from the peak and down to the roof line.
For many homeowners, the asphalt shingle provides a manufactured home with a more common site-built look. It performs well, too, particularly since the peaked roof has a natural defense against moisture — it rolls off.
Wind is a different topic. In high winds, shingles can pull up and become detached, which creates a domino effect since they’re all pinned together.
Asphalt shingle is more expensive than the flat roof solutions, which is to be expected. It’s also less expensive than composite vinyl shingles, which perform well, look good and last longer than asphalt. However, both asphalt and composite shingles cost less than the increasingly popular option of a metal roof replacement.
How Much Does a Mobile Home Roof Replacement Cost?
It’s suggested that a slightly peaked single-section home can get a new asphalt shingle roof for about $3,000. Roof replacement costs will vary according to the type of home and roofing materials used, but most DIY homeowners can expect to pay between $1,500-$3500 for a standard metal or asphalt roof job. Take a look at a roofing calculator and input information to get a more detailed cost estimate.
Metal Roofing Systems for Manufactured Homes
Isn’t this where we began?
Sure, we started out talking about mobile home metal roofs that fail, but we were talking about flat metal roofs on 40-year-old homes. Today’s metal roofs are available in varying thicknesses of steel or aluminum and with sturdier and many times very colorful finishes that can help stretch the life of the roof system.
Jeff Hood is co-owner of Hamilton Home Builders, a new independent builder in northwest Alabama. The company focuses on single-section homes with many unique features, not the least of which is the roofing system.
Hamilton builds homes exclusively with metal roofing systems.
“That’s a little bit outside the norm,” Hood said. “But I didn’t want to fight the shingle issue with them flying off during transport or in high wind. It costs more money to start with a metal roof, but the end user has a better system.”
When properly installed and maintained a metal roof can last 50-plus years, and they do come in a variety of colors that really can add some pop.
That said, metal roofing systems are more pricey than other options both because of the material itself and because it requires experienced professionals who specialize in metal roofing solutions.