The siding you choose for your manufactured home is a huge part of how your home will look and function. Not only does your siding provide the first impression of your manufactured home that many people see, it’s also critical for protecting your home’s structural elements such as studs, drywall, insulation and more.
Since siding is so important for maintaining your mobile home value, mobile home owners should know their options when it comes to which types are available and how to install it. It can be challenging to navigate the many options for mobile home siding, so MHVillage is here to help.
In this article, we’ll take a look at why mobile home siding is so important, the major mobile home siding options and a few quick tips for customizing your siding to ensure that it meets the needs of your manufactured home. To kick things off, we’ll dive into a little more detail about why mobile home siding is so important for manufactured home owners.
Why Mobile Home Siding Is So Important
Mobile home siding is important because it affects many aspects of the safety and livability of a manufactured home:
- Along with the roof and the windows, siding is one of the most important factors in weatherproofing a manufactured home. Siding protects the home’s walls and structural elements from wind, rain, noise, animal infestation and more.
- Siding with good fire resistance is critical for slowing the progress of a house fire.
- Siding helps a home maintain its temperature by preventing heat from coming in or out. This is why choosing the right siding can save manufactured home owners money on energy bills, as well as creating a more comfortable home environment.
- Siding affects a manufactured home’s looks and curb appeal. The color, material and styling of the siding all help establish a manufactured home’s character.
It’s clear that siding is important. Now, let’s look at the manufactured home siding options available to homeowners.
Vinyl siding is the most popular home siding material in America, and it’s easy to see why. Vinyl remains an excellent choice for mobile home siding because it’s cost-effective, widely available and highly durable. It’s also one of the easier mobile home siding options for DIY installation and repair.
Properly installed, vinyl siding can resist high winds and all kinds of weather, and it’s available in a huge range of colors and styles. It easily shrugs off insects, rot, mold and damage from rain and snow. It’s also incredibly low-maintenance, although it needs regular washing and the occasional paint job. The biggest downside of vinyl is its vulnerability to dents and cracks (although easy replacement mitigates these concerns somewhat) and the fact that it needs to be installed loosely enough to expand and contract, but tightly enough to resist blowing off in the wind.
Many different types of vinyl siding are available. Recycled vinyl siding is a popular option, but it often contains filler materials that reduce its quality and make it more prone to warp and crack. Virgin vinyl siding is the highest-quality type of vinyl siding available, and is the option that many siding experts recommend since it’s made with no fillers or recycled materials. Thicker is also better with vinyl siding, with thick gauges such as 54-gauge offering superior performance (although they also cost more and are more challenging to install).
Available in many styles and species, wood manufactured home siding is a popular choice for manufactured homes. It’s energy-efficient, easy to repair, aesthetically pleasing, generally less expensive and eco-friendly. However, it’s vulnerable to rot and insects, making it a high-maintenance choice.
Your choice of wood will determine many things about how your wood siding behaves. Pine, spruce and fir are inexpensive, but they often have more knots and are not resistant to rot or insects. Other types of wood siding, like cedar and redwood, have greater resistance to these factors, but are accordingly more expensive. Remember that buying siding made from local woods can potentially save you money, and that choosing siding producers approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) will help ensure that the lumber has been harvested sustainably.
Wood siding is also available in numerous styles, from classic clapboard to rectangular planking to shingles or shake. The bottom line: If you choose to go with wood siding, regular maintenance and repair are essential. But for those who want a cabin-style, energy-efficient manufactured home, wood could be just what you’re looking for.
Faux stone is a popular choice for homeowners looking for an attractive and energy-efficient siding. This material gives the appearance of real stone, but is constructed from polyurethane foam, plus fire-retardant and UV-resistant materials. (Faux stone shouldn’t be confused with architectural stone, a heavy, stone-like material which is rarely used for manufactured home siding due to its weight.)
Faux stone is highly energy-efficient and can look very good. It’s cheaper than fiber cement or hardwood siding, but more expensive than options like vinyl. Faux stone can seem overwhelming when applied to an entire home, so many homeowners choose to use it for accent on areas such as doorways. Anyone considering faux stone should take advantage of manufacturers’ free samples, as the wrong faux stone can look seriously out of place.
Fiber cement is a combination of silica, wood fiber, cement and other ingredients that makes a great siding choice for the 21st century mobile home. It has many advantages as a siding material, including high durability, excellent protection against common threats such as insects and mold and superior fire resistance.
Fiber cement is also a highly versatile material that can be formed into many different shapes, particularly different kinds of wood, and it’s easy to paint. Thus, fiber cement mobile home siding can be a great choice for manufactured home owners who like the look of wood but want a lower-maintenance alternative.
The major downsides of fiber cement are that it’s relatively expensive, is more challenging to install than vinyl and weighs a lot. In fact, it’s heavy enough that you should factor in the extra weight when calculating how much it costs to move your manufactured home.
Aluminum is a classic and time-tested option for manufactured home siding. It’s waterproof, highly durable, energy-efficient and resistant to fire, rust and insects. It’s also much lighter than some other materials like fiber cement, offering a rugged siding material that’s not overly heavy.
Aluminum siding is installed in large, overlapping vertical sheets. It comes in varying thicknesses, ranging from the inexpensive but less durable 40-gauge to the thick and rugged 53-gauge.
The major downside of aluminum is that it’s highly vulnerable to denting. An aluminum-sided mobile home will inevitably suffer at least minor dents, making it a potentially less attractive option for some homeowners. Some homeowners also simply don’t like the aesthetic of aluminum siding or find that it makes too much noise.
Choosing the Right Mobile Home Siding
So, what factors should you consider when choosing between the many types of manufactured home siding? Here are some important decision points to think about:
- For manufactured homes in high-precipitation climates, such as mobile homes in Florida and mobile homes in Michigan, look for options with increased moisture resistance. Moisture barriers, which we’ll discuss below, are especially important.
- If you’re planning on moving your mobile home, choosing a lighter option may save you money on moving costs.
- Your manufactured home community may restrict the type of siding you can install.
- Heavier types of siding, such as wood or fiber cement, may require additional blocking in the foundation to support the weight.
- For homeowners looking for energy efficiency savings, check the R-value of the models you’re browsing. A higher R-value indicates more insulating power and will help make your home more energy efficient. There’s no one R-value that’s right for every home, so contact your HVAC contractor to learn what you should be shooting for.
- Homeowners in areas prone to wildfires may want to prioritize fire resistance in their siding choice.
In the end, the right choice for you depends solely on what you need from your mobile home’s siding.
Insulated Mobile Home Siding
Insulated siding is a controversial topic among manufactured home owners and those who install mobile home siding. Many types of manufactured home siding, including vinyl, are available with built-in foam insulation backing, which can increase your home’s R-value. However, some experts claim that its benefits are too minimal to be worth the considerable extra cost.
The evidence isn’t completely clear on the efficacy of insulated mobile home siding. The average increase in R-value is a fairly small .7. In scientific studies, insulated siding sometimes appears to do nothing, and sometimes appears to have a modestly helpful effect on energy consumption. Either way, there’s not much evidence that it has a dramatic effect on R-value.
For homeowners in extremely cold climates who run their heat constantly, insulated siding may be worth it. For others, the best option is likely to install normal siding and ensure that their walls are well-insulated using conventional insulation.
Weather Barriers for Mobile Home Siding
Most manufactured home siding also benefits an extra layer of protection against moisture and weather, particularly in wetter climates. Additions underneath siding like house wraps and vapor barriers help create a barrier against moisture and protect a home from water damage. If your manufactured home has wood siding, an extra weather barrier is an absolute must-have, and many local building codes require them as well.
House wrap is a thick paper-like wrap that’s installed underneath mobile home siding and keeps air from penetrating through the house’s insulation and walls, while allowing water vapor to pass through (so as to prevent moisture buildup). Felt paper is the classic option, but synthetic options are now equally popular. A vapor barrier is designed to keep out water and needs to be installed in a specific configuration with the house wrap to allow moisture and air to flow correctly.
For homeowners installing or repairing siding, it’s important to also notice the condition of your weather barriers and note if they need repair. If you’re having new siding installed, it’s a great time to ensure that your vapor barriers and house wrap are in good condition and have new ones installed if they’re not.
Installing and Repairing Mobile Home Siding
Do-it-yourself siding installation and repair is a popular option for many manufactured home owners looking to save money. However, before you commit to a DIY installation or repair project, know that certain kinds of manufactured home siding are more friendly to DIY handymen than others.
Vinyl siding is one of the easiest to work with, and many vinyl siding installation guides are available online for free. Other materials, such as wood siding, are more challenging to install and should only be attempted if you’re already an experienced home handyman. Fiber cement is one of the most challenging, requiring special tools and techniques, and should usually be left to the professionals.
Some key tips for DIY repairs or replacements on older siding include:
- Smaller dents in aluminum siding can often be repaired using some household tools and automotive body filler.
- Use a zip tool to pop off damaged pieces of vinyl siding quickly and easily.
- Replacing vinyl siding can be challenging if the company that manufactured your siding has discontinued your particular color or model. Taking a small sample of your siding to your local hardware store is usually your best bet for finding the closest match possible.
- Vinyl siding should be installed with about 1/16-inch of “breathing room” between the nail head and the siding so that the natural expansion and contraction of the vinyl doesn’t warp it.
- Never apply vinyl siding directly to studs without sheathing.
Vinyl siding is by far one of the most important mobile home upgrades. But there’s much more to know about how your manufactured home works. You can learn all about mobile home skirting, mobile home porches, and more in our Mobile Home Living section.