The biggest complaint for most mobile home owners is usually about the notorious vinyl wall panels in their homes. Every model and make seemed to have used them between 1980-2000. Each company used their own special brand and some have that plastic looking coating and some don’t. Colors and patterns vary drastically. All have the seams with the strips or battens that “connect” the panels and nobody really knows how to update them, until now. Here is the 5 best ways to handle those pesky walls:
Just Paint Them. Easy enough for anyone. Always clean them first with TSP (or equivalent). Paint doesn’t stick to grease or smoke or dirt and there’s more on your walls than any of us care to think about. Use a really good primer. If your walls are more paper like than plastic make sure to use an oil based primer. That will keep the paper from soaking in all the moisture and raising in odd shapes that look like Abe Lincoln’s hat. If they are more plastic like, you may want to use a Grip type primer. It grips paint and it works.
Texture It All. Not so easy but fun! Just remove the strips (battens) and then throw some mud up. Texture by using whatever tool you have handy. There’s endless types of mud and spackling so do your homework or ask the home improvement employee unless they are younger than you. In that case, go find anyone that looks like they would know. You will get a better answer.
Remove the strips, mud the seams, sand and paint. This is not easy and not fun. If you are a perfectionist do not even try it. You will never match your mud texture to the walls but you can get really close. If your walls have a texture, you don’t have to work so hard. If your walls are smooth your gonna have to work at it. It will look great when you do match closely though.
Strip the paper. Not easy nor fun and not highly recommended. This is for the walls that have the very fine layer of paper attached. If it is easily pulled down in small strips and you see a smooth wall underneath this is a great option for you. If your lucky enough to have this type, just start peeling. You could always rent a steamer to help. Simply prime and paint afterward.
Wallpaper. Remove the strips (battens) and hang. Wallpaper is not easy so get a pattern that can be quickly matched. Get some good tips and tricks before you start. The more knowledge you have the better you can fight the paper, and fight you will.
There’s plenty more ways to update vinyl walls in mobile homes. Painting the walls one color and adding white 1×3 molding over the seams can create a cute cottage look. You could also paint the panels in vertical stripes and use the strips as the divider between colors. It all depends on how much work your willing to do and how much help you have. Use your common sense and ask the pro’s if your in doubt. Don’t take on too much at once, limit yourself to one wall at a time and complete the first before starting the next. Otherwise, have fun with it. If your ready for a new look I’m sure your walls are, too.
Crystal Adkins was born and raised in mobile homes and is now the proud owner of her own. She hates the words “trailer trash” and tries to rid the world of the stereotype every chance she gets. She’s an art and craft fanatic and constantly updates her home. She publishes a blog called Mobile Home Living that features ideas, inspiration and information on mobile homes. Join her at