If your looking to purchase a mobile home or already own a mobile manufactured home, you are probably familiar with the term underpinning. Underpinning is better known as skirting in some areas. It is best to decide what underpinning to use for your manufactured home based on the area that you live in and the weather conditions. Underpinning not only offers your manufactured home a beautiful complete look when it comes to curb appeal, it has many other advantages.
Underpinning and Weather
A great quality of underpinning is the fact that it can help to insulate your home from outside weather conditions. Whether it be snow, ice, rain, wind or sleet it will help protect your mobile home.
Even though the underneath of your mobile home is insulated protecting it from the outside elements is a must. There is no better way to protect your home than with underpinning. Yes, underpinning may cost you but in the long run there are so many benefits.
Without underpinning wind, snow and ice can get under your mobile home. This can make your mobile home floor extremely cold. Worse yet you can easily end up with frozen mobile home pipes. Frozen pipes can cause a lot of damage to your mobile home that can be very expensive. Protecting the underneath of your mobile home can be just as important as protecting the roof of your home.
Underpinning is important to the life of your manufactured home and you want to be sure to pick the option that works best for you.
Underpinning and premature rust
The underneath of mobile manufactured homes are made of wood and metal. Metal after setting 2 to 3 feet from the ground starts to rust. This rust over the years can wear down the metal beams that are necessary to keep your mobile home in tip top shape.
By protecting your mobile home with underpinning you can keep the moisture out and keep this space dry.
A vapor barrier laid on the ground will help to keep this area dry as well. Vapor barrier is very important to a mobile homes underbelly. Many homeowners assume that this barrier is the insulation that is hooked under the home itself. Vapor barrier is a sheet of plastic that lays on the ground that helps to keep moisture down. Once you have vapor barrier in place make sure that your underpinning is sealed from any cracks to help keep this area dry.
Vents in your Underpinning
Vents are important for your underpinning. You want to make sure fresh air can continue to filter under your manufactured home. Mold likes to grow in damp dark areas and having vents will help you keep this area cool and dry.
It is recommended that you have approximately 1 foot of venting every 125 feet of skirting.
Underpinning Access Doors
No matter the type of underpinning that you choose to use for your mobile home. You should consider adding access panels to easily get under your mobile home. Access panels are easy to add and they add quick access under your home in the event of a broken pipe or some other type of emergency.
Access panels in your underpinning are typically a DIY project. It really depends on where you want to add the panels, how many panels you want and how big of an access panel you will need.
These panels are typically used on metal, wood and insulated rock underpinning. These types of underpinning are the most difficult to remove once installed. That is a benefit to vinyl underpinning is that you can bend it easily and move it out of the way.
Rodents and Underpinning
There are so many different type of rodents and animals that like to get under mobile homes. Especially during cold months animals dry to find places to stay warm and get out of the weather. With the slightest gap in your underpinning you could be letting in uninvited guests. These rodents can easily pull down the insulation and make a big mess under your mobile home. If you get mice under your mobile home, you would be surprised the mess they can make. Snakes, mice and red squirrels.
Underpinning offers no support to the walls of the mobile manufactured home. It is simply there to keep things out from under your home and to offer character to your home.
Wall support for your manufactured home will come from the piers that are underneath your mobile home. These piers hold the metal beams that run the length of your manufactured home. If you start to notice stress cracks in your ceiling in your mobile home, it could just be because the home is settling.
Underpinning and Storage Space
While living in a mobile home park you may realize that there is limited space for storage. It doesn’t take long to fill up a storage shed and you can only have 1 of them. Many mobile home owners are resorting to storing items under their homes. This is a simple idea if you have an access panel to the mobile home underpinning (see access panel below).
The area under your mobile home gives you hundreds of square feet of storage area. You will want to be careful to tear any of the underbelly insulation when storing items here. It is best to go to your local department store or your local hardware and get storage totes. Storage totes will help to keep your items save while being stored under the home. In the event that a pipe was to burst or a rodent were to get under the home this would help to protect your items. Plastic totes can be purchased for a few dollars and be reused over and over. The best part is they last for years.
Types of Underpinning Available
Vinyl underpinning is one of the most common options available. The best part of this option is that it is easily pulled down so you can gain access under your mobile home quickly in any area. This vinyl underpinning is probably the CHEAPEST mobile home skirting available as well.
One of the biggest disadvantages to this type of skirting it is breaks easily. Especially if you run a weed wacker near the skirting. You will find that this skirting will easily chip up. Even the smallest of holes can cause issues for your manufactured home. It doesn’t take a very large hole for rodents or insects to start getting under your home.
Insulated Vinyl Unpinning
Underpinning has really come along ways over the years. Rewind a few years ago and you probably had 2 or 3 options available. Now more and more companies are stepping up to offer underpinning. A new popular option is insulated underpinning. This underpinning comes in beautiful rock designs that give your mobile home a beautiful look. It is hard to beat this type of underpinning and many options come with the venting and access panels already installed.
DIY Insulated Underpinning
It is possible to create your own insulated underpinning for your mobile home. Most box stores have foam boards that measure 4 ft x 8 ft. You can cut these to fit behind any type of unpinning that you choose. These foam boards will help to insulate the underbelly of your mobile home even further. This is a great option if you are looking to save on your electric bills in the winter months.
Screwing down vinyl / metal underpinning
To screw it down or not that is the question? Many mobile homeowners are having the vinyl / metal skirting screwed down at the top and bottom of the piece. While this will help to hold your skirting in place if you need to get under the home it creates a whole new problem. You must make sure you have the right tools to take these screws back out. That typically isn’t a quick process. Keep this in mind if you decided to add screws to your skirting.
Metal Aluminum Underpinning
While this is a popular type of underpinning the problem with this option is the fact that this bends easily. Metal underpinning also tends to dent very easily too. Once the underpinning gets dented it looks bad as well.
Wood underpinning is beautiful, but it is high maintenance and also has a few other disadvantages. The disadvantage to this type of skirting is the accessibility of each area that is skirted. You would have to build a couple different access panels to be able to get under your mobile home for each side.
Wood also tends to attract termites such as ants and these can be bad if there are large amounts of them. The wood also tends to weather easily so if you aren’t up to staining this every couple years you should look at other options. Wood underpinning is better used for deck areas. With so many other options available for underpinning wood would be at the bottom of my recommendation list.
Homemade Underpinning / DIY
Any type of material that you get that you can hang up and down and paint will work for skirting. There is no guide that you must stick to when it comes to underpinning. If you do live in a mobile home park, I would recommend that you do check with your park office before you start. Especially if you are looking to use a product not commonly used on mobile homes. The park may have rules of how the outside of your mobile manufactured home needs to look to comply. There are many alternatives to underpinning that can be used.
If your home is exposed underneath you could have problems with frozen pipes in cold months. Animals can easily get under the mobile home and rip everything apart as well. Cats are typically seen in mobile home parks. Cats love to tear into the insulation under homes and sleep there to keep warm.
Underpinning will help to keep add security to your home and keep people and kids out from under the home where they could get hurt. You do not want to be liable for someone getting hurt on your property.
Underpinning Figuring How Much You Need
Now you want to calculate just how much underpinning you will need to complete your job. Below are a couple examples that will help you figure out the amount of materials you will need.
Example 1: Let’s say you have a 14 x 76 mobile home like the one pictured above
So, with this example you have 180 feet of area times this by 12” to give you the total number of inches = 2160 linear inches
Now figure out the distance between the ground and the bottom of the mobile home. I would measure at least 5 different spots on your home to get an average. You will have uneven ground and different measurements:
31” + 25” + 30” + 27” + 28” = 141” divide by 5 numbers = 28” . This is the average height of your mobile home underpinning area.
Now call your local hardware with these figures to get all your trim and other necessary materials.
Example 2: Lets say you have a doublewide that is 28 x 52 like the home pictured here.
28 + 28 + 52 + 52 = 160 ft. x 12” = 1,920 inches.
Now again figure out the average height of the distance between the ground and the bottom of your mobile home: 28”
Again call your local provider with this figure to get the cost on all materials that you will need to complete the job.
If all else fails try this handy calculator from Skirting Direct. With this handy calculator you can enter in your information and it will figure your materials out for you. This company also provides some beautiful skirting / underpinning options for you to consider.
I would recommend buying over what you need when it comes to buying supplies. Keep your receipt when you purchase the materials to construct the underpinning for your mobile home. You want to make sure you have more than enough. You don’t want to get halfway done with the job and find out that your supplier now longer carries the materials. This can be an expensive mistake and can cause major issues for your progress.
Underpinning for Trailer
Whether you have a singlewide or doublewide trailer underpinning is effective. Underpinning can give your trailer a new refreshed look that lasts for years. It’s a great investment and worth the time it takes to install.
Another great feature of underpinning is if you decide to move the mobile home it can almost always be reused. If you are careful with removing it from under the trailer it can be used again and again.
Underpinning around Hitch / Tongues
Many older mobile homes have the hitch or tongue still attached to the mobile home. It is possible to just frame around the hitch / tongue and install underpinning around that. You can also cut the underpinning to go around the hitch, but this leaves the hitch exposed, which does not look good. Plus, it leaves small gaps in the underpinning where tiny rodents or insects can get under your mobile home.
Another great option that is sure to keep rodents, pests and weather out from under your mobile home is cinder block unpinning. This underpinning looks nice and neat and it will appear as though your mobile manufactured home is sitting on a foundation or basement. The best part about cinder blocks is they are very resistant to any type of weather condition. They also can easily be replaced if anything were to happen to them.
Another great thing about cinder blocks is they can easily be removed for access to other parts of the underbelly of your mobile home. I would recommend that you place access panels under your mobile home to make access easier with this type of underpinning.
Using Vinyl Siding
Another option when it comes to underpinning is continuing the vinyl siding on your mobile home to the ground. This is not a option I would recommend either if you need to get under your home quickly. Vinyl siding locks together and pulling it apart is difficult. It easily breaks and doesn’t go back together very easily. If you decide to go this route, I would highly recommend access panels on each side of your mobile home.
If you are looking to replace old metal underpinning, please keep in mind that you can scrap the metal to get some money back. Metal prices fluctuate daily but a local scrap yard will pay you for the metal even if it is a few bucks it will help cover the cost.
Hiring someone to install your Underpinning
If you don’t want to install your underpinning you will have few different options when it comes to finding someone to do the job.
If you recently moved the mobile home to its location the company who moved the manufactured home will know someone who is experienced in doing this type of job. When living in a park and looking to replace your underpinning your maintenance person at the mobile home park might be able to help as well.
TIP: If you hire someone from Craigslist, Facebook or even Angies list be sure to find out if they have references. Only put a small deposit down to get the job started. You want to make sure that you hire someone who knows what they are doing. You also want to make sure that they finish the job before they are paid in full.
Having a beautiful deck on the side of your mobile home is a great feature to your home. A deck can provide and your family with another area to enjoy company. Leaving the bottom part of your deck exposed to outside elements can cause issues. It can give rodents / pests a place to hide. It can also cause moisture to gather up and get under your mobile home. Many mobile homeowners are putting underpinning on their deck to keep these animals out. Here are a couple great examples. This also adds to the curb appeal of your mobile home.
In conclusion get some sample materials of mobile home underpinning. Lay them up against your mobile home and decide which one you think looks best. Underpinning will last for years to come and you want to be happy with your decision. Nice looking underpinning can add value to your home and help with your energy efficiency. It will also help to keep the weather out from under your mobile home.
Once you start this project getting the prep work done to hold the unpinning will take the longest time on this project. You should be able to complete this project within a couple days and change the curb appeal to your mobile home.