Choices Of Skirting For A Modular Home

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Modular homes do not need any skirting since being permanent constructions attached on permanent foundations have no need for it. Installing a Skirting is a must for non-permanent structures because it helps protect the base of the house while providing the image of a typical home rather than a trailer; we will then install skirting to any manufactured or mobile home.

There certainly is, a naming confusion between manufactured, mobile and modular homes that makes it common to overlook the need for skirting in modular houses.

The skirting for a manufactured or mobile home can be built in a variety of different materials and styles:

  • Vinyl skirting
  • Concrete or stucco skirting
  • Brick and cinder block skirting
  • Lattice skirting
  • Faux panels skirting

While one of the main factors to choose one skirting or another is prompted essentially by aesthetic considerations it is important to contemplate other aspects such as the climate conditions or the installation requirements.

Why do manufactured and mobile homes require skirting?

Both manufactured and mobile homes are similar constructions which names are often interchanged, and while they highly differ in the regulations to which they are built, they share big similarities such as their set up. These type of constructions were designed as portable structures and are therefore built on a fixed steel chassis acting as a stabilizer as well as permitting the attachment of wheels to transport the house to its desired location.

Once on its location, the wheels will be removed and the house will be placed on the chosen foundation (slab, runner, pier or even permanent foundations) [1]. In most cases these foundations elevate the house some inches off the ground, leaving a crawl space underneath the house. This is a common practice that helps provide a better levelling [2] as well as the perfect space to install the pipes and plumbing fixtures of the house [3].

The skirting is designed as a cover of the crawl space and offers a number of benefits:

  • Offers a more attractive appearance to the house, hiding the structural and technical elements as well as offering an appearance with a higher resemblance to a site built home.
  • Helps insulate the house as well as protect the pipes from freezing.
  • Prevents animals from damaging both the structure and the technical elements.
  • Provides a safer space for children.

Skirting material options to choose from

Vinyl skirting

Vinyl is a skirting material that offers an extensive variety of styles and colors at a budged friendly price, making it one of the most popular options among manufactured home owners. Moreover, it is very easy to install and possible to install it by yourself which helps reduce the cost even more.

On the other hand, vinyl doesn’t offer the greatest quality and can be easily damaged. Sunlight tends to discolor it making it look old as well as disrupting the color matching with the rest of the house that might have been important at the moment of choosing that particular skirting, moreover, the heat of direct sun tends to cause buckling or warping [4].

Its structure isn’t very strong as well and it is common to encounter a broken vinyl skirting due to strong winds, storms or other possible incidents such as accidental impacts. Choosing a vinyl of a higher quality and thickness could prevent most of these negative outcomes and regular maintenance, cleaning and painting might help keep the desired appearance of it.

Figure 1

Faux rock and brick skirting

These panels are made of a light weighted polyurethane material simulating rock, stone or brick. Some brands design panels that look more realistic than others, though they all seem a good solution to obtain a stone or brick look at an economic price since real rocks are expensive and require a specialized installer.

This option is a bit more expensive than vinyl though these panels are thicker and offer a sturdier longer lasting result. Moreover, these panels are usually well insulated and offer quite a good protection against low temperatures, avoiding the cold air in cooling down the home as well as protecting the pipes from freezing.

Figure 2

Hard board or concrete board skirting

These boards are of higher quality than vinyl or faux rock, they are made of a light weigh concrete material and offer a stronger longer lasting skirting. While this option is definitely more expensive it is worth the investment sine once installed the maintenance costs will be minimal.

The hard board skirting option is also a popular one, not only due to its quality standards but thanks to its finished look as well, which is the look of a stucco wall that can be painted in any color, an aesthetic that elevates the overall look of the house offering a more permanent look.

In general, these panels offer a good insulation as well as ventilation since most brands offer a hidden ventilation system [5] that doesn’t disturb the continuous look of the skirting but still ensures the crawl space is properly aired avoiding excessive humidity and mold.

Figure 3

Other less popular skirting materials

While the skirting for a mobile home can be built with a multitude of different materials that can represent an optimal solution for some cases, the most commonly used and better ranked solutions are those detailed above.

Brick, stone or concrete block skirting are some of the most permanent solutions offering a really pleasant aesthetic look as well as a higher quality skirting. However, these are less popular solutions since they suppose a higher cost and its installation is much more difficult.

Other skirting materials are metal, foam or wood; though perfectly valid solutions not as popular. Wood-based skirting options for example, offer an attractive look but lack popularity; being a natural material it will rot easily and require far more maintenance.

Figure 4

Lattice skirting is a very good option as well, especially in areas where ventilation is important and insulation can be avoided because temperatures will never be too low to freeze the pipes. Lattice skirting is usually sold as panels that are easy to install and can be made of a variety of materials and designs.

Figure 5

What skirting will work best for your manufactured or mobile home

Choosing the right skirting might be challenging since the variety of materials, designs and prices offered is very extensive. However, there are some aspects to consider that can greatly help making the choice:

  • Living in a strong wind prone area requires a skirting that is strong and doesn’t bend easily. Hard board could be a good option, though looking for a skirting specially designed for strong winds is always the best choice, Strong Skirt U.S.A for example, designs metallic skirts design to withstand winds up to 100 mph [6].
  • Humid areas are even more prone to moisture build up which eases the appearance of mold and should therefore consider -without exception- a proper ventilation system for the crawl space. Installing ventilation grids is always a possibility but they will be visible and might disrupt the overall aesthetic of the house. Options like lattice skirting could work very well in warmer climates but in colder ones it might be smart to opt for a hard board with integrated ventilation system.
  • If you don’t plan to stay long in this house and are just looking for a short term solution that offers a nice aesthetic, without major investments you might benefit from a vinyl skirting since it offers affordable solutions in an extensive variety of styles and colors.
  • Reducing long term expenses is possible but requires a higher initial payment. Avoiding cheap and flimsy options is key, opt for stronger materials and even consider professional installation for a sturdier result. Also avoiding natural materials such as wood will cut maintenance costs.

References

  1. Bryceadmin (2020, November 16) Mobile Home Foundation Types US Mobile Home Pros https://www.mobilehomesell.com/mobile-home-foundation-types/
  2. Kalley Y. (2019, April 22) Leveling Prefabricated Homes During On-Site Construction Clayton Homes Blog https://www.claytonhomes.com/studio/how-are-mobile-homes-leveled/
  3. Stickley, A. (2021, May 09) Mobile Home Plumbing The Spruce https://www.thespruce.com/mobile-home-plumbing-2718685
  4. Sun or Reflected Heat as Cause of Buckled Vinyl Siding InspectApedia https://inspectapedia.com/exterior/Vinyl_Siding_Sunlight_Buckled.php
  5. DURASKIRT’s TM Exclusive “Hidden Vent System” for Mobile Home Skirting DURASKIRT https://duraskirt.com/hidden-mobile-home-vent/
  6. Stronger, More Reliable Skirting Strong Skirt TM Premium metal skirting https://www.strongskirtusa.com

Fig 1. Everlock Deluxe Vinyl Skirting Skirting Direct – Factory Direct Skirting Products https://www.skirtingdirect.com/Merchant5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=vinyl
Fig 2. Model: 16 Greg Tilley’s Bossier Mobile Homes Inc. https://tilleyshomes.com/model-16
Fig 3. Clayton Homes
Fig 4. (2020, July 15) Wood Skirting Ashley Beseda
https://www.ashleybeseda.com/post/wood-skirting
Fig 5. 4 ft. x 8 ft. White Garden Vinyl Lattice The Home Depot https://www.homedepot.com/p/Veranda-4-ft-x-8-ft-White-Garden-Vinyl-Lattice-73004026/100011154