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Can You Put Siding on a Metal Mobile Home?

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Mobile homes are a dime a dozen and although many of them are well-built, they tend to far outlast their projected lifespans. That means that not just the mobile home is old, but the framework, the underlying insulation, and the siding, especially if it is metal.

While you can place siding, especially vinyl, over the original metal siding on a mobile home, it’s not always the best idea to do so. This is especially true if the mobile home is older, as there are levels of corrosion, as well as some other, off-putting side effects that can take an eventual toll.

For mobile homes, it’s usually better to remove the original siding before installing the new. 

Portable tiny home with wood siding in the back yard

You’re probably wondering, why in the world would aluminum corrode? It is, after all, the metal that is used in the large majority of older mobile homes, and aluminum has no iron in it. Not only that, it is sprayed with corrosion-resistant material and then painted pre-construction.

Disadvantages of Aluminum

There are a lot of advantages to aluminum, however, we’re discussing potentially placing new siding over aluminum, so it’s important to examine the disadvantages of aluminum before you start placing new siding over the top of it. 

  • Aluminum dents very easily
  • Aluminum can’t rust but it can corrode
  • Stains from other components rusting can stain aluminum
  • Easily revealed when the paint is scratched
  • It’s really loud when it rains

Some of the things on the above list are irrelevant in terms of comparison to new or vinyl siding, but they are relevant to the reasoning behind wanting to replace it.

As you have probably observed on aluminum-sided trailers in the past, the aluminum doesn’t rust, but every bolt and screw that’s visible will.

Not only will the bolts and screws rust, but the rust will also run down the siding in the rain, discoloring the aluminum permanently, not to mention the fact that aluminum itself can corrode over time. 

Why Replace the Aluminum?

If you are considering replacing aluminum siding or just tossing new siding over the top of it, you should consider the idea of removing the old siding regardless of your choice of new siding. For one, it will give you a bird’s eye view of the framework behind the siding. 

Second, it will give you an opportunity to inspect the insulation and potentially replace it altogether. If the mobile home is old (and most mobile homes with aluminum or metal siding are), the insulation is probably in need of repair or replacement. 

The vast majority of new mobile homes and new siding projects are done with vinyl, as it has become the most popular siding for both mobile and standard homes. It’s also a lot cheaper than aluminum siding and doesn’t corrode or rust. 

Last but not least, you will often find that right underneath the aluminum or metal siding, is a ¼” layer of chip board, which is probably either seriously compromised or well on its way to being so.

Plus, if you install siding over the existing siding, you will be going through the siding and into what is probably a weak chip board.

The point is, if you are going to go through the havoc of installing new siding, you might as well do it the right way the first time. 

Front of home with grey siding and maroon window shutters

Steps for Replacing Aluminum or Other Metal Siding

There are a lot of things that go into installing new siding on a mobile home. A DIY job will save a lot of money, however, if you hire a contractor to do it, the price range for vinyl siding will generally run anywhere between $5 and $10 per square foot. That includes the vinyl and the labor.

What that doesn’t include is removing and replacing the insulation and the chip board (if applicable). As far as removing and replacing the siding, we can go over the general steps, but more in-depth instructions are available all over, especially on YouTube. 

Remove the Original Siding

Of course, the first thing that you have to do is remove the original siding, which is usually bolted onto the frame beneath with metal screws that have hex caps.

All you have to do is remove these screws, one at a time, and peel off the original siding. It’s best to start in places where there is an overlap, such as the corners of the home. 

You won’t be able to remove all of the sidings in one go and, in fact, you should only do it in sections, using a staple gun to hand up a tarp or a strong holding plastic to cover the areas that you removed siding from. This will protect it from the elements as you take breaks.

Inspect and Replace Insulation and Chip Board

If the mobile home is relatively old, you will probably find that you are glad that you are inspecting the insulation and chip board beneath and it probably doesn’t look all that great. 

As you remove the insulation, replace it with new insulation as you go, so you don’t have any gaps while you work. 

There are a lot of good choices out there in terms of insulation types for mobile homes. If you can help it, don’t go cheap and install the same insulation that you are removing. The thing is, technology has advanced quite a lot since the original insulation that went into your mobile home. 

Some of the best types of insulation, in terms of what s good for a mobile home, are batt and roll insulation and foam board insulation . If there is no chipboard, what you are likely to find underneath is going to look pretty disgusting.

Installing New Siding

tools used for Installation of a siding

No matter what kind of siding you choose to go with, it all starts and ends at each corner of the home.

You start with your corner pieces and attach the sections of siding in between them, working from one side to the other. Once you reach the other side, you will nowhere to cut and make your connections. 

Another important rule to follow is to always make sure that you overlap your foundation by about 1”. If you fail to do this, there is a good chance that rain and other inclement weather will be able to make their way into your home where the flooring meets the foundation, and that is not a good thing. 

To fasten your siding down to the underlying framework, you want to use galvanized steel, aluminum, or otherwise corrosion-resistant screws. There’s no sense in going with a brand new siding if you are going to have nasty-looking rust running down the sides of it again.

Most siding options come in the form of panels that are designed to screw down in certain places, even as you slide the next section together.

In a way, it’s like installing laminate flooring. Each piece slides into the next, making it a pretty simple affair, with cutting to length being the most complicated part. 

All Things Considered

While you can install new siding over old, metal siding, it’s not advisable to do so unless, perhaps, the old siding is in absolutely phenomenal condition.

If you need to install siding on a mobile home, your best bet is to replace the original, and catch any repairs within the framework as you go.


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