Everything You Need to Know About Mobile Home Insulation

Mobile home insulation is a critical aspect of maintaining a comfortable and energy-efficient living environment. Proper insulation can help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, while also reducing your energy bills. In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to understand the different mobile home insulation options available, their benefits and drawbacks, installation procedures, costs, and more. We will cover insulation for mobile home ceilings, walls, the underbelly, and other areas that need insulating.

Why Mobile Home Insulation Matters

Mobile homes are built differently from traditional homes, and they require insulation that is specifically designed for them. The main purpose of mobile home insulation is to prevent heat loss or gain. When insulation is inadequate, heat can easily escape from your home, especially during the winter, and hot air can easily penetrate your home in the summer. Poor mobile home insulation can result in moisture issues, such as condensation, which can lead to mold growth and structural damage. Proper insulation can help you avoid these issues, improve comfort, and make your home more energy-efficient, therefore reducing your bills.

Mobile home insulation

Popular Insulation Types Used in Mobile Homes 

There are several types of insulation materials that can be used to insulate mobile homes. Here are the most common ones:

  • Fiberglass Batt Insulation: Fiberglass insulation is a cost-effective option for insulating mobile homes. It is easy to install and can be placed between the studs in the walls or the rafters in the ceiling. However, fiberglass batt insulation can be challenging to install in tight spaces or in areas with obstructions.
  • Spray Foam Insulation: Spray foam insulation is a popular option for insulating mobile homes. It is a type of polyurethane foam that is sprayed directly onto the walls, ceiling, or underbelly of your home. Spray foam insulation is an effective air barrier and can provide excellent insulation. Spray foam insulation usually requires a professional to install and can be more expensive than other mobile home insulation materials.
  • Blown-In Cellulose Insulation: Blown-in cellulose insulation is another cost-effective option for insulating mobile homes. It is made of recycled paper and is blown into the walls or ceiling of your home. Blown-in cellulose insulation acts as an excellent air barrier and can provide very good insulation, but it can settle over time, which can reduce its effectiveness.
  • Radiant Barrier Insulation: Radiant barrier insulation is another type of insulation that reflects heat instead of absorbing it. It is commonly used in the roof of mobile homes. Radiant barrier insulation can be used alone or in combination with other insulation materials, but it does not provide a complete air barrier by itself.
  • Insulating Foam Boards: Insulating foam boards are a type of rigid foam that can be used to insulate the walls or underbelly of mobile homes. They provide excellent insulation and are easy to install.
Mobile home insulation

Wall and Ceiling Insulation

Ceiling and wall insulation is crucial to maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your mobile home. Here are the steps involved in insulating the walls and ceilings of your mobile home:

  • Preparation: Before insulating the walls or ceilings, make sure to clean the surface thoroughly and remove any obstructions. If the pipes or wires are in the way of the insulation, they may need to be relocated or repositioned to allow for proper installation. In some cases, it may be possible to insulate around the pipes and wires by using insulation materials that can be easily cut and fitted around obstacles. Also, make sure to seal any gaps or cracks in the walls or ceiling with expanding foam sealant.
  • Installing Insulation: Once the surface is prepared, you can start installing the insulation material of your choice. For fiberglass batt insulation, you can simply place the batts between the studs or rafters. For spray foam insulation, a professional installer will spray the foam onto the surface. For blown-in cellulose insulation, a blower machine is used to blow the insulation into the wall or ceiling cavity.
  • Vapor Barrier: Once the insulation is installed, it is important to install a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from entering the insulation. A vapor barrier is a thin sheet of material that is placed over the insulation. It should be installed on the warm side of the insulation, facing the interior of the home.

Mobile Home Underbelly Insulation

Insulating the underbelly of your manufactured home is important to prevent heat loss or gain through the floor, and to prevent moisture problems. Here are the steps involved with insulating a mobile home belly:

  • Preparation: Before insulating the underbelly, make sure to clean the area of the home thoroughly and remove any debris or old insulation. Also, make sure to seal any gaps or cracks in the underbelly.
  • Installing Insulation: Once the area is prepared, you can begin to add insulation. For spray foam insulation, a professional installer will spray the foam onto the underbelly. For insulating rigid foam boards, the boards are cut to size and placed between the joists. Choosing to blow insulation such as cellulose on the underbelly of a mobile home is not recommended because it is likely to fall to the ground.
  • Vapor Barrier: Once the underbelly insulation is installed, the vapor barrier is installed on the side facing the ground. The vapor barrier is used to prevent moisture and condensation from entering the underside of the home, which can cause damage to the insulation, flooring, and other materials in the home. By installing the vapor barrier on the side facing the ground, it helps to prevent moisture from entering the space between the insulation and the underside of the home. This can help to improve the energy efficiency and overall comfort of the living space, as well as prevent issues such as mold or mildew growth.
mobile home insulation

Costs of Mobile Home Insulation

When it comes to mobile home insulation, the costs can vary depending on a few things:

  • Type of insulation material: The cost of mobile home insulation materials can vary widely, with some options being more affordable than others. For example, fiberglass batt insulation is a common and affordable option for mobile homes, while spray foam insulation tends to be more expensive.
  • Size of the home: In larger mobile homes more insulation material will be required, which can increase the overall cost of insulation.
  • Method of installation: Some mobile home insulation materials, such as blown-in insulation, may require professional installation, which can add to the cost. DIY installation of certain mobile home insulation materials, such as reflective insulation, may be more affordable.
  • Additional factors: Other factors, such as the condition of the home and the need for additional preparation work, such as removing old insulation or sealing gaps and cracks, can also impact the cost of mobile home insulation.

Here are some estimated costs for common mobile home insulation options:

  • Fiberglass batt insulation: The cost for fiberglass batt insulation can range from $0.60 to $1.60 per square foot of insulation material.
  • Blown-in insulation: The cost for blow-in insulation can range from $1.00 to $3.00 per square foot, depending on the type of material used and the method of installation.
  • Spray foam insulation: The cost for spray foam insulation can range from $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot of insulation material, depending on the type of foam used and the method of installation.
  • Radiant barrier insulation: The cost for radiant barrier insulation can range from $0.15 to $0.75 per square foot of insulation material.
  • Foam boards: The cost for insulated foam boards can range from $0.30 to $1.00 per square foot, depending on the type and thickness of the board.

The initial cost of mobile home insulation is just one factor home owners should consider when making insulation decisions. Energy savings and improved comfort levels can also provide long-term benefits that make the initial investment worthwhile.

Mobile home insulation

Other Areas That Need Insulating in a Manufactured Home

When it comes to insulating your home, there are a few other areas beyond the ceiling, walls, and underbelly that need to be insulated for maximum energy efficiency. Here are some areas mobile home owners should consider:

  • Windows and doors: Windows and doors are notorious for letting in drafts and losing heat, making them an important area to insulate. One option is to install weatherstripping around the frames to seal any gaps. Another option is to install window film, which is a thin plastic layer that adheres to the glass and provides an additional layer of insulation.
  • Air ducts and vents: Air ducts and vents that run through unconditioned spaces like attics and crawl spaces can cause significant heat loss. Insulating these areas can prevent this heat loss and improve energy efficiency. Insulated air ducts can also help reduce noise transmission.
  • Pipes and water lines: Pipes and water lines that run through unconditioned spaces can freeze in cold temperatures and cause costly damage. Insulating these pipes with special tape can prevent them from freezing and improve energy efficiency by reducing heat loss.
  • Skirting: Skirting is an essential part of a home’s exterior that does provide some insulating properties by helping to reduce drafts and prevent cold air from entering underneath a house. However, skirting alone is not sufficient to provide adequate insulation for a home.

Hiring a Professional vs. DIY Insulation Installation

When it comes to installing mobile home insulation, homeowners have the option of hiring a professional insulation contractor or doing it themselves. I always recommend going with a professional as poorly installed mobile home insulation can result in air leaks, moisture problems, and reduced energy efficiency. See below to help with your decision-making process.

Hiring a professional mobile home insulation contractor:

Pros:

  • Professional contractors have the knowledge and experience to ensure that insulation is installed correctly and meets local mobile home building codes.
  • Contractors have access to specialized tools and equipment to make the installation process faster and more efficient, especially when it comes to spray insulation. 
  • Contractors typically provide a warranty or guarantee on their work.

Cons:

  • Hiring a contractor can be expensive, with costs ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the size of the project.
  • Homeowners have less control over the installation process and may not be able to supervise the work as closely as they would like.
  • Homeowners may have to wait for the contractor’s schedule to free up before work can begin.

The risks and benefits of installing mobile home insulation yourself:

Pros:

  • DIY mobile home insulation installation can save homeowners money, with costs ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the size of the project.
  • Homeowners have full control over the installation process and can ensure that the work is done to their satisfaction.
  • DIY mobile home insulation installation can be a satisfying and rewarding project for homeowners who enjoy DIY projects.

Cons:

  • DIY mobile home insulation installation can be time-consuming and physically demanding, especially for large projects.
  • Homeowners may not have the knowledge or experience to ensure that the mobile home insulation is installed correctly and meets local building codes.
  • Homeowners may not have access to specialized tools and equipment, which can make the installation process more difficult.

Factors to consider when deciding whether to hire a professional or DIY:

  • The size and complexity of the mobile home insulation project.
  • The homeowner’s knowledge and experience with mobile home insulation installation.
  • The homeowner’s physical ability to complete the installation.
  • The homeowner’s budget for the project.
  • The homeowner’s timeline for completing the project.
Mobile home insulation

Understanding R-Value in Insulation Standards

There is one common measurement value that you need to know about mobile home insulation. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance used in the construction industry to determine the effectiveness of the insulation. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow. Understanding R-value is crucial when it comes to selecting the appropriate insulation for a particular application.

The R-value of an insulation material is determined by its thickness, density, and type of material. For example, fiberglass batt insulation has an R-value of around 3.2 to 3.7 per inch, while cellulose insulation has an R-value of approximately 3.5 per inch. Spray foam insulation typically has a higher R-value, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0 per inch, making it an excellent choice for areas with limited space.

To determine the amount of insulation needed, the R-value of the insulation material should be matched to the recommended R-value for the area being insulated. The recommended R-value varies depending on the climate zone, with colder areas requiring a higher R-value. In general, the recommended R-value for walls, ceilings, and floors is between R-13 and R-49, depending on the region.

For example:

A spray foam insulation with an R-value of 6.0 per inch means that one inch of the insulation material has a thermal resistance of 6.0. So, if you have insulation material that is 6 inches thick, the R-value would be 6.0 x 6 in = 36.

Let’s say that you wanted to achieve closer to an R-value of 49, you could add another 2 inches or so of insulation (6.0 x 8 in = 48) or you would need insulation material that has a higher R-value per inch. For example, if the insulation material has an R-value of 7.0 per inch, you would need at least 7 inches of insulation material to achieve an R-value of 49 (7.0 x 7 in = 49).

The R-value only measures the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow and does not take into account other factors that affect energy efficiency, such as air leaks. Proper installation and sealing of the insulation are critical in achieving optimal energy efficiency and reducing energy costs. Consulting with a professional insulation contractor can help ensure that the insulation is installed correctly and meets the recommended R-value for the area being insulated.

Maintenance for Mobile Home Insulation

Proper maintenance of your mobile home insulation is crucial to ensure that it continues to provide adequate protection against heat loss or gain and prevents moisture problems. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your mobile home insulation in good condition:

  • Regularly inspect your insulation: Check your mobile home insulation at least once a year to ensure that it is still in good condition and has not been damaged by pests or moisture.
  • Repair any damage: If you notice any damage to your mobile home insulation, such as tears, holes, or water damage, repair it immediately. This will help to prevent further damage and maintain the effectiveness of the mobile home insulation.
  • Keep the area clean: It’s important to keep the area around your mobile home insulation clean and free of debris. This will help to prevent pests and moisture from entering and damaging it.
  • Check for air leaks: Check for air leaks around windows, doors, and other areas of your home where air may be escaping. Sealing these leaks can help to improve the effectiveness of your mobile home insulation and reduce your energy bills.
  • Check the vapor barrier: Inspect the vapor barrier regularly to ensure that it is still intact and has not been damaged. If the vapor barrier is damaged, it can allow moisture to enter your mobile home insulation and cause damage.

By following these maintenance tips, you can help to ensure that your mobile home insulation remains effective and maintains a comfortable and energy-efficient living environment.

FAQ: How to Insulate a Manufactured Home 

mobile home insulation

What is the best insulation for mobile homes?

There are a few things to consider when deciding with insulation is best, but I will highlight spray foam. Spray foam is a popular choice for mobile homes because it provides excellent insulation by filling in gaps and crevices in walls and ceilings. It is made from a mixture of chemicals that expand and harden upon contact, creating a strong barrier against air leaks and heat loss. Spray foam insulation is more expensive than other options, but it is highly effective and can help improve the energy efficiency of a mobile home significantly.

What kind of insulation do you use under a mobile home?

Under a mobile home, the most commonly used insulation types are batt or rolled insulation, spray foam insulation, or rigid foam insulation. The specific type of insulation used will depend on factors such as climate, budget, and personal preference. It’s important to ensure that the insulation is properly installed and covers all areas where air can leak through to maximize energy efficiency.

How much does it cost to insulate the underbelly of a mobile home?

The cost to insulate the underbelly of a mobile home can vary depending on the size of the home, the type of insulation used, and the cost of labor in your area. On average, the cost can range from $1,000 to $3,000. It’s best to get multiple quotes from professional insulation contractors for an accurate estimate.

How bad is it not to have insulation under mobile home?

Not having insulation under a mobile home can result in several problems, including cold floors in the winter, increased energy bills, frozen pipes, and moisture buildup. Moisture buildup can lead to mold growth, which can be harmful to health and damage the structure of the mobile home. It is advisable to install proper insulation to enhance energy efficiency, reduce utility bills, and improve the overall comfort and safety of the living space.

What size insulation goes in a mobile home?

The size of insulation that goes in a mobile home depends on the specific area where it will be installed. Typically, batt insulation with a thickness of 3.5 inches is used for the walls and ceilings, while thicker insulation with a thickness of 6-8 inches may be used for the underbelly or skirting.

Do I need vapor barrier under my mobile home?

Yes, it is recommended to have a vapor barrier installed under your mobile home to prevent moisture from entering the space between the ground and your home. The vapor barrier should be installed below the insulation and should be made of a material that is impermeable to water vapor, such as plastic sheeting.

Can you spray foam the underbelly of a mobile home?

Yes, you can spray foam the underbelly of a mobile home as a method of insulation. Spray foam insulation creates an air-tight seal that can provide superior insulation compared to other types of insulation.

How do I keep my pipes from freezing under my mobile home?

To keep pipes from freezing under your mobile home, you should insulate any exposed pipes, seal drafts, keep the heat on, open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate, and allow a small trickle of water to flow. This will help prevent the pipes from freezing by keeping them warm and allowing water to flow through them. By taking these preventive measures, you can avoid the inconvenience and expense of dealing with frozen pipes.

How long does insulation last in mobile home?

Generally, insulation can last for several decades if it is properly installed and maintained. Over time, insulation can settle, compact, or become damaged, which can reduce its effectiveness. It is recommended to inspect the insulation regularly and replace it as needed to ensure that your mobile home is properly insulated and energy efficient.

Is it worth replacing old insulation?

The decision to replace old insulation in a mobile home depends on various factors such as the condition of the insulation, climate, and energy bills. Damaged, wet, or moldy insulation can be a health hazard and reduce energy efficiency. Replacing it with new insulation can improve indoor air quality, comfort, and help save on energy bills in the long run.

Can you put new insulation over old insulation?

In most cases, it is possible to add new insulation over old insulation in a mobile home. Before doing so, check that the existing insulation isn’t wet, moldy, or damaged. Adding new insulation can improve energy efficiency, but it is essential to choose the right type of insulation and ensure that it is installed correctly to avoid any problems in the future.

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