Painting Older Mobile Home

I have an older mobile home (metal on metal) and it really needs to be painted. Any ideas on the type of paint and prep I should use. This will be a first for me and I would like to do it right.

Thanks, Sam

Use a good grade exterior latex, I personally like Olympic for the price and quality. I spray the home with 50/50 outdoor bleach water and then rinse with a garden hose (thanks for this tip Scott & Tony!) Let’er dry good and do your trim work around windows etc with a brush then roll on the paint with a 3/4" nap roller on an extension handle.

For most homes I’ve found it takes me about 7 gallons of the main body color and 2 gallons of trim color. I like white or a light tan body from the roof down and trim the shutters and only the top border on older homes, just about any color trim will go with these base colors which makes it a safe bet for those of use who suffer from a lack of color coordination ability.

Best wishes,

Ryan Needler

I was just at the Sherwin-Williams store today asking about painting mobile homes. Very slow day as Ike laid waste to just about every transformer for many miles around so the manager had lots of time to talk. This is what he said:

Prep is key. Power wash with the nozzle no more than 12 inches from the metal. Use a sprayer with a hose that you drop in a bucket full of cleanser. TSP is a good one but it must be rinsed afterward. He did not recommend the “no rinse” kind. Bleach is necessary if there are black stains due to mold. After the rinse water is dry, check for any “chalking” of the old paint. If so, spray again and also scrub the metal.

Spraying gives the most professional results but overspray can land on the neighbors if there is any wind. Next best are the 4 or 6" foam mini-rollers. He said these could give you a job closest to spray and no need to mask the windows and no overspray.

There are specialty products that are used as bonding coats between the old and the new paint. I used these on my lightposts and like the results. This is probably not cost-effective for homes.

The manager also showed me how to use the already made up color guides. Tons of them so the work of picking color combinations is already done for you. The manager also showed me color combinations that are popular at this time in my area.

I have used cheap paint and top quality paint and I recommend the good stuff for the outside. There is a noticeable difference in both coverage and how easily they roll or brush out. For the insides I use a lower quality but I feel the ease of use alone makes a good case for quality exterior paint. Another factor is that this may be the only time it gets painted for many years and you want this job to look good as long as possible.

Keep in mind that no matter how good a paint you use, improper prep will render all your efforts worthless.


Wheat Hill MHC

(330) 426-9558

I agree with Rolf,

Prep work is REQUIRED. I housepainted my way to pay for college (even a private college was affordable back when God was a baby).

I scrub the home down with TSP in water with a brush on a long pole or pressure wash. Quite frankly, I think pressure washing is terribly time consuming.

I use Behr exterior latex flat or satin (Home Depot) rolled on with 3/4 nap roller on a pole. I do a fairly quick cut in with a brush on a 8’ ladder. It ruins the brush as you have to tuck it under the top “trim” piece. I paint everything the same neutral color except shutters. It makes the home look more modern. Have you ever seen a two-tone vinyl/shingle SW? NO.

I can attest that one of the homes I painted SEVEN YEARS ago with the TSP and Behr paint method is still looking good.


Good prep is key. I’ve painted about 15 s/w in the past 16 months. I just use lots of bleach…a little dish soap and a scrub brush. If a home is bad sometimes we 'll spot clean the worst areas with the 8x12 green teflon scrub pad. I prefer a 3/4 roller on an adjustable pole.

 The main reason I'm writing is where to get paint.  I use high quality 

name brand paints but pay $1 to $5 per gallon. I only buy mistint paints or paint from building supply liquidators. I’ve learned the basics of mixing paint colors and mix my own colors. Mix red and green… add white if necessary and you get beige. Only mix latex with latex. I only mix exterior with exterior. If the paint is a little old strain it.I usually mix 10-12 gallons at a time using a good drill and paint mixing attachment.I buy mostly five gallon bucket . When I custom mix paint I make about 20-30 percent more than I think the job requires to prevent problems. I made friends with the owner of a building material liquidator. At first he was charging me $5 /gallon. But when I said I was willing to go in the back and look thru the stuff…he doesn’t have to sort or mess with it I pay 1.50 to 2 dollars a gallon ( Brands Sherwin Williams…Parker…Cascade.) There a Parker paint store I go to that only charges 1 dollar a gallon for mistint. Next time you walk into a paint store ask if they have any mistint paint. I prefer latex but because I work in an area with over 100 inches a year of rain will sometimes use oil base if rain is a possibility that night…again only paying 1-5 bucks a gallon. Sometimes I’ll buy tint ( the coloring the paint stores use to make colors) and blend a color. At a couple of bucks a gallon you can afford to experiment. If you get some color that you don’t like …seal floors with it…before you put down new carpet.

P.S. I know someone will say what if you need to touch up later…save a gallon in a can and mark the unit number and address on it or you can scrape some off the home on the day you need it take it in and have the color matched. Whatever you do… don’t pay full price for paint.

P.P.S. When your getting paint this cheap you can afford to give it away to homeowners in your park. After I painted several homes in my park last summer some of the homeowners got the bug to paint their’s too…I gave them the paint…

Post Edited (09-15-08 19:49)

A guy spoke at the last MHM I do not remember his name. But he is a “rehab guru”. He said use good quality DTM rated paint (direct to metal) use a Flood product called emulsifier. Pressure wash and spay it on.