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Question DetailsAsked on 1/8/2018

Could i puddy seams that show in my mobile home, after it has been settled for about 11 years, successfully?

The house is a double wide mobile home, and has been in place for 14 years. It has settled and seam lines are visible. We're painting the living room, and trying to figure the best way to cover the very slightly separated seams.

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1 Answer


This is VERY common. Certainly cracks which have stopped growing, as the settlement tapers off with time (assuming your foundation is stable), can be patched or covered over like in any house - though unless the fix is very flexible or is a concealer rather than a "repair", recracking will commonly occur over time as minor settlement continues.

Of course, if it is the joint between the two units opening up, continuing to grow or is large (more than 1/8 - maybe 1/4" or so), then you should normally be looking at relevelling and checking the attachment hardware first to be sure your units are not splitting apart and to close the gap up. In severe cases, settling foundations can "break the back" along the connecting joint and cause the two units to literally tear apart, or open up a seam in the roofing - in severe cases to the point of opening up a rift open to the sky. Generally, settlement issues of concern will have one end of the joint significantly wider than the other (so it tapers from top to bottom) - or have more than an 1/8-1/4" offset between the two surfaces.

Here is a link to a current question on relevelling a mobile home or modular home - with links to a number of other previous similar questions with answers. If looking at relevelling you should consider whether you should get proper wind/seismic/flooting tiedowns and/or foundation done at the same time to facilitate resale, because most lenders these days are requiring compliance with federal trailer/modular home foundation standards before they will give a buyer a loan, so can make quite a resaleability difference.

For minor cracks in drywall or panelling, or a small crack at the junction of various pieces of the modular/mobile home, repair as you talked about is feasible, as listed below:

For small drywall cracks, the normal spackle followed with careful touch sanding and touchup painting (prime first with latex primer to get a better finish paint surface match) can be done. For cracks which keep reopening, latex caulk with a high "extensability" rating will commonly prevent recracking - you can "wash" the surface with spackle to give surface consistency, then prime and paint as normal, remembering not to brush hard alongthe joint ifdone that way. I actually prefer drywall joint compound rather than spackle for that, but smallest container of premixed product is typically a quart so more left over if only doing a couple of spots.

For panelling colored caulk (some paint stores have as many as about 40 colors available) works well both on simulated wood and on fake stone and such. Use a latex only one (no silicone) for easier wet rag cleanup along the edges as you work and for good painting characteristics.

A flexible latex grout designed for tile can also be used if available in right color (about 5 usually readilly available, tile supply wholesalers commonly carry about 20-30 colors. Bbut the normal use for that is fake or real stone or tile which has cracked - using the right colors you can repair both grout and through-panel cracks. On fancier surfaces many a countertop (for fake stone panels) or ceramic tile contractor (for tile and piecework stone) can repair joints and cracks, including custom stain or grindings dust from matching scrap mixed into the repair material to get a near-perfect color match. For DIY there are also repair bottles of repair color match - usually sold for kitchen appliances and countertops but work on panelling too, though likely to be shinier than original. Some careful 600 grit carbide (black) sandpapering can dull too glossy a repair with rigid or hard-setting repair materials.

A more brittle (so more likely to recrack in any movement) solution for wood/fake wood panelling joints is the colored wood dough or wood putty or "plastic wood", available in cans down to 1/2 pint in most areas - come in "matching" colors for about 30-40 woods. Applied with a putty knife - for your case good quality true (not easy-peel) 2" masking tape along each side of the joint can be used to control it, apply the wood dough or wood putty with a narrow putty knife, smoothing as much as possible to remove excess, then IMMEDIATELY (do not let sit) remove the tape and blend in the finished joint with putty knife with appropriate liquid on it so it does not peel it back off. (The liquid used should be the solvent/cleanup chemical for the putty - VERY light coat on the knife to avoid damaging the adjacent surfaces. As soon as smoothed out (maybe a foot or so at a time), wipe down the adjacent edges (without nicking the putty repair) to remove the solvent so it does not cause blistering or peeling. Try this first in the most obscure or down by floor location to check on effect and to be sure solvent is not going to damage the adjacent material with a minute-minus exposure to it.

Pure latex products are easiest to use - water wetted putty knife or finger works well for final smoothing out. Some people even hand-paint it to get an exact color match, using art paints. Jsut be cautious of ones that may come off on clothing, or clear-coat them when done (with a matte sealer unless wall surface is gloss finish).

I said NOT silicone product both because try to smooth out a joint after squeezing it out of the tube commonly becomes a mess smeared over the adjacent area, and is generally not paintable. Any paintalbe product you can use water colors or other paints (soluble ones best because you can "wash" on the color a bit at a time to match - oils and such tendto be a one-shot attempt.


Now - enough of caulks and putties. Another alternative, especially with joints which are fairly vertical (or horizontal on floor) and straight and keep reopening (including between existing house and new additions, which tend to settle differently) is a mask over the joint. Caulk the crack to provide air tightness (and caulk outdoors for water tightness if crack shows on outside of house), then cover over for appearance. Things you can use to conceal a seasonally moving or offset joint:

1) fabric which can stretch or is not pulled tight - as a decor strip, or even fake curtains tied back or "bunched" along the wall. I have seen fake bellcords and intricate decorative braided ropes and such used for this too - cruising Pinterest should give you lots of ideas for ways to conceal a wall or floor crack

2) decorative artwork or statuary or such hung in front of the offending area

3) furniture or cabinets. bookcases, grandfather clock, etc in front of the crack

4) decorative strips of stone (fake or real) or wood trim strip or molding or half-round fake columns or such - the key is to only fasten on one side of the crack so the crack can move under it without splitting it, and of course if on a wall usually put a matching one on the opposite wall at same location whether ornot it is cracked there. There is standard panelling joint cover strip available, designed to cover seams between wall panelling - you may have to use a utility knife to remove a back "rib" which is designed to fit between the panels and just use caulk to adhere it to the joint.

5) for floors, transition strips (metal or wood) like are used at room transitions between different flooring and like you see all over in hotels and such as you move between large rooms (which cover concrete slab expansion joints) - again fastened down tight only at one edge if the joint is moving so it does not get split apart, or at least not fastened down tight on one side (or using slotted holes in the strip) - the unfastened or "sliding" edge (which needs to be fairly tight to the floor to prevent tripping and is almost always beveled for that reason) then slides back and forth on the floor as needed, like the metal bridge plate between a jetway and the plane to cover the gap there, to accomodate movement relative to the other side of the crack or joint.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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