Ceiling Replacement – Materials, Tips & What to Expect

Mobile home ceiling replacement

Replacing a ceiling panel in a mobile home is not a job for the fainthearted.

Newer Homes. Repairing the ceiling in new homes is quite a challenge and requires work that is best done by experienced people. To do it well you are going to have to remove & replace a large, heavy, fragile sheet of drywall. You will then have to seal the seams, cover the screw heads and texture to match the rest of the ceiling. Finally you will probably want to paint the whole ceiling to make the color match. Unfortunately, if you have one of the acoustically textured ceilings, painting is not an option.

Older homes. Mobile home supply stores sell replacement ceiling panels for homes that have the flat panel ceilings with the plastic strips every 16″ inches. Note that in spite of what it looks like these are 4′ x 14′ panels. They are awkward & fragile. They will probably not have the exact pattern your home has but most people are not that sensitive to the pattern and seldom look up anyhow. Thus an approximate pattern match, which is the best you can hope for, will probably be acceptable. The new plastic strips will probably not match your old ones which will have yellowed with age and/or been painted. You will probably want to plan to paint the entire ceiling to make the repair as inconspicuous as possible.

You will be unable to remove the old ceiling panel more than an inch or so back into the wall and will want to make sure there are no nails or rough spots that would make it difficult to slide the new panel into place. The walls are probably not square so you will want to measure carefully before you cut the replacement panel. You are going to have to let the replacement panel bow down in the middle while you position the ends at the wall line and lift up the middle to force (gently) the ends into the wall. The depth you can get will depend on how long the replacement piece is and how far you can bow the panel without breaking it. Especially for a short piece, such as in the kitchen ceiling, you will probably want to trim the edge with quarter-round because you will not be able to get the panel far enough into the wall for reasonable support.. You also have to make sure you have the replacement panel positioned properly from side to side. If you are off by just a little you won’t be able to insert the plastic trim strip on one side and it won’t stay in place on the other.

{ 63 comments… read them below }
Mike Olson
Can I just bypass these replacement panels and simply use 1/2 sheet rock? I have not opened up the ceiling yet to look inside to see what is there. This is the master bath I am refering to. The ceiling is sagging in the middle and there is some mold. I want to tear the ceiling out and add a exhust fan through the roof. This unit was built in 1974 and I guess at that time they never heard of venting a bathroom.
Paul
I would go for lighter sheetrock. Homes built before 1976 were designed to lower standards than after that.
rich
Paul where can I get these 4×14 panels I need two, can you please give me an idea I’m here in Massachusetts and can’t find them, please email me if possible
Paul
My understanding is they don’t make them anymore
If someone knows differently, I would love to hear about it.

rich
Definitely use only 1/4″ sheetrock Screws going into the one and a half by one and a half truss ceiling joists and the sheetrock weight can be in danger of falling down
rich
That is 1/4″sheetrock because the screws and weight
L M Morse
1995 Double wide. It is on a hill from end to end not front to back. Experiencing cracks from mid section to outer wall in the front dining room and the kitchen. It has been leveled a few years ago. What is the safe thing to do? Thanks
Paul
Sounds like it’s time for a re-level.

charlie
Can you just plaster over the ceiling of older mobile home?
Paul
If you mean over the fiberboard panels with the plastic strips I would say no. They are not that strong. You would need to take the old panels down and hang new sheetrock.

Don
I have a really nice 1982 Windsor mobile home. I need to replace some ceiling panels. The panels are textured with plastic strips. I have be told that they are not manufactured anymore. I have also been told otherwise. If they are still available, please let me know.
Paul
I do not believe they are available any more. The standard answer is to replace with 1/4″ drywall.

Michael Charlebois
How can I tell where the supports are up there to install a ceiling fan?
This is a 1977 mobile home for all I know.
Thanks
Paul
Under the plastic strips is where I would look. You should be able to see the nails/screws holding the ceiling panels in place. Be very careful with the plastic strips. They get really brittle with age and are NOT replaceable.

Jen Hryniuk
I just bought a older camping trailer & the ceiling is soft & sagging & needs too be replaced, I am hoping you can give me instructions on how too replace this whole ceiling & what produces I will need too do this. it is a 13 foot trailer.
Thank you
Paul
Unfortunately, I know nothing about travel trailers.

Esther Nunley
We have a 1999 oakwood doublewide. We have had water damage to the ceiling and need to replace it. we found that the plastic strips that hold each 4 ft section of dry wall is glued and foam secured to the beams. It has been impossible to forcebly remove the plastic strips so that sheet rock can be installed. Is there a trick or method to this removal? Thank you.
Esther
Paul
Brute force is the only answer I know. I’d be happy to hear from someone with a better idea.

Weldon
On a 1974, can the ceiling panels be furred with 1×2′s and then paneled.
Paul
Yes. If you removed the old ceiling material it won’t lower the ceiling quite as much.

Rachel
We have a 1976 Redman MH we are looking for ceiling tiles for replacement ….any suggestioins? We were looking forward to overlaying the ceiling with the ultralite sheetrock… but have concerns regarding the roof being able to support the additional weight>? Also is the current ceiling built with asbesto?
Paul
I have never heard of asbestos issues with mobile homes. Lightweight sheetrock seems to be the method of choice for ceiling replacement in these homes.

Chris
I own a 76 Victorian and need to replace several ceiling tiles in a couple different spots. The idea is to carefully remove everything from one bedroom, use the useful pieces to replace the smaller damaged spots and replace the bedroom with an office-style drop ceiling. My questions are (1) is this a decent plan (bear in mind I have experience in home repair and will not be working alone), and (2) about what should I expect in cost? Thanks!
Paul
The only objection I have heard to the drop ceiling method is that it lowers the ceiling somewhat. As far as costs go I can’t say much because there is no way for me to keep up with prices in different parts of the country. I have readers from all over the USA plus some in Canada, and usually they don’t tell me where they are

Trey
I’m fixing up a mobile home I recently bought. The previous owner tore out the original ceiling in the bathroom. Do you have any suggestions on how to remove the old ceiling where it’s broke off around the edges (where the drywall would sit and be supported on the outside perimeter)?
Paul
I’m not sure I am understanding your question exactly, but how about a carpet knife with it’s curved blade. Would a Dremel type tool do any good?

David Arndt
I want to renovate my mother-in-law’s doublewide for her. The ceiling is very low and I would like to take it down and vault it to the pitch of the roofline to get more head room. Is this possible? Would it be worth the trouble?
Paul
No. I’m sure the trusses up there are what keep the whole roof from falling in.
Janette
Is it ever safe to remove a mobile home drop ceiling? In our kitchen it is not even seven feet. If it would not be safe, are there other options that people have had success with, such as raising the height of the drop ceiling? Thank you everyone for all of the excellent information!
Paul
My experience was that everything is tied together with glue, nails, staples, etc. with each vital to the strength of the whole. So changes or alterations were a bad idea.
I would be happy to hear about situations where that is not the case.
Paul

Mark
I am in the process of buying an older mobile home. (1968) It has a new “lifetime” roof on it and no leaks or sign of past leaks. The majority of the ceiling tiles are all significantly sagging throughout the home. I was thinking maybe I should replace all of the ceilings but I am afraid of the job being to big for me to handle. Is there an alternative?? Any suggestions? LOVE this site..it is so full of VALUABLE information! THANK YOU!!!
Paul
Do you do drywall? The preferred method is to take down the old tiles, put up furring strips and then hang light weight 1/4″ drywall. That is probably not a good project for the first time drywaller
Some people have also used the suspended ceiling tiles. The disadvantage with them is they will bring an already low ceiling down even more.

Bob Ferguson
I have an older double wide, about 1982, with the 4′x14′ lightweight ceiling panels. The paint is peeling in the summer heat of the Cal high desert this is a vacation home and the inside temp is quite high when we are not there. Is there a special kind of paint to use on these panels? I’ve looked at a lot of sites and no one addresses this point. Thanks, Bob F.
Paul
I don’t know, but maybe a visitor does?

Doug
Sounds like a temperature buildup in the overhead caused by excessive heat load If there is inadequate roof venting this will occur. Cutting in a ridge vent or adding individual roof vents should eliminate the problem. Exterior soffits or eaves venting should be clear of debris or painted over vent holes. Also check exterior openings (doors etc. for weather tightness) as well as under the home for bottom board that is down and insulation that may be missing allowing for moisture invasion into the main living spaces. Preventing moisture and excessive temperatures goes a long way towards keeping condensation (paint bubbling, ceiling sagging, ceiling discoloration, outright ceiling sweating, and light fixtures dripping moisture.) Hope this helps

Elizabeth
We are buying a 1973 mobile home and there was water damage along one side do the celing tiles are all rotten looking on one side of the trailer it has since been re tared but we want to replace the tiles we dont know how to drywall at all but were thinking we would take the old tiles down then stain a bunch of 2×2 squares of wood with diffrent colored stains then screw them up makeing it look modern/rustic with the bolt heads nice and big we saw it as a picture and thought it might be easyer then drywall? what do you think or is there an easy way to redo the tiles it has it dosent have the plastic lines i dont think it has screws with flowers around them..?
Paul
If you like the look I don’t see why that shouldn’t work. Drywall is easy if you know how and really hard if you don’t
Trey
I like that Paul’s answer ^^

Trey
This may be a little longer then most questions. I bought an older home. I’ve run into many obstacles with making thiss investment worth the hassel. Previous owner started drywall in both bedrooms and the bathroom (Yes all hung and not pretty at all).. I have little to no experience with drywall but after mudding and sanding…etc I’ve now know it’s best to take the time measuring and hanging rather than mudding and sanding.. Long story short Paul, They have hung drywall over the”stock”? ceiling. In on of the bedrooms it’s sagging down.. One of my questions is is it okay to stick drywall up over the ceiling as long as you hit studs? They have it pretty jacked up. I would like to know if there’s a way I can make this work (by drilling new support onto studs). Also if I get this supported without tearing down and causing mayhem.. Is there a suggestion for the ceiling texture? I’ve heard through friends that “pop corning” the ceiling and kind of uing it as mud I could eliminate the mudding and sanding on the ceiling.. Another quick question.. Cheap place to buy mobile home windows? One more question. I used normal drywall in the bathroom (not knowing they make a green coated stuff for moisture) is there anyway I could make this stuff work? Maybe with a repellent a gloss? Not really sure.. Thanks for your time.

sherry mobley
we just bought a new double wide in april 2013. the ceiling seams look like speedbumps. they sent 3 different cres to sand down the seams and re mud. of course now I have all these diff textures. everytime they work on them they get worse. could the joices be bad and how would I know. there is a crawl space but I would not know what to look for. they offered me 900 and then 2 cres later 2000 to live with it. we said no after sending them a 4000 estimate and they tried on their own and messed up more. don’t think ceilings can ever be right. now they have offered 7500 we asked for or a new home. they chose the 7500. we have not accepted yet. don’t know a fair price. the moving and packing and cleanup has been on and on since april,
Paul
I think it is time to get more aggressive with your response. I believe all states have an office/division/department that handles mobile home dealers, complaints, etc. You should be able to find contact information for your state by searching online. Try something like “Texas Manufactured Housing Dept.” or whatever your state is. Call them immediately and learn as much as you can.
Start keeping a written log of ALL your contacts with the dealer and/or sub-contractors. You need to log date, time, name of person(s) you talked to, and write notes about what was said and/or promised.
I know this sounds like an overreaction, but sometime warranties & contracts have expiration dates written in to them. If you go past those dates without taking formal action you may loose your rights. You can be CERTAIN the dealer is aware of them.
In your case, I think an important first step would be an inspection by an independent third party. You are not mobile home experts, there is no way you can know exactly what it will cost to repair the problems. You bought a new home, nine months without fixing the problems is way to long!

Sheryl
We have a 1979 Redman double wide manufactured home. We replaced ceilings in smaller rooms like the bathrooms with light drywall. The furring strips about 12 inches apart. That worked great. I would love to open up the main area. With the marriage line supported with a header. Is this possible? The vaulted ceiling is appealing but I have read it is not structural or possible. Any architects in the house?
The existing roof on our place has been built over with support reinforced in the walls. It looks like a ranch on the outside.
Sheryl
Original roof is still present…previous owner had another roof built over that with a better pitch.

Diana
I have a 1972 mobile home with soft panel ceilings. They have a lot of water spots on the. I am wondering if it would work to tear them out, install rigid foam insulation panels using liquid nails, and then cover the insulation panels with lightweight plastic decorative ceiling panels, also using liquid nails. Does this sound feasible, or will there be a lot of wiring in or other things in the way?
Paul
It sounds like a great idea to me. There is no way to replace those old panels. I would be very interested in pictures of the process and final result. Your thoughts on how it all worked would be good too.
Diana
Will do. The extra insulation will be a bonus.

Alisha
I have a 70 something mobile home and am just really wanting to cosmetically cover things. I had a house fire and got this place with 5 acres of gorg country property for 22,000 with intent to build in a few more years. We have had to do all the plumbing and resheetrocking,reflooring ect, I absolutely hate the ugly fugly popcorned ceilings and wanted to put just like some old weathered barnboard up, do you think this will e to heavy or how do you think I should go about attaching it to the ceiling??
Paul
Mobile homes are carefully engineered to meet, but not exceed, HUD requirements. If it were my home I would be concerned about the weight of the boards. You might try doing a Google search for vinyl ceiling tiles and see if they would work for you. I have seen some which would not weigh much more than the popcorn you could scrape off and they can be glued in place.

Greg
I have a mobile home where the ceiling panels came down due to water damage. The roof leaks have been fixed. Would it be ok to replace the ceiling with 1/4″ plywood and just paint it?
Paul
I think that should work. But I am NOT an engineer, so that is a guess, not a calculation.

Jessica
We are looking to remodel our 1998 Fairmount DW and wanted to know if the ceiling is strong enough to hold new sheetrock. We just want to put it right over the popcorn ceiling instead of messing with it.

dave
Hi I have a 2005 bluebird hallmark, the ceiling panels are sound but the venire is parting and bubbling, looks like air bubbles.do I have to replace the boards or can they be reglued
Paul
Some other reader will have to answer this one. You are a long way from New Mexico, USA where I did all my work

Michele
We have a 1999 Breckenridge Park trailer. There is a small leak in the bathroom that we cannot find the source for. It is causing the ceiling to have water stains and I’m afraid of mold. We were thinking we could take some of the ceiling tile out and see what’s behind it to find the source of the leak. We replaced the roof, we replaced the skylight …about a foot away and cannot find the problem. Would this be possible to do? The league seems to be right at the base of the roof where it meets the wall.. Has anyone experienced this problem?
Thanks
Paul
I would be wondering about condensation. Could there be a leak/failure in the duct from an exhaust fan? Is the roof pitched so that water could run down from farther away?
Finding and fixing these kinds of leaks is hard.
Michele
Yes the roof is pitched, and yes there is an exhaust fan in line with the wetness.. About 4 foot away.
The place is closed for the winter, but it was wet when we walked to the site 2 weeks ago. It is definitely getting in from outside. We can’t afford another roof so we thought taking down some ceiling tiles might show something.. Any ideas would be welcome..
Dave
I recently bought an old Clayton double wide which has like veneered beams running from center to side, i need to remove a few of these to replace water damaged panels but the seem to have something plastic attached to the top of the beam flexing under the panels. How do I remove them without destroying the entire ceiling?
Paul
That’s not something I ever worked on. Comments welcome from anyone who has.
Paul
Dave
Thanks for the speedy reply Paul, I have only seen these on extremely old trailers but I will press on but if anyone has knowledge it would greatly be appreciated

Jason
I’m looking at a good deal on a 1997 16×80 I’d like to buy but it has a crack in the vaulted popcorn ceiling in the living room. Would furring and adding wood ceiling planks be too much for those spindly scissors trusses to handle?
Paul
Not being a structural engineer I have no idea.

Aarom
We are about to purchase a 2003 double wide on foundation and will need to replace ceiling board. Can we remove existing board amd hang drywall? I’ve heard they may not handle the weight etc.
Paul
I get asked this kind of question frequently, but since I am NOT an engineer & have not actually looked at the house I really can’t provide a “take it to the bank” answer.
What I do know is the Palm Harbor factory I worked at employed two full time engineers. Their job was to make certain the homes met, but DID NOT EXCEED, the minimum HUD requirements. In other words, make sure the inspectors pass the homes, but get the materials cost as low as possible!
Ceiling board is very light. Drywall is really heavy.
I wouldn’t do it in my house…
Paul

  • Elaine says:

    Hi, I bought this new manufactured Clayton home in 2007. I’ve had many leaks in the walls, ceiling, around doors, etc. I had a metal roof put on last november and the leaks seemed to cease. Then I began fixing floors and walls. There was lots of very spotty workmanship. Wires running where they shouldn’t be. The guys who replaced the door spanned a new wood beam because there wasnt one even there. They said they never saw,that before. Yes I have pictures. Now I’m to the ceiling. I began to cut out some of the moldy rotted ceiling board and found loose 2x3s that the ceiling board is attached to. It seems that span is either 18 or 24″ from beams at the roofline. I can’t see anything spanning across at the ceiling line yet. Just piecemeal 2x3s, not even 2x4s and it’s supposed to be a 30lb roofload. Should I get an attorney? I can send pictures. I know I’m a woman but I’ve done alot of repairs and have never seen anything like this in my life

  • Bob says:

    I have a 1973 mobile home I tore out the 1/4 ” sheet rock which ran with the ceiling joints. Sheets of 1/4 sheet rock was put in with staples & had trim over the joints where they met. I was wondering if I went back with 1/4″ sheet rock & ran it the opposite way across the ceiling joints wood it be strong enough to not swag?

  • Paul says:

    Hi Bob,
    I am not seeing how attaching the same weight with the panels running in a different direction would somehow be worse than what you had before.

    Paul

  • Paul says:

    Hi Elaine,

    For a lot of reasons I don’t see how I can give a yes/no answer to your questions. So I will make a few observations.

    1. All the mobile homes I saw being assembled were put together on jigs. By that I mean there was a framework where preconstructed parts and pieces were placed. THere was no opportunity for installer error. Just drop a board, truss, or other assembly into place, glue or nail it and move to the next one. So all the homes being built would have been made the same way from more or less identical parts.

    2. I am not an engineer, but I know that well designed trusses are able to support a much larger load than you might think by looking at them. That is one of the reasons the manufacturers keep engineers on staff. Their job is to meet the standard as cheaply as possible. That is also the reason I tell people not to cut or otherwise mess with trusses. It is to easy to weaken then more than you realize.

    3. Have you done these kinds of repairs on a mobile home before? As described above, I think it is quite possible that construction which seems to be inadequate, might actually meet the HUD requirements. Mobile homes are much more an engineered unit than site built homes. The strength they need to meet the specs may be coming from construction and assembly techniques that are not obvious.

    4. I think litigation is a losing game. It would probably be cheaper to buy a new home. Even worse it keeps you focused on negativity and ugliness for years.

    The roof problems you describe are not normal and I can appreciate your frustration. Mobile homes can be purchased with 30 year financing. They should not start to fall apart in 10.

    Certainly a tired or careless assembly person could mess things up. They could fail to run a bead of caulk before fastening down a roof or wall panel, etc.

    Who would you complain to? Clayton will say that all their homes are built to HUD specs. If the dealer you purchased from is still in business & has any assets they will point to an installer or subsequent repair issue. You could spend thousands trying to figure out who to sue.

    In other words, I think your time and money are best spent moving forward with repairs.

    I hope this helps.

    Paul

  • Mikki says:

    I would like to build a roof over my existing one. I have a 1974 or 6 single wide.. Does anyone have any suggestions? Also I used regular windows to replace the old ones is there a reason I shouldn’t have?

  • Katsuhiro says:

    Renting a mobile home since Sept 2016…
    In October the roof leaked. Now prior to moving in, the kitchen ceiling already had bowing/sagging, but since the leak it only got worse. Its now December.
    The landlord got the roof fixed in Oct, but was shiftless to fix the ceiling boards in a timely manner.
    Now we have black spore mold growing on the underside of the ceiling boards where the main leak occured.
    Rather than replace the ceiling board they want to “clean” it.
    Is this even possible? To clean mold from ceiling boards? Let alone the underside?
    I mean…the boards appear to be porous. How is it possible to remove a board with mold and clean it? Should the ceiling boards with mold be replaced or is it really possible to “clean” them?
    Note: This isnt being done professionally and the landlord has “his guys” coming to do the work.
    After two months of only fixing the leaking roof and leaving the soggy/sagging boards to mold its clear theyve been negligent in the handling of this for me as a tenant…
    Is their fix to “clean” the mold from the ceiling boards even practical?
    To me it sounds like something that is impossible to be done, but hey im just a tenant.
    Beyond that, if it is ok, shouldnt it be done by professionals who are licensed for such work in mold removal?

    TLDR: better to replace or remedy mold in ceiling boards?
    If remedy, professionally?

    Thank you for any/all help and apokogies for any redundancies with my questions…
    Sincerely,
    Katsuhiro in California

  • Paul says:

    Hi Katsuhiro,

    I am not a mold expert so I can’t really comment on that part of your question.

    What I can say, based on my experience, is your best choice in this situation is to move out as soon as possible. If and when the mold issue is settled, there will be something else that needs work and isn’t getting done. If there is a lease involved I suspect, especially in CA, that the problem you just described will be sufficient to break the lease.

    Paul

  • Kim Shepperd says:

    A friend of mine owns a 2006 modular home that the popcorn ceiling is just falling off in different places. Some of these places or very large. They just replaced the roof about 2yrs ago, so any leaking was fixed. We see no mold anywhere. How could we fix this? Can we go ahead and scrap off popcorn ceiling and put up panels or what do we have to do???? Thank you

  • Paul says:

    Hi Kim,

    I think you could scrape off the rest of the texture and spray new. I found this on Amazon and there seemed to be lots of choices. (That is an affiliate link. I would get a small commission if you buy.)

    I would guess that a drywall contractor could do the job quickly.

    Paul

  • kevin walmsley says:

    I havi have an old mobile home with a metal roof. in the kitchen/dining area, the previous owner has replaced the ceiling with 3″ t&g . the roof has no leaks. when the temp warms up after a freeze, I get ceiling drips in spots. do you think he left out the insulation or vapor barrier.

  • Mike says:

    Removing a modular home ceiling. Best way is to cut along the egde of ceiling close to wall as possible. After the outline cut, start on one side of joist and follow joise up to point of destination and do same to other side. Typically drywall will fall straight down once towards end. After it’s all dropped and cleaned up, go back through with a good 20+ ounce hammer and just start hitting the pieces of drywall stuck to wood. Should know clear and clean. Plus you’ll get a good workout. (This is to one of the questions asked on your post)

  • Bob F says:

    Bob F.
    Hey, regarding the low ceiling heights in kitchens, etc. Usually they are accommodating ceiling lighting etc. I doubt the structural truss system would change ceiling height. Probably just soffits.

  • Bob F says:

    I agree with Paul; Get out!
    If they disturb mold spore containing materials, the spores will inundate the entire building. That is why professional remediation companies only, should be used with any mold issues.
    Thanks Paul, you have a very helpful sight here.

  • Paul says:

    Hi Kevin,

    It makes me think condensation and wonder if something changed that is letting more moisture into the ceiling space. A new baby or visitors taking more showers; that kind of thing.

    Paul

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