Friday, May 1, 2009

Latex-cement skirting for mobile home


It cost about $600 for a guy to install vinyl skirting around our double-wide mobile home. Skirting is a requirement in our county. There was no concrete or other structures to deal with, so our job was a piece of cake for the guy, who just secured the lower track by pushing long nails into the dirt and secured the skirting up top with wood screws. Within the first few months we had covered holes made with our string trimmer with duct tape. Pretty soon there were too many holes to cover.
Then the high winds came and and beat the crap out of it--one side completely out of the track and pushed in under the house. I put it back in the track, but it was all bent up. It needed replacing.
I wanted something better. Brick, I was thinking. Or cement block.
I was intimidated by the cost.

I thought about some sort of stucco over metal lathe over plywood. It was the plywood that made me think I might be replacing that in 20 years. If I live another 20 years, I'll be 74. Nope. I wanted it all--inexpensive, nice looking, and durable.
So I was looking for an alternative.
I tried making some concrete panels, using so-called "crack resistant" concrete laced with fiberglass fibers. They were, of course, heavy and quite delicate.
It was a stupid idea.
Then I came across a formula for latex cement. The article stated they used a mixture of Portland cement, sand, and latex paint over nylon window screen to make roofs for shelters for refugees in some third world countries. The source indicated that, ten years after they were made, the roofs were still perfect, and appeared to be stable, and would probably last forever.
Forever?
And that's when I decided to make my skirting out of latex cement.
I did only one end of the trailer as an experiment. I plan to do the front side of the home this summer, after I complete the papercrete wall I'm building.
This is a simple, relatively easy and inexpensive way to create skirting for a mobile home. You can probably come up with improvements to the process. If you do, let me know.
I cut "studs" from PVC pipe. These were two to three feet long, with a notch at the top so they could slip up under the little vinyl lip, and hole drilled through which to fasten in. I buried them four to six inches in the ground.
I attached nylon window screen to the pvc studs using little washerless screws. There might be a better way to do this.
The recipe for refugee roof latex cement is as follows;
First coat--
** one part latex paint (a "mistint" is about $5 a gallon if you have to buy it).
** one part water
** add Portland cement to make a paste-like slurry

Second and third coats:
** one part latex paint
** one part water
** then 3 parts sand to one part cement

Three coats dries to a hard shell.
Simply apply each coat with a brush after the previous coat dries. Three coats make a hard shell.
I had trouble attaching vents. The nylon window screen tends to sag with the weight of the first coat. Personally, I like the uneven finished surface, with it's bulges and sags, but it creates an uneven surface on which to attach the vents necessary to ventilate the crawl space.
I wound up cutting little frames for the vents from plywood, attaching them to the pvc pipe studs, and caulking behind them. These were rather cheesey black plastic vents purchased a few months back from Lowes with this very project in mind. I decorated them with some gold metallic spray paint, trying to simulate a sort of patina. I think a need I touch of green as well.
Anyway, cutting the frames from plywood gave me an idea of how to make my own vents.

7 comments:

  1. Holy cow! I thought I was the first to do this. I used 4x4s and carpet and burlap. Same idea from the same guy, just with some practical solutions to our problems.

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  2. Thank you so much for the idea. I have a house on pier and beam and I need skirting. I love the face you molded into the skirting. How is it holding up after 2 years?

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  3. I am making a garden sculpture and have used a concrete paper and vermiculite mixture squeezed into a wire mesh armature for a lighter weight core..... I have used a latex paint,cement,vermiculite powder mixture to make a clay to sculpt the fine features of the face... It worked like a dream to use but i just finished last night and now the doubts have set in..LOL it hasn't dried yet and I am in a little panic... do you think this will dry hard and weather resistant?

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  4. Oh wow, that's a great idea for installing skirting. I recently bought a mobile home and was thinking of putting up the skirting myself. This is the encouragement I needed :)
    Caravan Parks

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  5. Does acryllic paint work we have tons left over from painting our home ondoors.

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  6. Nicole, I've only used latex but I believe acrylic will work. I would make a test panel of an old window screen using the above recipe but with the acrylic you have on hand. Please see the method for making latex cement panels from window screens. Best of luck, and let me know.

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  7. Thank you so much for your reply I will let you know next year how it goes

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