With over 22 million people owning manufactured homes in the United States, one can only imagine how many questions arise on a regular basis. One of the most popular is that of removing walls in a mobile home. Can it be done?
Separating living areas, numerous manufactured homes have oddly angled walls, weirdly designed built-ins, and pony walls. The possibility of the removal of these walls is pursued by some mobile homeowners due to today’s popularity of open floor plans.
When removing mobile home walls, the main concern is the knowledge of which of them are load-bearing. Let’s take a look at removing walls and mobile home construction.
Can You Remove Your Mobile Home Walls?
Several variables come into play when discussing wall removal in mobile homes, including your layout and your home’s construction type. Also worthy of consideration is how much you want to remove the walls and how much you want to spend on the project. If you want it badly enough, let’s face it, just about anything is possible. However, long-term side effects and costs may discourage you in some cases.
Single Wide Walls and Structural Integrity
Typically, in a single wide mobile home, there are very few load-bearing walls. This doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t be careful about which walls you remove. The integrity and stability of manufactured homes are derived, most typically, from the roof. The exterior walls carry the weight down to the chassis outriggers.
This concept can either be referred to as “roof down construction” or “integrated engineering”. The roof is responsible for the structural integrity of the unit.
Double Wide Wall Removal – Load Bearing Walls/Marriage Lines
In a double wide, modifying the marriage line can weaken structural integrity, create roof leaks, and a number of other issues that end up being very expensive. If you’re going to remove a marriage line wall in a double wide, make sure you know an awful lot about construction. You must correctly redistribute any weight the wall was holding. It takes construction knowledge, experience, and lots of math.
A popular method of redistributing the weight is with a post support system or beam and span. However, you’ll likely want to get a licensed engineer and professional contractor involved. A domino effect could be caused by modifications because manufactured homes are designed in a very specific way.
Mobile Home Wall Removal
There is an order in which you should remove interior walls:
- Shut off water and electricity (even in neighboring rooms)
- Test for plumbing and wiring
- Remove battens and trim
- Deal with flooring as needed
- A little bit at a time, remove the wall. No framing or studs should be touched yet
- From the subfloor, loosen the bottom plate
- Midway between the ceiling and the floor, cut the studs with a Sawzall. When removing the studs, also remove any screws, staples, or nails and pry the lumber carefully from the attached walls and floor, taking care not to damage the ceiling. Remove the bottom and top plates
Your Best Rule of Thumb
When it comes to removing mobile home walls, here’s your best rule of thumb: Leave the structural walls alone but remove all the partition walls you want.
Unless you are an avid do-it-yourselfer, have all the tools you could need, know exactly what to shop for where materials are concerned and have some experience with home construction projects, you should probably hire a contractor or a super-talented friend to handle this kind of project. You may end up needing a professional electrician, custom builder, and/or plumber if mistakes are made!