How to Fix Up Old Trailer Homes

Jack S. Waverly

Older trailers built before 1976 conform to different building codes than those built later. Because of this, many of these older homes require repair and remodeling to be brought up to local building codes.

While repairing mobile homes is possible, determining the cost and time of repair depends on the age and condition of the mobile home.


Create a schedule for every phase of the project, and develop a budget both for each individual phase and for the project as a whole. You should end up with both a time line and an estimate for any financing needed for the project. Compare the repair costs with the estimated value of the trailer. If the trailer will be worth less, once repaired, than the cost of the repairs, it's time to decide if the trailer is worth repairing, and, if so, whether you can repair the trailer sufficiently for less money than your estimated budget.


  1. Inspect the trailer, both inside and outside. Look for holes, gaps or hanging pieces. Inspect any discolorations, warping or separation in seams and joints.Write the location and description of each problem down on paper.

  2. Level the trailer by setting bottle jacks underneath the joists. Set the jacks on blocks so they don’t sink into the ground. Raise the jacks until they come into contact with the trailer. Use a level to adjust the height of the jacks so the trailer is evenly seated. Stop here if you cannot level the trailer.

  3. Inspect the windows and doors. Open and close each one. Look for sticking or looseness. Identify gaps between the walls and window or door. If the trailer is level, there should be no gaps, and the windows or doors should open and close easily.

  4. Tear up one corner of the floor in each room. Note how easy or difficult it is to remove the flooring. If the floor comes up easily, inspect the subfloor for rot. Dark patches indicate wet wood. Discoloration of the wood and flaking wood or wood splitting into thin layers indicate rotting wood. Set the weight of your foot on the floor against the walls all around the room. If the floor feels soft or gives, you have more rotting wood. Stop here and inspect the underbelly of the trailer.

  5. Obtain prices from local home centers for materials needed. Use these prices as a guideline to calculate repair costs.


  1. Seal any cracks or holes. Use patch cement for ¼-inch wide or smaller areas. Put the cement into the crack and allow to dry. Use melted plastic for larger areas. Use hot plastic around gaps where pipes extend through the roof.

  2. Apply roof sealant over the entire roof in a clockwise rotation (to the right). Apply enough coats to thoroughly cover the roof. Let each coat dry for 12 hours before applying the next coat.

  3. Apply the finish coat. Use rollers to apply silvercoat to create a long-term roof sealant.


  1. Replace the windows and doors with regular home windows and doors. This improves both the lighting and energy-efficiency of the home.

  2. Apply weather stripping around the doors and windows to help insulate the home. Apply caulking around the seams where the window and door frames meet the walls to prevent moisture from entering the house.

  3. Replace the metal siding with house siding. This will reduce heat loss and keep the trailer cooler during warm days, and will last longer because it is made from vinyl instead of metal.

  4. Exchange the outside lighting with motion-activated lights. This saves energy and acts as a cheap security system.


  1. Upgrade the kitchen and bathroom. Replace all fixtures with energy-efficient house units. Replace any boilers or furnaces. Use wall-mounted heating units for easier cleaning and maintenance.

  2. Remove the flooring. Cut out damaged areas of the subfloor and walls. Replace with new wood cut to size. Install tile or carpeting over the finished subflooring.

  3. Replace the walls and ceilings with drywall. Add insulation between the exterior walls and the drywall. Install wood trim and molding along the edges of the drywall to create a finished look.

  4. Paint the walls and ceiling with light colors to add the appearance of space to the trailer.

  5. Replace old countertops and flooring. You may want to replace the cabinets if they are the original units. Construct built-in units for corners to increase storage within the rooms.