Skirts are installed around the bottoms of mobile homes, or manufactured homes, to insulate from the weather, particularly the cold, keep out rodents, and for aesthetic reasons. Manufactured homes with skirts look settled and more like a stick-built home and may appraise higher. Perhaps the most important reason, however, concerns financing. Double wide manufactured homes that are less than 10 years old and anchored to land by a permanent skirt may, depending upon current underwriting guidelines, be eligible for mortgage financing, an important feature in the event of a refinance or resale.
Bales of Hay
Hay bales are quick and economical. They provide protection from the cold and will help to prevent pipes from freezing. However, they are not as good for keeping out rodents and may actually invite rodents. Mice and other small animals like to burrow into hay.
Aesthetically, skirting with stacked hay bales is the least desirable option. It looks temporary---and usually it is. They serve well as a stopgap measure, but as a permanent solution, they don't work. They will become sodden and deteriorate in the weather. They may also grow mould. They do not add value to the home.
Vinyl slats are sometimes included with the mobile purchase; sometimes the buyer is charged extra. They are installed by inserting them into secured upper and lower tracks. They look and work much better than nothing, but after hay bales, they are the least desirable aesthetically and otherwise. Flying debris from the lawnmower, weed whackers and even high winds can damage them, and if the home shifts, they may buckle.
Simulated Brick or Rock Panels
These are also made from vinyl, but a heavier vinyl that has greater insulating value than the cheaper vinyl panels. Like standard vinyl panels, they are installed by inserting them into secured tracks. They are less susceptible to damage from yard care, and some come with access doors kits, so that owners and workers can more easily crawl under the mobile home for routine repairs and maintenance. They may also be flame retardant.
Plywood or Particle Board
Plywood and particle board skirting was, for awhile, a good choice. It can look better than the cheapest vinyl products and it holds up better. It is also usually less expensive than a heavy gauge vinyl product. However, it tends to warp, and after awhile, it will begin to splinter. Maintenance is also an issue. It has to be kept painted to protect it from the elements. Also, the edge that touches the ground will begin to rot after a while.
Simulated Brick or Stone
This is a relatively new sturdier, more attractive, and more energy efficient product than other manufactured skirting products. The panels consist of a thick layer of polystyrene backing with a cement or masonry facing. To lend strength, fibreglass mesh is inserted between the layers. The panels are set as much as 4 inches into the ground and inserted into a secured track at the bottom of the mobile home. They also come with vents for improved air circulation. This product gives mobile homes a much more stick-built appearance and can also raise the appraised value. Visually, it is hard to tell the difference between it and a block foundation with an attractive masonry facade For financing purposes, a bank is more likely to regard this product as permanent.
Real Brick or Cinderblock
Building a real brick facade on breeze block as skirting is initially more labour intensive, but it looks good and holds up well. The cost of purchasing and installing it will be higher. It should also be installed on a cement pad, a further expense.
Before installing skirting, check with your local zoning office to ensure that you comply with local standards. Also, states and many communities have manufactured home associations. They will also have information on local requirements regarding mobile home care and standards.