I need to do a few more things on the kitchen before I reveal the finished room. Today, I thought I would post about our spackling project. That is pretty much all my life was consumed with for many, many weeks. I was up to my eyeballs in the spackling of it all. I had to even take week-long breaks from the spackle so as not to go crazy.

How to cover seams on vinyl walls in manufactured homes - use tape and joint compound

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Supplies needed:

Drywall joint supplies

Please note, I am no drywall expert. I am a complete amateur. Amateurs should probably not spackle. It really is not a fun job and it is much harder than it looks! I did, however, get a lot of useful information here.

The first step in how to cover seams on vinyl walls (or a joint seam taping project) in a manufactured home is to wash down your walls. My house is at least 10 years old, so there is a lot of built-up gunk on the walls, especially since this is the kitchen.

Note: We had tried to just cover the seams originally with just spackle, and no tape. This was not a good idea. So, in some of the pictures, you can see the old spackle.

For the straight seams, you can use the self-adhesive mesh joint tape. The only tricky part of the mesh is that if you don’t cover it well with joint compound, you will see the mesh outline under your paint. We have a few spots in our house where the old homeowners did repairs and you can see the criss-cross pattern.

Mesh joint tape

The above picture shows the mesh tape added over our previous spackling attempt. Before starting, I sanded most of it off. Add a nice big helping of joint compound over the mesh tape.

First layer of joint compound

Smooth it down with your large drywall knife.

Smooth compound

Allow it to dry. Once dry, sand with a drywall sponge or other sander. As a personal note, this drywall sanding sponge works well but did not hold up for very long. It is nice because there is much less spackle dust being flung about, but the “sanding” part of the sponge came off after only a few uses. I ended up switching to regular sanding blocks.

Sand drywall seams after driedAfter one coat of spackle, your wall should look the picture shown below.

After first layer of joint compound

You can see streaks in the joint compound because of the wet sanding sponge and it wasn’t completely dry. Now you can see after the second coat of spackle, dry and sanded. Looking better already, right?

second coat of spackle

You have to add one more coat of joint compound and then sand it again. This will be your finish sanding, so pay special attention to this final one. We actually had some really awful seams that needed almost 5 coats of joint compound to make them look right. Ugh! I think at this point I was so sick of the whole project there were no pictures being taken of anything, so I apologize for not having a picture of the third coat.

The finished seam once primed and painted turned out really great. You would never know there used to be a seam there.

Finished seam after spackle, sanding and paint

Some tips I learned from experience with this whole project:

  • Do not use self-adhesive mesh joint tape in the corners. It does not work. At. All. The paper tape is not all that hard to work with. You lay down a coat of joint compound. Lightly wet the paper tape. Smoosh (that is a word, right?) it onto your seam. Cover the tape with more compound. Smooth it out with your drywall knife.
  • Make sure to do three coats of joint compound. It gives the project a professional look you won’t get with slapping one coat of joint compound on it and calling it done. Plus, if you only do one coat, there is a possibility of the tape lifting from the seam over time. We are having this problem in our bathroom where the previous homeowners must have only done one coat. I promise you will thank me for it when you are done. (Although feel free to curse this recommendation profusely while working on your project).
  • Drywall joint taping should be done before the rest of your house is finished, molding installed, etc. But, you can make it work if you have to after the fact. There is hope for you, if like me, you have had to look at hideously ugly vinyl wallpaper for five years or more.
  • The corner tool does not work if you have walls that are not level. I don’t think we have one plumb/level/square wall in our entire kitchen.

More kitchen posts:

13 Comments on Kitchen Makeover: Update #3 – Oh, the Spackle!

  1. Can this be done if you have previously painted the walls? They were primed before painting. My walls have the little ridges that go up and down the panel. You can still see the ridges after priming and two coats of paint. Did you skim coat the panel as the taped area would be smooth and the rest of the panel would show the ridges.

    • Alma,
      I am not a drywall professional so I am not really sure. I think you would be able to do this over painted walls, but would maybe need to be sanded first or possibly a coat of primer under where you are adding the tape. We have a similar situation in our laundry room that I will be tackling this summer. To make it all smooth in the kitchen, I applied joint compound, and then the tape, covering that with more joint compound. I allowed it to dry, sanded it, and repeated adding layers of joint compound and sanding between coats until I had a nice smooth surface. I explain it all in much more detail in the post. Hope that helps!

    • In process of doing home like this, except i am covering all the vinyl with skip coat of mud. Leaving some lines,a little extra mud for a bit of tecture that can be repaired if needed by a bit of mud. The best part about tbis approach is i don’t have to sand and i am leaving a dipped seam top and bottom for painting without taping crown,etc.

      • That sounds like a great plan to get it covered! The sanding was definitely the worst part. It was really time-consuming. However, I am still loving our finished walls. It has all held up really well.

  2. Laura, I am reviving a late 70s manufactured home. I would like to share it with others just like you are doing. Did you have to create a blog or can it be done inside Pinterest?

    • Most things on Pinterest are linked to either a blog or website. If you are wanting to simply share photos of your progress, a platform like Instagram may be a better route for you to share, as it is all images. Hope that helps!

  3. Hi Laura
    My husband and I just bought a manufactured home 17 years old and I took the strips off the seams of ours. used joint compound no tape,no sanding,the seams and where trim was removed etc.had my brother come in and he did a second coat of spackling to correct what i messed up and primed and textured the walls before spray painting ceilings and walls.still working on putting trim back up had to move in for the winter.
    But for me texturing made it like the newer homes are now.covers a multitude of sins.rent machines and supplies and do yourself.my brother just happened to be a painter.
    Just my story. No recommendations. Have fun on your next room

    • What is it that you mean by your brother having to fix what you messed up? Would it not work if using only joint compound and no tape? I am currently renovating my mobile home and have already removed the wall strips but not sure where to start next. Some have told me you could simply spackle the seams and call it a day haha. But here it seems that is not the case! Thanks in advance!

      • Sara,
        We had to fix where we tried to simply spackle over the seam. As the spackle dries, it cracks and sinks into the space left between the two wall boards. This situation gets worse over time as the home shifts and moves. Even if you are having your home re-leveled every few years, I feel like our manufactured home settles and shifts more than a site built home. The proper way to cover the seams is to use both the joint compound and the joint tape. You will get a much better looking finished project that will hold up over time. We completed this renovation in 2011 and the walls all still look great. The old homeowners did some covering of seams with either no joint tape or with very little joint compound, and we are having to go back over those places, sand them down and re-do them. Hope that helps!

  4. I’ve had my mobile home re-leveled only once in 30 years and it was expensive — $1800 for 2 or 3 hours work. I had leaking roof problems after that.

    • Linda,
      I am sorry to hear that. I have read recommendations to get it done every 2 – 5 years. Manufactured homes are certainly a different kind of house and require their own type of maintenance.

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