Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The good and bad of board & batten walls in manufactured homes

Board and batten walls are usually found in less expensive manufactured homes. In some of the nicer homes with them, sometimes you wouldn't know it was a manufactured home from the interior, except because of board and batten walls. At one time, board and batten was used on many stick-built homes also, but not so much anymore.

Also, when used in stick-built homes, the battens are usually evenly spaced, for aesthetics, or they are using boards which don't come in large sheets. Half walls in board and batten are more common. I watched a video of a person doing a board and batten wall on the entryway of a new home, and it seemed like a lot to go through. The wall looked fine before:

In manufactured homes, battens are placed for utilitarian considerations, to make the most efficient use of materials. Board & batten isn’t always aesthetically inferior. Some of the recent ones look great, and have finish which looks like linen or a finely woven fabric.

There are also smeary, blotchy, cloudy patterns which can look fine as long as it is subtle. When they get too strong they become overpowering. Here is one of those:

 And here's a home with both. The darker wall is a little too blotchy, too busy, and the adjacent lighter wall is good:

You can tell vinyl covered gypsum board (VOG) from paper covered board by the texture. Vinyl has a textured surface whereas paper is smooth. Vinyl is easy to clean. If a board is damaged, the best solution might be just to tape over the damage, and then put a poster, decoration or statue in front of it. If your home is relatively new, you might be able to order a replacement board from the manufacturer or through your local dealer.

Board and batten has some good qualities for use in manufactured homes. The boards can flex a little at the seams during transport, and therefore don’t crack. And they are lighter in weight. Those two reasons are why they are used in many RVs, instead of drywall. The board, in board and batten, is usually made of gypsum or contains gypsum, which is fireproof. I guess it can also be some other fibrous material, like fiberglass in some RVs.

Board and batten is quicker, cheaper and easier to install than drywall, and those are the three reasons it is used in manufactured homes. With drywall, joint taping is particularly time consuming. Multiple coats are applied and sanded down, with each of three applications of joint compound ("mud') overlapping the seam more. Then a finishing texture like orange peel finish is sprayed over the whole wall.

Board and batten doesn’t need any finishing or joint taping/sanding. The disadvantage of board and batten is that it doesn’t provide as tight an insulation envelope for a home.

Decades ago, there was a plague of dark, depressing fake wood paneling board and batten in manufactured homes. It can look nice painted white. This one came with a counter with shake roof:

Floral and other patterns in older manufactured homes look particularly goofy because the pattern on the battens usually doesn't line up with the patterns of the board. Floral patterns have mostly died out. In spite of the granny appeal, they looked cheap.

The main problem with the appearance of all board and batten in manufactured homes is the strips/battens between the panels. It disrupts the continuity of the walls, especially when the pattern on the batten doesn’t blend well. I have seen a couple surfaces on board and batten which would look better than drywall, but the strips covering the seams never look good.

Drywall gives a continuous surface which has become standard in stick-built home construction and it’s one of those things that in a manufactured home makes it just like stick-built. Some brands like Karsten and Solitaire do only drywall, and except for the lower end modular homes, all modular  home builders usually use only drywall.

You can paint vinyl-over-gypsum board and batten by first cleaning the wall, and then using an oil primer and then an oil paint. Both of those things are expensive and smelly. The oil primer can stink for weeks.

Finally, I'd like to give my opinion on what would make a good cloudy wall pattern, if you want to attempt this yourself. First is a photo of someone who got into doing this faux wall painting effect, but it's hideous.

Instead, what makes this come out well is using an extremely subtle variegation in color. It's not a solid color, but a variegated color which looks like an outdoor wall which has aged naturally. So, something like this:


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