Tiny houses on wheels are moveable homes typically situated on a trailer. These can provide an affordable option to explore multiple locations while still having the comforts of home. Of course, there are several reasons that people build tiny houses. But one thing is for sure, they provide an alternative to the traditional homeowner experience.
Many choose to build their own tiny houses to save money. This is something that can be done yourself as long as you do your research and have the patience to learn along the way. Planning before you start is critical to tiny home success.
The first thing you’ll need to consider is the building materials. You’ll want to choose durable and low-maintenance tiny house building materials because you may move from place to place. You don’t want to have to fix things all the time, and you want to be prepared for several different environments furthering the need to be durable.
There are six main components to building a tiny home, so let’s look at some durable and low-maintenance tiny house building materials for each section.
The first thing you’ll build for your tiny house is the structure. Most people use wood because it is durable, readily available, and can be customized to any size with simple cuts. Another option would be to use a lightweight metal. Work with a steel fabricator to ensure the most durable product. Some offer custom design services and easy-assembly steel frame kits.
Regardless of which you choose, both wood and metal will be relatively maintenance-free and will hold up over time.
The exterior siding is just as important as a solid frame because it will have to endure the elements and high winds during travel. Aluminum siding is the top choice for maintenance and durability concerns, and aluminum can withstand frequent moisture like rain and snow and, once installed, is very secure. Additionally, aluminum siding doesn’t require much maintenance other than a quick wash every once in a while.
If you want an alternative to aluminum siding, cedar or cypress planks can be an option because those types of wood are more resistant to water. However, you’ll want to ensure that you still keep it sealed and watch for any cracking, rotting, or bugs.
Check out this how-to guide for maintaining cedar siding on a tiny house on wheels.
As far as the interior goes, the best materials to use are wood and metal. Wood slat or sheet paneling is durable and maintenance-free if you are going to maintain a relatively dry space.
If you plan to be very active and bring in a lot of wet items and utilize your tiny home as more of an indoor/outdoor combo space, metal would be a better option because it is more waterproof. But it's not the best for creating a cozy feeling. Though, might be good for an entryway space.
With that said, water damage to interior walls isn't a top concern. Ease of cleaning is more of an issue. Because of how often surfaces get used in a tiny house, walls can get dingy quickly. Using semi-gloss or gloss paint is a good idea for easy wipe-downs.
The one material you want to avoid for the walls of your tiny home is sheetrock because it is not durable in a small space and adds far too much weight.
Like the exterior siding of your tiny home, your roof will be exposed to the elements. Two of the best roofing materials for tiny houses are torch-down roofing and metal roofing. Both are durable and require little maintenance, but with both, you will always want to ensure you put a waterproof lining down underneath for further protection.
Metal roofing is the number choice for long-term durability and aesthetics.
Insulation is a vital component of any tiny home. We often focus on insulation from the walls, but a lot of energy transfer is from underneath structures. The best insulation for radiant heat is below-grade insulation. Below-grade insulation goes underneath the floor or structure to prevent heat loss or heat retention from below. With tiny homes, most use polystyrene boards and spray foam because they can fit anywhere. Additionally, you can set it and forget it. There is no maintenance, and it will last as long as the tiny home.
Closed-cell spray foam is one of the most common kinds of spray foam used for tiny house insulation. This unique chemical sprays on in a thin coat on the interior of the walls, then begins to expand and solidify, making a thick insulating layer in the walls. In addition to the high R-value, it also minimizes sound transfer and acts as an extra structural component (acts like glue).
If you're looking for a non-toxic yet durable alternative, sheep's wool insulation is a good option. It can last a lifetime when properly installed.
The flooring in your tiny home is going to take a lot of abuse because, with so little space, every inch of the floor will be regularly used instead of just high traffic areas in a standard-sized home. Durability is the most important for flooring, but it should also be easy to clean and maintenance-free. Faux wood flooring is one of the best material options because it is virtually waterproof, durable, and requires no maintenance.
There are many faux wood flooring options. Faux wood flooring options include laminate, luxury vinyl, and softwood foam tiles. Each has its own benefits, so do your research and pick the best for you. Waterproof options tend to cost more but are well worth it in the long run.
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When planning your build, consider these durable and low-maintenance tiny house building materials and get the rest of your questions answered across TinyHouseBuild.com.
Guest Post by Matt Lee
Matt Lee is the Innovative Building Materials blog owner and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.
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