Archive for the Tiny House Category

How To Choose Windows For Your Tiny House

How To Choose Windows For Your Tiny House

choosing tiny house windows

NAVIGATION

When I went to buy windows for my tiny house, I had no idea how many options there were. The choices you have when buying tiny house windows is dizzying, so let’s make the process as simple as possible.

tiny house window design ideas

How To Choose Tiny House Windows

how to choose tiny house windows

When it comes to windows, there are a few big things to consider. These boil down to cost, custom vs. stock, and styling. Windows should be one of the things you decide on pretty early because it takes a lot of time for them to come in. If you’re buying stock windows, it may be a few weeks, while custom windows can take 30 to 60 days to arrive.

Cost is going to be a huge factor in your decision. Simply put, you’ll either be able to afford custom windows or they will be so far out of your budget that you’ll have to go with stock. Beyond that, you’ll want to choose a style that suits your design. More on that soon.

Tiny House Windows Costs

Tiny House Windows Costs

One of the first things I learned very quickly is that windows are expensive! Even using stock windows, the cost really adds up. I spent about $6,500 on just windows for my tiny house, which is actually pretty comparable to a more traditional-sized home.

In a tiny house, you’re going to want a lot of windows to let in as much light as possible. The average traditional home of around 2,600 square feet has about 10 to 12 windows in the entire house. Compare that to my house of 150 square feet, which I have 12 windows in — kind of shocking when you think about it.

My windows were custom, averaging out to about $375 per window, plus one very expensive casement window and a skylight that opened which cost me about $600.

Using Reclaimed Windows

Using Reclaimed Windows

This is where a lot of people will begin to ask about using reclaimed windows. You may be able to find used windows, factory rejects, construction surplus, etc. at a very attractive price. I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and there will be many that don’t heed my advice. Those people will also be very sorry later on.

using reclaimed windows on a tiny houseUsing second-hand windows or reclaimed windows is a bad idea. First and foremost, it’s almost impossible to find second-hand windows that are tempered. You’ll be tempted to use untempered windows and that’s a really bad and frankly dangerous idea.

Unless your tiny house is built on a foundation, you must have tempered glass for all your windows. I’d go as far as saying this isn’t really even a question. Not only is it the law in many states, but it’s also a major safety concern. Tempered glass is much safer and if you ever move your tiny house, not having tempered glass will lead to a lot of broken glass (and wasted money) as you go down the road.

Beyond the issue of tempered glass, used windows also come with a lot of issues typically. The seals are broken, the windows don’t work well, the nailing fins are broken, or the housing is beat up. Windows are very precise things and if everything doesn’t go perfectly, you’ll have a drafty house that costs more to heat and will run into water issues that could cost you thousands.

For these reasons and many others, it’s best to buy new windows. Much like when people buy used trailers against my advice, it often ends up costing more in the long run, eating up any savings that were initially gained.

Custom Window Vs. Stock Windows For A Tiny House

Custom Window Vs Stock Windows For A Tiny House

When you plan your budget, realize that windows are going to be a pretty big percentage of that budget. Figure windows will be around 10% to 15% of your budget.

If you’ve finalized a budget, figure out what 10% of it is. If that number is $1,000 to $3,000, you’ll need to go all stock windows. If that works out to $5,000 or more, then custom windows are possible.

This decision is really a budgetary one — either you can afford it or not. Either way, it’s going to be expensive.

tiny house building checklist cta

Types Of Windows For A Tiny House

Types Of Windows For A Tiny House

One thing I didn’t think too much about is all the different types of windows and which kind were best for me. I chose a lot of awning windows for my tiny house, which are nice, but don’t allow for a ton of air flow. They are really great for when it rains, though, as you can open them up and not have to worry about water coming in.

I think a mix of window types is the best way to go, but double hung or fixed picture windows will be the cheapest. Below are some of your window options.

Awning

Awning windows

tiny house awning windows

Like I mentioned, I went with a lot of awning windows in my tiny house, but I wish I had a few more in a different style. Awning windows are hinged at the top and open outwards from the bottom. They’re good to have when you want the window open but don’t want to worry about rain coming in.

Awning windows are especially great in your loft, so you can crack them open while you’re sleep to allow fresh air in, while not having to worry about getting rained on in your sleep.

Casement

Casement windows

tiny house casement windows

The other style of windows I have in my tiny home is casement windows, and if I could do this all again, I’d have more of these. In particular, I’d have these at either end of my tiny house: one at the front, the other off the back near the kitchen.

This would allow a nice cross breeze to flow through the entire house when I want to cool things off or air things out. Having one of these near the kitchen would also help me better deal with kitchen smells, smoke, and other things I’d like to vent outward.

The downside to this style is that it’s usually about twice the price as double hung windows.

Double Hung Windows

Double Hung Windows

tiny house double hung windows
These are the most common windows, and that brings the benefit of economies of scale. This means you can find these windows for pretty affordable rates (relatively speaking) and they will perform pretty well, too. You also want to consider how easy it is to clean them and the material they’re made of.

Fixed Picture Windows

Fixed Picture Windows

tiny house fixed picture windows
These are a great way to allow in a lot of light without too much cost. Since they aren’t operable, you can save a good bit of money because they’re less complex. Additionally, since they don’t open, you can have much larger spans for your openings.

Slider Windows

Slider Windows

tiny house slider windows
Slider windows are basically a double hung turned on its side. These are good for places you might want to be able to reach through or some other specific need.

Louvre Windows

Louvre Windows

tiny house louvred windows
I thought I’d include these, but realistically they’re not very practical because of how much air leakage will occur. They’re also not secure, so in general, I’d pass on this style all together.

Bay Windows

Bay Windows

tiny house bay windows
Bay windows are one of those things I have a love/hate relationship with. Done well, they can be an amazing place to sit and read a book. How they’re most often done, however, is an awkward architectural feature that is prone to leaks. From the inside these usually look good, but on the outside, the odd bump out really can ruin the aesthetic very quickly.

Transom Windows

Transom Windows

tiny house transom windows
This is a great way to add more light around a front door, increase ventilation at the top of a bedroom door, or extend a traditional window’s height without a ton of extra cost. These come in two types: operable and fixed, with ones that open (operable) often costing double.

Hopper Windows

Hopper Windows

tiny house hopper windows
Hopper windows are basically the opposite of awning windows. They are hinged at the bottom and open out from the top. Often wider than they are tall, they’re used for passive house ventilation so that hot air can be passively vented out.

Skylight Windows

Skylight Windows

tiny house skylight windows
Skylights are one of those things that need to be installed very carefully so they don’t leak. Where possible, I don’t like to put any holes in my roof, no matter how well planned. You have two options: fixed and operable, with fixed usually being about three times cheaper than skylights that open. My go to brand on these is Velux.

Tiny House Window Materials

Tiny House Window Materials

Choosing the right material for your windows is a balance between cost, maintenance level, and looks. My tiny house has aluminum clad wood frame windows and while I love the look of them on the outside, I find them finicky to clean on the inside. I don’t think white vinyl windows would look good in my house, but the ease of cleaning and durability is definitely appealing.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass Window PROS

  • Low expansion rate
  • Paintable
  • Good thermal performance
  • Low maintenance

Fiberglass Window CONS

  • High cost

Vinyl Windows

Vinyl Windows

Vinyl Window PROS

  • Low maintenance
  • Low cost
  • Good thermal protection

Vinyl Window CONS

  • Non-paintable
  • Strength
  • Expansion and contraction

Clad Wood Windows

Clad Wood Windows

Clad Wood Window PROS

  • Low exterior maintenance
  • Color choices
  • Interior paintable/stainable
  • The look and feel of real wood
  • Hardware choices

Clad Wood Window CONS

  • High cost
  • Lack of exterior detail
  • Interior maintenance
  • Quality can vary

Wood Windows

Wood Windows

Wood Window PROS

  • Exterior architectural detail
  • Color choices
  • Thermal performance

Wood Window CONS

  • Exterior maintenance
  • High cost for quality

Aluminum Windows

Aluminum Windows

Aluminum Window PROS

  • Strength
  • Color choices
  • Low maintenance
  • Durability

Aluminum Window CONS

  • Quality varies
  • Low thermal performance
  • Thermal barrier issues

Steel Windows

Steel Windows

Steel Window PROS

  • Strength
  • Narrow sight lines
  • Color choices
  • Durability

Steel Window CONS

  • Feels cold
  • Commercial look
  • High cost

Glass Types

Glass Types

You also are going to have a lot of options when it comes to the type of glass you put in your tiny home, but you want to make sure that you choose glass that can withstand the impacts of driving down the road.

Tempered Glass For Tiny Homes

Tempered Glass For Tiny Homes

This is essentially safety glass just like your car windshield or a glass shower door. It’s treated with heat to be much stronger and, when it does break, breaks in to little small pieces instead of large shards, which can cause deep lacerations.

You’re going to want to buy tempered for every piece of glass in your house because the added strength will withstand all the bumps and jostles of the road. When you’re going down the highway at 60 mph and hit a big pothole, you’ll be glad you did.

Laminated Glass For Tiny Homes

Laminated Glass For Tiny Homes

This has become more and more popular mainly because Florida and other hurricane-prone states require it in code now. Laminated glass is essentially several pieces of glass layered with clear vinyl sheets so that if it does break, it will still hold together.

Laminated glass is more expensive than tempered glass by a good margin. A standard size laminated window will cost around $500, while a tempered window of the same specs will cost about $300. That said, you have the added benefit of increased security with these windows, so you might consider spending the extra money for glazing around your front door where someone might want to try and break in.

Plexiglass Windows For A Tiny House

Plexiglass Windows For A Tiny House

Let’s just put this one to bed. Many people considering plexiglass windows are doing so as a way to cut costs, and while the notion is a good one, the practicality of it falls short.

The main reason for this is that a standard window is a double pane window that is sealed with a gas between the panes. That adds a huge advantage in both insulation value and reduction of condensation. If you make your own windows with plexiglass, there isn’t a way to seal two panes of plexiglass, draw a vacuum, fill it with a more suitable gas, then create a long-lasting seal.

Using plexiglass as a storm window isn’t a bad idea for some protection, but it won’t meet any local code requirements if you’re in a storm-prone area that has special codes for windows. There may be some advantage in terms of insulation performance, but I’d be concerned about moisture buildup between my window and the storm window, which would lead me to want to vent it, negating any insulation benefit.

Double And Triple Pane Windows

Double And Triple Pane Windows

In a perfect world, we’d all have triple pane windows, but the added cost means we have to consider the benefit vs. our budgets. I’m still very split on this issue, but if I had a stack of extra cash, I’d probably put it toward better insulation first, then turn my attention to the windows.

In case you’re not familiar, windows are really bad insulators. Today’s windows have a ton of science and engineering baked into them, but even so, a good quality window might only be the equivalent R-value of 3 (technically U-factor of 0.20 to 1.20).

Compare that to your average wall which today is anywhere from R 23 to R 30, and you can see that’s a big difference. We take the hit in efficiency in exchange for comfort, natural light, and practicality.

Tiny House Window Ideas – Tiny House Window Photos

Tiny House Window Ideas

At the end of the day, having a ton of natural light in your tiny house can make your house a great place to live. Here are a bunch of photos of tiny house windows for you to get inspired when planning your tiny home windows.

Tiny House Window Designs

Tiny House Window Designs

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Tiny House With Big Windows

Tiny House With Big Windows

Think about which way your house will face when you park it and which way the sun will rise and set, then design a big wall of windows to capture all the natural light in your tiny house.

big windows in a tiny house
tiny house with lots of windows
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Tiny Houses With A Wall Of Windows

Tiny Houses With A Wall Of Windows

wall of windows in tiny house
tiny house wall of windows
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designing your tiny house

Tiny House With Accordion Windows

Tiny House With Accordion Windows

tiny house accordian windows
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tiny house accordian window

Tiny Houses With Fold Up Windows

Tiny Houses With Fold Up Windows

tiny house fold-up window
fold-up window in tiny home
tiny house fold-up window design

Tiny Houses With Stained Glass Windows

Tiny Houses With Stained Glass Windows

stained glass butterfly window in tiny house
tiny house with stained glass windows
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Tiny House Dormer Windows

Tiny House Dormer Windows

tiny house with dormer windows
dormer windows in tiny house on wheels
tiny house dormer windows
tiny home dormer with windows

Tiny House Loft Windows

Tiny House Loft Windows

tiny house loft windows
loft windows in tiny home
tiny home loft with windows
window in tiny house loft
tiny home loft with windows
slider window in tiny house loft
tiny house with skylight and loft windows
loft windows

Your Turn!

  • What are you planning on doing with your tiny house windows?

How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny House?

How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny House?

How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny House

NAVIGATION

If you’re considering building a tiny home, a good first question I get asked often is: How long does it take to build a tiny house? It typically takes 500 hours to build a tiny house.

This of course can vary depending on size, skill level, and complexity, but 500 hours to build a tiny house is often a good rule of thumb for the average DIYer. Professional builders who have a dedicated facility will be able to reduce this down to about 300 hours.

How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny House?

How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny Home

Like I mentioned, 500 hours is a good rule of thumb for the first-time tiny home builder who doesn’t have any hands-on experience building homes prior to starting. When I first started the build of my own tiny home, I had never constructed anything outside of a bat house in 8th grade shop class, so I was basically starting from scratch.

How Much Time I Spent Building My Tiny House

How Much Time I Spent Building My Tiny House

how to build a tiny houseEstimate how long you think it will take and double it; that advice rings so true.

During my own build, I would construct only on weekends since I had a full-time job. That process took me about a year of weekends when I factor out time off, waiting on materials, and dealing with burnout.

I was also mostly working alone, so if you have a partner that’s working with you, I’d expect you could reduce the time by about 30% if you are working on it together. I spent a lot of time moving between my saw and putting it all together—if you could get really good at measuring accurately and communicating that, you can have one person always building the house while the other cuts the next piece or fetches the next part.

Time Spent Gathering Materials

Time spent gathering materials to build a tiny house

No matter how well you plan, you’re going to have to make runs to the hardware store to buy more materials, get new tools, or find something you forgot. This really eats into your working time when you have to make an extra run to the store.

For me, the big box hardware store was about 20 minutes away, so all in, I would burn at least an hour for each run I made. What I started doing was purchasing everything I needed for that weekend on Friday night after work. Then I would drop it off at my work site and stage things for the next day so that I could start right away on Saturday morning without having to fuss with materials or shopping.

Building Schedule For Weekend Tiny House Building

Schedule for weekend tiny house building

This schedule is what I found worked best for me as a weekend warrior to maximize my time and learn everything I needed to for the building process. Since I was totally new to building, each week I’d figure out what I needed to do next, then learn how to do it.

This process actually worked out really well because I was able to learn things as I needed to without getting overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of building an entire house all at once. This also let me relax a bit from doing all the manual labor, because a lot of research I could do right from my couch.

Monday Building Schedule
Tuesday Building Schedule
Wednesday Building Schedule
Thursday Building Schedule
Friday Building Schedule
Weekend Building Schedule

Time To Build A Tiny House Breakdown

time to build a tiny house breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the hours it took to build my tiny house for each major task. These are estimates and are based off a first time Do It Yourselfer.

Keep in mind that though these estimates may seem higher than you expected, the trick with tiny homes is that there are a lot of fiddley details. Where normal houses benefit from a lot of long, straight runs, tiny houses have many small details. You’re always having to work around the trailer and build in lots of nooks, plus all the tolerances are so tight that being even 1/8 of an inch off could really mess with your plans.

Building Task Hours
Leveling Trailer 2
Establishing Tie Down Point 5
Building Sub-Floor Framing 5
Insulating Sub-Floor 2
Adding Sub-Floor Decking 3
Framing Exterior Walls 16
Sheathing Exterior Walls 10
Cutting Roof Rafters 16
Installing Roof Rafters 8
Adding Roof Decking 16
Adding Roofing 16
Adding Fascis 6
Installing Windows 4
Installing Doors 4
Installing House Trim 16
Installing Exterior Siding 32
Painting or Staining Exterior 16
Building Task Hours
Rough-In Plumbing 32
Rough-In Electrical 32
Install Shower 8
Install Toilet 8
HVAC Install 16
Insulating 32
Install Interior Wall Material 40
Installing Flooring 16
Constructing Built In Furniture 40
Constructing Kitchen Cabinets 40
Installing Countertops With Sink & Stove 6
Finish Plumbing 8
Finish Electrical 16
Finish Trim 16
Finish Paint Or Stain 8
Final Details 8
Final Cleaning 4

Total amount of time to build the average tiny house: 507 hours


Timing Your Material Orders

timing your material orders

Ordering lead times for certain items will be an important part of your tiny house build schedule. There are some items that you can just pick up, while others are special ordered and have major lead times.

Ideally you want these items to come in right before you need them so you’re not waiting of them to arrive, but you’re also not having to store them where they might get damaged before you install them. If you’re building outside, this can be a big deal—no matter how much I tarped, rain always found a way in!

Lead Time For Materials

Lead Time For Materials

Item Lead Time
Trailer 30 Days
Windows 45 Days
Doors 45 Days
Flooring 20 Days
Shower Insert 30 Days
Appliances 30 Days
Siding 15 Days

Things That Will Slow Your Build Process Down

things that will slow your building process

There are quite a few things that can get in your way outside of material logistics and the learning process. I found this out the hard way, so hopefully these tips can help you spot them ahead of time.

Dealing With Burn Out

Dealing With Burn Out

Burn out is a major deal when it comes to building a tiny house. I didn’t account for this when I first started and there was a period when I just couldn’t make myself do anything, so I ended up taking about two months off during the summer.

Professional builders are used to the long days of construction, but for most DIYers, the work can take its toll. Even if you’re able to keep up with it, I find that working a full-time job during the week and building on the weekend really added up to be too much.

At the time of me building my own tiny home, I was working in a corporate desk job that I’d classify as a knowledge worker. The contrast of cerebral and digital work when compared to the very tactile work of building a house was a great, but it also meant I was running full steam in every type of work, all the time, which can very easily lead to total exhaustion.

Dealing With Weather

Dealing With Weather

If I could change one thing about how I built my tiny house, it would be to build it in an enclosed space—ideally climate controlled, but just having a solid roof would be a game changer. The biggest challenge for me was the heat because living in North Carolina meant that there was a good chunk of the year that was very hot and humid.

dealing with weather when building outsideThe tipping point for me during my burn out was installing floors during June in the South. I distinctly remember dreading the work because I’d have to be on my hands and knees so much and it was going to be hot. I showed up that day with a dozen 24-ounce bottles of water, and to make sure I drank enough, I would set an alarm on my phone for every 30 minutes. That day I drank all 12 of those 24-ounce bottles, and that night when I got home, I realized I had only peed once the entire day—the rest I sweated out. That night I was so sick, having never experienced heatstroke, it was awful. I ended up laying on the couch for two whole days. That’s when I decided I was taking the rest of the summer off.

Setting Up And Breaking Down

Setting Up And Breaking Down

I never factored this in, but since I was building outside in an open field, every morning I had to setup my cut station, my air compressor, and more. Then at night I had to lock it all back up so nothing would get stolen or rained on.

I got to the point where I could do it pretty quickly, but it still took me about 30 minutes on either end of the day. That was an entire hour per work day I could have been building. If I had a shop or building to work in, I could just have all my tools laid out so I didn’t have to put it away each night.

Another thing I did each night was cleaning up the job site. I was building was in view of my neighbors, so to be a good neighbor I wanted to make things as tidy as I could.

Things You Can Do To Save Time On Your Build

Things you can do to save time on your build

When you’re building an entire house, you want to do everything you can to save time. In addition to following the weekly plan above, there are a few things you can do to cut down on time in your build.

Have The Right Tools

Have The Right Tools

Having the right tools can make all the difference, and making sure you spend your dollars in the right places will have a big impact. You’ll be using your miter saw and impact driver a lot, so make sure you get high-quality ones.

tiny house tools

Use Pneumatic Nail Guns And A Compressor

Use Pneumatic Nail Guns And A Compressor

I’ve seen some people shy away from nail guns and other pneumatic tools, but this is a big mistake. The labor savings of air tools is huge and the time it saves really adds up. The big thing to realize is that these nail guns mean you don’t have to hammer, which saves a lot of energy, meaning you can work longer with less fatigue.

Meal Prep

Meal Prep

simple eating for while you build your tiny homeHaving food made ahead of time for lunch and snacks on the job site will stop you from having to go and get food. You also want to make sure you’re eating the right foods that will give you plenty of energy, replenish your electrolytes, and not cause any after lunch energy slumps.

For me, that meant I showed up with coffee in hand and would have eggs for breakfast before. Then during the day I’d keep protein bars, jerky, and trail mix in my car ready to snack on. At lunch I’d have a sandwich, an apple, and lots of water to drink. I’d also keep a lot of electrolyte drinks on hand to replace what I would sweat out during the day.

In a given build day, I’d drink 32 ounces of water before I left the house, a half a gallon of water/sports drinks during the day, and then another 32 ounces of water when I got home.

Finally, it was a big help to have dinner already prepped when I got home. I’d put it in the oven while I showered and changed, then relax all night, drinking plenty of water.

Start With A Tiny House Shell

Start With A Tiny House Shell

A great way to short cut the build process is to buy a tiny house shell, then build from there. This is a good approach to save some money, but also save some time.

Tiny House Shells


Your Turn!

  • What tips do you have to save time during your tiny house build?

Tiny House Kitchen Cabinets – Ryan’s Design Guide To Kitchen Cabinets

Tiny House Kitchen Cabinets – Ryan’s Design Guide To Kitchen Cabinets

tiny house kitchen cabinetsThere weren’t many places that I obsessed over as much as I did my kitchen when designing my tiny house. I love to cook, so I knew I had to have the perfect kitchen cabinet design in my tiny house. Storage is also a big deal in a tiny home, so planning out your cabinets is a must to maximize every square inch.

NAVIGATION

kitchen base cabinetsBase Cabinetskitchen wall cabinetsWall Cabinetskitchen tall cabinetsTall Cabinetstiny house cabinet tipsBuilding CabinetsinformationCabinet Tips

One point I like to make right up front is that there are some standard kitchen cabinet dimensions and building practices, but you should seriously consider if “the way it’s done” is right for you. A good example from my own tiny house is that I chose to make my kitchen cabinets taller than normal for more storage and a working height right for me.

I’m going to get into some creative tiny house kitchen cabinet ideas, but first I want to go over standard dimensions.

Tiny House Base Cabinets: Height, Depth, and Width

tiny house base kitchen cabinets

Your base cabinets in your tiny house are the mainstay of your kitchen and often are the bulk of your kitchen storage because people like to keep their home as open as possible. That means most of the storage space and working surfaces are made up of base cabinets, unless there is an exterior wall you can take advantage of.

Standard Dimensions For Tiny House Base Cabinets

standard dimensions for tiny house base kitchen cabinets

Standard Dimensions For Tiny House Base Cabinets
Height Without Countertop 34 1/2 inches
Height With Countertop 35 – 36 inches
Depth Wall To Cabinet Front 24 inches
Depth With Countertop 25 – 26 inches
Standard Widths 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 42, 48 Inches

tiny house base cabinets

Base Cabinet Height

base cabinet height

A typical tiny house base cabinet is 35 inches tall. This does include the counter top, but keep in mind that if you’re building custom cabinets, you can build what’s right for you.

Base Cabinet Depth

base cabinet depth

Standard cabinet depths are usually 24 inches deep on the outside dimension. This does not include the counter top, which is usually made to overhang by about an inch or two so you can more easily catch crumbs when wiping the countertop clean.

pro tipConsider what is going work for you, but remember that a lot of this is driven by appliance depth and sink size. For sinks, you’ll need enough room to install your sink and the faucet. One trick I used was to get a sink that wasn’t very deep front to back, then I also mounted my faucet to the side, allowing me to mount the sink as far back as I could to maximize space.

Base Cabinet Widths

base cabinet width

The width of your cabinets really can be whatever you want, but you’ll find off-the-shelf cabinet options in 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, and 48-inch options. Keep in mind that you’ll need certain widths to fit a sink or cook top. When you get above 18 inches, you’ll typically find they’re built with two doors instead of a single door.

tiny house kitchen ideas and inspiration

Tiny House Wall Cabinets: Height, Depth, and Width

tiny house wall cabinets

Cabinets mounted on your wall are built differently than those meant to be used for base cabinets, which include a base frame and toe kick, whereas wall cabinets don’t need these. You’ll also find that wall cabinets have trim pieces or molding added to the top.

Standard Dimensions For Tiny House Wall Cabinets

standard dimensions for wall cabinets

Standard Dimensions For Tiny House Wall Cabinets
Standard Heights 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 42 inches
Standard Depths 12, 15, 18, 24 inches
Standard Widths 9 to 48 inches, in 3 inch increments

tiny house wall cabinets

Wall Cabinet Height

wall cabinet height

Your wall cabinets will be mounted on the wall and often will find a home under a tiny house loft, so general rule of thumb for height is to run it from where ever you want the bottom to start all the way up to your loft floor or ceiling. Use your judgement here to keep things looking normal, but typically these are a standard height of 36 inches, plus any trim or molding you might add.

Wall Cabinet Depth

wall cabinet depth

Usually, you want to keep the depth of your wall cabinets pretty shallow—the standard wall cabinet depth is 12 inches on the outside dimensions. Really this can be any depth you want, but make sure you’re not obstructing your counter top so that it’s still comfortable to work at.

Wall Cabinet Width

wall cabinet width

The width of wall cabinets is similar to your base cabinets—you typically want to match the width of the base cabinets so your doors align vertically top and bottom. This just ensures a more pleasing look to your whole kitchen. In general, you’ll find top cabinets in widths from 12 inches up to 48 inches, often in 3-inch increments.

Distance Between Base And Wall Cabinets

Distance Between Base And Wall Cabinets

When you hang your wall cabinets, you want them high enough above your counter top so that you can easily work. The typical distance is 18 inches, but some prefer to do 24 inches.

tiny house tools

Tiny House Tall Cabinets: Height, Depth, and Width

tiny house tall cabinets

Tall cabinets are sometimes referred to as built-in pantries and they span from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. These are really helpful for storing your brooms and mops with long handles.

A smart way to use one of these is to “book end” your kitchen with a tall cabinet to more clearly define the start and end of the kitchen space. A floor-to-ceiling line helps make that transition really clean.

Standard Dimensions For Tiny House Tall Cabinets

Standard Dimensions For Tiny House Tall Cabinets
Standard Heights 84 or 96 inches
Standard Depths 12 or 24 inches
Standard Widths 12, 24, or 36 inches

tiny house tall cabinets

Tall Cabinet Height

tall cabinet height

Tall kitchen cabinets are typically 84 or 96 inches tall. A 96-inch tall cabinet will run from floor to ceiling in a standard 8-foot room. In a tiny house, you’re going to have a lot of nonstandard ceiling heights, so my advice is to build to the ceiling for maximum storage space.

Tall Cabinet Depth

tall cabinet depth

Usually this will be either 12 inches deep or the same depth as your base cabinets, depending on how it’s being used. If you’re able to put one of these at the end of your kitchen in a corner, you’ll gain a ton of storage space.

This also works great as pantry, given the huge volume. Consider installing pull-out drawers instead of simple shelves to make the most of the depth. Otherwise, you might lose stuff in the back because it will be out of sight, out of mind.

Tall Cabinet Width

tall cabinet width

Typically, these are 12, 24, of 36 inches wide, but you can build to suit. If you go much bigger than 36 inches, you might want to consider having two separate tall cabinets instead of one really wide one. This breaks it up and helps you organize a little better.

designing your tiny home

Building Tiny House Kitchen Cabinets

building tiny house kitchen cabinets

Like I said at the beginning of this post, there is standard practice when building cabinets, and then there are some unconventional methods that I’ll suggest to maximize space.

Standard Cabinet Construction

standard cabinet construction

While cabinets are often custom made, they all revolve around a modular approach. They typically utilize 12, 24, or 48-inch width combinations so that they can be assembled into many possible configurations.

Everything revolves around the cabinet box or housing. This is essentially a plywood box with an open front that sits upon a wooden frame. Instead of one solid piece, the top of the box is usually just strips of wood so that you can access the bottom of the counter top when it comes time to install, allowing you to secure it from underneath.

base kitchen cabinet construction

The front of the box is often left open to apply a face frame made of solid wood with a nice finish. The edges of the plywood box are pretty rough, so adding a face frame to the front of it makes things look really nice.

You want to look for cabinets or build them yourself out of a good quality plywood. Baltic Birch veneer plywood is commonly used because it’s stable, has a nice surface, and can take both paint and stain very well. Veneer plywood comes in other species of wood to best suit your taste, too.

For the first-time woodworker, you might think that a solid wood piece would be preferred, but that kind of dimensional lumber will expand and contract with the temperature and humidity, which leads to warping.

Plywood is a more stable option because it has several layers of wood that are oriented in different directions, which means that if it does move, another layer of the plywood is likely moving in the opposite direction, canceling out the movement.

Tiny House Style Cabinet Construction

tiny house style cabinet construction

My biggest tip here is instead of building your cabinet boxes in a shop, build them in place in your tiny house. This way, the back of your cabinet boxes can be the rear wall of your kitchen, giving you a few inches extra of space. I’d also suggest still having a base frame that your cabinets sit on—this allows you to have a recessed area for your feet to fit into—but turn that space into a drawer for even more storage.

tiny house kitchen cabinet drawer
tiny house storage ideas

Use Pocket Hole Screws To Assemble

use pocket hole screws to assemble

kreg pocket hole jigSome traditional wood workers will knock pocket hole joinery, but I invite you to join me on the dark side: Pocket holes are really useful in cabinet making because you’re joining a lot of sheet goods like plywood together with butt joints.

Pocket holes also have the advantage of being very simple to make with off-the-shelf jigs like the Kreg Jig, a system I’ve used a lot and like. Another advantage is that you can join plywood together from the inside or backside of something and it doesn’t show on the front face, leaving a very polished look without all the complication of other methods.

If you’re new to woodworking, also know that you’ll want to use a good wood glue like Titebond Original. The pocket hole screws will let you assemble your cabinets quickly, but really they’re giving the glue time to set. Wood glue will actually have more holding power than your fasteners once cured.

Tiny House Cabinet Tips:

tiny house cabinet tips

Don’t Forget Your Material Thickness

Many new DIYers will take measurements and forget that the plywood they have takes up space too. Generally, people are building cabinets with ¾-inch thick plywood.

Consider The Space Drawer Slides Take Up

Much like with materials, people sometimes forget to account for the space a drawer slider takes up on either side of your drawers. A nice upgrade is to get under-mount slides which cost a bit more, but look nicer.

Consider The Dimension Of Odd Shaped Items

Something that can really mess you up is not planning for things like pan handles, tall mops and brooms, and oddly shaped counter top appliances. Take inventory of everything you’ll need to find space for and plan accordingly.

Choose A Coating That’s Super Easy To Clean

You want a really durable finish on your cabinet that also wipes down well. Different paint finishes or doing a clear seal coat can help with this.

Mount Your Sink Faucet To The Side

If you’re in a tight space, consider mounting the faucet to the side of your sink. Typically, the faucet is mounted behind the sink on the counter right in the middle. This adds to the required depth needed. I chose a single basin sink with a larger faucet head that could reach to the middle of the sink when mounted to the side.

Only Mount Wall Cabinets On Required Walls

Adding wall cabinets can break up a space and leave it feeling less open because it reduces the sight lines in a tiny home. I try to only mount these on my exterior wall or on a wall that’s required, like the outside of the bathroom wall.

Don’t Forget The Trash Can

I made this mistake, so take it from me: You want a pull-out trash can as one of your cabinets.

Your Turn!

  • What kind of tiny house cabinet design are you considering?

Why You Need To Be Using Propane In Your Tiny House

Why You Need To Be Using Propane In Your Tiny House

why use propane in a tiny houseMany people look to propane in their tiny house because it’s a practical way to heat, cook, and generate power. It’s also widely available and pretty affordable to boot, while the broad array of propane appliances and applications makes it practical, especially if you’re living off the grid.

NAVIGATION

Why You Should Use Propane In A Tiny House

why you should use propane in a tiny house

As I mentioned, propane is an ideal way to run your tiny house mainly because of three things: It’s practical, portable, and affordable. When I first started designing my tiny home, I hesitated when it came to propane because it’s a non-renewable fossil fuel. But after crunching the numbers, it was the only realistic way I was going to be able to go off grid.

Propane is Practical In A Tiny House

Propane is Practical In A Tiny House

Propane is a very versatile accelerant when compared to what else is out there. A gallon of propane is equivalent to about 27 kilowatt-hours, which is a lot especially for the density. You can get a lot of use out of a small amount with minimal downsides and, all in all, it’s pretty safe.

solar power for tiny housesIf you want to live off the grid, you’ll quickly realize that propane is the only practical way to do so. People often have aspirations of getting by entirely on solar power or using firewood, and while both have their place, they also have practical limits.

When planning, I drew up budgets for my solar array with two scenarios: one using propane, the other avoiding propane. The difference in system costs was an additional $60,000 for panels and batteries that do not need propane. I have been living off the grid using a mixture of solar power and propane for over eight years now. Trust me when I say that propane needs to be part of the mix.

Propane Is Portable

Propane Is Portable

The portability of propane is a really nice feature and makes it even more practical. I use 20 lb. propane tanks to do everything with my tiny house. At that size I can easily carry them around and swap out empty tanks. I can also quickly load up the tanks in my car when it comes time to fill up.

Propane In A Tiny House Is Affordable

Propane In A Tiny House Is Affordable

Because 20 lb. tanks are so widely available, they’re easy to find at a price that won’t break the bank. All in, I spend about $100 a year in propane for everything. I cook a lot, grill a lot, take long showers, and more. In general, I set aside $15 a month to cover propane costs including the cost to retire and replace tanks when they get too old over time.

How Much Propane Does A Tiny House Use?

How Much Propane Does A Tiny House Use

Like I said, I use 20 lb. propane tanks to do everything with my tiny house and have eight tanks in total. That includes one tank for my gas stove top and hot water heater, one for my outdoor gas grill, one for my outdoor shower in the summer, and one for my back up heater, plus backup tanks.

heating a tiny houseI only get propane once a year, so eight tanks is perfect for my needs. Typically I use one 20 lb. tank every three months for cooking and heating water, for a total of four per year. I use one or two for supplementary heat per year. Then my grill uses two or three per year. My eight tanks usually last me about a year, give or take.

Keep in mind that I cook three square meals a day, every day. I also love taking long hot showers, and on workout days, that may mean two showers per day. I also love to grill, so three to four nights a week I grill out. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may use more or less.

How To Install Propane In A Tiny House

How To Install Propane In A Tiny House

My general advice is to leave this one to the professionals. Hiring a plumber to run your gas lines in your tiny house will run you around $1,000 all in and, in my mind, that’s money well spent. However, if you want to try installing it yourself, I have a few suggestions.

Tiny House Propane Diagram

Tiny House Propane Diagram

tiny house propane delivery system diagram

Keep Your Propane Lines As Simple As Possible

Keep Your Propane Lines As Simple As Possible

The fewer connections and junctions in your propane lines, the fewer places there are for gas to leak. My suggestion is to centralize your propane lines to one end of the house, use an exterior mounted tankless hot water heater, and have your stove top right on the other side of the wall where that tankless heather is.

This keeps most of the gas lines outside of your house and shortens the runs for your gas lines.

Test All Your Connections By Spraying Soapy Water

Test All Your Connections By Spraying Soapy Water

Once you have your system set up, make sure you check each and every connection by spraying a mixture of water and dish soap. This will get your connections all sudsy and, if there is a leak with the gas turned on, you’ll see small bubbles form.

Have A Gas Leak Detector

Have A Gas Leak Detector

In addition to your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, you should consider having a gas leak detector like this one off Amazon for only $20.

Tiny House Appliances To Run On Propane

Tiny House Appliances To Run On Propane

There are different appliances you can consider running with propane in your tiny house. I mainly run my hot water heater and cooktop, but I’ve talked with different tiny house folks to get them to weigh in on the suggestions below.

Tiny House Propane Heaters

Tiny House Propane Heaters

I use propane as a backup for heating in my tiny house. Since I live off the grid, there are times that I’m running low on power in my battery bank. This is particularly the case in the winter, since the days are so short.

I use a Mr. Heater Propane Radiant Heater that I’ve had for years now and works really well. These are specifically designed to be used indoors and include a low oxygen sensor shutoff and a tip over shut off.

The one downside is also the major upside. It is designed to be unvented, so it’s super simple to setup, but if you don’t know, propane heaters like this put off a lot of moisture into the air — about 32 ounces of water per gallon of propane burned.

The other option is the Dickson Propane Fireplace. This one is pretty expensive, but it’s the only heater I found that is low enough BTUs for my tiny house AND is direct vent. That makes it a big winner in my book.

portable propane heater
wall mounted propane heater
tiny home propane heater
propane heater in tiny house

How Many BTUs To Heat A Tiny House: 4,000-6,000 BTUs

This is highly dependent on your climate, but for my climate in NC, where the winter can get down into the 20s and 30s at night, 4,000 BTUs is just about right, and sometimes even too much.

Propane Hot Water Heaters For A Tiny House

Propane Hot Water Heaters For A Tiny House

I love, love, love my tankless hot water heater and the gas options make it so simple. I’ve talked about my tankless hot water heater for my tiny house before, and also how I don’t recommend the popular RV-500. If you’ve never had a tankless before, they’re great. Endless hot water yet much smaller and lighter than traditional tanked versions, which is a huge plus.

tiny house tankless hot water heaters

Rinnai
V53DeP
Precision Temp RV-550 Eco Temp
L5
Eco Temp
L10
Rheem
RTEX-11
Rinnai V53DeP Precision Temp RV-550 Eco Temp L5 Eco Temp L10 Rheem RTEX-11
My Ranking
Flow Rate 5.3 GPM 1.5 GPM 1.5 GPM 2.9 GPM 2.68 GPM
Energy Type Propane/Natural Gas Propane Propane Propane Propane
Why Consider Best performance and build quality Good option for 12-volt systems Great for outdoor showers Budget friendly with good functionality Super compact
Who Is It Best For General and off-grid water heating RVs Weekend cabins and seasonal outdoor showers Budget-minded tiny house folks Those on the grid
Price $550 $1,195 $129 $349 $275
BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW

tiny house hot water heater comparison

Tiny House Propane Cook Tops And Stoves

Tiny House Propane Cook Tops And Stoves

I’ve used just about every kind of cooktop out there and if I wasn’t off the grid, I’m not sure what I’d choose between an induction, glass top, or gas range. I’ve used all three and liked them all.

That said, my tiny house has a propane cook top, which is made by Verona. I chose that one because it was one of the few two-burner models out there. The funny thing is that it’s not meant to be used as a main cooktop, rather as a secondary one, but I was able to buy it stand-alone and it’s worked out great!

tiny home propane cooktop
propane cooktop in tiny house
small kitchen poropane cooktop
propane cooktop

tiny house kitchen inspiration

Tiny House Propane Fireplaces

Tiny House Propane Fireplaces

Some people really like having the look of a fireplace without all the ash and smoke. For me, I found that a nice Wood Wick candle will bathe my entire house in a very soothing light that I love. There are also nice small wood stove options out there, the Dickerson Marine Stove, and then various gas inserts you can choose from.

The hardest part here is finding one that is small enough and with a blower that doesn’t take too much power. Venting is also a concern, because the flue pipe sometimes is required to be quite big to vent properly.

propane fireplace in tiny home
advantages of propane fireplace
tiny house gas fireplace
tiny home propane fireplace
small propane fireplace
propane fireplace

tiny house heating options

Propane Generators For A Tiny House

Propane Generators For Tiny Houses

If I could do one thing differently about my solar panel system, it would be to have a backup propane generator be part of the system. I may still do this because my inverter actually can sense when the batteries are low and automatically start the generator to run until the batteries are topped off and then shut down.

generac generator

Generac 6998 Guardian Series 7.5kW – Propane Generator

Generac is one of the top brands of standby generators on the market and a 7.5 kW generator is a great size to power almost everything in your tiny house without any sacrifices. Connected to your existing LP or natural gas fuel supply, it kicks in within seconds of sensing power loss automatically and runs for as long as necessary until utility power returns.

Kohler Generator

Kohler 6 kW Generator – 6VSG – Propane Generator

The generator made for renewable energy, including solar power or other remote applications. The KOHLER 6VSG battery-charging generator efficiently charges battery banks when renewable energy sources can’t keep up with demand. If your battery charge drops below a pre-set level, the 6VSG charges it automatically.

Briggs and Stratton Generator

Briggs & Stratton 40626 12kW – Propane Generator

Standby generators offer a new upgraded control system that features multi-line text and graphics, programmable exercise times, and a low-speed idle mode to save fuel and reduce noise. A new automatic voltage regulator communicates directly with the controller to help optimize generator performance and deliver tighter voltage control.

Your Turn!

  • How are you planning on using propane in your tiny house?

What I Wish I Knew About Tiny House Siding

What I Wish I Knew About Tiny House Siding

tiny house siding

Tiny house siding is one of those things that can have a huge impact on the look and maintenance of your tiny home in the long term. When I built my tiny house, I sided it with cedar clapboard siding and, while I’m pretty happy with it, I wish I had known about other tiny house siding options.

NAVIGATION

Choosing The Right Tiny House Siding Material

choosing the right siding material

In this case, I don’t think there is necessarily a “best” siding material, but there certainly is a “right for me” material. The two biggest factors are the right style for your home and what your budget is.

choosing the best siding for your tiny house

Tiny House Siding Styles

Tiny House Siding Styles

how to build a tiny houseWhen it comes to tiny houses, the biggest mistake I see people make from a design perspective is not choosing a design aesthetic and sticking to it. People often have a list of “cool ideas” from Pinterest and the mashup creates a Frankenstein house that doesn’t look good.

Before I’m accused of being a purist, let me say that I’m less concerned about adhering to tradition and more concerned about a practical design that works well. The various traditional styles of houses have developed over time because they were practical to their climate. The materials they use are suited to their climate, they’re organized in a practical way for low maintenance, and they stand on their own as a design style because they’ve been iterated to a point where they are visually appealing.

A Spanish villa has adobe walls and a clay tile roof, not because it looks good, but because it’s very practical for that environment: a hot, dry climate where heat is a bigger concern than water or cold winters. Colonial homes, on the other hand, have clean, simple lines and are often just a box shape with not a lot of decorations. This is because when settlers built them, they were simple to build for a practical life in a British colony where everyday life was difficult and resources were scarce.

Tiny House Siding Costs

Tiny House Siding Costs

Price is the main thing most people concern themselves with and for good reason—siding can be expensive and most of us are on a budget. I always say that your roof and your trailer are places you should always buy the best, even if you have to make some sacrifices in other areas. After that, I’d say prioritize windows and doors, and then finally insulation and siding.

Your siding is one of the largest exterior surfaces of your tiny home, so you want to make a good decision because it requires a good bit of upkeep and it protects your sheathing and wall framing. Luckily, because a tiny house is so small, you can buy some pretty high-quality siding materials and it won’t add up to much cost.

For example, cedar siding would normally cost an exorbitant sum of money for a traditional home, but for my tiny house, I spent about $1,000 to trim out and side my entire house in it. Check out my tiny house cost guide to see more about what expenses you can factor into your build.

Life Expectancy (yrs) Cost Per Sq/Ft Cost/Year Ratio
Pine Wood Siding 10 $3 .3
Fir Wood Siding 15 $4 .26
Cedar Wood Siding 20 $6 .3
LP SmartSide 20 $3.50 .175
Hardie Board 30 $4 .13
T1-11 20 $1 .05
Vinyl Siding 30 $.85 .02
Corrugated Metal Siding 40 $1.25 .03
Standing Seam Metal 50 $5 .1
Aluminum Siding 30 $4 .1

tiny house siding costs table

Tiny House Siding Options

tiny house siding options

Hopefully you’ve narrowed down your options for your siding based on your budget and your house style, but I thought I’d break down the different options for siding your tiny home. When choosing cladding, while material and cost are big factors, you also want to consider how much your siding weighs, how durable it is, how easy it is to install, and more.

Average Lifespan Cost Per Sq/Ft Weight Per Sq/Ft Ease of Install Durability Bug/Mold Resistance Fastening Method
Pine Wood Siding 10 $3 .3 Stainless Nail
Fir Wood Siding 15 $4 .26 Stainless Nail
Cedar Wood Siding 20 $6 .3 Stainless Nail
LP SmartSide 20 $3.50 .175 Hot Dipped / Stainless
Hardie Board 30 $4 .13 Hot Dipped / Stainless
T1-11 20 $1 .05 Hot Dipped / Stainless
Vinyl Siding 30 $.85 .02 Hot Dipped / Stainless
Corrugated Metal Siding 40 $1.25 .03 Hex Screw w/EPDM Washer
Standing Seam Metal 50 $5 .1 Coated Exterior / Stainless
Aluminum Siding 30 $4 .1 Hot Dipped

siding options table