Posts Tagged Construction

Tiny House Doors – What I Wish I Knew + Design Ideas

Tiny House Doors – What I Wish I Knew + Design Ideas

tiny house doors

I did a lot right when I built my tiny house over a decade ago now, but there are a few things I’d change if I could go back, one of them being the door on my tiny house. Building a door for your tiny home is akin to building furniture and woodworking; Had I known that before, I’d have gone a different direction with my tiny house door.

NAVIGATION

The Basics Of Tiny House Doors

the basics of tiny house doors

A door is made up of rails that form what looks like almost a picture frame, and within it you’ll float panels. All that comes together to make the door, which is then seated into the door casing or door frame. You’ll then add your door hardware like locks, hinges, thresholds, and sweeps.

anatomy of a door diagram

tiny house door design ideas

Tiny House Door Dimensions

Tiny House Door Dimensions

One thing you’ll quickly learn about building a tiny house is that normal building materials are scaled to a big house size, so if you use them on your tiny home, they’ll look weird and out of proportion. That means there will be a lot of things in your build that you either have to build from scratch or get creative with when finding a solution.

One of the great things about tiny houses is that you can design it for your needs and preferences, and the door on your tiny home is no different. I designed the doorway on my tiny home to be 30 inches wide because, when I measured my shoulders, they were 27 inches across.

I also designed the door to be 3 inches taller than I was (73 inches tall) so I could walk through it without any trouble, but I didn’t want to make it any bigger than it needed to be. That was really important because it kept the scale of my front door smaller than normal.

tiny house dimensions

Tiny House Door Height: 80 Inches

tiny house door height

The standard door height for a tiny house is 80 inches. This size accommodates most people and is also required by building codes in most places. You may want to consider scaling this down depending on the size of your tiny home and the design you choose. In some designs it will look great, while in others it may look too big and mess with the proportions.

Tiny House Door Width: 36 Inches

tiny house door width

width rulerThe standard door width for a tiny house is 36 inches. This makes for a really spacious entryway and again, is required by code. One thing to consider is if you have any big items: a couch, shower stall, mattress, and appliances will need to be able to fit through your tiny house door after you’re done building. You may need to build some of these in place because they can’t fit after the fact.

Tiny House Door Thickness: 2 Inches

Tiny House Door Thickness

depth rulerThe average tiny house door is about 2 inches thick. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and code doesn’t come into play here much, but security and standard door casings will push you into a 2 inch-thick door for your tiny house most likely.

Tiny House Door Rough Opening Width: 38 Inches

Tiny House Door Rough Opening Width

width rulerThe average tiny house door rough opening is 38 inches wide. The rough opening is the part of your wall framing that you complete before you install your door frame, which holds your door. This is one thing that I think first time builders can forget: your rough opening isn’t sized for the door, but rather for the door frame (which, again, holds the door itself).

Tiny House Door Rough Opening Height: 82.5 Inches

Tiny House Door Rough Opening Height

tiny house door rough opening heightThe typical height for a rough opening for a tiny house door is 82.5 inches. This accounts for the door frame and that threshold.

Door Rough Opening Chart

Door Rough Opening Chart

Here is a chart to help you size your door’s rough opening.

Door Size Rough Opening
24″ x 80″ 26″ x 82-1/2″
28″ x 80″ 30″ x 82-1/2″
30″ x 80″ 32″ x 82-1/2″
32″ x 80″ 34″ x 82-1/2″
34″ x 80″ 36″ x 82-1/2″
36″ x 80″ 38″ x 82-1/2″
how to build a tiny house

How To Build A Tiny House Door

How To Build A Tiny House Door

Like I mentioned, doors are complicated to build. As a first-time builder of anything, I didn’t realize what an art form building a door really is. I was just learning the ins and outs of woodworking, and by the time I got to building my door, I had only just begun to get comfortable with my table saw. I was nowhere near ready to build a door and, if I’m honest, I still wouldn’t be ready today.

Tiny house doors are tricky because they need to be incredibly precise. There is a lot of joinery involved, it has to be very straight, you have to do a lot of work to keep the pieces of wood from twisting and warping, and it needs to seal really well against the door frame.

tiny house building checklist cta

Tiny House Door Assembly Diagram

Tiny House Door Assembly Diagram

Here is a diagram of all the parts that go into building a door for your tiny house.

tiny house door assembly diagram

Tiny House Door Jamb Diagram

Tiny House Door Jamb Diagram

To get a better idea of how the door sits in the door frame and the frame is mounted into the rough opening of your wall framing, here is a door jamb diagram.

tiny house door jamb diagram

Tiny House Door Threshold Diagram

Tiny House Door Threshold Diagram

Here is a detail I wish I knew when I built my tiny house. The threshold is the bottom of the door frame where it seals to the wall and deals with any water that may come into contact with the door and drip down.

tiny house door threshold diagram

Tiny House Door Tips

Tiny House Door Tips

As I said, there are a few things that I wish I had done differently with my tiny house door when I built it. While I spent a lot of time planning out my build, there was still a lot I had to change on the fly and lessons I learned the hard way. As they say, hind sight is 20/20.

Consider Buying Instead Of Building

Consider Buying Instead Of Building

I think that building a door is certainly possible, but it is also very difficult. When you buy doors, they are very expensive—even off the shelf standard doors will run you around $400 and up. That said, I think that buying a door made by a company that does so every day using advanced materials is a huge advantage.

Realize You’re Not Saving A Lot Of Money With DIY Doors

Realize You’re Not Saving A Lot Of Money With DIY Doors

My door all in cost me about $400 for the materials, plus $120 for the double pane bare window I bought to put in it. I also put in about 30 hours of labor to assemble it. If I had instead spent 30 hours working and used that money to buy a nice custom door, I’d end up thousands of dollars ahead and have a much higher quality door.

how much does a tiny house cost

Buy A Stock Door Where Possible

Consider Buying Instead Of Building

Stock doors are mass produced and you can usually find a good value between quality and price. To give you a rough idea of costs, a stock door can run around $500 while a custom door starts at around $900 and is easy to get into the $1,500 range.

Don’t Forget Your Interior Doors For A Tiny House

Don’t Forget Your Interior Doors For A Tiny House

One thing that stands out to me when I walk through other homes after gaining so much experience building is the quality of interior doors. Like anything, it can be a really easy thing to overlook, but there is just something very pleasing about good interior doors.

People fawn over granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and other obvious upgrades, but a house with nice solid interior doors screams high quality more than most things. The reason for this is that it’s a subtle detail that penny pinchers and showy people skip over as unimportant. When you talk with a homebuilder that’s passionate about their craft, they always make sure the seemingly little details are done right too.

tiny house kitchen ideas
tiny house bathrooms

Tiny House Door Ideas – Design Photos

tiny house door ideas and photos

There are many great ideas out there when it comes to your tiny house door design. The choices you make in your tiny home around your door can set the tone because it’s the focal point of the outside of your house. There are a lot of subtle design choices that go into a door and, like I said before, they really are the labor of talented craftsman—art pieces in their own right.

Tiny House Front Door Photos

Tiny House Front Door Photos

The entryway to your tiny house sets the tone for your entire design. One great way to draw the eye in is with a bright color, like a tiny house with a red front door.

design and build collection

glass fornt door on tiny home
tiny house solid wood front door
tiny house standard front door
tiny home modern front door
tiny home red front door
tiny home wood entry door
split entry door on tiny home
wood door on tiny house
reclaimed front door on tiny home
five panel door on tiny house
tiny house unique entry door
aframe front door
solid wood entry door on tiny house
entry door on tiny house
front door on tiny house
tiny home entry door
tiny house entry door
tiny house entrance door
tiny house entrance door
tiny house front door
glass front door on tiny house
tiny home front door
tiny home glass front door
design and build a tiny house book

Tiny Houses With French Doors – Double Doors

Tiny Houses With French Doors

Having French doors on the front of your tiny house is a great way to let in a lot of light and open the space up even more.

french doors on container home
french doors on small house
tiny house with glass french doors
tiny house with modern french doors
rustic tiny house french doors
open french doors on tiny house
french entry doors on tiny house
french doors on tiny house
frenc h doors on tiny home kitchen
contemporary tiny house french doors
tiny house french doors design
french entry doors on modern tiny house
french doors on tiny home
tiny house glass french doors

Tiny Houses With Glass Garage Doors

Tiny Houses With Glass Garage Doors

Tiny houses with glass garage doors that open up are very popular these days and for good reason. Living tiny also means extending your inside space outside to a deck or patio.

One thing to realize with these doors is that they’re pretty much impossible to air seal, which will dramatically reduce the efficiency of your tiny home. While most brands go to a lot of effort to seal these well with rubber strips, flaps, and gaskets, they still aren’t very air tight. That means heating and cooling your tiny house will be much harder.

glass garage door on tiny house
glass garage door on tiny home
glass garage door on tiny home bedroom
glass garage door on small house
glass garage door on tiny home
tiny home with garage door wall
tiny house with garage door wall
tiny home with garage door wall
garage door on tiny house
tiny home with garage door

tiny house windows

Tiny House Barn Doors

Tiny House Barn Doors

Barn doors are all the rage right now and for good reason: they can be used to add a door where a swinging door wouldn’t be possible because of the small space. Barn door rails and roller hardware is becoming a bit more affordable—there are even some great DIY options too.

tiny house with barn doors
tiny home with interior barn door
barn door in tiny home
barn door in tiny home kitchen
barn door i n tiny house kitchen
tiny home with accent barn door
tiny house barn door design
tiny house with barn door as ladder
tiny house barn door style
barn door in tiny house kitchen

Tiny House Pocket Doors

Tiny House Pocket Doors

Pocket doors are my favorite option for small spaces. They require planning and you can’t put them in walls where plumbing or electrical are needed, but they’re well worth it. I like these much better than barn doors, personally. Just make sure you buy a really high-quality pocket door hardware kit and good frame.

pocket door in tiny home
tiny house pocket door

tiny house building checklist cta

Your Turn!

  • What are you going to do for your tiny house doors?

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?

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

Pine Wood Siding

Pine Wood Siding

Pine Wood Siding
lowest cost
pine wood siding
Lifespan 10 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $3
Weight per Sq/Ft 1.5 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Stainless Nail

Pine board is about the cheapest siding option you’re going to get outside of T1-11. This lap siding can last about 10 to 15 years if you install it properly and give it regular maintenance. This siding is great for a more traditional look, and lap siding performs really well.

Since pine is prone to rotting if not installed or dried properly, it’s recommended that you stain or paint all sides of your siding before installing, including exposed sides from any cuts you make. Additionally, a rain screen is a great idea to help keep both sides of the siding dry.

It’s also important to note that the cell structure of pine makes it a wood that is less stable. This means that it’s more prone to movement, warping, and twisting.

PROS

  • Inexpensive
  • Widely available
  • Easy to work with

CONS

  • Doesn’t last as long as some options
  • Prone to rot and bug damage
  • Soft wood marks and dents easily

Douglas Fir Wood Siding

Douglas Fir Wood Siding

Douglas Fir Wood Siding
douglas fir wood siding
Lifespan 15 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $4
Weight per Sq/Ft 1.8 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Stainless Nail

Douglas fir siding is a slight bump in cost over pine board siding, but has a few minor advantages. The main one being that when comparing similar grades of wood, Douglas fir has a tighter grain structure and more stable grain lines. This means the siding will be a bit more durable and less prone to warp and twist.

As a more stable wood option, it will be easier to work with because you’ll have less work to flex the siding into alignment as you hang it. It’s important to note that all wood will have movement, will warp, and can twist, but fir is less likely to and when it does, it’s usually not as drastic.

In most cases, the price difference will be minimal or possibly negligible, so this is usually an easy upgrade.

PROS

  • Inexpensive
  • Less wood movement than pine
  • Easy to install
  • Widely available

CONS

  • Doesn’t last as long as some options
  • Prone to rot
  • Prone to bug damage
  • Not as durable as some other options

Cedar Wood Siding

Cedar Wood Siding

Cedar Wood Siding
cedar wood siding
Lifespan 20 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $6
Weight per Sq/Ft 1.6 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Stainless Nail

Cedar siding is probably your best bet if you want to have wood siding. While I’m usually pretty insistent that your exteriors should be metal or composites, cedar is the next best thing if you can’t afford those options.

Cedar wood in naturally rot and bug resistant, however I’ve found that carpenter bees really love my cedar fascia boards on my tiny house. Overall, though, I’ve found that my cedar siding has held up really well. After 7 years, I decided to sand my entire house down and re-stain it. The whole process took about 25 hours of sanding and then about 2 hours to stain it again.

Cedar is more expensive, but if you’re going to go with wood, it’s the best option. I spent around $1,000 for my siding and trim. If I were to do it all again, I’d go with Hardie board, even though doing so would change the aesthetic of my tiny house a lot—right now it’s a craftsman feel, which I love.

PROS

  • Bug and rot resistant
  • Longer lasting than other woods
  • Easy to work with

CONS

  • Most expensive of wood options
  • Not totally bug resistant
  • Still requires maintenance

LP SmartSide

LP SmartSide

LP Smartside Siding
best value
lp smartside
Lifespan 20 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $3.50
Weight per Sq/Ft 2.5 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Hot Dipped

LP SmartSide Siding is a new player on the market just in the past year or so, and I feel like it’s something to keep an eye on. My hesitation with it is the fact that it’s still made of a wood material, though it has been treated and processed to be much more durable.

In all honesty, I’m not sure it’s worth the up charge, because it falls prey to many of the downsides of wood and is less forgiving when it gets wet. It’s roughly 10-15% cheaper than Hardie board but doesn’t have the same extensive warranty.

I’ll set aside the issue of actually getting the companies to hold up their side of the bargain in warranty claims, as that’s a whole can of worms in its own right. That said, LP SmartSide siding has a 5/50 year warranty, meaning it’s a full-coverage warranty for the first 5 years, then is prorated down 2.2% each year after that.

Hardie board comes with a flat 30-year warranty without any tricky math, which I think says a lot about the quality, even if it can be difficult to get either company to handle warranty claims. For 10-15% more, Hardie seems the way to go for me.

PROS

  • Longer lasting than traditional wood
  • Reasonable cost vs performance
  • Manufactured good is more stable
  • Has a warranty

CONS

  • Still made of wood product
  • Newer on the market
  • Price might not be worth it
  • Special order item

Hardie Board / Cement Board Siding

Hardie Board

Hardie Board Siding
ryans choice
hardie board siding
Lifespan 20 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $4
Weight per Sq/Ft 2.3 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Hot Dipped

Hardie Board is my personal recommendation because the material is very durable, is manufactured for a crisp finish, and is a very stable material. If you live in areas with wildfires, this siding is also rated to be fire resistant in addition to being very resistant to bug damage.

Hardie board (and the competition’s version of cement board) blends cement, fine sand, wood fibers, and water to make its substrate. I’ve heard from a lot of home owners with this that they love this siding. There are some particulars on installation that you need to get right, but if you do, this siding will last you for decades.

What is more, they now offer pre-painted boards that are factory applied which is significantly more durable than being hand-painted even with high-quality paints. These pre-painted board reduce a ton of time on labor and are painted on all sides, meaning that while there is a higher cost for the product itself, the cost savings of not requiring house painters can meanbreaking even or saving money on your build.

The downsides are that it is more expensive than most options, it can be more difficult to cut because of the cement, and it’s also one of the heavier siding options.

pro tipHardie board comes in standard lap siding, board and batten, large sheets, and trim pieces so you can use it on almost any tiny house design style.

PROS

  • Very durable
  • Long lasting
  • Bug and rot resistant
  • Factory painted option available

CONS

  • More expensive than most
  • More difficult to work with and to cut
  • Requires respirator while cutting
  • Heavier than other options

T1-11 Siding

t111 siding

T1-11 Siding
t111 siding
Lifespan 20 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $1
Weight per Sq/Ft 1.8 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Hot Dipped

If you don’t know what this product is, it’s essentially made of wood pulp with some bonding agent that’s treated and coated into a 4 by 8-foot sheet. This stuff was popular in the 80s but has since fallen out of use. It’s very inexpensive and since it comes in sheets, you can clad a tiny house very quickly.

I’ll just be blunt here: T1-11 is a bad idea for so many reasons. It is very popular for sheds because it’s cheap, and while T1-11 and its modern equivalents have certainly progressed in many ways over the years, it’s still a poor choice.

The companies selling these products will make some pretty big claims about its ability to deal with moisture. But I’ve found that this stuff quickly rots, molds, and falls apart when in contact with moisture. In fact, I’ve seen this happen enough times that I’d never use the stuff.

PROS

  • Inexpensive
  • Covers a lot of area quickly
  • Widely available

CONS

  • Prone to moisture damage
  • Fake wood look
  • Not very durable

Vinyl Siding

vinyl siding

Vinyl Siding
vinyl siding
Lifespan 30 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $.85
Weight per Sq/Ft .45 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Hot Dipped

Vinyl siding is an attractive option for tiny houses because it’s affordable, it’s very light weight, and — being a composite — it doesn’t rot like wood. There have been many tiny homes built with vinyl siding because of all these reasons, but one major drawback is that it’s prone to coming loose while driving down the road as you tow your tiny house.

The light-weight nature of vinyl siding has some big advantages. For one, the price comes in as one of the most affordable options, letting you side your tiny home for as little as $600. Compare that to cedar siding which would be about $1,000 for the same house or Hardie board for $1,600.

That said, this is one place where I’d rather save up to get top of the line given the difference between the cheapest option (vinyl) and the premium option (Hardie board) is only $1,000. I’m a big proponent of spending money in certain places while saving in others, and this is one place I’d delay building to save up for the better option if I had to.

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Very affordable
  • Rot resistant

CONS

  • Can come off while towing
  • Has been known to melt or mildew
  • Less premium feel

Corrugated Metal Siding

Corrugated Metal Siding

Corrugated Metal Siding
corrugated siding
Lifespan 40 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $1.25
Weight per Sq/Ft 1.2 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Hex Screw

This is an interesting option because corrugated metal sheets are extremely durable, large so you can cover big areas quickly, andvery affordable. These panels also have the benefit of being bug and rot resistant and will protect your home in wildfires if your local code requires that.

Most of these panels are now galvanized and will not rust for a very long time, though some people prefer the rust for a weathered look. The two downsides are that it can be hard to cut because it’s metal and, because it can be a condensing surface, a rain screen is a must.

You’ll want to use EPDM washer screws which should last you 10 years or so, at which time they’ll need to be replaced. However, these aren’t totally necessary because it’s a vertical surface, and with a good rainscreen you should be fine.
This type of cladding definitely falls into the modern category, or maybe a rustic ranch look.

PROS

  • Very affordable
  • Very durable
  • Covers a large area quickly
  • Fire, rot, and bug resistant

CONS

  • Can be tricky to cut
  • Works with specific design styles
  • Requires a rain screen
  • Condensing surface could lead to moisture issues

Standing Seam Metal Siding

standing seam metal siding

Standing Seam Metal Siding
most durable
standing seam metal siding
Lifespan 50 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $5
Weight per Sq/Ft 1.3 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Stainless Nail

If I were building a very modern looking house, this would be my siding of choice for both the roof and the siding of my tiny home. Standing seam is a very durable and high-quality material that has all the benefits of corrugated metalbut with a cleaner look and the added benefit of being a hidden fastener attachment, meaning that there are no fastener holes exposed for water to leak in through.

Because this is metal, moisture condensing on a cool side is something you need to manage for, so I’d suggest a great rain screen with enough space for air to dry behind your metal walls.

The downsides to this is that it’s one of the most expensive options out there and I’ve found that it often requires professional installation. If you have a very simple install (read: a perfect square box) then it may be possible to do yourself, but most of the trim is often custom made to make sure it fits tightly.

PROS

  • Clean lines
  • Very durable – 50 years
  • Covers a large area quickly
  • Fire, rot, and bug resistant

CONS

  • Very expensive
  • Hard to work with
  • May require professional installers
  • Special order item

Aluminum Siding

Aluminum Siding

Aluminum Siding
aluminum siding
Lifespan 40 Years
Cost per Sq/Ft $4
Weight per Sq/Ft 1.2 lbs
Ease of Install
Durability
Bug Resistance
Fastening Method Hot DIpped

This has largely fallen by the wayside, because while there are a lot of benefits, the cost/benefit ratio just doesn’t seem to be there. At this cost, it’s only a little cheaper than standing seam metal and it’s the same cost as Hardie board.

While it is lightweight and durable, I’d say it’s best to look elsewhere.

aluminum siding on house

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Bug and rot resistant

CONS

  • Higher cost
  • Less availability at local stores
  • May require professional installation

Siding Design Styles

siding design styles for a tiny house

You have several choices in the design style of your tiny house siding. Here are some of the popular styles you’ll find.

lap sidingLap Siding

bead and board sidingBoard and Batten Siding

clapboard sidingClapboard Siding

cedar shake sidingCedar Shake Siding

scalloped sidingScalloped Siding

corrugated metal sidingCorrugated Metal Siding

standing seam metal sidingStanding Seam Metal Siding

dutch lap sidingDutch Lap Siding

beaded sidingBeaded Siding


Low Maintenance Exterior Options For Tiny Houses

low maintenence exterior options for a tiny house

One of the big questions with any exterior siding is what’s the expected maintenance, as many people are looking for options that will be a low-maintenance option. The best advice I can give you is to consider options that are composites or coated metals.

Another factor to consider is your environment. Is your house located under a tree that drops sap, leaves, or needles? Is your climate particularly rainy or brutally hot? If so, be sure to consider these factors.

You also want to make sure that your tiny home design helps protect the siding with good overhangs. I’d suggest at least one-foot overhangs on your tiny home.

Finally, you want to be sure that the ground around the base of your home has gravel and drains well. Having gravel from your house edge out about two feet will help prevent water from hardpan developing and thus reduce back splash onto your siding. Where possible, have your house’s trailer mounted up at least one foot off the ground.

Siding Maintenance Chart

Siding Maintenance Chart

tiny house siding maintenance chart

Exterior Trim

exterior trim options for a tiny house

Trim pieces are the elements that frame the actual siding. Your doors, windows, and corners of the house are traditionally “trimmed out” first, then your siding is added from the bottom up.

Exterior Trim Material Options

exterior trim material options

You have several options for the material that you trim your house with. In general, you’ll want to use the same type of material you side your house with, but there may not be options available or they may be hard to find.

If you do have to mix siding and trim materials, you’re going to want to be sure your paint looks the same and account for variation in expansion and contraction coefficient. For example, metal will expand differently than wood when it gets hot.

Wood Trim

PROS

  • Least expensive
  • Widely available
  • Easy to work with

CONS

  • Prone to rot
  • Not super durable
  • Prone to bug infiltration

Fiber Cement Trim

PROS

  • Long lasting
  • Low maintenance
  • More stable

CONS

  • Higher cost
  • Special order item
  • Difficult to work with

Cellular PVC Trim

PROS

  • Long lasting
  • Low maintenance
  • Widely available

CONS

  • More costly
  • Prone to expansion/contraction
  • May take paint differently than wood
[Ron this image was from the how to build book page 151]

Door Casing

Door Casing

door and window casingAfter you’ve framed out your door’s rough opening, you’re going to drop in your door frame and shim it. At that point, you’ll want to trim out the door so it looks presentable and allows you to have a clean edge to butt your siding up against.

Window Trim

Window Trim

Your window trim is handled the same way your door is. After dropping your window into the rough opening, flashing, and shimming it, you’ll want to trim out by framing the window. There are several different styles and approaches to this, so consider what works best for your tiny home. Also note that there are different decorative ways to trim your windows, so consider what would be right for you and your home’s design.

Corner Trim

Corner Trim

You have three main ways to trim out your corners: butt joints, miter joints, or routed corner molding. A butt joint is very simple, where you just put one board over the end of the other—this is what I did. Just make sure you have your overlapping pieces all on the long side of your house or all on the short side of your house, so when you stand back it looks consistent.

A miter joint can make things look a little nicer, but requires a little more work and can be finnicky. The last option is a router molding piece that’s going be made of a single piece of flat stock, but has the back side of the trim piece routed out so it can cover the corner like a cap.

butt jointButt Joint

miter jointMiter Joint

rounded corner jointRounded Corner Joint


tiny house roof

Drip Edge

Drip Edge

Drip edge is one of those things I somehow didn’t know existed until after I was done with my own build and I wish I knew before. It’s very inexpensive and simple to install, but can greatly improve the longevity of other materials.

drip edge over window
window drip edge
drip edge on roof
roof drip edge

How To Install Tiny House Siding

how to install tiny house siding

There are many details when it comes to installing your siding, but I wanted to cover the basics here because there are a few points that are kind of counter intuitive.

Step 1: Check sheathing is sealed & weather barrier is properly installed

Step 2: Prime all sides of your siding, including backside

Step 3: Trim your corners, windows, doors, and penetrations

Step 4: Cut siding to fit, then paint fresh cut edges before installing

Step 5: Mark siding increments on either end where siding will be installed

Step 6: Install starter strip at bottom first, making sure it’s perfectly level

Step 7: Work bottom to top, each layer covering top of previous board

Step 8: Once you work your way to top, finish off top with frieze board

Step 9: Caulk edges and joints to manufacturers specifications

Step 10: Seal with a final coat of paint


tiny house tools

Reclaimed Wood Siding

reclaimed wood siding

Reclaimed siding is a great way to reduce landfill waste and possibly save money. Reclaiming wood siding is a very labor-intensive process and it can be difficult to find enough of similar proportioned wood to side an entire house.

Before you go this route, consider the time that it will take to strip down all the boards, clean them up, and other steps that might be too much work. It’s also not always without cost: you may have to pay for the materials if you have to buy them (even with a good deal). Then you’ll have to factor in consumables like sanding discs or tools to process them like a sander, or maybe even a wood planer.

Your Turn!

  • What are you considering for your tiny house siding?
  • What tiny house siding tips can your share?

Tiny Houses With Rooftop Decks – 15 Creative Tiny Homes To Inspire Your Design

Tiny Houses With Rooftop Decks – 15 Creative Tiny Homes To Inspire Your Design

Tiny Houses With Rooftop DecksA rooftop deck on your tiny house is a great way to add extra outdoor living space to your tiny home. Many people want a tiny house with a rooftop deck in their design so that, while they’re traveling around with their tiny home, they’ll always have a great view from up top.

These decks are a really good option if you’re going to be moving a lot. When I built my tiny house, I designed it to be more permanent so I opted for a patio to extend my living space. I added a fire pit, two Adirondack chairs, and a grill, and did some landscaping to complete my outdoor living space.

How To Add A Rooftop Deck To Your Tiny House

How To Add A Rooftop Deck To Your Tiny House

The biggest downside to a rooftop deck is that it can be tricky to support without compromising your roof. There have been some very clever ways tiny house builders have added roof decks, but too often I look at a rooftop deck built on top of a tiny home and can tell just from the photos that it’s going to lead to a leaky roof.

So what’s the best way to put a rooftop deck on your tiny home?

I’d start when you’re building your tiny home from day one. On the trailer, I’d weld four support columns made of metal square tubing rated to support the load. Welding those ensures that the load transfers directly to the strongest parts of your tiny house trailer.

These columns will be built within your walls and come just below your roof line, then extend out only as far as they need to clear the roof and support your roof top deck above. A cross member between the support columns that prevents the columns from deflecting outward can be concealed in the tiny house loft and walls.

This method will allow you to fully support your rooftop deck without making a single roof penetration, which is key to having a leak-free roof.

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Access

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Access

Of all the ways that I’ve seen tiny homes build in rooftop access, an external ladder seems to be the best method. A possible secondary method would be an operable skylight that can be opened from inside. These two options aren’t as easy to get onto your tiny home roof as some of the fancier decks where the roof rolls back, but again, they’re the best methods to avoid leaks.

An exterior ladder isn’t ideal, but it’s a simple solution. If you decide to build a skylight to access your tiny home roof, I’d make sure the curb of the skylight is built up at least 6 inches, apply Grace Ice and Water Shield to the transition, and then have a single piece of metal flashing custom built so there are no seams at all in your metal roof flashing.

How to build a tiny house book

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Photos For Design Inspiration

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Photos For Design Inspiration

Here are some great examples of tiny houses on wheels with rooftop decks to inspire your own design. With these designs, look for how they control for water infiltration, how they gain access to their roof, and other unique deck design features they’ve worked in.

Tiny House With A Roof That Opens

Tiny House With A Roof That Opens

Tiny House Roof That Opens
open rooftop deck on tiny home
rooftop deck opens on tiny house
open roof on tiny house
movable rooftop on tiny house
open rooftop deck on tiny house

This house is built with a roof that rolls back to reveal the loft bedroom in this tiny home. Of the houses here, this is my favorite because of the light wood and the fact that on a nice night, you can open up the roof and see the stars.

Gooseneck Tiny House With Rooftop Deck

Gooseneck Tiny House With Rooftop Deck

Gooseneck Tiny House Rooftop Deck
deck on top of gooseneck tiny home

If you want to have a tiny home built on a gooseneck trailer or fifth wheel, this is a great design for you to consider. The two-tone wood siding and metal cladding give this a pretty modern look. This house also has a well-built skylight that you can open up and climb onto the roof through to access the deck. You’ll also notice they’ve built the roof and applied the deck to the ribs of the standing seam roof to hold fast, but do not have any additional penetrations.

Shed Roof Tiny Homes With Rooftop Deck

Shed Roof Tiny Homes Rooftop Deck

Shed Roof Tiny Homes Rooftop Deck
rooftop patio on tiny house shed roof

Here are two modern looking tiny homes that have shed roofs and a nice deck on top. These simple roof lines are a great way to simplify your rooftop deck. Without complex angles to work around, you can more easily mount the decking on top. Keep in mind that you want at least a 2/12 pitch to your roof.

Tiny House Rooftop Deck With Fold Down Railings

Tiny House Rooftop Deck With Fold Down Railings

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Fold Down Railings
fold down railings on tiny house deck
fold down railings on deck
tiny house deck

Building codes have a lot of very specific rules around decks and railings if the deck is over 30 inches above grade. This varies from municipality to municipality, but there are specific rules everywhere. Having a folding deck railing is really helpful to keep your house shorter while driving down the road.

Tiny House Roof Deck With Stairs

Tiny House Roof Deck With Stairs

Tiny House Roof Deck Stairs
view from tiny house rooftop deck
rooftop tiny house deck
stairs on tiny house rooftop deck

Outside stairs make for easy access to your deck way up on your tiny house roof. Keep in mind that stairs like this can take up a lot of space that might be otherwise used for more living space or storage. In a tiny house, you don’t have a lot of space, so while a staircase might be convenient, having an extra 35 square feet of living space might be even better.

Tiny House Building Checklist

Tiny House With Ladder Access To Roof

Tiny House With Ladder Access To Roof

Tiny House Ladder Access To Roof

ladder access to tiny house roof deck
tiny house roof deck

One of my preferred ways to access the roof is by having an external ladder that you can climb to access your tiny house roof. This uses the least amount of space and is the least complicated to build. It also avoids issues where water might find its way in when compared to other more complex access approaches.

Tiny Home Cargo Trailer With Deck On It’s Roof

Tiny Home Cargo Trailer With Deck On It’s Roof

Tiny Home Cargo Trailer Deck On Roof
patio set on tiny house roof deck
table and chairs on tiny house rooftop deck
nice tiny house rooftop patio

Tiny House meets RV Travel Trailer Hybrid

Modern Tiny House With Rooftop Deck

Modern Tiny House With Rooftop Deck

Modern Tiny House Rooftop Deck
modern tiny house roof deck
tiny home roof deck at night