Wicked Tiny House - Exterior Construction
When I bought the tiny house, I knew it would need alot of work. It had a crappy corrugated metal roof, only two windows, no insulation, and came with an antique claw foot bathtub inside. To say it was ugly would be an understatement, but I'll let you judge for yourself.
Now, with an ugly shell of a tiny house sitting in my girlfriend's yard (I lived in a small apartment right in downtown Bangor. The house wouldn't quite fit in the parking garage), I was forced to get to work. My goal was to finish the exterior before snow started flying, that way I could keep the inside heated, and continue to make progress through the winter. The first step was to add the loft. This involved ripping the previous owner's ugly corrugated metal roof off, taking off half the roof, and framing in the loft. Let the tiny house extreme makeover begin!
Next step, putting a new, and more attractive roofing material on. I originally planned to install a standing seam metal roof, but I got a great deal on cedar shingles, and thought they would be a unique, and durable, finish! A lot of people ask me why I choose cedar shingles for the roof. Aren't I worried that they are going to come flying off when transporting the tiny house? Nope, not at all! Wood shingles, when installed properly, actually perform better than asphalt shingles, and are comparable to a metal roof. That's one reason they are so popular on Cape Cod and in coastal areas prone to high wind! Again, the key is proper installation. A piece of strapping is attached to each roof rafter, and then another piece is attached horizontally for each row of shingles. The idea is that if any water gets through, it can flow freely under the roof and out the bottom, and then the air gap will allow the shingles to completely dry, preventing any rot.
Now, with the roof on, and the exterior covered in tar people, the tiny house had a relatively weatherproof shell. Before siding went on, windows had to be installed. I wanted lots of windows, with the idea that with more views to the outside, the inside of the house won't feel claustrophobic. Secondary goals were natural light, and plenty of cross ventilation. With the exception of the two windows that were originally installed on the house, no windows were framed in, so the house was essentially a blank canvas. I had a rough idea of where I wanted windows, but to make sure I liked the layout in real life, Shenee and I cut out pieces of tar paper and stapled them to the house. Once we had the placement where we wanted it, ordered the windows (windows are EXPENSIVE!), and framed in all 15 of them. Yep, that’s right, there are 15 windows crammed in a 8' x 22' house!
Now for the siding and exterior trim. I've spent countless hours online researching tiny houses, and I must say, some people choose absolutely atrocious exterior finishes. I mean, why would you want your house to look like it just finished one of those "color runs" where you get neon colored dust thrown all over you? No thanks! I wanted something that would blend in, yet still have character. Nothing super modern, nothing painted pink, nothing industrial looking, just a regular old house that could fit in just about anywhere! In all my travels online, I didn't see anything I liked, until about a month before getting the side. I saw a beautiful tiny house, with dark green siding and stained wood trim, and I knew that was what I was going to do. If I find the picture again, I'll give credit to the owner.
For materials, I wanted to use cedar, as it is grown right here in Maine and is very durable. I ended up getting it from Yoder's Sawmill, which is about 30 minutes from Bangor. They custom milled it just for me! The first thing I did after getting the siding was to test out my color scheme. After confirming that I did indeed like it, I started the prep work. The trim got sanded two times, and then got two coats of Behr Transparent Cedar Naturaltone waterproofing brushed on. That was the easy part. The siding got sanded once, then got two coats of Zinsser Oil Based Cover Stain High Hide Primer was rolled onto on all six sides. I had the primer, which was originally white, tinted grey to make the painting easier. The primer, in theory, will block any tannins from leaching from the wood into the paint. Next was one coat of Behr Premium Plus Paint & Primer in Ponderosa Green on all six sides. The painting process was a ton of work, but I wanted to do it right to avoid any issues.
With everything painted, it was time to start the fun part - installation! Similar to what I did with the roof, strapping was attached to every wall stud. This creates an air gap between the house and siding that will allow the wood to dry if it ever gets wet. If the wood can dry out quickly after getting wet, it won't start to rot. First was the trim around all the windows and corners. That went quick. Next was the siding. I put most of the siding up while working alone, and it was a royal pain. Trying to get a 12 foot long piece of siding level, and then hammering a nail in while keeping it level was not easy. I got it done, but not without a couple of screw-ups that required re-work. The entire siding process including painting and installation took two weeks worth of weekends and evenings to complete.
With the exterior weathertight, it was time to start focusing on the interior.....