Over the last few weeks we’ve been slowly catching up on various projects on the tiny house. We had a door to install, one final window to put into the loft, an outside storage box to build, and a leaky window to fix. Once those smaller projects were taken care of we moved onto a biggie: Siding! Siding isn’t a biggie because of difficulty, but rather because of its transforming powers. This was really exciting for us to see the house change so much in just a few days, and it really looked so great. It was the first taste of seeing what this whole project could really turn into. (Be sure to read the picture captions, because I try to provide extra info and explain myself more.) So let’s get to it!
On the last post I showed how we installed the windows all around the house. We stopped before installing the last window, because we bought it on craigslist and it was a little different from all the others we installed from the store. We decided to not to cut out the window opening until we had a bit more time to make sure we got the final window in right. That meant the only opening in the house was our front door. Since the weather was changing from summer to fall it was really important to get the door on so the house was closed to the elements. So, we headed to the store to pick out our door. You probably wouldn’t believe how much time I spent debating which door I liked best, and unfortunately, that didn’t include any of them. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, we settled on one and brought it home.
On the day Eric decided to start installing the door, of course, I have second thoughts and bring work to a halt. He finished up getting the opening ready and waterproofed with our ZipSystem tape, while I searched online for a new door. I finally find the one I want, but it isn’t available at our local store and ordering it online would take a month. There’s no way we could wait a month for this, so while any normal person would just stick with the original door, we all know I’m not normal and therefore drove an hour each way to Joplin, MO to pick up my new door! Eric thought the whole thing was ridiculous, but he installed it the next weekend, and it was worth it! Once the door was on, it seemed to transform the whole look. Even though it was still a green, taped up box it all of a sudden seemed a bit more like a house! Who knew a door could do so much.
From there it was time to install the last window in the house. This was a long skinny window going into the loft on the passenger side wall. We bought this window a while back from craigslist before we had any plans or ideas about what we would do with it. But, because it was long and skinny we knew we could find a place for it in the house, and we decided the perfect place was in the loft. We cut out the opening in the sheathing with the router, taped everything up with the flashing tape, and then put the window into place. It was important to get shims in around the window so we could put expanding spray foam around each edge of the window to help level, insulate, waterproof, and hold it in place. (Unfortunately, this was something we had to fix on another window…more on that later.)
Once we had the window installed, Eric started working on an outside storage box that sits on the front hitch. Obviously, storage is at a premium in a tiny house, and there are certain things we will need to hang on to but that don’t need to take up space inside. This is where the outside storage box comes in. We can store tools, camping gear, outside toys, car stuff, etc, in there. Eric built the outer shell of the box, and we will add the two doors on each end and finish it up later. We needed to get at least the shell of the box ready so when we put the siding up later, we could know where the top of the box and siding would meet up.
Then (dun dun dun) we came to the issue of our leaky window. Arrrggh! The very first window we installed was leaking, and even though we went back and added tape and caulk, the stupid thing still leaked. It finally came down to taking the window out and re-installing the whole thing. Since it was the first window we installed, I guess it’s not too surprising that this was the window with problems. Thankfully, by taking the window out and completely starting over, the leaking finally was fixed. It was frustrating to have to go back a re-do all that work, but it had to be done.
Now comes the fun stuff! Once all the boring things were taken care of, we finally got to making the tiny house look like a respectable little building. I’m sure our very tolerant in-laws were thrilled about finally having the house covered in something a little less flashy than the bright green sheathing. When picking out siding for a tiny house there are a few things to consider that are different from a regular house. For one thing, this house will be traveling down a highway at some point so the siding had to be sturdy enough to withstand high winds, which eliminated vinyl siding as an option. It’s just too risky to have pieces of our walls rip off and fly away as we drive down the road. We also have to consider weight, so some wood sidings were automatically out. Plus, most wood sidings like cedar (which is a tiny house favorite) is too expensive for us.
It seemed like we didn’t have very many options, but we found a great composite board that was pressed to look like barn wood siding. This was sturdy enough not to rip off while driving down the road, it wasn’t too heavy, and it wasn’t too painful on our wallet. Eric recruited some help from our friend, Sam, and those two got to work! Each board was attached with the nail gun (my most hated tool). Where ever there were windows, we measured and cut out the space so the siding fit just perfectly around the window frames. The driver’s side wall with the front door was finished in a day!
When we started on the next wall we ran into a little problem. All of the windows Eric and Sam dealt with on the first day of siding were special order custom windows, and none had a J-channel. The J-channel is a little edge around the window that is made specifically for vinyl siding to tuck underneath. When we bought our windows, I didn’t really understand the different parts of the windows (j-channel, nail fin, low E glass, etc.). We just knew we needed cheap windows that were off the shelf, which included the j-channel. It turns out, the J-channel needed to be removed from the windows because our siding was one big board that needed to fit over the window, rather than the individual pieces of vinyl that can be pieced around the window. We needed the siding to fit in as close to the edge of the window as possible, and that extra edge would make the hole in the siding too large. So, we got to cutting and routing that extra plastic edge off all the windows. It was a big headache, made a giant mess, and was very slow. Eventually, we realized it would work to use a very sharp razor to score the edge and then bend and break the edge off. It was much faster and easier. Once all those extra edges were cut off, we could fit the siding onto the window with very little space between the siding and the window edge.
I helped finish the back wall and loft/bathroom wall. I wish I had pictures of Eric and I holding up the siding up while trying to keep it level while trying to nail it in while balancing on ladders. I would have taken a picture, but my hands were a little full. So were Eric’s. The poor guy is trying to hold the majority of the weight of the board and the heavy nail gun and get the nails in the right place and not fall off the ladder. I just had to hold my end of the board in place (oh, the burn in my arms) and keep my balance on the ladder. No big deal.
Thankfully, Eric got Sam and another friend, Jake, to help finish up the siding on the last wall over the hitch. My big guns were totally burnt out from the day before….aaaaand I also wanted to take a nap that afternoon. (#sorrynotsorry) The three of them wrapped up the last wall in a jif. I am really loving the way it all turned out! Looking at the board in the store, there’s always a little worry that it’d look super fake or cheap, but we really struck gold. The siding looks really great and it completely transformed the house! It’s really exciting to see the house change with each step. Next up, we will be working on finishing the roof, painting the siding, and adding the corrugated metal to the bottom of the walls along with the trim. It’s still a lot of work to do, but that will wrap up all of the outside of the house!
Check back again soon, and until then enjoy these pictures of the house!