Closing it up (almost)

JM: When I first saw a tiny house I thought, oh, wow, they do look just like that – a house, but tiny. The use of many standard house-building techniques and materials (2×4 wood framing, OSB sheathing, Tyvek-type house wrap and cedar cladding), is what often makes tiny houses look like…tiny houses. This, perhaps, obscures the fact that a tiny house on wheels is not a whole lot different from an RV or mobile home. (Many people have and will argue the difference; I’m just going to put a pin in it right here and move on…)

In fact, it was when we stayed in an Airstream one summer a few years ago that we first dreamed up this idea of  building a tiny house.  We wanted to make ours more like the Airstream. We wanted to make it out of steel.

Airstream vacationing on Future Farms in Portland, OR
T-House of Steel’s home since this summer at Itty & Bill‘s

One of the many reasons I love our Tiny House of Steel is that, at first, at least from the closed wall (pictured up top), it’s not really obvious what it is. Moon module? Dog pen? Artillery storage? It keeps you guessing. But on the other side of that wall, there is still a whole, open entrance wall left to finish. So when it came to choosing how to clad the entrance wall to the T-House of Steel, I was reminded of the things that make so many tiny houses so beautiful, like the exquisite craftsmanship of well-laid cedar shingles, or the soothing knotty marbled flow of tongue and groove siding.

1″ x 6″ tongue and groove Western Cedar at the yard at Williams Lumber in Rhinebeck, NY

My daughter, however, is the purist. “It’s called a Tiny House of STEEL for a reason, Dad!!!” She feels that the entrance wall should be steel clad, not cedar. Ten years old and she talks of materials as though she were a zealous student of Louis Kahn. And, well, she does have a point. There are a lot of advantages to sticking with the steel. I’ve said before how light the T-House of Steel is thanks to the SteelMaster structure. Still, I’m not convinced.

Between the framing of the entrance wall and the edge of the outer curved angle of the steel structure, I have 1.75 inches to work with. That means I could go either way. Wood or steel. The length of indecision is a lot longer than two inches.

A steel cladding over some furring strips would definitely be possible. But so would cedar siding. The difference, you ask? About $100 and 100 lbs according to my calculations, wood being heavier and more expensive. What’s important to me is the overall look and feel of the T-House of Steel once it’s done. And that, to my mind, is immeasurable.

The math.

JC: I think we’ve been here before [eye-roll]. I remember having this same conversation when it came to deciding upon the studs and wall material. JM went so far as to build the whole wall out of 2x4s and plywood, but it really didn’t work. Did we have to see it to know it? Could we have guessed how it would look before he went ahead and built it?

I think that’s the core of our indecision. With big decisions like this one, it puts all the rest of your work into doubt.  How do we know whether we should invest the time, money and effort in one idea over the other?

So, we are hoping to put this to our brain trust – you. We know you’re out there! Over 5K views of our video since we posted it a month ago – we’re hoping some of you might want to weigh in. Take a look at our choices, cedar or galvalume (or maybe something we haven’t thought of?), and let us know what you think in the comments. Your points will be taken, and will help us make our decision. Then, you’ll see the results!

5 thoughts on “Closing it up (almost)

  1. How about half and half (or two thirds/one third)? It might actually look better to have the wood only from say, just below the roof line, and down part way on the walls, a warm accent but still keeping the metal as the main material…
    All the best with your decision, and the rest as yet to come!


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