How long will it last?

My daughter recently asked me: “Daddy, when you die, will the Tiny House of Steel be mine?” I chose to be less concerned by the apparent morbidity of the question than what to me seemed more like her astute observation of the longevity of the materials we’ve been using to build our Tiny House of Steel. Regardless of whether my child would actually want to have a SteelMaster quonset hut on wheels by the time she’s an adult, the real question is: will it even last that long?

“What, me worry?”

Many people have asked: “Why cedar?” and the answer is easy: It lasts. Like steel, it naturally resists pests, rot and the elements. Besides that, getting in the groove of nailing the tongue and groove (dad joke, sorry) was pure pleasure, one stainless steel nail at a time.

The first step was to install a bug screen since, even though cedar naturally resists pests wanting to eat it, it doesn’t mean the little buggers can’t crawl up into the cavities. This air space between the back of the panels and the exterior wall was recommended to allow the wood to “breathe.”



Cutting the boards to fit around the doors and windows was somewhat tricky, but nothing a rip on a table saw couldn’t handle. Installing the boards vertically allowed them to fit neatly under the curved angle at the edge of the end wall, something that would have been a lot trickier had I installed them horizontally, especially above the door line. Plus, I think it just looks better. The last board took some figuring out: I had to push it in under the curve angle enough to fit the next to last one, and then pull the last one back to close up the gap (anybody still following?)

The “Z” flashing was easy to slip under the cedar boards, over and under the windows and I love the way the steel looks against the wood. For all my moaning and groaning about the color of the stain in the previous post, the stain has the surprising effect of evening out all the slight variations in the wood’s natural shades. The knottiness came out boldly and I love the effect of all the whirlpools scattered over the surface. Maybe we’ll call it the “Knotty Dread House of Steel.”

As my daughter drove in the last nail of the last board I did wonder whether she was actually serious about one day having the THoS to herself. So much about this project has been about the idea of what we can realistically afford, as opposed to how much we can owe. (NOT what Bob Marley meant by “If a egg, Natty in a the red.”) My hope is that my daughter will be able to afford much more but, hey, if this little experiment can get her started, then my work is done.

Oh, and R.I.P. Shredded Blue Tarp & Tired Bungees. Your dutiful service will never be forgotten, but you will surely not be missed.


7 thoughts on “How long will it last?

  1. I am so amazed, impressed, jealous… You guys are an inspiration.

    And I totally did not follow the vertical boards thing. I’m gonna have to come see in person.

    *blows kisses*

    -Wendy Alexander


  2. Hi JM and Julie, here is Catalina and Tom writing from Canada. We had the same idea, 2 weeks ago we took the big jump to buy an arch metal structure because of the light weight and “fast” building idea…Our structure will arrive in February, meanwhile we are preparing our trailer and figuring out details, important details!
    It has been GREAT to find your blog…we were just disusing our idea with a friend, and he was very skeptical about this kind of structure on wheels.
    Finding your project helped us explain him that is possible!
    One big question that arises is if the parts of the arch don’t move around as the house is being pulled in the road?
    Also, did you use any kind of glue or did you just bolted the parts ?
    We would love hear back from you, and ideally have some time to talk to you about the lessons of your experience…
    if there is any chance for a skype call, please contact us to my email.


    1. Catalina and Tom! So nice to hear from other brave souls willing to take a project like this on. Congratulations! There are probably a LOT we could talk about but I can start with your first question:
      The arches: We secured each bolt at the seams with Loctite thread lock, tedious, but I sleep better.
      SteelMaster assembly instructions recommend a strip of vinyl butyl caulk between the panels at the seams which is what we did. No glue.
      And so far so good! We’ve only taken our THoS on the road twice so far (still much to do) but nothing seems to have fallen out of place! You can also reach at

      Liked by 1 person

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