The interest in tiny homes--homes comprising less than 500 square feet--is growing at a fast pace. Everyone from millennials to baby boomers is curious about the minuscule structures. Curious about how anyone can downsize that much. Curious about the reduction of one's carbon footprint by living small. Curious about the building material options when constructing one of your own. Tiny houses can be built on a trailer base, or on a traditional foundation using both standard building materials or new and inventive green solutions.
1. Asphalt Shingles: The most widely-used roofing material is asphalt. The shingles are inexpensive and, more importantly, easy to install. Even a construction novice can install asphalt shingles on a tiny house quickly and easily. They can be used on a mobile unit as well because they are durable enough and flexible enough to withstand the force of traveling down the road at over 60 mph. The average asphalt roof lasts up to 20 years before it needs to be replaced.
2. Corrugated Sheets: For an inexpensive solution, sheets of corrugated metal or plastic can be purchased at your local home improvement super store and used as roofing material. In fact, the clear plastic version creates a pseudo-skylight effect, letting in lots of natural light. This is particular appealing during the winter months when sunlight is frequently scarce.
3. Standing Seam: Another metal roofing option is standing seam. This is best installed by the professionals, but the durability factor makes the additional upfront expense well worth it. In fact, metal roofs can last up to three times as long as traditional asphalt roofs. If you are worried that the noise of rain on a metal roof will keep you awake at night, fear not. New products are available that include a sound-deafening aspect to ensure a good night's sleep.
4. Living Roof: A living roof, or green roof, is an increasingly popular choice for tiny house dwellers and anyone that is eco-conscious. Generally, a green roof involves vegetation covering the entire roof, like moss or a low-growing ground cover. It can, however, be an elaborate garden that maximizes space for food production. According to the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, a living roof reduces air pollution, energy usage, greenhouse gases, stormwater runoff, and heat transfer.
5. Cedar Shakes: Using cedar shake shingles for roofing, siding, and other architectural details is a slice of the American architectural pie. Installing them on your tiny house is a way to extend that vernacular to a smaller scale. If you are planning a mobile tiny home on wheels, it may not be the best choice as cedar shakes cannot handle the intense wind of the open road.
6. Rubber Shingles: Recycled tires have yet another use in their second life--your new roof. Steel-belted radial tires gain new life when they are saved from a landfill and recycled into shingles. Depending on the mold used by the manufacturer, the resulting product can resemble hand-chiseled slate, wood shakes, or even just traditional asphalt shingles. They last over 50 years, and then can be recycled again into something else.
7. Slate or Clay Tiles: If you prefer the traditional look of slate tiles, or live in the desert Southwest where clay tile roofs are prominent, you can choose to use those on your tiny house. While obviously too fragile for highway travel, they work well on stationary micro homes and are well-suited for the environment. As an added benefit, the durability of natural tiles like these is rather remarkable. In fact, they can last 50 years or more and, when the time comes to replace them, they are biodegradable.
Whether you choose an inexpensive, traditional option, like asphalt shingles, or an eco-friendly solution, like recycled automotive tires, is also a matter of personal taste. Choose what you love from places like All American Roofing Incorporated, and you will smile every time you come home.