Adding sheathing to your tiny house is one of the last steps of your build.
Once your tiny house’s walls, roof, and if applicable loft, are up and ready, it’s time to begin the sheathing process.
Sheathing’s purpose is to add an extra layer of support to your tiny house’s framing.
Tiny house sheathing provides a base for your wall siding and roof finishing materials, strength to your walls and roof structures, all while giving your tiny house an extra layer of protection from outside elements.
What is the thickness of tiny house sheathing?
The recommended thickness of your tiny house sheathing will depend on a few factors.
Firstly, where your tiny house is located, if your tiny house is located in a space with more severe weather patterns than other areas, you may want thicker than average sheathing.
Or, if you’re worried about the weight of a tiny house that you intend to put on wheels you may go for a lighter-weight material that isn’t as thick as the average sheathing.
On average, the sheathing of a tiny house should be about 5 inches or 13 cm. If you live in a colder climate, we suggest increasing that thickness by 2 or 3 inches.
What materials are used for sheathing in tiny homes?
There are quite a few options for sheathing materials in tiny homes.
One of the most popular options for sheathing materials amongst tiny home builders is wood sheathing options.
Examples of a few of the most used wood sheathing materials are plywood, waferboard, and oriented strand board (OSB).
Plywood is made by cross-laminating whole sheets of wood.
The cross-lamination of the sheets made the material stiff and strong.
Plywood is a common choice of sheathing material in the tiny house community, most likely because it is as lightweight as it is durable.
Plywood also tends to handle and control moisture levels more than other tiny house sheathing material options.
Gypsum-based sheathing, also known as drywall or plasterboard, is a popular alternative to wood sheathing. It tends to offer more durability than plywood and can be more economical.
Waferboard is made by using a hydraulic press. By taking and pressing small pieces of wood through the hydraulic press, and then gluing the material together, you create a durable and economical option of tiny house sheathing material.
It’s important to note that waferboard is the least durable and least water-resistant of the wood sheathing options.
OSB is made by taking hundreds of thin wood strands and hot pressing them together with a resin and wax adhesive.
It’s much denser than plywood, has fewer soft spots, and is typically less expensive, making it another favorite of tiny house builders.
How are exterior walls sheathed in tiny houses?
In order to begin sheathing exterior walls, you’ll need to pick the type of material that best suits your tiny house.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll be working with plywood and any of the suggestions given will be for those working with plywood.
If you decide on another material, most of the suggestions for installation are similar but be sure to check with a licensed contractor if you have any serious inquiries into the process.
For your tiny house wall sheathing, cut your plywood into the desired sizes.
If the wall plus the floor depth of your tiny house is taller than 8-feet, you should install your sheathing horizontally onto the exterior walls of your tiny house.
If the wall plus floor depth is less than 8-feet, you should install the sheathing vertically on the exterior walls so that you can tie the bottom of the floor framing to the top of the wall.
Use nails to secure your plywood sheathing to your tiny house’s walls. We recommend using 2″ inch thick nails or screws.
When you are fastening a plywood sheathing, space each screw or nail out 6 inches on the edges of the panel and 12 inches along with the intermediate studs.
Some people also choose to glue down their plywood panels along with nailing/screwing them into place.
It’s another layer of adhesive and definitely doesn’t hurt the installation process.
When placing sheathing around windows or doors, you can simply sheathe over them and use a circular saw to cut out the openings, or measure the openings and cut them out prior to installation, whatever works best for your installation process.
How to sheath your tiny house roof
Roof sheathing does a lot more than provide insulation for your tiny house roof and a base for your roofing materials.
It helps strengthen the rafters and trusses of your roof, making sure they remain properly spaced out.
Roof sheathing enhances the overall security of your roof, which is why it’s extra important to get it right when installing your tiny house roof sheathing.
Before installing, make sure to measure along the rafters of your tiny house roof from the peak of the roof. You’re trying to determine the exact length of each of the rafters to find the shortest one.
Once you find the shortest rafter, measure the distance from the peak of your roof’s tip to the rafter tails of the first and last rafters and make a mark with a pencil at each rafter’s tail. Connect these two pencil makers with a chalk line.
After this, you’ll want to cut the rafter tails with a jigsaw or circular saw to ensure they’re the same length.
Position the first piece of plywood sheathing horizontally on the bottom edge of your rafters tail on the end of your roof.
Align the longer edge of the sheathing with the ends of the rafter tails and begin to nail your plywood panels down.
Repeat this process until your roofing is covered.
Again, some people like to put adhesive glue down with their sheathing to add an extra layer of adhesive strength, but if you’re doing this make sure your placement is perfect before adhering it to your tiny house’s roof.
Installing sheathing is one of the last steps in building your tiny house and although it may seem simple, it’s important to take care during your preparation and installation.
Sheathing provides extra strength to the bones of your tiny house, making it more durable and sound. Be sure to see if the climate in your area requires a thicker type of tiny house sheathing material.
While plywood is used more frequently amongst tiny house builders, the trick in getting sheathing right isn’t necessarily just the type of material.
It’s important to make sure you install your tiny house sheathing correctly, otherwise you’ll notice it in more ways than one while living in your home.