Structural stability must be paramount in specifying the roof system for a tiny house. With roof construction, any weakness or fail will jeopardize the durability and performance of the home as well as your enjoyment of it.
Good Tiny House Roof Construction
A roof system that includes solid decking rather than spaced boards, battens, or purlins will tie the rafters together and help prevent racking of the home as it ages or as it is transported between locations. Solid decking also plays a major role in moisture control.
Special consideration must be given to the sustained winds that a tiny house can endure, particularly if it is ever re-located. Wind resistant roof systems feature interlocking panels rather than pieces that just overlap and rely on gravity to hold them together. It is also important that all edges of the roof are sealed so that air cannot get underneath the roof system and caused increased roof pressures. Finally, the use of secure, corrosion resistant fasteners is also critical to a wind resistant roof system.
When designing a tiny home, total structure weight is very important to keep in mind. Saving weight in one area of the home may allow you to splurge with nicer products in another area. Here are approximate weights per square foot of some common roofing materials:
|Roofing Material||Weight (per square foot)|
|Steel and Copper||1 pound|
|Fiberglass shingles||3.5 pounds|
|Wood shakes||5 pounds|
|Composite shingles||5 pounds|
|Clay tile||12 pounds|
Fire safety is critical in a tiny house as even a small fire could quickly escalate to destroy the home. Having a fire safe exterior envelope on the home provides great protection from airborne sparks or even wildfires. Aluminum roofing provides good combustion resistant from the outside but has a lower burn-through temperature than many other fire resistant materials in the event of an interior fire. Additionally, lower weight roofing materials offer less cave-in threat should a fire originate inside the home.
Tiny home roofs can be amazingly complicated given the small area involved. They often have penetrations through them such as pipes, vents, and skylights or solar tubes. They also sometimes have pitch changes and small dormers. Proper installation is critical. Additionally, a roofing system that relies on metal flashings for watertightness rather than failure-prone sealants is a good idea. In some cases, your roofing manufacturer may need to provide special flashings to accommodate the home’s exact needs and ensure a long term, worry-free, and leak proof roofing system.
Finally, consider making your tiny house roofing decisions early in your design process. You will want to cover early, and not risk damage to your tiny home’s construction process.