Tiny House Building Material List: Helpful Guide (For Beginners)

Building a house is an amazing experience that allows you to showcase some creativity.  However, with a tiny house, safety is key.  So, what materials should you use to build your tiny house?

There are many different materials you will use to build your tiny house. 

But, there are a ton of factors to consider.  From whether you want to repurpose materials to the location you live in, there are plenty of things to keep in mind.

Here is everything you need to know about choosing the right materials to build your tiny house.

What Should You Know Before Choosing Materials?

cornerstone house from outside

Tiny houses are such special and unique homes.  This is why it is so important to choose your building materials carefully.

So, before choosing your materials, make a plan!  Here are some important factors to consider:

  • Location

The location of your tiny house is going to greatly influence your material choices.  More specifically, the weather in your area is going to be a huge influence.

Weatherproofing a house is a huge part of the building process. 

This is especially true if you live in an area that is prone to unusual weather patterns.  Your home needs to be able to stand up against sudden storms and flooding.

  • Type of Home

Another thing to consider is what type of tiny house you are planning on building.  Standing homes will require different materials as opposed to mobile homes.

Also, the process of planning and building a tiny house that is on wheels will be different.

This is because mobile tiny houses need to be prepared for any type of weather.

Most importantly, they have to be able to survive life on the road.

  • Building Codes

One thing to consider that doesn’t have much wiggle room is the zoning codes for your area.  These can not only prevent you from building your tiny house but will influence which materials can be used.

This is why it is so important to research your state’s laws before designing your home.

You can read more about Tiny House regulations per state here.

  • Personal Vision

If you are looking into materials for your tiny house, chances are you already have your home envisioned in your mind.  Look for materials that reflect the personal vision you have in your mind.

Building your own home is such a personal experience that you shouldn’t have to compromise.

What Are The Most Common Used Building Materials in Tiny Houses?

Guy doing an inspection of a tiny house on wheels

There are many different materials that will be used to build your tiny house.  Each has their own purpose and use and will depend on where you need to build.

When picking out the materials for your tiny house, consider taking a step-by-step approach.

Think of your house and how it will be built wall to wall.  Once you have a breakdown of the different structural elements of your tiny house, you can better envision the materials.

Here are how tiny houses are structured as well as the materials that are preferred:

The Basic Home Structure

Think of the structure of your tiny house like the bones of where you will live.  Once you have the bones you can start building up to your dream tiny house.  The structure of a home is often regarded as the most important building step.

Without a proper structure, your home will not be able to support itself.

This is why it is so important to choose structural materials carefully.  The most commonly used material to build a structure is good ole’s reliable plywood.

Dimensional lumber is the perfect choice for your tiny house’s structure because it can be cut to fit your exact needs.  This is especially important for tiny houses since dimensions will be far smaller.

One important thing to note is that you need to work with your builder to measure out all the wood properly.

While most traditional homes with a 2×4 structure, tiny houses are much different.  Finding a builder who specializes in tiny houses is a great way to ensure that you are getting just what you need.

Interior and Exterior Sidings

Building a tiny house yourself DIY style

Once you have the bones for your tiny house, can start shaping your home the way you envisioned.  Paneling for tiny houses usually remains true to the building process of traditional homes.

Wood and metal sheet paneling does a great job of protecting the home as well as adding slight insulation.

The one part where tiny houses break from tradition is in the use of drywall.

Tiny houses don’t tend to use drywall in construction because it is heavy and costly.  Replacing clunky drywall with sleeker sheet metal is a perfect alternative for tiny houses.  Not only is sheet metal easier to install, but it is also lightweight while still providing protection.

When it comes to the interior siding of your walls, nothing works better than wood.  Sheets of plywood offer the perfect amount of structure for your interior walls.  Best of all, these types of materials can easily be found at most hardware stores and are simple to transport.

House Roofing

One part of tiny houses that people don’t have many options when it comes to materials is the roof.  However, when something works well, there is no need to break from tradition.  When talking about roofing it is important to note that this is structural roofing of your home.

The material that is used is there to protect your home from the elements as well as provide a stable structure to build upon.  Laying sheet paneling with rain shield materials is what will keep your home protected and dry.

Some people prefer to use a tar paper as a shield.  However, if you live in an area that has a lot of rain and snow, making the upgrade will be necessary.

Rain shielding is a tarp-like material that will lay between the framing of your roof and the sheer paneling.  Think of it as one more level of protection between your tiny house and the elements.

Once you use the shields and sheets for the structure of your roof, you can then get creative with final details.  From traditional shingle style roofs to ones that are fitted with solar panels, your options are endless.  Just remember that the most important part about building your roof is that it first needs to be structurally sound.

Home Insulation

One area of your tiny house build that allows you to choose your own path is the insulation.  Think of the insulation of your tiny house like the ling of a great winter coat.

This fluffy stuff is what is going to keep heat in the home in the winter as well as keep out of the home in the summer.

Choosing the right materials to insulate your tiny house comes down to a personal choice.  Most people prefer to stick with tradition when it comes to insulation.

Polystyrene Boards offer the perfect amount of insulation to any tiny house.  This is because these boards can easily be cut to fit small spaces and are easy to install.

With special boards, like polystyrene, you can even insulate your floor as well as your roof.  For more defined areas, like tight corners and crawl spaces, you should try to use spray foam.

Hiring a special company to spray insulate your house can cost a pretty penny.  This is why most owners of tiny houses prefer to do the work themselves.  Luckily for them, spray foam insulations can be found at just about any hardware store.

Alternative Building Materials for Tiny Houses

Building a tiny house can sometimes feel like following a template.  However, there is plenty of room to try something new.

While most materials you will use are a necessity for the home, there is a little bit of wiggle room.

One type of material that more and more homeowners are looking to incorporate are repurposed materials.

Using repurposed woods and metals are a huge part in building more green-friendly houses.  But, you don’t have to reuse materials in order to reduce your carbon footprint. There are plenty of eco-friendly building materials out there for you to use.

If you are looking for more information about how to build with care for the environment, check out this Venta-USA article for inspiration.

Wrapping It Up!

Building your tiny dream house is sure to be full of stress,  But, don’t forget about the big picture.  At the end of the journey, you will have a beautiful place to call your own.

More than that, you will have the pride in knowing that you are involved in every step of the process.  One important thing to remember is that while it is your own vision, there is no shame in getting help.

Having a professional builder help you with finding the right materials can make all the difference in the world.  Good luck.


Sources: tinyhomebuilders.com, thetinylife.com,

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